Block Party

Blocks!Always be careful what you wish for. Last year, when I secretly decorated the house for Christmas (as documented in a recent issue of The Boston Globe Magazine) I was filled with a sense of personal triumph.

Ha HA! I thought. The house is decorated exactly the way I like it!

Little did I know that last year’s bit of derring-do would lead to a new family tradition: I am now The Official Holiday Decorator. In other words, my wife no longer cares where the carolers go.

So while Ellen educated young minds and Alex nursed his post nasal Niagara Falls, I set up the village, manger, Santas, sleds, fake packages, and our ever-growing platoon of Lenox snowmen.

I decided that my new decorating responsibility also included throwing out all the holiday doodads that sprinkle glitter over my freshly vacuumed floor. Which reminds me:

Dear Extended Family,

If you send me a card with glitter on it, it’ll go in the trash before it gets out of the envelope. Merry Christmas!

Your pal, Mike

Long story short, decorating is a big job, but I do enjoy it. And, once in a while, a holiday decoration can create some fun, unexpected puzzle time.

BlocksEllen bought these blocks at a post-holiday sale last year. She packed them away before they could properly go on display so I didn’t know what they were supposed to spell.

Blocks 2“NOEL” seemed like a logical place to start.

Blocks 3But the end result left something to be desired.

I could also spell out “SILENT.” But, what was left didn’t make much sense.

Blocks 4It did, however, fill my brain with amusing images of a tow truck driver who moonlights as a mime.

This one captures the spirit of a contemporary Christmas…

Blocks let's own itThis one not so much…

Blocks silt town It does, however, conjure up images of a charming fishing village — like Cabot Cove, but without all of the serial killing.

By this point I had figured out that the blocks were supposed to spell “LET IT SNOW,” but I no longer cared. I was having too much fun.

Blocks o lint stewMmm! Just the way Mom used to make it!

Blocks toilets nowI support this cause.

And then there’s this one:

Blocks stolen witI often feel this way when I need to write an amusing blog post the morning after I spend half the night decorating the house.

I better go sleepy now.


96 Replies to “Block Party”

  1. Clever!!! Oh, how I enjoy reading your posts every week. In this one, you got us hooked on the first line (I’m ALWAYS careful what I wish for …!!), snagged us with the mystery of the letters, got us to chuckle with your spelling guesses, and then just gave us a warm fuzzy hug with your wit – stolen or not. Merry Merry – and THANK YOU.

  2. Haha! My fav is “Let’s Own It!” I love your light-hearted posts! (BTW… the tree has fallen over now for the fourth time… after adding wood shims to the base… so it is now relegated to the corner where the walls will catch it if it goes again! Can you spell “Freak Show” for me with those blocks? WTF?!!!

    1. Be the American consumer to make us all proud. Pull up your socks and take that tree back for a full refund. The customer is always right. Already decorated? Charge the tree vendor a processing fee. Let’s Own It! Kelly. 🙂

      1. Haha Bruce! I bought it at Costco! They actually would take it back! Reason for return? Defective? Who can’t get a Christmas tree to stand upright?! Again… WTF!!!

      2. I’ve heard that the good folks at Costco don’t ask a lot of questions before they give you your money back. Surely, they will understand that nobody bought a tree with the idea that it will lean against the wall. Another solution might be for them to sell you a Costco-packaged set of four hand saws to trim the bottom of the tree trunk. Don’t need FOUR hand saws tightly wrapped in hard plastic? Keep one and you’ll have three extra. Everyone gets hand saws for Christmas this year.

      3. Yeah, that’s the truth! Surprised I didn’t have to buy the tree in a 4-pack! They don’t remind you to give it a fresh cut either… gotta wonder how many people have trees falling over with brown needles on them as well! Could be worse! Now I feel a little better – thanks, Bruce!!!

      4. This gives me a great idea! Why not save THIS years tree and return it NEXT year as defective (“Hey, this tree got old REALLY fast!”) for a full refund. Buy a replacement tree. Repeat next year (hoping that Costco has high employee turnover and no one notices the annual visit).

      1. Wha? No. Keep the trunk part facing down and tie the top branches to the ceiling.

        Since the tree is originally a pagan Winter Solstice ritual that Christians decided to adopt, Satan doesn’t really enter into it at all.

        Long story short, hang your tree any way you want without fear. Or let it fall over for a fifth time; that’s fine, too. 😉

      2. Haha – maybe Gaga’s tree is made of meat… to match her infamous dress and all 🙂
        I was thinking of the trunk, of course, if the tree was hung upside down… would only make sense to go with a pretty heavy-duty hook to hold the weight, don’t you think?! Are you in the UK? Don’t observe Boxing Day in the states!

    2. When our youngest was little, we put the tree in the playpen. You could try that. I would have put it in the corner too. Bad tree! Stay in the corner and lean up against that wall!!
      But then again, look how much fun you’ve had with it already. 🙂

      1. Wow! The pack n’ play to the rescue, eh?! You sure are creative! And I agree with you – it’s a bad, bad tree! On Santa’s naughty list for sure! Haha!

  3. O** LINT STEW is definitely my favorite!

    My mother had large plastic holly branches that spelled NOEL. Drove her nuts that the rest of the family was constantly re-arranging them into non-words. We would have had a field day with that many letters!

      1. Ah, well, at the molecular level, Virginia Woolf argues that words have a mind of their own, so why not letters on blocks? I’ve got a post about it where she says, words “hate being useful, that it is their nature not to express one simple statement but a thousand possibilities…” You’re musing at the atomic level, letters on blocks. I’m thinking that those blocks may have something to do with particle physics, the essence of humor. Yes? I’ll let you think about that for awhile. And if you’d like to hear Virginia Woolf’s voice reading her essay, check the post out:

        She did have a sense of humor, despite her struggles with depression. Cheers!

      2. Actually, what I meant to say was: “You people and your scatological humor fall far outside the boundaries of good Christmas taste!” Or maybe it’s the lint stew that falls outside the bounds of good taste….

      3. You clearly don’t season your lint stew properly. Paula Deen adds four tons of butter. Rachel Rey recommends pouring something out of a can. Guy Fieri suggests bleach and lots of hairspray. So you got a few options.

  4. I pretty much lost it at Silt Towne. And let me tell you, hysterical giggling with sinus congestion (I had my first ‘common cold’ last week, or at least the first one I ever recall having. I usually skip straight to ‘severe respiratory infection’.) is… interesting.

  5. What a great party game! Give each person 30 seconds to make a word, subtract points if you don’t use all the letters! 😀

  6. I loved this and it has me chuckling away -some days just dissolve into wonderful nonsense! Have fun with the rest of the decoration. As for glitter cards, I’ve found the wrapping paper with glitter a thousand times worse!

  7. LOL love the blocks and the messages you came up with. Thanks for the laugh. What a great way to start the day and I’m secretly laughing at you now having to do all the holiday decorating. Ellen is a very smart woman. Reminds me of my husband who is now responsible for paying all the bills. Be careful what you wish for, indeed! And also be careful of what you say. ha.

  8. Hey, Mike. I hopped here from Diana’s page (Myths of the Mirror), thinking you might be in my area (saw the reference to the Boston Globe). Too bad. I’m always up for grabbing lunch and chatting with fellow writers. But nice to be aware of your presence in the world. Enjoyed the post!

      1. Absolutely.

        BTW, you’ve overlooked (or, perhaps, wisely chosen to omit) some other interesting options with those blocks. Drop an email if you’re curious.

  9. I love your imagination Mike! You are a hoot!! I think I know the answer though…
    Has anyone else come up with: LET IT SNOW…?
    Not that it matters in the least at this point! I’m sure you already know what it is supposed to say! LOL! 😛
    Merry Christmas!!! 😉

  10. Dear Writer Fellow: You being a kids’ book author and all, I’m sometimes not qualified to comments on your posts, having neither kids nor really much that’s age appropriate in my house. But I want to report that I spent 72 hours with wee ones at my house during the holidays! I learned a lot and intend to practice on your blog. For example, I now have the experience to whip out a quote from Wreck It Ralph or even Inside Out. Well, I can’t exactly remember any quotes right now, but I like your blocks a lot. I wished I’d had some when the kids were here. Then again, who knows what they might have spelled!

    1. You, my friend are ALWAYS qualified to comment on my posts. When you don’t comment, a little angel somewhere sheds a single tear.

      I salute you, Laurel. Being well versed in the art of cartoon quoting is an essential component of aunt-and/or-uncle-ing. When my sister’s boy (now 22) was a wee one, I memorized entire episodes of Blues Clues. To this day whenever I head off to the post office, I still sometimes catch myself singing this:

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