The Proper Way to Accept a Gift You Hate

A couple of years ago, I gave my husband a Wii for Christmas.  He was very happy.  So happy in fact, that he played way into the wii hours (see what I did there?) of the night and was so focused on the TV screen, he almost burned down the house.  But more on that later.The Proper Way To Accept A Gift You Hate by Toulouse and Tonic

At the time, it was a very generous gift for our budget but because of what had happened the Christmas (Chrismukkah) before, I had to do it. [Read more…]

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Once Upon a Time, I Drank Your Wine This Morning.

Once upon a time, I drank your bottle of wine this morning.  Toulouse & Tonic


This photo made me do a spit take.  Like, a real spit take.  With hot coffee.

And I keep laughing every single time I think about it.  So much so that if I’m out and about, people will look at me like I’m crazy cuz I’m just cackling away to myself, shaking my head and mumbling, “I drank your wine this morning.”

So yeah, they probably think I’m more drunk than crazy.  It’s been said before.

I first stumbled across these ironic Olan Mills-style photos taken by Danny Clark Photography of Dallas, Texas because of my friend and fellow blogger — the funny, quirky Kelley of Kelley’s Breakroom.  She posted the same photograph above (sans graphics) on her Facebook page, and she actually knows the woman in the photo, whom she reports is a lovely person.  Making me wish I knew her because she also obviously a) likes wine and b) has a sense of humor so we’d get along just fine.

Then because I kept dissolving into fits of giggles over the photo and needed to see if there might be more,  I clicked through to Danny Clark’s Facebook page and found the motherlode of these funny, throw-back photos, including this  little gem.Danny Clark Photography Throw-back series

The photographer does this Holiday Throwback Portrait thing to raise money for charity (the Sunshine Kids) so Mr. Danny Clark gets a big pat on the back and possibility a golden statuette for creativity in charity work.

Check out this year’s Holiday Throwback Portraits 2013 and give Mr. Clark a like while you’re on his page.

I have little to share with you about the past week because I didn’t even write.  My brain has been marinating in a thick fog of sugar, fat and cortisol for weeks now.  And yes of course…wine too, my silver-haired lady friend.  Always the wine.

Do check this out because I’m gearing up to attend a major party school this June and I’d really like for you to join me.  You’ll probably learn some things too, as will I — making it a little more educational for me than actual college.  It’s Blog U and I’m on the faculty.  Shhhh.  I promise you an A in my class if you’ll just come drink with me after hours.

In the meantime, I leave you with this little bedtime story.  Once upon a time, I drank your wine this morning.  The end.

Photos are from Danny Clark Photography’s Holiday Throwback Party to raise money for the Sunshine Kids.


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10 Things to Hate About the Holidays

10 things to hate about the holidaysOh yes, my friends.  Mike couldn’t let the holidays go by without a little something for you.  And why yes, it IS a middle finger.  Seasons greetings!

10 Holiday Ass Whips

What he said, by Mike

Planned Celebrations – At work I am a planner, at home I like to just go with the flow.  So, it stresses me out to have to follow a strict event schedule for the holidays.  For example 5:00 – we will eat dinner, 6:30– we will attack dessert,  7:00 – light the tree,  7:15 – everyone places one ornament on the tree and says what they are most thankful for, 7:30 – we all put on Santa hats, 8:00 – we walk the neighborhood singing Christmas carols, 10:00 – someone please give me the gift of putting a .357 to my head and pulling the trigger !!

Presents – I get it.  We are thankful for everyone in the village that has a hand in the “raising” of our kids, but do we have to buy EVERYONE whom my kids have interfaced with a gift ?!?!  I promise you, the 2nd teacher’s aide is not going to start doing a crappy job educating my child because I did not give her a Starbucks mug and gift card set.

Lights – I love Christmas lights – they really put me in the Christmas spirit. But there is nothing that drives me into a David Banter Hulk like anger frenzy and sucks the Christmas spirit out of my dark festering soul faster than an installed burnt out string of lights that I can’t fix – especially a string of lights that is tied into other strings of lights.  The OCD in me just can’t let it go, so I turn into MacGyver trying to find the one burnt out bulb in the string dropping Holiday F bombs for all to hear.

Snow and Cold – I love snow.  I like to see it falls, makes everything all white, pristine and angelic.  But, by the next day I am ready for the white crap to melt and go away.  There is a reason I live in the south – I have the cold, everything about the cold.  Wearing a coat, gloves, drinking hot cocoa … all of it.

Two families – Which one do we go to ??  If this isn’t an issue for you and your spouse then count yourself very, very lucky.  Spouse’s parents want to see and enjoy the kids.  Your parents want to see and enjoy the kids.  Someone is going to be pissed about your decision so ready up the Russian Roulette game because there is no avoiding the outcome or feeling like you are pooping on a set of parents.  And don’t get me started on switching up each year as a solution because something always comes up to dick it up.  Makes me want to say “if you want to see my rug rats so bad, you get in the car and start driving.  We will be here with the lights on …”

Shopping – if someone would plan a day (maybe call it White Friday) where you would pay double the price for items but you wouldn’t have to wait in line or fight a crowd of holiday spirit sucking dipshits for a refurbished X-Box or crappy Barbie doll, I would gladly participate.  I hate shopping and nothing sucks out my holiday spirit than seeing people act like asses to get their little price or princess the latest and greatest fad like the world owes this to them.  Guess what ??  Johnny will not climb up in a tower and start capping people because he didn’t get the latest Elmo piece of crap.  Guess what #2 ??  He will still love you no matter what.  So chill out

Santa – I have never understood why there is a line for this event.  All we want is a damn picture of our damn kid with this damn mall Santa – what the hell takes so long ?!?!  Here’s a solution – have one Santa for photos and one Santa for yakking.  Then we would be able to whip through these kids like the Hunger Games reaping …

Opening presents – Now I like presents as much as the next dude, but when it takes over 4 hours to open everyone’s gifts during a family get together, you gave and got too much crap.  Hell, my kids can’t even tell me sometimes what they want for Christmas they have so much crap.  And I hate, having everyone stop what they are doing to watch me with cameras poised opening that one gift.  I think to myself “I guess this is the big one so all the others afterwards are going to suck in comparison.”.  Takes all the suspense and fun out of opening your gifts.

Elf on the Shelf – stories about your kids and their reactions to the Elf on the Shelf – love them, keep them coming, can’t get enough of them.  They crack me up.  Pictures of the Elf on the Shelf sneaking into the liquor cabinet, hanging out in your panty drawer, holding a knife on a reindeer, just down right stupid.  Just use the damn thing as it was intended for – as a mild torture scare tactic to alter your child’s bad behavior for a few weeks.

Bruce Springsteen – “Santa Claus is coming to town !!”  This song is a kick in the balls to me.  Some people love it – I don’t.  Guaranteed when it comes on the radio, the dial is getting turned.  I will give credit to musical genius though.  One way to make sure your crappy music gets played at least once a year is to draft a “Christmas type” song.  Guaranteed play time – even lyrics as stupid as “Let them know it’s Christmas time again !!”.

Now 5 things of greatness so you don’t think I am a total heartless dick …

Top 5 Greatest Things about Christmas

Kids half asleep seeing their present pile – is there anything on this Earth cuter than the look on the face of a child who is in their PJs, half asleep, crazy bed head, carrying their blankie walking into a living room filled with presents and toys ??  Just a look of sheer amazement – lie a miracle has just occurred.  They flash that “I told y’all he was real” smirk to everyone sitting around.

Playing with your child and their toys – not much better than laying on the floor with your kids having them show you all their presents and see their excitement in explaining to your dumb ass what all these things are.  It is the one time of the year they feel smarter than you and I love every minute of it.

Eating – how can anyone diet or eat healthy from Halloween to New Years ?!?!  It is impossible !!  there is no way a human can withstand the temptation to not just stuff his face like a buzzard on a dead rotting carcass on route 66 ??  If people would stop making all this delicious food, I would not have to utter the impending repeating phrase, “After New Year’s, I am going to start watching what I eat …”  with a mouthful of baby quiches and a handful of peanut butter cookies with a Hershey’s kiss plopped in the middle.

Kids – I am not talking little kids.  I am talking high school and college kids.  My house becomes the meeting place for my adult kids and their friends.  Just listening to their college stories as they try to catch up with each other is gold and brings back a flood of memories when I younger, and thinner, and crazier with no responsibility.  Those were the days even though I struggle to recall them sometimes …

Christmas Cards and Pictures - although Facebook has kind of ruined this, I always found it kind of cool to see the annual Christmas pictures of family and friends and see what everyone looks like that you hadn’t seen over the past year.  Another favorite of mine are the yearly recap letters.  Nothing better than shining up that turd of a year and trying to make people envious of your life.  Someday, someone I know is going to pen a truthful version of their year.  Something like “2013 was an interesting time for the family.  My college son added to his life experiences by getting arrested for a public intoxication.  Caught my daughter sneaking out of the house this summer to be with her 32-year-old boyfriend.  My wife set a new record for number of texts with Verizon, and I set a personal record of 4 sexual encounters with my wife in 2013.  Can’t wait for 2014”

Finally, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – especially to my good friend Toulouse.  Thanks for letting me “vent” my abnormal thoughts on your blog.  I truly appreciate it. 

Right back at ya, Mike.  It’s super sweet of you to do my work for me and attract more people to my blog than I do with your hilarious venting.  Merry Chrismukkah to one and all!

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A Jew, a Christian and a Christmas Tree

Charlie Brown Christmas treeA certain sad-sack once rescued a forlorn tree from certain Christmas oblivion, giving it a home and a single ornament to call its own.  When Charlie Brown saw that sad, lonely tree, it spoke to him and he knew it was meant to be.

This year, a tree spoke to my husband.  Just like that.  Only different.

As we and our two boys wandered onto the tree lot, bundled up against the cold, Gabe came to a standstill right in front of a 10-foot tall behemoth — a well-placed street light causing heavenly rays of light to beam down upon it.  This King of the Lot spoke telepathically to the Master of the House, saying something only the man and the wood will ever know.

And then the Master of the House spoke back.

Tall Christmas trees, choosing a tree, Chrismukkah, Christmas“I want this one,” Gabe said.

I threw my head back and laughed.  Then I noticed his serious face and gave him that look that says, “Bless your Jewish heart.”

“Honey, this tree is way way too big,” I said, gently pulling the boys towards the grove of 8-foot trees, hoping he’d follow.

“No, it’s not.  The ceilings in our new house are 12 feet high.  This one is perfect.”

I glanced back.  In the light streaming from the street lamp beyond, he and the tree had fused into one eery creature.

A man and his Christmas tree“Sweetheart, it’s too big,”  I said, hopefully.  “Let’s look at these 8-foot ones.  They’re perfect.”

He was shaken a bit but still — he would not be the master of an unworthy 8-foot tree.

“Excuse me, sir,” Gabe said to the manager of the lot.  “Do you have any 9-foot trees?”

“Why, yessir, right back here.”

He led us to the back of the lot and waved his hand over a pile of trees, branches still bound in netting.

Gabe stood one up and appraised it.  “What about this one?”

“Well,” I said, “it MIGHT be lovely but it’s impossible for me to tell.  It’s still got the netting on it and even if he cut if off, the limbs wouldn’t have fallen out yet so I can’t tell if it has any holes.”

“What holes?”

“Holes, like gaps in the branches.  Oh never mind.  Just trust me — I’ve been doing this my whole life.”

Forgotten, the children chased each other around a nearby tree.

young kids choosing a christmas treeGabe dropped the 9-footer, put his hands on his hips.

“Well, what do I know, with all my Jewish tree-buying experience?  I guess since you’re Christian, we should just get the tree you pick out and be done with this.”

“Gah, whatever!  Just get this one!”  I threw my hands up, and as is my nature, began to walk away.

And then a voice interrupted us.

“Guys!  Mommy’s fussing at daddy.  Daddy’s fussing at mommy.  Everybody stop fussing and let’s get a Christmas tree,” said Asher, 6.

Our eyes met, Gabe’s and mine, and there was momentary shame in them, and then mirth.  How silly we were being.

When we decided to get married all those years ago, we knew there’d be many compromises to make along the way.  We also trusted ourselves, and the family we’d become, to make them never SEEM like compromises.  And this is why we celebrate the long season of Chrismukkah — really less a blended holiday for us than a celebration of both.  Instead of laying a path out for our children (that they won’t take anyway), we’ve pledged to show them both paths – and even other paths – and let them choose their ways.

Asher, Meyer and I convened in the grove of 8-foot trees and decided to surprise Gabe with the one he wanted.  The ceilings in our new house are very high, maybe we could make it work.

The monster came home with us.  Just getting it into the house was a Goliath struggle.  With our sap-covered hands, we slowly pushed the tree to its full height and stepped back.  Several inches at the top bent sideways against the ceiling.

I looked at Gabe, struggling to keep Mrs. Judgy McJudgerson inside her cage.  He offered me a dramatic bow of the head and slump of the shoulders.

Just then a knock on the front door signaled the arrival of Asher’s playdate from his new school.  I dashed for the bedroom in pajamas and unwashed hair while Gabe, eager to meet potential new friends, answered the door.  I heard stomping as the boys ran down the hallway towards the playroom and then in muffled tones through the bedroom door, Gabe’s eager, polite chat with the boy’s mom and dad.  Then…a loud thud.

Christmas tree fell down, Chrismukkah, I told you so“Oops,” Gabe said, a little embarrassed.  “Guess I need to go take care of that.”

We met in the living room over the felled tree, a perfume of frasier fir and humility in the air.

“Honey, it’s time,” I said.  And we shook our heads in the same manner, but with different meanings.

Gabe dialed the tree lot.

“Hi, I was there last night and I wanted the big tree and my wife said it was too big and…”  Quiet on his end of the line.  “Yep, she was right.”  Silence.  “It broke the tree stand.”  A lull.  “Thank you.  I’ll bring it back now.”

The 10-foot tree went back and an 8-foot tree took its place.  It’s a beautiful tree and Gabe is fond of working late at night in the living room with the twinkling of its lights lending a calming atmosphere to his late hours.

I don’t say “I told you so.”  I just laugh.  And so does he.  We’ve found that the most important thing in our marriage  — maybe any marriage — is a healthy dose of humor.  Even if it sometimes takes a child to remind us.


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