Category Archives: Holidays

The New Polar Bear Plunge

The new year is just the around the corner, so naturally I was invited to join the Polar Bear Plunge.  For you landlubbers who are fortunate enough to be unaware of this torture, the plunge is an annual winter event where otherwise seemingly normal people jump into the frigid ocean waters. Then their brain cells freeze over so that next year, when someone says, “Hey! It’s twenty below!  Grab your swimsuit and take the plunge!”, they willingly go along. 

I politely declined the invitation to join in this year’s frigid festivities.  My idea of a plunge is jumping into a hot Jacuzzi or the tropical waters of the Caribbean. I also have no desire to emulate the polar bear.

No animal lives farther north than the polar bear.  They may look cute and cuddly, but polar bears are fierce animals who prowl the Arctic wilderness, searching for seals, their main prey.  They will then grab the seals right out of their breathing holes in the ice.  Yes, you know those adorable aquarium seals who perform tricks to amaze and entertain us?  The polar bears have another nickname for them:  Dinner.

Polar bears would be very amused by watching humans take the plunge.  For one thing, the bears have thick fur which is actually made out of clear, hollow tubes.  Each hollow hair can trap the sun’s infrared heat and keep the bear toasty warm and comfortable.  This fur is also oily and water-repellent. The bears can easily shake free of water and any ice that may form after swimming. 

So humans wearing Speedos and bikinis call themselves “polar bears” and go plunging into the icy waters.  And guess what?  They get wet and extremely cold.  Go figure.

Meanwhile, the real polar bears, like some sort of Arctic superheroes, are impervious to both the wet and the cold.  Maybe the name of the event should be changed to represent a timid animal who can actually get wet and cold.  The Puppy Plunge.

Or another idea would be to change the event altogether.  One positive aspect of the Polar Bear Plunge is that it is usually held to benefit charities.  Now all we need are generous people who want to do something brave in a warm climate to help others. 

Hang gliding in Costa Rica.  Snorkeling in the Coral Reef.  Bungee jumping in Cabo San Lucas.  The possibilities are endless, and there are plenty of options that could involve bravery without hypothermia.



The Season of Thanksmas

Before we even settle down for a Thanksgiving dinner, the season of Thanksmas is upon us.  Thanksmas is the time when retailers try to rush us right past Thanksgiving into the season of Christmas.  You know it has arrived when the obnoxious fluorescent lighting of a store is actually overshadowed by the Christmas displays.  Everywhere you look, commercial Christmas is upon us.  Rather than subtle and tasteful decorations, most stores go for the “Santa’s elves just threw up in here” look. 

What’s the matter with savoring a holiday?   If you ask me, Thanksgiving should last for a week.  It’s a holiday that has nothing whatsoever to do with gifts, but rather family and gratitude.  (Okay, I’m trying to overlook the football, parades of lip-synchers, and ridiculous amounts of desserts.)   But even at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Santa Claus arrives to steal the show.  Shouldn’t he be kept under wraps for his grand appearance a month later?  Plus, I don’t know if it’s really fair to leave Mrs. Claus and the elves during the start of their busy season. 

Santa Claus used to appear on Christmas Eve, but now I guess it’s all about public relations and keeping in touch with the people.  The other day I saw hundreds of children in line to see Santa at the mall.  Not only did the parents look exhausted, but the children did not seem at all excited at the thought of standing for an hour to spend a minute on a stranger’s lap.  Apparently no one questioned the fact that during the busy week before Christmas, Santa was spending an afternoon at a mall food court.

Nothing against Kris Kringle, but he would make much more of an impact if he made one annual appearance.  Let each holiday have its own day of glory.  Besides, how would Santa like it if the Easter Bunny showed up on Christmas morning?  Next thing you know, Cupid will drop the ball on New’s Year’s Eve, and the Leprechaun will pass out Valentines.  Let’s put an end to the holiday merge!  Thanksmas, Christmas Year’s Day, Valentine’s Birthday, The Fourth of Easter!

Now that the Christmas season has arrived, we should cherish every moment of it. It is a glorious holiday that deserves its moment in the spotlight. And as much as I love and respect George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, I do not want to celebrate their birthdays during a Christmas parade. 

Have a Merry Christmas, everyone!  Here are some links to some of my previous Christmas blogs:

The Unofficial Christmas Carol Awards, The 12 Minutes of Christmas, Scotch Tape and Schnitzel with Noodles, Watch Out for the Blazing Yule, Santa Gets a Makeover

Halloween and the Tenth Dentist

I am not usually one to stir up a conspiracy theory, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Halloween was invented by dentists.  They try to play up their softer image by promoting that 9 out of 10 of them “recommend Trident,” but why would they really do that?  If people stop getting cavities, then the dentist industry plummets.  The one dentist who didn’t recommend Trident was just being honest about the fact that he enjoys his BMW convertible and vacation home in Miami.  Where is he now, anyway?  Probably mysteriously “relocated” to an undisclosed location, next door to the inventor of the Chicken Dance.

When you strip Halloween down, you see it for what it really is:  a cavity extravaganza.  Kids are in it for the candy, and the bigger the better. God help you if you try to pass out raisins, unless you actually enjoy being tarred and feathered and having your effigy burned in the town square.  I love those websites that recommend alternatives for passing out candy on Halloween.  Before you consider handing out cheap, plastic toys instead of M&M’s, you might want to board up your house and seek out the Witness Protection Program. On the contrary, people who leave an entire bowl of candy on their porch are nominated for President.

As a sign of the times, the last time I opened the door on Halloween, a bunch of scowling tweens stood on my porch sans costume and stuck out their bags without a word.  No “Trick or Treat” and no “thank you.”  I suppose we will eventually have to screen trick-or-treaters for weapons.  Nothing says “holiday” like decorating your porch with a metal detector.

Halloween causes a lot of unnecessary stress for parents, so as usual, I am providing my ideas for some improvements:

Ideas for improving Halloween (for adults):

  • Instead of candy, just pour cups of sugar into trick-or-treaters’ bags.
  • Pass out toothbrushes and brochures on tooth decay.
  • Just have parents give their children a vat of candy on Halloween night.  Wouldn’t that save a lot of time and effort for everyone?
  • Skip the costumes.  Their only purpose is to make begging for candy seem “cute.”
  • We already have e-mail, e-cards, and e-pets.  Why not e-candy?
  • Have children show up at your door and volunteer to do chores around your house.  Costumes optional.
  • Make Halloween costumes and candy tax-deductible.
  • Have only dentists pass out the candy.  And a coupon for a cleaning. 

The Unknown Story Behind the Declaration of Independence

After the French and Indian War, King George III was in dire need of cash, so he put a tax on everything the colonists bought.  The perceptive colonists were more than a little bitter, for they knew that the war could have been easily financed if the king would have just given up his silk Hugo Boss underwear.  So they decided to revolt.

The patriots gathered together to discuss their possible options. 

“I know,” said Harry, an enthusiastic yet dim-witted silversmith.  “Let’s dress up like clowns and dump sugar into the Charles River!”

“How about if we dump everyone with idiotic ideas into the Charles River?” responded Sam Adams.

Everyone else was afraid to present their ideas, so Sam introduced the famous idea of dressing up as Native Americans and throwing tea into the Boston Harbor.  The patriots thought he was brilliant and later named a beer after him. 

The king was incensed when he heard about the Boston Tea Party.  Being the quintessential Anglophile, he expected to be invited to any and all tea parties.  He passed the Stamp Act, which admittedly does seem a fitting response to not being invited to a tea party.  The colonists’ outrage was then perfectly expressed by Thomas Paine in his pamphlet Common Sense, originally published under the working title Duh!, which basically stated that any colonist who did not want to revolt against the king was an egghead.

This time the king’s feathers were really ruffled, and he decided to pass the Not So Bad Acts.  At the behest of his PR manager, he later changed the name to the Intolerable Acts, in order to toughen up his image. 

One fateful night Brown Beauty, Paul Revere’s horse, got into his owner’s leftover Boston baked beans.  Paul was kept up all night by Brown Beauty’s terrible gastrointestinal problems,  so he had to take him out for a midnight run.  Paul was relieved to hear that the Redcoats were coming, so he could actually have a legitimate excuse for waking up the villagers.  

After the skirmishes in Lexington and Concord, the Second Continental Congress met in Independence Hall in Philadelphia.  They chose this building for its fortunate name, deciding against the more ominously titled Treason Tavern down the street.  Congress recognized the need to choose a leader for the colonial troops.  No one really wanted the job, so when George Washington slept in that morning, they elected him.

The war waged on, and Washington proved to be a fearless leader.  He and his troops patiently stood still for hours during several battle scenes to assist artists with their production of famous oil paintings. 

In the meantime, Congress decided to write the Declaration of Independence, since King George refused to meet them for a golf summit to hash out their differences.  Five men were chosen to work on the document, but after several brutal rounds of Rock-Paper-Scissors, the responsibility was left to Thomas Jefferson.  They waited for the hottest days of the year, because they knew that Jefferson’s writing talent really flourished during heat-induced hallucinations.  They locked him in a room for two weeks, and only interrupted to nag him.

“C’mon, Tom.  We have to have this done in time for the Fourth of July fireworks and parade.”

“I think “chase of cheerfulness” sounds better than ‘pursuit of happiness.'”

…and so on.

Congress then had the nerve to debate the document for almost three days, but finally relented because Tom had a quill pen and knew how to use it. 

The Declaration was read aloud on July 8, and the crowds went wild.  They were thrilled with their new independence, but they were also exhausted from waiting four whole days for the fireworks.

The war ended several years later, and the grateful Americans elected Washington as their first President, in order to ensure that future presidents would always have someone to blame for their “inherited” problems. 

Today we should reflect on these events with thankfulness…even if the details do seem a little fuzzy.

Michelangelo’s Easter Eggs

Dyeing Easter eggs is a tradition that was apparently started by some guy named Paas.  I don’t think he started out deliberately trying to color eggs for the holiday.  Who would ever think of coloring eggs to celebrate the resurrection of Christ?  More likely Mrs.Paas gave her husband some chicken coop chore, which he botched miserably and tried to cover up by saying, “Look, honey, I made these beautiful eggs for you.”

“What am I supposed to do with blue eggs?” she replied skeptically.

“You could put them in a basket full of fake grass,” he answered.

 “And what does that have to do with Easter?”

“Er, well, eggs symbolize new life?”

Noticing her blank stare, he threw in, “and if we market this we could make millions.”  And thus, the egg dyeing industry was born. 

Of course, over time some adjustments had to be made. The Paas family children demonstrated why you should only dye hard boiled eggs, never raw.  After their first five hundred attempts rolled onto the floor, they also realized the need for egg holders.  And thankfully, they also accelerated the need for stickers to cover a shoddy job on the coloring. 

So we begin by throwing little colorful tablets into vinegar and watching them dissolve like Alka Seltzer.  Should it concern us that our food is going to be dipped into a substance which looks like it would remove pesky toilet stains?  And the smell is unmistakable.  Christmas smells like gingerbread, candy, and cookies. Independence Day smells like mouthwatering barbeque. And Easter? Stain remover. Thankfully, we can cover the smell somewhat by placing Peeps in the microwave until they explode.  The burning sugar nicely displaces the rancid smell of the vinegar.

For most of my life, I have been a self-proclaimed egg dyeing coward.  I know there are people who double dip and make professional grade multi-colored eggs. I’m happy for those of you who can use a flimsy wire holder and turn out Faberge eggs fit for the Romanoff family.  Believe me, I’ve tried. My egg always flips out of the holder and drowns itself, leaving me no choice but to pretend that I really intended for my egg to be one color.  I’ve tried using a spoon and even my fingers, but my eggs are always one color. I’m a Monochromatic Mary.  I’ve got no tricks up my sleeve;  I do one color and slap on some dopey looking stickers to cover up the fact that my three year old could do a better job.

My brother is the only person I know who can use that “magic” white crayon and do an invisible drawing on an egg, tie-dye it, and make it look like a painting on the Sistine Chapel.  I tried it once, but it looked more like graffiti on a Vegas Wedding Chapel.

I’d like to think that even  Michelangelo would have had trouble with the Paas magic crayon.  But the truth is he probably could have even used the wire holder as a paint brush.  He could have painted beautiful eggs while standing on his head.  But using the cardboard egg holders?  That’s another story…

Colin Firth Versus The Leprechaun

The Leprechaun had a successful career right out of the gate, but then he fell on some hard times. In his prime, he was sliding down the rainbow to a pot of gold, and then one day he woke up as the spokesperson for Lucky Charms.  How did this happen? After obtaining his Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card, he became hooked on the glam life in L.A. and eventually landed the role of The Munchkin Mayor in The Wizard of Oz.  Then came stardom in six self-titled horror movies, six of which were only seen by his mother, and even she panned them.

The price of this revamped fame was the fact that he now scared the tar out of small children everywhere.  Making matters worse, his nemesis, the Jolly Green Giant, was enjoying huge success and even getting these same children to eat their peas. Poor Lep was often seen wandering the streets at night, kicking trashcans and muttering, “Potato famine…corned beef and cabbage…Riverdance. ‘Luck of the Irish’…Bah!” 

Does the Leprechaun enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, or is it just a painful reminder of his former glory days?  Perhaps he would return to his popularity if we could only focus on the more positive aspects of the colorful Irish culture.  How about Pierce Brosnan — an Irish James Bond?  Many people don’t realize that Patrick Dempsey of Grey’s Anatomy is of Irish descent. There has not been such an interest in anatomy since the days of Hippocrates. How about The Boston Celtics?  A team that gives us hope that even a pale white guy can wear shamrocks and actually look cool.  And don’t forget Irish Spring…Who doesn’t like to feel “fresh and clean as a whistle?”

I have always had mixed feelings about St. Patrick’s Day, secretly wishing there was an entire day to celebrate the countries of my heritage.  For example, why can’t we have a day for the English?  Lots of potential there.  We could eat English muffins and watch Colin Firth movies.

How can you not love Mr. Firth?  Fresh off his recent Oscar win for The King’s Speech, he probably could inspire an entire holiday. The guy could give me goose bumps just ordering Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Just imagine him stating in his perfect Mr. Darcy voice, “Make mine extra crispy.”  Then comes the impenetrable glare as he discovers that they gave him cornbread instead of the home-style biscuit.   An outrage, indeed! 

Personally, I wish that Colin Firth would appear in every movie from now on.  He could become the next William H. Macy.  Even just a quick cameo.  He wouldn’t have to say anything,  just give The Look and slink into the background.

While I feel sorry for the Leprechaun, I will not be spending St. Patrick’s Day pouring green beer into my Lucky Charms.  It’s tea and Firth’s Pride and Prejudice for me.  But at least I’ll be wearing green.


Happy Ninja Day!

Valentine’s Day is a decidedly feminine holiday.  Hearts and flowers, doilies and lace, and don’t forget pink cupcakes with candy hearts that say, “Let’s snuggle.”  Men should be frightened, but the good ones, like my husband, lovingly play along without complaint. 

In defense of the guys, where is their masculine holiday?  It wouldn’t be too difficult for women to return the favor by lavishing men with their favorites for one special day of the year.  It is simply a matter of substitutions.   We make those all the times at restaurants.   I’ll have the veggie omelet, but instead of onions I’ll have mushrooms, and I’d like Cheddar cheese instead of Swiss, please.  If we made the same effort to tweak Valentine’s Day, we could easily invent a new manly holiday.

The first to go would be Cupid the chubby cherub, the Valentine’s mascot.  Not exactly the type of mascot you would see for an NFL team.  Any team named The Cupids would be laughed off the field.  Cupid does carry a bow and arrow, but the whole naked baby with wings deal really hurts his reputation . The Ninja would definitely be the mascot of choice for the guys.

Don’t even try to insult a guy by giving him a Sampler’s box of chocolate. The box of bite size girlie candies would be replaced by a King Size Snickers bar.  Dining out at a fancy candle-lit restaurant will have to be substituted with a steak pit with lots of dead animals on the wall. 

No chick flicks whatsoever allowed.  No movies that feature Meryl Streep or any Oscar worthy performances.  Dialogue should be limited and inaudible. Only action movies with plenty of car chases, explosions, and fight scenes.  The title should include at least one of these words: death, bloody, assassin, or ninja. In fact, Bloody Death of the Ninja Assassin would be ideal.  If you could also throw in a football game, the day would be complete.

Men definitely would not want to receive flowers.  Maybe nachos instead.

The traditional frilly Valentine’s card would have to be transformed into something more masculine. Maybe it would be easier to just incorporate some more manly aspects to the already existing Valentine’s Day.  Women could have their hearts and romance, but the men wouldn’t have to feel emasculated.  Consider the card possibilities.