Yuletide Cheeseburger

cheeseburger, Christmas, holidaze

 

It’s at this time of the year that I generally climb inside a protective cocoon and hibernate, emotionally speaking.
My personal ambivalence towards a holiday that is celebrated for all the wrong reasons leaves me
outside and shivering on a cold and snowy night.
I know I’m not alone on this one.

‘What do you want for Christmas?’
A question heard since before Thanksgiving.

You know what I want?
I want a cheeseburger, okay?
A juicy, steaming hunk of meat fresh off the grill.
Throw that sucker in a bun and we can eat, we can sit and talk about stuff that matters in our lives.
We can be human for an hour.
And drink beer.
And eat pretzels and stuff.
Talk about the Bruins, the Pats, and the number of players we still don’t know on the Celtics.
We can talk about the Red Sox and a banner year that nobody thought would happen.
We can even talk about the Farmer’s Almanac and their Winter prediction (which I hope is shit)
Social media and smartphones have doomed our society to cyber connectivity amongst users.
Text messages, Twitter updates, WordPress pages and Tumblr posts are just words on a white screen.
We are flesh and blood and we need a closer kind of communication than that.
Cheeseburgers can change that!

A 1TB hard drive from Best Buy for all the music I listen to?
Really?
A 25$ giftcard to Starbucks for their mediocre and overpriced latte’s?
Not that either.
How’s about an Omaha Steak gift box filled with filets, burgers, sirloin and crabcakes?
How’s about that cheeseburger?
Fruitcake I will never eat?
You’re probably not much of a friend anyway.

I don’t want anything.
Period.
Amen.
And the angels sing . . .

It’s a holiday of giving, yes?
When this holiday got blown out of the water is a question that all of us need to own up to.
I work in retail and holiday sales are important but the avarice and over the top ‘milking of customers’ by
online retailers, car dealers, furniture stores, health clubs, fly by night internet schemers and online pirates must be silenced.
That’s something that will NEVER happen.
And that is profoundly sad.
It will always be about the bottom line.
And the bottom line has nothing to do with stuff we don’t need.
It has nothing to do with stuff at all.

My yuletide bells stopped ringing many years ago when I realized that the Christmas holiday was just another chance to sell.
Santa turned darkly foul, holly turned autumn brown,
carols echoed chaotic harmonies not unlike a Charles Ives piano piece.
I miss Christmases from 1970.
I miss the antediluvian ideal of the simple ‘carol’ hummed by people walking on the street, shopping in stores.
I miss the Christmas mornings that you didn’t get all that you wanted but what you got was all and more than what you needed.
I miss the simplicity of the town manger going a whole season without being vandalized.
I miss my feelings and love and respect for a beautiful and simple holiday.
But maybe I just miss the cheeseburgers.
Fire up the grill, I’m coming.
Merry Christmas, dudes and dudettes!
Merry Christmas!

~m

Sold!

houses, homes, love, life, daughters, marriage

 

It was many years ago that me, Pamela and Sarah (3 years old?) went to my sister’s house for a Christmas Eve visit.
At that time, my sister and her husband lived 10 minutes away with my niece Caitlin, 2 months shy of her 3rd birthday.
Two 3 year olds on Christmas Eve, how great/exciting will that be?
From what I remember, it started off quite well; happiness, laughter, cocktails, Karen Carpenter singing ‘Merry Christmas, Darling’,
and a smorgasbord of waist thinning appetizers fit for a King.
Everything was going so well until Sarah found out that Santa (that sweet SOB) brought Cait an early present.
It was a Little Tikes Kitchen, fully equipped with  plastic pots, pans, a stove top and the most evil addition of all, a fake telephone.
BTW- Little Tikes toys will be roaming the earth long after all of us are dead and gone.
Talk about indestructible.
Sarah and Caitlin began playing nicely until Sarah wanted to use the phone.
(Probably to call Santa and tell him to bring her a kitchen just like Cait’s)
Houston? We have a problem.
The phone was Caitlin’s.
Period.
Amen.
And Santa (me) in all his infinite wisdom did not bring Sarah a plastic kitchen to leave under the tree.
Things spiraled down from there with pots and pans flying and two little girls crying, and me realizing I am so screwed.
I remember hating (not really) my sister that night knowing full well that I would have to search the ends
of the earth for a Little Tikes Kitchen in time for Sarah’s birthday (12/26).
I did find that kitchen on the day of her birthday.
It was delivered and all was well.
I don’t think she let Cait use the phone at her birthday party.
Santa has since recovered.

This past Tuesday, Sarah and Jonathan (the son I never had) closed on their first home.
I call it a home because that’s what they intend on making it.
It’s a beautiful place set high on a hill overlooking many surrounding towns.
The view from the upstairs windows are astounding.
I was there this morning shutting off the outside lights before walking through the house in silence.
In my mind I could see and hear all the wonderful things just waiting to happen.
I could smell bacon cooking in a kitchen that Sas and Cait will never fight about.
I could see a fire slowly burning and crackling in the fireplace in a living room worth living in.
I could even hear a piano that is not there yet, but will someday be because music somehow ‘completes’ a home.
I could feel the spirit of a long awaited Christmas that was waiting to happen, years in the making, just outside the windows.
I could feel love waiting in the wings.
A gentle hand from far and high above the clouds waved it to be.
I just know that.
Sold?
I’m sold on this home that’s just dying to be filled with oh, so many wonderful things.
This will ultimately be a most amazing Christmas.
And my inner Grinch will take a much needed hiatus (as he should every year)
A new house, a newly married couple, a first Holiday meal, the beginning of a new family.
Santa will sleep well on Christmas Eve . . .
but only after he prepares his French Toast Casserole.

~m

An Italian Christmas (redux)


I have posted this every year since God only knows when.
After a not so recent comment from the author, (3.3.08) I’ve found  the man behind the story and have given him full credit.
Wonderful story, Bill.
It almost made me take the chino’s to Browntown . . .

An Italian Christmas

by Bill Ervolino

I thought it would be a nice idea to bring a date to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve.
I thought it would be interesting for a non-Italian girl to see how an Italian family spends the holidays. I thought my mother and my date would hit it off like partridges and pear trees.
So, I was wrong. Sue me.

I had only known Karen for three weeks when I extended the invitation.
“I know these family things can be a little weird,” I told her, “but my folks
are great, and we always have a lot of fun on Christmas Eve.”

“Sounds fine to me,” Karen said.

I had only known my mother for 31 years when I told her I’d be bringing Karen with me.
“She’s a very nice girl and she’s really looking forward to meeting all of you.”

“Sounds fine to me,” my mother said.

And that was that.
Two telephone calls.
Two sounds-fine-to-me.
What more could I want?

I should point out, I suppose, that in Italian households, Christmas Eve is the social event of the season — an Italian woman’s reason d’etre.
She cleans. She cooks. She bakes. She orchestrates every minute of the entire evening.
Christmas Eve is what Italian women live for.
I should also point out, I suppose, that when it comes to the kind of women that make Italian men go nuts, Karen is it.

She doesn’t clean.
She doesn’t cook.
She doesn’t bake.

And she has the largest breasts I have ever seen on a human being.

I brought her anyway.

7p.m.

We arrive.
Karen and I walk in and putter around for half an hour waiting for the other guests to show up. During that half hour, my mother grills Karen like a cheeseburger and cannily determines that Karen does not clean, cook, or bake. My father is equally observant. He pulls me into the living room and notes, “She has the largest breasts I have ever seen on a human being.”

7:30 p.m. –

Others arrive. Uncle Ziti walks in with my Aunt Mafalde, assorted kids, assorted gifts.
We sit around the dining room table for antipasto, a symmetrically composed platter of lettuce, roasted peppers, black olives, salami, prosciutto, provolone, and anchovies.
When I offer to make Karen’s plate she says, “Thank you. But none of those things, okay?”
She points to the anchovies. “You don’t like anchovies?” I ask. “I don’t like fish,” Karen announces to one and all, as 67 other varieties of foods-that-swim are baking, broiling and simmering in the next room.

My mother makes the sign of the cross and things are getting uncomfortable.
Aunt Mafalde asks Karen what her family eats on Christmas Eve.
Karen says, “Knockwurst.”
My father, who is still staring in a daze, at Karen’s chest,
temporarily snaps out of it to murmur, “Knockers?”

My mother kicks him so hard he gets a blood clot.
None of this is turning out the way I’d hoped.

8:00 p.m. –

Second course.

The spaghetti and crab sauce is on the way to the table. Karen declines the crab sauce and says she’ll make her own with butter and ketchup. My mother asks me to join her in the kitchen. I take
My “Merry Christmas” napkin from my lap, place it on the “Merry Christmas” tablecloth and walk into the kitchen. “I don’t want to start any trouble,” my mother says calmly, clutching a bottle of ketchup in her hands. “But if she pours this on my pasta, I’m going to throw acid in her face.” “Come on,” I tell her. “It’s Christmas. Let her eat what she wants.”
My mother considers the situation, and then nods.
As I turn to walk back into the dining room, she grabs my shoulder. “Tell me the truth,” she says, “are you serious with this tramp?”
“She’s not a tramp,” I reply. “And I’ve only known her for three weeks.”
“Well, it’s your life”, she tells me, “but if you marry her, she’ll poison you.”

8:30 p.m. –

More fish.
My stomach is knotted like one of those macramé plant hangers that are always three times larger than the plants they hold. All the women get up to clear away the spaghetti dishes, except for Karen, who, instead, lights a cigarette.
“Why don’t you give them a little hand?” I politely suggest.
Karen makes a face and walks into the kitchen carrying three forks.
“Dear, you don’t have to do that,” my mother tells her, smiling painfully.
“Oh, okay,” Karen says, putting the forks on the sink.
As she reenters the dining room, a wine glass flies over her head, and smashes against the wall. From the kitchen, my mother says, “Whoops.”
I vaguely remember that line from Torch Song Trilogy. “Whoops?”
No. “Whoops is when you fall down an elevator shaft.”

More fish comes out.
After some goading, Karen tries a piece of scungilli, which she describes as “slimy, like worms.” My mother winces, bites her hand and pounds her chest like one of those old women you always see in the sixth row of a funeral home.
Aunt Mafalde does the same.
Karen, believing that this is something that all Italian women do on Christmas Eve, bites her hand and pounds her chest. My Uncle Ziti doesn’t know what to make of it.
My father’s dentures fall out and chew a six-inch gash in the tablecloth.

10:00 p.m. –
Coffee, dessert. Espresso all around. A little anisette. A curl of lemon peel.
When Karen asks for milk, my mother finally slaps her in the face with cannoli.
I guess it had to happen sooner or later.
Karen, believing that this is something that all Italian women do on Christmas Eve, picks up cannoli and slaps my mother with it.

“This is fun,” Karen says.

Fun? No. Fun is when you fall down an elevator shaft.
But, amazingly, everyone is laughing and smiling and filled with good cheer — even my mother, who grabs me by the shoulder, laughs and
says,
“Get this bitch out of my house.”

Sounds fine to me.

Bella and the Wish

letters, Christmas, Santa, children

 

This past October took I took a ride to the Deerfield Candle Factory with Pamela and our Australian friends Maureen and Mark.
The place was decked out in the traditional Christmas array of sights, sounds and scents.
It’s a magical place and if you have the time to get there before December 25th, I highly recommend that you do.
There’s even a nighttime Bavarian Village lit by vintage flickering streetlamps where it snows every 4 minutes.
It’s a place filled with secret wishes, sugarplum dreams, amazing tree ornaments and obviously every imaginable scented candle you
could ever dream of including, ‘Brown Paper Packages’ and ‘First Down’,
a mancandle that may possibly smell of broken NFL dreams and dirty jock straps, or not.
The ‘Man Candles’ gave me much in the pause department: Riding Mower, 2X4 and Mantown?
Jeepers.
No Super Sweaty Golf Balls?
And lastly the weirdest 2 candles (to me) were ‘Whiskers on Kittens’ and ‘Schnitzel and Noodles’.
Don’t bogart that joint my friend, pass it over to me.
What the hell do whiskers smell like and how would they actually make that scent?
Be on the lookout for my own list of the top 10 rejected Yankee Candle Scents.

Turns out that this post isn’t about candle scents and snowflakes it’s about the letter that you see at the top of my post.
A good portion of the DCF caters to children during the Christmas season and I happened to walk by a corkboard filled with letters written by children of all ages to the holiday machine we created and called ‘Kris Kringle’.
Most letters were as you would suspect:

“Dear Santa,
Please bring me an Xbox 360 with at least 2 games and a new Nano Ipod because I lost mine.
An Ipad would be great but I won’t count on that. My parents are too cheap to buy me one.
Say hi to Rudolph for me. And I promise to leave you cookies and milk this year.
I love you!”

or

“Dear Santa, Hi! How are you? How are your reindeer doing?
What are you doing in the North Poal? I am so ecxited about Chrismas.
I woud like a CD player and a Gameboy Advance and a backpack.
by Ann”

Hmmm.
Let me see if I got this right;
Bella doesn’t want anything for herself,
She wants happiness for her Mom because her Dad is a jerk,
She wants happiness for her family,
And she wants Santa to make her cousin Chrystal’s life better.
This little girl ‘gets’ the holiday while the world goes on not even taking notice of this most simple prayer.
And yes, it is a most vibrant Christmas prayer.

We are bombarded on a daily basis with commercials, videos, signs, radio commercials, TV commercials
and pop-ups on our computers telling us to be happy because that’s what this season is all about.
Where the hell did we go wrong?
This little girl sent me a  personal message in the most innocent of ways telling me that this most blessed of holidays
is not about acquiring the most expensive of gifts.
It’s not about the stuff under the tree.
It’s about the people AROUND the tree that make the difference.
Right now, this little girl doesn’t have that.
Her letter made me cry inside because it was absolutely true.
This disjointed familial stuff pervades our society and the world at large.
A happy holiday?
Maybe for some.
Sadly, not for all.
Try to see through the commercial glitz and glamour of a holiday that has literally spiraled out of control in terms of meaning and substance.
Get away from the artificial joyful noise and the constant jingle bells where you will hopefully arrive at a place where your heart can be happy without the need for the stuff that the Media says you need to be happy.

For me?
I want BellaM to get every single thing on her list this year.
Maybe even a pony for good measure.
I will say a prayer for her on Christmas Eve even though I don’t even know her.
And I will pray she gets love.
Stockings full of love.
How about you?
just saying . . .

~m

Blessed

thanksgiving, blessed, turkey, football, family

I have a 20+ pound turkey thawing in the fridge,
5lbs. of potatoes waiting to be cooked and mashed,
4lbs. of squash patiently waiting for some sweet spices and butter,
2lbs of turnip, Yams for a slamming Sweet potato casserole,
bread and cornbread stuffing to be made, fresh cranberries crying for sugar
and a hungry family that will be with me this Thursday afternoon to eat, drink and be merry.
Pamela is making Pecan, Apple and Chocolate Cream pies tomorrow morning.
I have an amazing HD TV to watch the Pats and the Jets play on Thursday night.
All is going as planned and I suddenly realize I am really blessed.
Almost severely blessed.
I will be cooking for most of the day tomorrow making this place where we live smell like home for my daughters, my wife, my neighbors.
With temps in the 50′s I will definitely have my kitchen door wide open.
I have so much but also know that some have so very little.
Thanksgiving has never been a holiday that I have ever taken for granted because I know that can change in a heartbeat.
With all that in mind, I wish the same blessings for all of you that are reading this.
Whether you are near or far, I wish you the peace of a beautiful holiday.
Somewhere amidst the chaos of a Thanksgiving dinner table,
I pray you find warmth, solace, laughter and love from all things that surround you.
Peace.
To you, my friends.
But beware the tryptophan . . .

~m

Eggs

eggs, Easter, love, family, Easter Bunny, candy

 

Many years ago after Pamela and I got married, we began the creation of a family.
Sometimes it seems like yesterday, sometimes it seems like 100 years ago.
Perspective is such a fickle thing.
That I have been an absentee blogger has never been lost on my wife.
She said to me tonight, and quite casually I might add,
“When are you going to change the picture on your blog?
Write a post about the annual Easter Egg Hunt with the girls.”
I hate it when she’s right.
And I really hate to think she could be a better blogger than me.
If she blogged as well as she ‘Pinterest-ed’, she could put me to shame.
The reasons my blogging has slowed down to an incessant but slow drip is a post in and of itself,
for many varied reasons.
Tonight, though, I am here to talk about eggs.
Brightly coloured eggs.
Easter eggs.
Hard boiled eggs.
Egg salad sandwiches in a shell, yet to be born. [yum]

When our girls started walking we devised a plan for an Easter Egg Hunt to be held in the backyard on Easter morning.
We bought plastic pastel colored eggs that could be filled with all kinds of goodies, from candy and small toys (that nowadays are labeled as DANGEROUS! Your KID could CHOKE on THIS!) to dollar bills and matches.
(yeah, I’m kidding about the matches, calm down)
In New England, Easter morning could be rainy and cold so we needed to use something that would hold up to the elements.
It was the Easter Bunny’s job (namely, me) to hide the eggs in the backyard while the girls were sleeping.
When they woke in the morning to find an incredibly beautiful Easter Basket on their nightstand (compliments of Mr. & Mrs. Easter Bunny)
they were ready to don the appropriate clothes for the ‘going-to-get-mine-before-you-do’  Easter egg hunt.

Now it should be said that Mr. Bunny liked to have several Easter cocktails on the night before and while hiding the eggs wasn’t a problem, remembering where they were the next morning could sometimes be.
There are still eggs somewhere in our yard that I may never find.
I’m still looking for the elusive ‘Ben Franklin’ egg from years ago.
Can’t remember the exact year.
I’ve thought of using some power equipment to try and find it but the money I would spend doesn’t justify the means.
Right now, anyway.
Many years (and mornings after) would find the once loveable Mr. Easter Bunny reduced to the ‘Stupid-Easter-Bunny-that-doesn’t-know-how-to-hide-shit-we-can-easily-find’.
And, my moniker grows so damn lovingly.
I love it.

Fast forward to 2012 . . .

My girls have grown into young, beautiful and intelligent women and yet, I still have to hide eggs.
I am not a freekin’ Easter Bunny anymore, I am a grown 53 year old man.
I don’t have long and fuzzy ears or a cute little tail.
My ass is now flat.
I need three wallets to assimilate an ass bulge.
And I’m a crazy curmudgeon that thinks the world has gone insane.
Maybe I’m insane because I’ll still be out this Saturday night hiding eggs and loving it, rain or snow.
And on Easter morning I will still have no idea where the hell I put them . . .
In my heart, I’m hoping they keep the tradition going
because as silly as it was it’s a part of Pamela and me that will live on.
And maybe in the end, that’s what it’s all about . . .

A Happy Easter to all.

HNY!

happy new year!

 

It is currently 9:16PM here in Massachusetts.
The countdown is on as are The Three Stooges.
2011 was a year to remember for many reasons and a year to forget as well.
As I get older the passing of time seems to take on less significance than it once did.
Seems it should be the opposite but personally it’s just another year.
Another chance to get it right, another chance to possibly mess the sombitch up.
The house is warm and filled with all sorts of wonderful food and drink.
Jonathan (Sarah’s fiancee) and I just got done smoking a very nice cigar on the deck and for the moment life is good.
Hopefully 2012 will be as good as tonight seems to be.
I wish all of you peace, joy and more happiness and good fortune than your lives can reasonably handle.

For myself, I ask for the grace and peace of the One high above me;
To do more for others than I do for myself,
To smile more than frown,
To love deeply and give freely,
To find the words that move me and the music that inspires me,
and to finally give myself a break for a change.
I am too damn hard on myself.
A few sent angels would be nice as well.

So Happy New Year to you, my dear friends.
Thank you for making my life so worth living.
Here’s to another year of whatever it is that makes all of us tick . . .

~m

He is the Reason

It is about this time of the year that my spirit usually spirals seriously downward.
NIN downward.
Christmas commercials that are out of whack with reality and songs that say I should be happy do anything but depress the living shit out of me.
That said, I am fortunate and blessed although I don’t often realize that I am.
I have family.
I have three beautiful daughters that love me and are home on Christmas.
I can hug them and tell them that I love them.
I can cook delicious foods that we will all share.
I have friends that stop by on Christmas Eve to join in a celebration of the simplicity of love.
And yet I continue to bitch about anything and everything.
It takes a very special friend to tell you that you are a total Holiday tool.
And I am.
Why I am the Grinch that I pretend to be sometimes eludes me.
Maybe it’s easier being Grinchy than happy.
Or maybe I have to look at the true meaning of the holiday.
This video touched my inner core.
I cried and had goosebumps all over my body.
He is the Reason for the season.
The sooner I truly accept that in my heart, the better off I will be,  I guess.
Seems I have already accepted.
That didn’t take long . . .

~m

 

ps. Thanks to my friend GerryM for the video link!

 

Happy Halloween 2011

I would be remiss in not posting for this crazy holiday after dressing up my blog for the holiday.
Here is one of my absolute favorite 3 Stooges videos.
It has been edited in a way that is not to my liking but it’s still pretty good.
Scary? Nah.
Funny? Yah . . .
Be sure to floss and brush your toofers tomorrow night!
Boooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peace

I am blessed to have a place called home where I am loved,
where I can be myself,
somewhere that’s much more than just a home.
I am richly blessed.
I thank the Lord and my many guardian angels for taking such good care of me,
a disciple that sometimes feels unworthy of the many blessings received but a devoted disciple nonetheless.
A Merry Christmas to all.
Happy New Year, too.
I wish each and every one of you peace.
See you in 2011 . . .

~m