Don’t let fruitcake anxiety ruin your holidays

imageNote: In observance of National Fruitcake Appreciation Day today, I thought I’d offer this rum-laced flashback…

Recent studies show that anxiety during the holidays is not only common but, in many cases, the result of FDAD — Fruitcake Disposal Anxiety Disorder. On one hand, your fruitcake is often given as a gift and therefore deserving of some measure of appreciation. On the other hand, you may have already tossed it into your neighbor’s yard, where it has become a chew toy for their pit bull.

This often leads to feelings of anxiety, particularly when you see “Buster,” still intoxicated with rum, struggling to dislodge the sugar loaf from his tightly-clenched jaws.

So, as a service to our readers, we assembled a group of psychiatrists to help provide insight into dealing with FDAD. At a cost of more than $200 an hour, we held an informative, three-minute discussion to create the following self-help guide:

I’m OK — You’re OK. But Give Me a Fruitcake and I’ll Kill You.

What follows is an easy, four-step guide to help FDAD sufferers control their fruitcake anxiety.  Continue reading

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Sorry, I’ve been incapacitated lately as an Elvis-obsessed elf

imageI’ve been called a lot of things in my life, many of which I can’t say here because of this blog’s questionable G-rating.

However, until a few weeks ago, I’d never been called “Elfis,” which is the name of an Elvis-obsessed elf I’m playing in our community theater’s production of “Ho-Ho-Hollywood.”

In fact, being involved in this show has introduced me to a lot of firsts in my life. For example, wearing a bell-bottomed jumpsuit with a teddy bear embroidered on the cape.

Also, I’ve never stuffed mini Christmas lights down my pants so that I can “light up” when necessary — something that caused one theater goer to ask another, “I wonder what Ned has in his pants?”

Yes, for those in the front row, I can hear you.

While we’re at it, having someone wonder what’s in my pants is also a new experience for me.   Continue reading

Low-calorie holiday treats that won’t cause diarrhea!

image Unless you’re a hyperactive nine-year-old fueled by Pixie Sticks and Hostess Cupcakes without an ounce of concern for weight-gain because concern is the ONLY ounce you’re going to gain this holiday season, then you’re like the rest of us trying to get through the next six weeks without looking like Jabba the Hutt’s stunt double.

What this means is finding a healthy balance between satisfying your God-given right to partake in all of those delicious holiday treats while, at the same time, adhering to the God-given Commandment to avoid gluttony.

Yes, the Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways. Take fruitcake for example…

No, seriously. Please take mine.

That’s because over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing quick and easy holiday recipe tips that are both low-calorie and delicious! And not just because “quick and easy” is my pet name.

Today, I am going to show you how to make a cup of hot chocolate that you can drink as an alternative to buttered rum or egg nog, which are not only high in calories but, depending on the alcohol content, can lead to makinge a snow angel in the front yard wearing nothing but a Santa hat.

In August.  Continue reading

Grab your streamers, we’re bringing May Day back!

imageSomewhere, lost between the risen Lord of Easter Sunday and the more laid-back Dos Equis guy of Cinco de Mayo, is the Roman flower goddess Flora, who used to reign supreme as THE party icon this time of year.

Nowadays, any May Pole dancing is purely coincidental, at strip clubs, with the only reference to Flora the flower goddess being dancers named “Daisy.” How did a celebration dating back before Jesus somehow get lost in the shuffle between Easter eggs and Mexican beer bottles?

Even when I was a kid, which I’d like to point out was well after the resurrection and as recent as the 1970s A.D., I remember dancing around the sixth-grade May Pole and savoring the opportunity to hold hands with Sara Getlost as she cried out in springtime rapture, “Ewww! Ewww! Your hands are SWEATY! Ewww!”

It’s that kind of wild, springtime ecstasy that May Day and the goddess Flora were all about.  Continue reading

Don’t forget the cat when taking down your Christmas tree

imageFor our family, packing up the Christmas decorations is never easy. Not only because it means the official end of the holiday season, but also because it means it’s time to pry the cat out of the Christmas tree.

What makes this process especially difficult is sap. You see, it’s not until after spending the better part of December attached to the mid-section of our tree that our cat realizes she can no longer retract her claws.

A few years ago, this actually resulted in a front page story in the National Inquirer under the headline:

Holiday Tree sprouts CAT TUMOR!

It’s not like we haven’t tried to keep this tragedy from happening. In fact, we’ve even taken our cat to a pet psychologist, thinking that maybe she suffers from a traumatic experience that is somehow triggered by the site of Christmas trees — such as an unresolved conflict with a strand of tinsel.  Continue reading

Before you buy that Christmas gift, ask Mr. Knowitall

image [Note: If your name is Diana Dupree, do NOT read this!]

Since the introduction of Mr. Knowitall, who is our resident historian, economist, food critic, movie reviewer, foreign affairs consultant, science correspondent, consumer products expert and vending machine repairman (not necessarily in that order), many of you have written in seeking advice about holiday gift-giving.

Due to the enormous volume of email we received, they will be answered through a lottery-style process — which means that, until he wins the lottery, Mr. Knowitall will continue to answer your questions.

So let us begin. Continue reading

Male aversion to holiday shopping linked to survival instinct

(Today, I’m at bat over at Long Awkward Pause! Mostly because Chris really hates it when we play baseball in the office…)

Most men won't admit to being afraid of female holiday shoppers

Many men won’t admit to being afraid of female holiday shoppers. The others are still alive.

It’s an American tradition: Kicking off the holiday shopping season by spending the morning after Thanksgiving standing in line at your favorite department store, shivering in the pre-dawn hours, determined to be among the first to get through the doors before your holiday dinner bowel movement hits. It’s a calculated risk, but one we are willing to take in order to make our loved ones’ holiday dreams come true, even if it means wearing Depends Undergarments and knocking fellow shoppers unconscious with a Spongebob Squarepants beach chair.

Admittedly, the last time I participated in the madness of holiday shopping was several years ago as an observer, which is a little like trying to be an “observer” while standing in a mosh pit. One minute I was leaning on a rack of scarves; the next minute I was being used as a battering ram by two large women trying to knock over an electric cart that was blocking the video game aisle.

The women’s names were “Marge” and “Judy.” I know this because, each time before swinging me head first, I would hear the following exchange:

“Ready, Marge!”
“You bet your sweet ASS, Judy!”

After three tries the cart was cleared and I was tossed — discarded, really — onto a table of wool sweaters, where I remained in a fetal position until the three-hour sale ended… (Read more at LAP!)

Just like Justin Timberlake and sexy, I’m bringing May Day back

(Don’t Panic! It’s only Monday! While it’s true I don’t generally post until Tuesday, this week is an exception because someone has misplaced Monday. Probably one of my kids. So if you’ve seen it laying around anywhere, please let someone know. Oh, it also happens to be my turn over at Long Awkward Pause! So until we find Monday, feel free to read why I need your help in bringing May Day back…)

image Somewhere, lost between the risen Lord of Easter Sunday and the more laid-back Dos Equis guy of Cinco de Mayo, is the Roman flower goddess Flora, who used to reign supreme as THE party icon this time of year.

Nowadays, any May Pole dancing is purely coincidental, at strip clubs, with the only reference to Flora the flower goddess being dancers named “Daisy.” How did a celebration dating back before Jesus somehow get lost in the shuffle between Easter eggs and Mexican beer bottles? Even when I was a kid, which I’d like to point out was well after the resurrection and as recent as the 1970s A.D., I remember dancing around the sixth-grade May Pole and savoring the opportunity to hold hands with Sara Getlost as she cried out in springtime rapture, “Ewww! Ewww! Your hands are SWEATY! Ewww!”

It’s that kind of wild, springtime ecstacy that May Day and the goddess Flora were all about… (More at Long Awkward Pause)

Accompaniments for deep-fried turkey should include a fire extinguisher

Deep frying a turkey. Watching football. Both are great, but not together.

(Welcome to Flashback… Thursday? Sorry, I know this is a feature reserved for Sundays, but it must be the tripptof tryptoagh triptoe sleepy stuff in my turkey talking. Either way, just think of it as a special holiday post no one really asked for… And a chance for me to say: Thank You to each of you for all the laughs we share each week…)

The human brain.

Most of us have one.

For those who don’t, there are warning labels.

Unfortunately, these warnings don’t appear on actual humans. Instead, they are issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has the monumental task of thinking up ways stupid people might injure themselves using standard household items.

While the commission generally stays ahead of the curve with the help of researchers, lab studies, and a select group of retired circus chimps, from time to time a hot new product is embraced so quickly by the general public that there’s simply no time to warn them that actually embracing it could result in serious injury. This past holiday season, according to the safety commission, reports of house fires involving large men submerging whole turkeys into deep fryers has risen dramatically. This prompted the commission to issue a special, multi-paged consumer alert called:

Fryer, Fryer Pants on Fire. Continue reading

It’s time to separate Thanksgiving fact from fiction with the help of Mr. Knowitall

image It’s been 389 years since that first Thanksgiving, when the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians sat down together in celebration and, much like the Americans of today, made a solemn vow not to eat more than your standard bull elk.

We know this because of a passage recently discovered in the diary of Pilgrim Edward Winslow, who described the first Thanksgiving like this:

Our harvest be large so that we might rejoice! Our plates and bellies be full to swelling! We have feasted on meats and gathered crops, and pies of sweet fruit!
Aye, I say! I think it be time to vomit!

— Edward Winslow, Dec. 13, 1621

In spite of this kind of irrefutable historic documentation, many myths still exist about one of our most celebrated holidays. For example: Did anyone actually eat the Indian corn, or was it just used as a decoration? Continue reading