Category Archives: Fun & Shenanigans

Top Ten Christmas Miracles of 2011

The Holiday Season has been so good to me that I almost expect it’s up to something.  You know that feeling you get when your Significant Other unexpectedly treats you to a super special dinner and in the back of your cynical little mind you think, “Is he boinking the blonde in accounting?” Or when your boss gives you lavish praise and you wonder, “Am I on the list for lay offs?”  Yeah- Christmas has been that kind of good. Some would say it was a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!

 No ghosts came to escort me through portals of time and I spent no time conversing with an angel named Clarence. They are small miracles I suppose but none the less they are mine.

Christmas miracle #1: My four-year old son bought my “Giving is Better than Receiving” shtick.

Trying to teach Leo about giving, I volunteered us to buy Christmas for two children in need. Wonderful in theory but in practical application, it can be rather difficult to talk a child into buying toys for OTHER children.

In the days leading up to the shopping trip I talked excitedly about how much fun we would have being elves. I have learned that talking about chores, vegetables and other “undesirables” with as much enthusiasm as possible can be helpful with children. It’s tricky though, kids might be all, “Brocoli, hell yeah!” However they are just as likely to look at you like you’re an idiot and refuse. In this case the tactic was working pretty well  until the morning of the shopping trip.

“Are you excited about our trip later today? We get to be elves! Giving to those kids is going to make them sooooo happy and that’s what Christmas is all about!” I squealed.

“No it’s NOT Momma. Christmas is about getting toys and trucks and, and . . . and BOUNCY BALLS!” My son hollers.

Bouncy Balls?

Who says Bouncy Balls? Did Charles Dickens make an appearance at Leo’s daycare that I was unaware of?

Perhaps he just had not had enough Cheerios or juice that morning because when the time for Target rolled around he was in a significantly brighter mood. Still, lets not kid ourselves, I was walking into a potential hellish situation.

Boy was I wrong. He was an absolute angel. He spent some time looking at toys I knew he would give his left chubby cheek for but he never once asked for a toy for himself.  His excitement grew as he helped me pick out all the gifts. He knew just what to get the little boy. He was less certain about the little girl, at one point he stopped in his tracks and loudly said, “Uh, don’t girls like THAT?” Pointing an accusing finger at a Hello Kitty toaster oven.

I was beaming with pride as we checked out and by the time I loaded up the toys in the trunk I was doing that crazy happy cry thing I do sometimes.

From the back seat Leo asks me, “Momma, why are  you all stiffly?”

“I am so proud of you Leo! You did something that many adults (myself included) have a hard time doing.”

“Oh, but why are you crying?”

“Sometimes when grown ups are very happy they cry.”

“Momma, sometimes grown ups are silly.”

  True.

Christmas miracle #2: My Baby’s Daddy and I took our son to see Santa . . . together.

That’s right. Together. Was it awkward? Only slightly. We actually got along and may, I mean may have even shared a laugh or two. I left patting myself on the back for being such a mature human being, and thinking we may have a snowball’s chance in hell at getting along. 

#3 My four-year olds wavering belief in Santa was completely restored. 

#4 Fiance became one of those slightly creepy, yet magical Elf on the Shelf parents.

#5 No one got food poisoning from the Chinese food that by all practical purposes should have landed us in the hospital.

#6 I spent an entire holiday season with out getting down in the mouth about my dysfunctional family and was not once haunted by the ghost of Christmas past.

#7  XXX’s The Most Interesting Man in the world holiday ad campaign. One word: Brilliant!

#8 I hand crafted my Christmas gifts to Fiance and they didn’t suck!!

#9 I somehow managed to never set foot into a post office or mall.

#10 On Christmas Eve my son climbs out of the bath tub and as I wrap him up in a towel he looks at me with his enormous chocolate eyes and says, “Momma, sometimes I think I have so much love in my heart that it will grow and grow, like the Grinch’s heart. Only my heart will keep growing and it will just explode love all over you.”

I can feel myself raise my eyebrows. What is he up to? Does he want something? Another cookie, more stories, to open a Christmas gift? I brush the thought away like a snowflake from my shoulder and I pull him to me tightly.

“Sometimes I think mine will too.” I tell him as one of my dumb happy tears rolls down my cheek and on to his back.    

I guess miracles are not up to anything after all.

Annnnd, because if you know me you know that I heart George Michael. It would not be Christmas with out this:

Peace out Christmas.

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new tradition making: one of the perks of being old.

I used to tell myself a lot of things about myself that simply were not true.  I used to say, in my typical Cynical-Cindy way, “Eh, I’m not really in to the holidays. I don’t really go out for the whole tradition thing.” I envisioned myself more of the Thelma and Louise type. On Thanksgiving Day I’d be more likely to saunter into a gin joint in some far-flung border town and order the bar a round of shots than to cook up some dead bird. Let me tell you, that was fantasy. Pure bull shit, really. As it turns out, I love tradition about as much as an Alabama church lady loves deviled eggs.

This brings me to:  The Second Annual Thanksgiving Deviled Egg-Off.  This is a relatively new tradition where creativity, competition and everyone’s favorite picnic food unite for a good old fashion throw down:

Like any good contest there are rules, most of which we made up as we went along.

Rule Number One: There are to be no repeating recipes. This rule was promptly vetoed by Fiancé, who argued rather convincingly that was like saying that Grandma couldn’t make her famous fruitcake every year.  I don’t like fruitcake much, but he did have a point.

Rule Number Two: All entries must be named. There were She-deviled Eggs, Domino’s Pizza Eggs and something called Shmeggs. Don’t ask. Contestants had to give a little presentation about their eggs over a bull horn. Even though there were less than a dozen of us, a bullhorn just makes things seem more official don’t you think?

Presentations went something like: “These eggs are fresh from a local farm and topped with prosciutto made from pigs that were fed only chestnuts.”

or

“These eggs come from places so far away we have never even heard of them. They are pumped full of hormones and ingredients you can not pronounce. There is a lot a fear and rage inside each of these eggs.”

 Then it was time to vote. After we discussed different categories and a lot of complicated formulas that looked like logarithms, we finally settled on the ‘ol put a ballot in a hat method. There were ten guests and yet seventeen ballots were counted. The winner took home an original piece of art (magic marker on copy paper) and a full belly.

oh and did I mention the amazing table scape??

The rest of the holiday was chock full of more fun traditions. Some old, like my cornbread dressing and canned cranberry sauce. Some new, like combining the card game Apples to Apples and the liquor 99 Bananas into one stellar drinking game. (Maybe we should start calling that Fruit Salad?) Some ill-advised, like staying out far too late the night before said cornbread dressing and deviled eggs are to be made. Picture if you will me in my robe and my sleepy fiancé in his underwear desperately trying to peel eggs and chop celery in our tiny kitchen. And some completely foreign, like me at a college football game, watching as 150 year old trees get toilet papered and people take tailgating to a level I had never knew possible, and – gasp! – enjoying every second of it!

Now is the time that people all over the world are starting the preparations for their upcoming holiday traditions.  As I write this people are busting out menorahs, flinging tinsel, hording wrapping paper and booking extra appointments with their shrink. In the days to come people will be buying Wal-Mart out of outdoor lights, annoying coworkers by incessantly humming Christmas carols under their breath, dusting off the ol holiday sweater, and slaving over the annual family newsletter. The air around us is alive with tradition and I find myself wondering: what in the heck I ever had against it anyway?

Oh, wait, I know. Because tradition is a tricky little minx. Sure, that cornbread dressing is delish but in order to eat it do we have to sit around with a table full of Sad-Sam’s or Angry-Andy’s?  We look forward to feeling warm and fuzzy, basking in the glow of a fire as we  roast chestnuts (not that I have ever roasted a chestnut in my life, but you get the point)  only to wind up feeling let down and empty after all the nuts have cracked. So many us developed the tendency, like myself, to Grinch-out a bit and just say Bah- Humbug to the whole tradition ordeal.

But here is the great part – the Bob Crotchet, George  Bailey, wonderful, wonderful part – that I am just now beginning to understand: I get to create my own traditions now. Be it gin joints and shots or dead birds, they are MY traditions.

So, lets start with a few of the traditions I will not be partisapating in this year:  or any other:

I will not be driving all over town busting my ass to see multiple facets’ of family, some of which are not that pleasant to be around any way, because otherwise I would be sick with guilt.

I am no longer under any obligation to clean, cook and decorate my brains out for the never quite satisfied lover.

I will never again bust my ass on Christmas Eve buying cheap filler gifts at the mall just so that I have something to give the never quite satisfied lover’s Aunt Ethel who is always telling everyone that I am going to hell because I live in sin.

 No more pretending that Uncle Roy is not drunk. Never again will I silently nod my head in agreement when Aunt Rita says “he’s just really tired” when he passes out in the mashed potatoes.

There will be no more silently praying to disappear or wishing to join Uncle Roy in blessed un- awareness as I listen to Uncle Keith spew all sorts of hate disguised as religion and politics.

 And with all of the ghosts from holidays past outta the way, I have so much more room to create whatever traditions I want.  Like Deviled-Egg Offs and Early 90’s Pop Sing-a-Longs-Thons. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get really into outdoor light displays à la Clark Griswold, or take up a toy drive. But one thing is for sure, this year I will be counting all my many blessings and enjoying all the room I have made in my life for love.

And what about you guys? What are you purging and what are you creating this season? I’ll be featuring your creative holiday traditions as well as humorous holiday horror stories here!

Send ‘em to me at: ms.lovenhappiness@gmail.com

Annnnnnd here is a little something to get you in the spirit:

“Dear Ms. Love n Happness,” Like Dear Abby off her meds.

Dear Readers (all two of you),  

You lucky dog! You have experienced me bending your ear about my wack-a-do problems. Now it’s your turn.

 I thought it would be fun to experiment with a “Dear Ms. Love n Happiness” feature on my blog. Like this one: http://mslovenhappiness.com/2011/11/09/chicken-soup-for-the-soul-or-dear-ms-love-n-happiness/ and I could really, really use your help.

 Could you PRETTY, PRETTY, PRETTY please take a moment out of your crazy-ass life to do two things:

 1) Jot down a question about life and fire it off to me. @ ms.lovenhappiness@gmail.com

Don’t worry! You and anyone you speak about will remain completely incognito, unless of course you are glutton for glory.

Fear not! If you don’t have the time to craft a cutesy question, it could be a simple prompt. Think Mike Myers and Coffee Talk:  “I’ve been dating this guy for a few months and the first time I spent the night at his house he came to bed in pajamas and a breath right strip. WTF? This was an absolute deal breaker and now I won’t return his calls.  Am I shallow? ” I can take it from there. Of course if you fill inspired WRITE ON!

My areas of (supposed) expertise: Single parenting, parenting, dating, blending families, relationships, crazy ex’s, really, really ridiculously dysfunctional families, antics, rants, fun and trying your damnedest to live a good life. And!  Powered by the world-wide web and a library card, I will even do research if I don’t have the answer. I. Am. Not. Scared.

And, while I may be a snarky puss the majority of the time, I am capable of being rather kind: http://mslovenhappiness.com/2011/10/25/the-amish-instinct/ and kinda deep. Kinda. See: http://mslovenhappiness.com/2011/11/04/an-open-letter-to-my-father-the-meth-addict/

 2) Recruit a friend to do the same! Let’s face it, I am usually always stuck at a desk or chasing a toddler so getting my writing out beyond my circle has been tough. Please, let your friends, colleges and family members critic my perspective and crappy grammar! The more the merrier.

 Let’s Talk!

You are achingly beautiful and wise.

♥ & ☺,
C.
ps
This is like butta!

Chicken Soup for the Soul or Dear Ms. Love n Happiness,

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness,

You seem to have been around the block quite a few times and you certainly like to give out a lot of unsolicited advice, so I was hoping you might be able to shed some light on a relationship situation for me. I’ve been with my boyfriend for a little over a year. I’m not sure what to do anymore; I just don’t feel like he loves me. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that makes me feel this way but sometimes his behavior make me wonder if he cares one way or another about me or our relationship.  I’ve gone out of my way to show him how much I care.  I’ve begged and pleaded for him to show me a little bit of emotion, to let me know he cares in return. When I bring it up all I get in return is a blank stare. He tells me I am dramatic, that I have watched too many romantic movies and that life is not like the Notebook or Sleepless in Seattle. So, what do you think? Am I expecting too much or am I in denial of the fact that I am being settled for?

                                    Signed,

                                                Settled

 Dear Settled,

I am intrigued by your ability to both offend and engage me in just one paragraph! I’d also like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to feel as if, even only for a moment, that I am an expert at something. If that something is icky relationships then so be it! I’d also like to qualify any advice I give with the disclaimer that I rarely know what I’m talking about and that I am much better at analyzing strangers “situations” (which, by the way is a word that gives me the Heebiejeebies ) than I am at applying the advice to my own life. But you opened up Pandora’s Box, so here goes.

I once had a boyfriend who I suspected of  settling for me. For simplicity sake, for future reference and just because I find it fun to say, I will refer to him as Mr. Wrong.

Like you, there were certain things Mr. Wrong did that made me feel like he just didn’t care. The first time I met Mr. Wrong, he saved my number in his phone with my name misspelled. At the end of our relationship it was still misspelled. Telling, no?  Just a few weeks into dating he invited me over for dinner and left me waiting outside his door for over thirty minutes while he ran to the store for beer and ground beef. Did I mention that I didn’t eat beef? Once he broke plans with me to go out to a hot new restaurant with some of his friends. He called me late at night to tell me he was bringing me a surprise.  

Surprise!  Here are my leftovers and this is a booty call.

  Eventually I would get fed up and confront him with these behaviors. His response was to tell me that I’d read one to many romance novels, which just shed further light on the fact that this guy did not know me at all. I was a Literature major and I was too busy trying to translates Chaucer’s middle English, or attempting to figure out what in the hell was wrong with Hemingway to read romance novels. Or, he would hand me this line about how it was not him, it was me. Mr. Wrong explained that the real reason that I was offended that he always used all the hot water and that he still saved voice mails from ex- girlfriends was because I didn’t love myself enough. Sounded like BS, but he was older and believed himself to be wiser so I figured he knew what he was talking about.

I swear, a guy reads one article in your O Magazine and he can twist that shit around and use it against you in ways that will make you doubt your sanity. Perhaps I was off my rocker a bit. What young, hot, smart and capable woman gives years of her life away to a guy who always uses the last of the hot water before you can shower, does not know your friends names and does not know how you take your coffee? Please, don’t buy into the load of hoo ha about why he does not know what you take in your coffee. It’s not because men are from Jupiter or because he didn’t have a close relationship with his mom. He does not know because he does not give a shit!

As much as I value my coffee, it was actually chicken soup that put me over the edge. I was struck down with a horrible stomach bug and had to speed several days and nights in the fetal position on the floor of my bathroom. When I finally recovered enough to think about how empty my belly was, yet too weak to  do anything about it myself, I put in a call to Mr. Wrong to request some chicken soup. He was out but told me that he’d wrap up shortly and bring me some soup. Hours passed. I woke up around three o’clock in the morning and stumbled across the room to retrieve my ringing phone. I had missed a phone call from Mr. Wrong. Praying he was on his way with chicken soup, saltines and ginger ale I listened to his voice mail:

“Hey, uh, they didn’t really have any soup at the bar,” he slurs, barely comprehensible over the loud music in the background, “so I brought you something else. Look outside your door. Call me when you feel better.”

I open my front door to find an ice-cold chili cheese dog, half-eaten order of french fries and a warm Bud Light tall boy. I promptly lost my shit.

I fired off a text message that read: “Take your chili cheese dog and shove it up your ass. We are over.”

The height of maturity, I know.

(Look, the cute puppy relieves tension!)

I wish I could say that at that point I walked away for good and I never dealt with anything similar again. But that would be a lie. After Mr. Wrong dropped off a peace-offering of a  case of condensed chicken soup and gave me a brilliantly crafted part apology part blame speech, I continued to stand by my decision to take less than I deserved.

 I was dedicated to drawing out my suffering. When Mr. Wrong and I did finally end, guess what? All the same crappy behaviors and feelings that were there from the beginning were there at the end and I suppose I could have saved myself a few scars and a few cans of soup along the way.

So, what does all this mean for you, Dear Settled? I recommend that you take a look at the advice that Mr. Wrong gave me many years ago. Sure, he was trying to take advantage of  the power of Oprah, but he had a point. I didn’t love myself enough to demand a good relationship. And I don’t mean demand in some sort of deranged diva way that expects the world to be handed to her on a cushion with a tiny tiara and a fillet minion. I mean, deep down, I must have not thought I deserved real love. Why else would I knock myself out begging for scraps?

Too many romantic movies and books? Please, it is not as if we expected them to stand outside our house with a boombox playing \”In your Eyes\” or haunt a wind-swept moor on our behalf à la Wuthering Heights.  We just wanted more than questions and canned soup.

And finally, I find it curious that we spent all this time worrying that they didn’t love us, wondering if they felt as if they were  settling. When did we stop to consider, perhaps we are the ones who have settled?

♥ & 🙂 ,

C.

And we could all use a lil of this in our lives. . .