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.

On Blogging, Three Things...

Three Things I Did Over My Holiday Vacation

And, in the role of Florence Nightingale, Sarah Josepha Hale.
And, in the role of Florence Nightingale, Sarah Josepha Hale.

I Broke My Big Toe

Two days before Christmas, I fell down some stairs. To be more accurate, I fell down one stair.

My life is peppered with embarrassing injuries such as this. Once, while making my bed, I tore a tendon in my middle finger. To put it another way, I had to wear a splint on my finger for six weeks just to experience the bliss of hospital corners. I regret nothing.

So I am now using a cane. This has made me instantly popular. People love to play with canes. My son pretends to be an old man, my niece tap dances with it, my coworker uses it to fondly reflect on her days as a marching band majorette. As for me, I like to wave it at punk kids playing on my lawn. Scram, you miserable urchins!

 I Ran a Successful Mouse Motel

On the morning of December 26th I discovered that we had a Christmas mouse. Adorable Christmas mice are the subjects of many holiday picture books. These books, all fail to mention, however, that Christmas mice poop.

They poop a lot.

I knew the interloper had to go, but I also knew I wanted him unharmed. I set up a few Have-A-Heart traps and waited.

The problem with Have-A-Heart traps is that, once trapped, the mouse is enclosed in a tiny little box with just a morsel of bait and no water. Because if this, I am obsessed with releasing the fellows into “the wild” (about six blocks away) the instant they are caught.

By 10 pm, however, I had caught nothing. I was soon faced with the reality that I was probably going to catch the mouse in the middle of the night while I was sleeping. I hated the very idea. The little fellow could be stuck in that tiny trap for eight hours or more. So I promised God that if He woke me up as soon as the trap was sprung, I would set up a comfortable place for the mouse to stay until I could get around to releasing him.

At 4 am I sat bolt upright in bed. I hadn’t heard a trap spring, but I knew. I hobbled up to the attic, got the Plexiglas terrarium I sometimes use to transport my pet rat to the vet, and decked it out with some comfy bedding, fresh water, and primo rat food. My rat, Lucy, always a curious sort, watched me work.

A few minutes later, Ellen, hands on hips, joined this little gathering. She was less curious and decidedly more scornful. “Getting another pet, are we?” she asked.

Remember the show The Honeymooners? Remember how Alice Kramden sometimes looked at Ralph when she caught him doing something particularly boneheaded? Ellen looked exactly like that.

But my conscience is clear. The mouse was fat, content, and happy by the time I released him the next day.

I Discovered that Bloggers Give the Best Christmas Gifts

Sarah Josepha Hale makes her guests fell at home.
Sarah Josepha Hale makes her guests feel at home.

OK, they weren’t Christmas gifts, they were prizes I won in winter blog contests – but my good fortune arrived just in time to make me feel all holly jolly.

The first contest I won was over at Madame Weebles’s place. If you don’t know Weebles, you don’t get out much. She is a Blogger’s Blogger. She is probably the best blogger there ever was or ever will be. Through Weebles, I won a pair of classic Weeble Wobbles – the good ones from the 1970s. I have named then Cornelius and Corky and they are friends with my Sarah Josepha Hale bobblehead.

The second contest was conducted by Roxie Hanna. If you write for a living you must, must, must visit her blog. She provides great leads for all kinds of writing gigs. (I personally have earned a nice chunk of change pursing a few of these leads.) Roxie gave me the gift of her editorial skills. She scrutinized one of my picture book manuscripts and provided me with a bunch of excellent comments.

The third contest was held by Sarah W. Sarah’s blog is a hodgepodge of awesomeness. Cartoons, videos, poems… Every day at her place is a delight. (Oh, and just so you know, Sarah’s daughter will someday rule the world – or at least a mid-sized island nation with a solid GDP.) I wasn’t planning to enter the contest, but Sarah made me. And then I won! So I am now the proud owner of a Cafepress mug. I slurped coffee out of it this morning; it works like a charm!

To sum up, I have an ugly toe, think mice are adorable, and am glad to be back in the blogging world.

So! How was your holiday?