Family and/or Autobiography, On Writing

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.

 

Family and/or Autobiography, On Writing

Confessions of a Stealth Holiday Decorator

Illustration by Gracia Lam
Illustration by Gracia Lam. Isn’t it great?

Never in my life have a sold a personal essay so quickly. I sent “Confessions Of A Stealth Holiday Decorator” to The Boston Globe Magazine on a lark, hoping they’d take an interest. Within a week, the magazine bought it. Two weeks later it was in print and online.

The timing could not have been better, either, for I had been in a bit of a dry spell, unable to get nibbles on my creative writing. The submission process always has a lot of ebb and flow, of course, but 2015 had a heckuva lot of ebb.

Long story short, Boston gave me the most wicked awesome Christmas present ever.

Read the story here!

 

 

Family and/or Autobiography

Elfless Shelves, Etc.

Meet the elf! Oh, how I hate him.
Meet the Elf! Oh, how I hate him.

Elf On The Shelf People fall into two categories:

There are the Earnest Elf People, the ones who go to great lengths to show off the little guy’s wondrous magic. When they are not ooh-ing and ahh-ing the Elf’s antics, they use his existence as a means to deliver thinly veiled threats. (“Oh, I sure hope the Elf didn’t see that!”)

Then there are the Naughty Elf People, who take great pleasure showing the little guy breaking into the liquor cabinet or making a lecherous pass at a Bratz doll.

Most of my friends fall into the latter category.

As for me, I am not an Elf-On-The-Shelf Person. I believe that warrantless elf spying violates my civil rights. If Santa is too lazy to find out on his own if someone is naughty or nice – something he did with little effort back in the 1970s, I might add – well, that’s his problem, not mine. I’m showing that pint-sized KGB agent the door.

As a parent of a young child, however, this opinion of mine is not popular. My son can’t help but notice that almost all of his classmates have elves. I suppose that in this age of social media run amok – an era when nobody can reasonably expect any right to privacy – having an elfin tattletale skulking around is something to covet.

I don’t get it, but there it is.

So my son and I compromised.

Meet Butter Boy! My stupidest impulse buy ever.
Meet Butter Boy!

Butter Boy is perhaps the most useless kitchen gadget ever. You shove a stick of butter in his head and it allows you to easily butter your corn on the cob. Since corn on the cob season is over, I offered B.B. some seasonal work.

See? He's a lobbyist for Big Coal! (These ideas seem like good ones at 6 a.m.)
Hey, it seemed like a good idea at 6 a.m.

Butter boy is not the only unusual holiday decoration we have these days; we also have a Christmas Mouse.

As longtime readers of this blog might recall, I had a Christmas Mouse last year, too. I released him the day after I caught him because the weather was mild.

This year’s visitor, however, decided to poop on my countertops the day after we had a horrible snowstorm. I couldn’t release the little guy under such terrible conditions, so he’s now a houseguest, living the Life of Riley in a mouse condo – eating cashews, cereal, and peanut butter – until the weather decides to cooperate.

As I write this, it is snowing. So, yes, there is a reasonable chance this guy might be rooming with us until April.

If he wasn’t so gosh darn adorable, I’d mind — but he is, so I don’t.