Oh, Crap. It’s December.

Yes, I’m alive.

And extremely apologetic for taking so long to post ANYTHING.

Truth is, settling in has taken longer than expected. So has getting my behind to the computer store to buy a new laptop (which I just purchased on Monday). So please forgive me.

But I’m (periodically) back in time for the last month – and busiest holiday season – of the year.

Now on top of normal everyday adult shizz, I have to now balance Christmas duties – presents, parties, good cheer, etc. 

I know – first world problems. But, still.

I’ll try to be more consistent with the posting – when I’m not tired or drying out, that is.

I can’t really think of anything to pontificate on (mainly because I’m in a location other than in my apartment in front of my laptop). So for now, I’ll kick off this month with my first random holiday tally of the month.

Ahem ….

2: Number of times I’ve seen snow this week (and lamented the end of fall)

0: Number of decorations hung for Christmas

4 (possibly more): Number of mandatory gifts to buy

0: Number of gifts bought

3: Maximum number of hours I hope to spend shopping at the mall for Christmas

0: Number of Christmas cards written, stuffed and mailed

30: Number of stamps I’ll probably need for aforementioned stamps

300: (Probable) Number of address labels with my old address on them

1: Number of Christmas CDs purchased*

7: Number of holiday parties I have already been invited to**

0: Number of ugly Christmas sweaters worn

3-4: Number of drinks I told my doctor I consume on average, per week (at my recent physical)

4: Number of drinks I’ve already consumed this week

0: Number of those drinks being of a holiday nature (ie. egg nog)

0.5 : Number of Christmas specials watched**

TOO MANY: Number of times I’ve heard Christmas music in stores of any kind since mid-November

That’s all, y’all. I’ll post again soon.

* Hey! It was a Putamayo World Music CD … AND I got it for $1. This is probably the ONLY time this year I’m voluntarily buying Christmas music.

**I might be crashing a party (with a friend of the host’s blessing), which would bring the unofficial number to 8.

 ***Picture courtesy of Good Enough Mother

Silent Night (and Day)

A few days ago, I celebrated another Christmas at home with my parents and brother (who’d come to visit).

But this one was a bit different.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I spent my day cellphone- and Blackberry-free.

Perhaps it was the frustration I’d been experiencing at work lately.

Or maybe I’d suddenly had a bit of electronic overload.

But at 20 minutes to midnight on Christmas Eve, I shut off my portable devices and didn’t look at them for the next 34 hours.

And man, was it a glorious feeling! No rings, ringtones, alerts, beeps, bloops, or anything of the type.

In Christmases past, this cellular shutdown would usually last until sometime after dinner. But not this time.

I just sat back and hung out with the family … opened some presents, watched a little TV, did some crocheting, and filled my belly with foodie goodness.

A couple times, I thought about how strange it was I didn’t have an inkling of an urge to go upstairs and turn my phone on.


To be fair, it wasn’t completely electronic-free – I did surf the internet and check my e-mail and Facebook.

But hey – it’s a start, right? Baby steps.

And perhaps it’s a “tradition” I should revisit – and expand upon – for future holidays.

Why I Send Cards

While at work last weekend, I was trolling the Internets, when I turned my attention to the Globe and Mail’s Web site and stumbled onto the latest column (at the time) from Leah McLaren, about why she doesn’t send Christmas cards.

And, I admit, her points are all valid. When your insurance company feels the need to send you a card (to keep their business with you ongoing), and when all forms of social networking makes the old idea seem antequated … not to mention trying to reduce your carbon footprint by generating less junk than necessary … it sucks all the intent out of doing it in the first place.

But you know what? WASP, I am not. (Or at least, I don’t think so – unless this makes me a BASP). But here are a few reasons why it’s one yearly habit I’m not quite ready to let go of:

It’s my own little tradition. I find the older I get, the Grinchier I get. Christmas music in November annoys me to no end. And friends who start the countdown to the holidays in JULY? I find them certifiable. So when December hits, I find I’m not getting into the spirit until I sit myself down with a box of cards, some stamps, and those address labels that never seem to finish. And then, it’s on.

I want to brighten someone’s day. I guess I’m one of those “good” people that make people like Leah McLaren feel bad. But it’s really not my intent. I really DON’T care if I get a card back. I only hope that it’s a pleasant surprise to someone I know, to receive a piece of mail that ISN’T a bill or a piece of bulk mail trying to get you to sign up for yet another credit card, or charity, or bogus magazine. And for a two-week period before it goes into the trash or recycling bin, it’s a bit of holiday spirit. It’s the thought that matters.

I get to practice my handwriting. McLaren mentioned social networking as being a major reason which eliminates the reason for sending cards. Here’s the downfall of online social media – or even the online communication/texting age we live in. Nobody writes ANYTHING with their hands anymore. When was the last time you wrote something down? And I’m not talking about a grocery lists or filling out forms, or anything like that. When was the last time a friend or family member sent you something in writing? It’s just not done.

(I do admit, though, I really need to work on WHAT I write, when I write those cards. Maybe getting blank cards would work.)

That’s my personal philosophy. What’s yours?

D’s 2009 Holiday Tally

I can’t believe 10 days of December have disappeared already!

And – almost overnight – there’s snow and ice on the ground.

How in the sweet HELL did that happen?

Anyhow … since nothing’s really doin’ at the moment, I figured now’s a good a time as any for my annual Christmas tally.

And I KNOW how much you love (no, not really) my Christmas tallies.

So, five days ahead of schedule, here’s how my sprint to Christmas is shaping up so far: 


25: Number of cards written, placed in envelopes and mailed (because yes, I’m THAT good)

2: Number of gifts bought

1: Number of gifts wrapped and ready to go

1: Number of gifts half-made (although the way part one came out, I may have to re-do it and donate the original to a worthy cause)

2: Number of gifts intended for gift exchanges this year

2.5: Number of gifts left to purchase (the “0.5” is for my mother, who didn’t want me to buy her anything, after going halfsies with my brother on a new computer for her and my dad. I think I need to sneak something in, SOMEHOW … )

0: Number of Christmas trees erected and decorated at my house (hey! I’ts still early!)

2: Number of times I’ve felt slightly claustrophobic by just BEING in the mall

1: Number of Christmas-themed parties attended

1: pair of new gloves I need to buy, because DAMN the old ones aren’t doing the trick!

1: Number of things I’ve already bought for myself, while trying to shop for other people

$0: Amount of money spent on alcohol for parties

$18:50: Amount of money spent on cab fare, on the way home from a party

So far, so tame, yo.

Tally ho!

And let me know how YOUR Christmas shopping/organizing/partying is going!

Unexpected E-Mails

You know it’s the holidays when you get e-mails from people you haven’t heard from in months – perhaps even years.

I got two e-mails last Saturday.

The first was from a friend of mine who’s just gotten back from travelling around Southeast Asia for the last several months.

I used to have the hugest crush on him, and when I found out he didn’t feel the same way, it hurt. (The summer does strange things to my brain and my ego, seriously.) But it was for the best, as it always is, and I’m totally fine.

He’s in town for the next weeks until he takes off to his next destination: workin’ out west to earn some money for business school.

The other e-mail I received threw me for a bit of a loop.

In the early days of this blog, there was a dude whom I referred to only as Shakespeare. To me, he emanated weird vibes from the start.

As the story goes, the burgeoning acquaintanceship got way too weird for me, so I cut him off. I blocked him on my IM list, I didn’t e-mail him. Nothing. The last e-mail I got from him – which I responded to – was at least a year ago, I think.

Until today.

The e-mail was short and full of holiday greetings, along with the line, “I hope you still remember me.” (Unfortunately, I was thinking.)

It took a few days – plus some counsel from a friend of mine – before I brought myself to e-mail a reply, in the spirit of the season.

If I don’t sound sincere about it, it’s because part of me is extremely wary.

I mean, I pretty much eliminated contact with him for a reason.

And with everything I’m trying to straighten out career-wise and otherwise, and all the good friends I DO have – who DON’T make me feel weird – I don’t particularly feel charitable about expending time and energy on someone I found I couldn’t be myself around, who made me put my guard up because of the way he or she acted around me.   Know what I mean?

Perhaps I’m not being fair. But that’s just how I feel.

How do I know that what’s in the past, is simply that?

Oh, Holiday Cravings …

For a number of people, the holidays are the perfect excuse to pig out on all those things one might eat and then feel immediate shame at any other time of the year (with the possible exception of one’s birthday or a vacation at an all-inclusive resort somewhere).

As your slightly jiggly, thunder-thighed author, I can attest to this.

But in the last four weeks, I’ve noticed a change in my eating. Not in the amount I’m putting away – THAT continues to be ridiculous.

But I’ve been noting how I’ve run the entire gamut of tastes my tongue could possibly experience.

I mean, I’ve chomped on chocolates and candies; snacked on salty foods (and added salt to some of my meals); munched on meaty meats and crispy bacon; guzzled grease of many kinds; and consumed hot fudge ice cream sundaes (fulfilling the cold AND “kind of dairy” departments).

But in the last three days, I’ve been overcome by a sudden craving for hot sauce.

You’re thinking, “So what?”

So … I don’t normally pepper my meals with, well, pepper, on a daily basis.

The whole thing was completely innocent. My parents and I were out several days ago, doing last-weekend-before-Christmas shopping …

And as we were exiting the mall, there was this young guy by the doors with this canvas gym bag (NOT shady – it had a food-related logo), giving away sample packets of hot sauce.

And I’m not talking any old hot sauce. This stuff, as I found out upon later inspection, contains scotchbonnet peppers – comparable to chilli peppers in their intensity. Too little gives your mouth a burning sensation; too much could make your lips fall off.

At dinner, I decided give the sauce a try. I didn’t go nuts and douse my entire dinner. But the little I took did the trick.

So much so, I had hot sauce with my dinner for another two consecutive nights. Never mind whether or not they taste good with meatballs. It was hot sauce, dammit. It makes EVERYTHING taste good.

I’ve since calmed down and have taken a one-day hiatus from my hot pepper love affair. Moderation IS key, after all. Or so I’ve heard.

Although having some with my turkey dinner tomorrow night might not be completely out of the question …

Happy holidays, y’all. May your days be spicy and bright.

D’s 2008 Holiday Tally

gingerbread-menWhile I await more inspiration – and more social opportunities – to make themselves available to me dring the holiday season …

Here’s how my journey towards Christmas this year stacks up against last year’s:

3: Cards successfully mailed

21: Cards successfully written and ready to be mailed

0: Presents completed and wrapped

2: Presents partially completed

3: Presents I still need to buy

At least 2: Number of times I’ve been to the mall to browse for gifts and end up buying something for myself

2: Attempts at baking so far this season

6: Parties I’ve been to in the past week and a half

4 1/2: Parties that were Christmas-related

1: Number of parties crashed

1: Number of times I did the Crawl of Shame from a Christmas party

2: Number of gatherings at restaurants

5: Movies I want to see this holiday season

1: Movies I’ve seen so far

$13.00: the price of admission

Ten days until Christmas and counting … eep!

The Nuances of Party Talk

ornaments‘Tis the season …

For neuroses.

That’s right kids, it’s holiday party season. A time when folks gather with family, friends and acquaintances … meet new people … or maybe finally get closer to people we want to get to know better, all in the spirit of fun and goodwill.

It can also be this time of year when, as the party circuit gains momentum, so does the potential to say or do something that might turn an interaction awkward …

And unleash that cold, sharp sting of emotional discomfort that can be hard to shake in the days that follow. 

Making conversation with people you may or may not know is a delicate art, even at the best of times. 

But around holiday time? The art of chatting during a time of merry-making can sometimes require the skill of a ninja.

And despite the best of intentions, you sometimes step right into it, without meaning to.

A case in point:

While kindly driving me home from work earlier this evening, a co-worker of mine and I were chatting about the work potluck we both attended the night before. It was great! Lots of good food, a chance to meet people and their spouses, or their friends.

But, she said, she thought she may have accidentally offended the wife of one of our other co-workers.

“Really?” I said. “Really? How so?”

Well, they’d gotten into a conversation about politics – specifically women in politics and powerful roles. The co-worker’s wife was making the point of saying that women should get a stab at high positions of office, such as President of the United States.

Essentially my co-worker’s point of view was that it shoudn’t matter – shouldn’t it just be the best person for the job? (There was a bit of pre-amble before that, so she just stopped short of saying this.)

My co-worker surmised she may not have gotten the drift of our  co-worker’s wife, because she got a weird vibe after that. And honestly, it wasn’t her intention to offend.

We probably won’t ever know what our co-worker’s wife was thinking. But it’s sometimes just one of those things.

And then there are situations that are, from the start, just friggin’ weird.

This past Saturday night, I went downtown for two shindigs. First stop was my friend’s birthday party at a bar.

I shed my layers, and saw one of my friends from work, in conversation with a few other women she knew. I asked if it was all right to join, to which they agreed.

After about five minutes or so, I introduced myself to each one. One of them I’d been hoping to introduce myself to for a while – the wife of another friend of mine.

Short story: This friend (the one with the wife, not the birthday) and I dated YEARS ago. So briefly in fact, it’s barely a wrinkle on the pleated slacks of Time. And by the time he met his now-wife, I’m pretty confident I was completely out of the picture and things were kosher.

And yet …

Have you ever been in a situation where you think you know in your head how something is going to play out, and it ends up unfolding in a completely different way?

I turned, and was ready to extend my hand when the woman said:

“We’ve met before. I’m ______’s wife.”


Normally this wouldn’t have caused me to flinch. Except:

1) I’m 99.9 percent sure I’ve never formally met her. EVER. The closest I got to her was last year, when she was still engaged to my friend. I spent the wedding ceremony of a mutual friend of ours looking at the back of her head from my church pew. Our tables at the reception were on opposite ends of the room. I never even talked to her there, either.

2) While I wouldn’t say she was unfriendly, I’d say she was hovering around cordial. She didn’t even say her name.

I honestly don’t even remember whether I still dribbled out, “Nice to meet you”, or modified the response.

But at that moment, my brain flashed one big, neurotic, neon “WTF?”  

To her credit, she did talk to me a little later on – for about 25 seconds –  because we have friends in common, who happened to be old classmates of mine. Although come to think of it, I found that equally as awkward. 

Not to toot my own horn, but I’d like to THINK I’m kinda likeable? 


So kids, whether your tongue sets you up for a fa-la-la-faux-pas, or you end up being targeted for merry mayhem, some advice.

1) Keep your tongue in check. 

2) Always keep your poker face.

 3) Know when to duck.

And please – if you have any awkward party conversation stories, feel free to share. I won’t judge.

D’s Grand Holiday Tally

So Christmas Eve is upon us once again. Man – who knew?

Some of my friends have already started the festivities early with dinner and gift exchanges, and others like myself will wait until tomorrow.

I think I managed to survive the pre-season leading up to the big event, but just barely (as is my normal fashion).

Here, for the last time, is a recap of the last three weeks, by the numbers:

22: number of Christmas cards successfully written and mailed

5: number of presents bought (as of 9 a.m. this morning)

(somewhere around) $100: approximate amount of money spent on alcohol

7: number of parties attended

5: number of those parties being Christmas-related

1: number of times ill and hungover as a result of said parties

1: number of backsides I’ve grabbed, on behalf of other people, in the name of Christmas

1: number of times I’ve been bitten on my face by one of my drunk friends (luckily, no broken skin)

$97: amount of money spent on cab rides home from aforementioned parties.

And just think – this is probably the warm-up for New Year’s  … eeesh.

I’ll probably be around somewhere on the World Wide Interweb over the next couple of days.

But if I don’t talk to you before then, happy holidays, everybody! Eat lots of t(of)urkey and get lots of sleep!

Shoes On? Or Off? The Party Etiquette Debate. (Kind Of.)

What’s Christmas party season without an etiquette-related post? 

So as I was rousing myself into consciousness late yesterday morning, I was listening to CBC Radio’s show GO!

In one segment, they sent comedienne Sabrina Jalees out on the street to find out from people how they felt about going to parties where the host or hostess might ask them to take their shoes off.

Perhaps I’m just crazy or not “cool”, but I was a bit surprised how many people say they keep their shoes on.

There were people in the other camp, who do take their shoes off. But for some reason, they didn’t seem as large a number.

Coming from a household where you pretty much take your shoes off when you step inside the door – and, I guess, I’ve just been used to taking off my shoes at other people’s houses – it’s kinda weird for me not to do.

Although I find as I get older and go to parties and various functions held by different people, I’ve adopted a bit of a modified strategy:

I assess the situation. If I go to a house party, only the floors of the house are concrete, or whatever – and everyone else is wearing shoes, then I would consider keeping them on.

But in a house with carpet (that’s probably going to be hard to clean after everyone’s left)? Shoes off. Although I’m still more likely at a house party to doff the shoes – old habits die hard. I just make sure the socks I wear don’t have holes in them 🙂 .

So how do you handle the shoe etiquette at parties?  Just curious.