Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Last Blog of Christmas: Merry Christmas To All, and To All a Goodnight!


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For my subscribers, you’re inbox is about to become lighter. I’ve met my goal of twelve holiday blogs. I even accomplished it in twelve days this year (yes, I cheated by posting four today, but who’s checking?). 

Though some of my
topics were silly and I often wrote tongue in cheek about holiday topics, I
hope they provided some holiday cheer and that it’s clear I actually love the
holidays. Nothing is more special to me than spending time with my family and
friends, and the holidays provide us the perfect excuse to pause our hectic
lives to carve out time for such visits. Sure, it seems like we’re only adding
to the chaos with parties to plan, presents to purchase, and dinners to attend,
but those are just the tangible things around which we gather. I hope for all
of you that sometime today you had or will have a moment to sit back and
reflect on the real reasons we love the holidays. I, for one, am surrounded by
them: I’m writing this by the fire, with a cat on my lap, and my parents and
grandmother in various states of dozing. We may not be picturesque, but to me,
we’re the perfect picture of the Christmas spirit.

Hoping your Christmases
were as wonderful and wishing you a very happy new year!
 

~Lauren

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The 2nd (to last) Blog of Christmas: A Click Away for Christmas


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“I’ll be Home for
Christmas” was always one of those Christmas songs that made me sad. Imagine
being half a world away from family or friends for the holidays, not getting to
see the faces of the ones you loved. Except on Skype, or using Facetime, or
texting pictures and notes back and forth all morning. Okay, clearly the
lyricist for that song didn’t foresee modern technology.

I’m sure that virtual
visits are not the same as being able to actually spend time with family, but
with today’s apps and gadgets, the pain of distance is certainly diminished.
Though most of these apps and social media sites have been around for years,
they were never so much a part of my life until recenlty. Having to use them to
market my writing, I became more comfortable using them. Okay, I’ve become
slightly addicted to them. Two years ago I thought blogging, status updating, and
tweeting were for self-centered celebrities. Now with three lovely nieces and
dozens of family and friends spread out over the country, I couldn’t imagine
going weeks, months, or even years without seeing everyone’s pictures and
reading their updates.

In one wonderful Christmas
morning I chatted with friends on texts, saw one of my nieces opening my
present to her in a quick phone photo, read a comment on my own post from a
cousin-in-law in Germany who I’ve never met in the ‘real-world,’ and got to coo
over the adorable Christmas dress of another niece, all without ever getting
dressed. I may not have a reindeer powered sled that can zoom me from house to
house in under twenty-four hours, but I don’t need one. I have Facebook and a
smart phone. Take that St. Nick!

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The 3rd Blog of Christmas: Freaky Fowl


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“Christmas is coming the
capon’s getting fat, please put a penny in the old man’s hat!”


The Twelve Days of
Christmas song involves flocks of birds, and nothing screams holidays like the
mouthwatering smell of a roast bird wafting from the oven to fill the house.
But let’s face it, chicken and turkey, even goose, have been over-exposed in
Christmas songs and movies. It’s time to look beyond the mundane to less
popular, more pompous poultry. We could have gone Cornish hens, but there’s
something about those tiny little birds on the plates that makes me sad. We
could have done duck, but then all I’d be able to think about is The
Christmas Story
when the duck
arrives on the table with its head still attached. “It’s smiling at me!”

So instead we chose the
capon for this Christmas Eve’s dinner. With my mother’s excellent cooking and
delicious side-dishes, the meal was superb. Although at the risk of sounding
cliché, it kind of tasted like ordinary chicken. So was it worth all the extra
money? Heck, yeah. If for nothing other than pure entertainment purposes, capon
was worth the cash. Why? Well, all you have to do is read what my friend Wikipedia has to say about our
poor bird, and you can imagine the fun we had.
 

Caponization is
the process of turning a cockerel (young rooster) into a capon. Caponization
can be done by surgically removing the rooster’s testes, or may also be
accomplished through the use of estrogen implants.
 

Yup,
capon is a fancy word for castrated cockerel, which is achieved either through
a sex change surgery (paid for by the state of Massachusetts) or by pumping him
up with more female hormones than a Jazzercize class.

With either
method, the sex hormones normally present in roosters are no longer effective.
Caponization must be done before the rooster matures, so that it develops
without the influence of sex hormones.

It’s
very important to feminize prior to puberty, otherwise its hormones messes with
development. As a middle school teacher who’s chaperoned her last school dance,
I can attest to this!
 

Capons, due to
the lack of sex hormones, are not as aggressive as normal roosters. This makes
capons easier to handle and allows capons to be kept together with other capons
since their reduced aggressiveness prevents them from fighting.

There’s
no cock fighting in the capon house. Castrated cocks are civilized and genial.

The lack of sex
hormones results in meat that is less gamy in taste. Capon meat is also more
moist, tender, and flavorful than that of a hen or rooster, which is due not only
to the hormonal differences during the capon’s development but also because
capons are not as active as roosters, which makes their meat more tender and
fatty.

Capons taste better, not
only because they lack masculine hormones, but because in exchange for us
taking their testes, they’re allowed to live lives of leisure, at least until
we kill and cook them.

As you can imagine, there
were plenty of comments concerning our Christmas dinner, which were even less
fit to print than these. But we still ate the sucker, and we laughed, a lot,
and laughter is the best dish any family can share!

 

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The 4th Blog of Christmas: Fashion Phenomena


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The humorless boss who
crosses his legs at the last meeting before the holidays only to reveal brightly-colored Santa socks beneath his three-piece suit. The old marm school teacher,
who truly doesn’t smile before Christmas, but shows up to teach the day before
vacation wearing jingle bell earrings. The grumpy gruff uncle who growls 364
days a year, but attends the family holiday party wearing the brightest of
red sweaters.

There’s something about
the holidays that eliminates our fashion inhibitions and allows even the most
conservative or style conscious among us to don baubled socks, tacky sweaters,
singing ties, light-up jewelry, or silly hats. Perhaps it’s the little kid in
each of us, just squirming to get out, or the desire for anything that
brightens the darkest days of the year. Perhaps we’ve all just had too much nog
or have killed our brain cells with the chemicals from our pine-scented
candles. I could care less what causes the phenomena; I just love the excuse to
dress silly and to smile. And there’s no way you can look at a grown man with a
flashing, music-playing tie, or a grown woman with an elf hat, ears included
and not smile. So go on, crack a grin.

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The 5th Blog of Christmas: Five Golden Things


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(Yup, still going. Almost caught up, too. Mailbox getting full yet? Sorry ’bout that.)

Twenty-four karat bling.
Warm beach sand. Sweet Twinkies. There are some 
wonderful golden treats in
life. What makes life truly golden, though, is harder to find in stores than that Twinkie. Here’s this year’s
list of the things that make it all worth it.

Vision. You don’t have to
have it all. You just have to know what it is you 
want and be willing to
work for it.

Inhibition. Life’s too
short to worry about what the rest of the world thinks. Be polite, be kind, but
then be yourself.

Perspective. When the
little things loom large, turn on the news. There’s always someone who has it
worse. When the world’s problems drag you down, turn off the news. There’s
always something or someone close at hand to cheer you up. (If you’re having
trouble finding that something, call me. I’ll loan you Bert the Farting Hippo.)

Contentment. ‘Happiness’
is subjective and can be fleeting. Contentment is appreciating what you’ve got
and accepting what you don’t. Don’t worry, be content.

Hope. You won’t always
have physical health, or monetary wealth, or everything else you think you
need. But if you hang on to hope, you’ve got more than enough.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Golden New Year!

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The 6th Blog of Christmas: Questionable Carols

(Yup, just cranking ’em out today. More than half way through!)


Last year I wrote about
how it seems there are only half a dozen holiday tunes that just keep playing on
endless track. This year, in hopes a few musicians rectified this problem in the intervening months, I went in search for some different “Christmas”
music. I came across a few doozies, old and new. Rather than get wordy in my
complaining about these (in order) depressing, twisted, and inappropriate
tunes, I’ll keep it simple. Listen and judge for yourself. Just be warned: I
wouldn’t recommend adding any of these to your playlist for dinner tomorrow!


I made the playlist on Spotify, a great music site, well worth creating a free account with!

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The 7th Blog of Christmas: Ghosties and Ghoulies?

Yeah, I’m behind. Shocking, right? Anyway, I’m getting caught up so that I can wish you…Season’s Greetings? 



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This holiday may you be
blessed with the sentiments of the season: peace, love, and…terror? Back that
up. I think there’s been some holiday confusion. Ghosts, ghouls, and fear
belong at Halloween, not Christmas. Even then, it’s done in good fun. Watching
a frightening movie or donning a scary mask gives us a chance to laugh at our
irrational fear. As adults we know the movie is fiction and the mask is
plastic. But to a six-year-old the fear of chained ghosts, child-stealing
demons, or worse, present-stealing monsters doesn’t seem so irrational. Yet
these are the ‘Christmas stories’ we tell our kids.

Granted, there aren’t too
many six-year-olds reading Dickens before bed, but it is a bit odd that one of
the most famous tales of Christmas is really a ghost story. The spirits in A
Christmas Carol
may not be overly
terrifying, especially in the children’s adaptations of this tale, but they are
ghosts, ghosts that warn of eternal damnation, nonetheless. Besides, any Harry Potter
fan will tell you that the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is clearly a
soul-sucking Dementor just twitching for Voldy to give the order to suck out
Scrooge’s reforming soul.


Speaking of reclamations,
Dr. Suess’s Grinch isn’t exactly warm and fuzzy prior to his transformation.
“You’re a mean one” doesn’t quite cut it for a green, hairy monster who sneaks
into people’s homes during the night to rob them of their Christmas. Frankly, I
find many of Suess’s characters a little creepy, but the long-fingered Grinch
with his sleazy voice and evil eyebrows is particularly terrifying.

But nothing beats Krampus
of the Alpine countries. Forget Marley’s chains and the Grinch stealing
presents. The Krampus is a horned demon meant to resemble the devil. He carries
a rusty chain, a whip to beat children with, and a bathtub with which to carry
away the particularly bad ones. Forget Elf on the Shelf or the threat of coal.
Krampus is some serious brand of nasty. If Christmas is mainly for the kids,
Krampus is for the bitter, child-hating relatives who wish the family rugrats
would not just disappear, but be carried away to the depths of hell.

Okay, I’m having a change
of heart about the elf. Perhaps a jolly little toy to keep the kids in line is
the way to go. It certainly beats the alternatives. Anyone else sleeping with
the lights on tonight?

Haunting, ah, I mean Happy Holidays!


Special thanks to K. A. Krisko for suggesting Krampus as a blog topic this year. I always love learning new things, especially freaky and somewhat terrifying things!

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