On Notice—For the Holidays!

In honor of the season of joy and goodwill, I bring you my On Notice list–just for the holidays. So serve yourself a generous slice of fruitcake or mincemeat pie. Break off the head of that gingerbread cookie, warm from the oven, and put on some Christmas music, too. Then, sit back and enjoy!

Pretty to look at, but don't try to eat gingerbread. It's on notice!

Gingerbread: I’ve never been one for gingerbread. Yuck. There’s no disguising the strong taste.  Basically, any dessert item that contains chocolate is my preference and let’s be honest: gingerbread and chocolate don’t mix. Ergo, I’m putting gingerbread on notice!

Pressure and/or Stress: There’s all kinds of pressure and stress during the holidays–pressure to decorate, buy the perfect tree, send out holiday cards, get gifts for everyone while staying within budget, participate in cookie exchanges, and go caroling with friends. I, for one, am ignoring the pressure, and plan to enjoy my holiday stress-free.

Annual Holiday Letters: There are three kinds of mail you get this time of year from distant family and friends.  1) A holiday card with a personalized message; 2) A holiday card featuring a photo of the sender, with family, and a pre-printed message; 3) Or the annual letter that details every family member’s achievement, report cards, health issues, vacations, etc.  Well, I’m ok with the first two (though I always favor a personalized, written message over a pre-printed one). But please, consider the environment and the stress that most of us are already under, when sending a 3 or 4-page annual letter.

Airports: Airports are bad enough. The mob of people checking bags, going through security this time of year, not to mention the blizzard weather conditions, makes flying not worth it. If you ask me, best to stay home. You’ll thank me later.

Mincemeat: What exactly is this and does anyone really eat it anymore?  Unless you’re a descendant of Charles Dickens, I see no point to mincemeat pies.  The same goes for fruitcake. And, I don’t care what they say, putting any kind of meat in a dessert—minced or chopped—should be against the law. 

Gift cards: These are becoming more and more popular. But if you ask me, gift cards are a gift cop-out.  Basically, you’re telling your friends and loved ones, you don’t really care enough to consider what they’d like, so you’re giving them a gift card.  I ask you, is that really in the true spirit of Christmas?  Do you think the Three Wise Men brought along gift cards with the frankincense and myrrh??

Standing in Lines: There’s no getting away from the crowds this time of year, and with crowds come the lines. Lines at the post office, department stores, the movies, the grocery stores, the liquor stores, you name it.  Do what I do when I have to wait: Bring a book. Might as well make the most of your time in line.

I asked my son to decorate cookies for a cookie exchange. This was his best effort.

Cookie Exchange: Why must the holidays be all about sweets? My must we have cookie exchange parties that make those of us who cannot bake feel bad? Why not have a party where you bring your favorite take-out food? Remember, I’m going for less stress, not more.

Calories: And while we’re on the subject of sweets, I’m putting calories on notice. For once, calories should do us all a favor and go on hiatus. Come back in January. Be kind.

Christmas Songs: While fun at the beginning—like an old friend making its annual pilgrimage—even the best Christmas songs can overstay their welcome. Yet somehow I can’t stop listening to these catchy tunes.  Luckily (or not), these songs are played everywhere and there’s no escaping them. At least they’re not songs about clowns. I really don’t like clowns.

So that’s my list for the holidays.  What’s on your list?

Wishing you a very Happy (and stress-free) New Year!

It’s My Birthday!

Today is my birthday and everyone knows birthdays are very special days indeed. Cause for celebration!  Bring out the cake and light the candles!  Get out the piñata! No, wait. Scratch that.  I’m not a kid anymore. Sigh.

And then I was 5.

There’s nothing like being young when it’s your birthday.  The anticipation of the day.  All the birthday cards arriving in the mail, saying, “Now You’re Five!” Or six or seven! The excitement of unwrapping presents! Who can forget their first Barbie? On my 6th birthday I received two! A blonde and a brunette. Yes, birthdays were so much fun then.  What happened?

Oh yes, I remember. We got old. These days, the only birthday cards I get in the mail are from businesses wanting well, my business.  They write such sweet sentiments such as:  “Happy Birthday! Save $5 off any purchase of $50 or more.” Wow, now that’s a gift.

Technically, I am as old as Disneyland and I’m not going to tell you how old Disneyland is.  I was born on a Friday and, according to Mother Goose, Friday’s child is loving and giving.  I was also born on the first day of autumn. Another reason to party hardy.

Bruce Springsteen has the same birthday as me and that makes us kindred spirits. We were both born to run! At least that’s what I believed in my teens and twenties. Now, I’ve got this bum knee that acts up whenever it feels like it, and I’m taking a statin to keep my cholesterol out of the danger zone. And, no matter how many times I get my hair “done,” and ladies, you know what I’m talking about, those blasted gray hairs keep popping up. I doubt Mickey Mouse has the same problems—and he’s 82!

A birthday party with friends, party dresses and cake. What could be better?

So this year, in honor of the day I was born, I’ve decided I’m only going to celebrate my birthday in years where September 23rd actually falls on a Friday.  For those are the only days when it’s my true, honest to goodness birthday.  Which makes me today, roughly, give or take a few, about seven years old.  Hooray, I’m a kid again!

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. Ain’t gonna fly. In which case, I’ll also count the years in which the 23rd of September falls on a Thursday or Saturday because that’s close enough to Friday. That would put me in the ballpark of 21, so I can make a toast to myself since, guess what? Today is a Thursday!  Yay, I’ve reached drinking age!  Somebody, get me a Mai Tai. Make it a double!

Wait, I’m getting tired from all this hoopla. Sigh.  At my age, the best gift of all is nothing more than an afternoon nap. And I’ll drink to that!