A Cool Grandma

I am cool, ya’ll. Yes, I may be a grandma, and I may have bad knees, but I am still cool, especially when I drive my Corvette. When you drive a sports car, everybody notices you, and everybody thinks you are cool. Why else would you drive a Corvette?

Youngsters try to challenge you and want to pass or speed by a Corvette. I just keep my cool. If they think they can really take a car that can go 140 mph, let ’em dream. I’m so cool that I don’t even care.

Life in the fast lane is a strange thing when you are a grandma, though. Passing motorists can’t really see you well enough to know that you are a granny off her rocker. So they just look at the car and think if the car is cool, you are too.

Truck drivers honk, or make that sound with their air brakes. What can I do? Get a license plate that says granny? Now that would not be cool. So I just let ’em think that I am actually impressed by tractor-trailers. Don’t want them to believe I’m not cool.

Those bucket seats are sort of getting hard for a grandma with bad knees to get in and out of. I thought of trading it in. The car is getting a little old now. Guess we have a lot in common. But we are both still cool.

The car still looks good and runs good and is paid for, so why trade it? I was younger when I bought the car brand new. Maybe it was one of those midlife crisis things. Of course, I’ll continue to deny that and declare that I bought it because it was cool.

I hate it when I drive to Walmart and can’t find a Corvette parking place. Corvette parking places are at the end of the row, preferably in front where everyone can see you. But Walmart is about as uncool as you can get anyhow. So I don’t worry about it as long as I can find a place where other cars won’t ping it with their doors.

The coolest places to go are those that have valet parking. Valets know that Vettes are cool. They always park it in front of the restaurant or the hotel where it can be seen. They want everyone to know that that they cater to cool customers.

I guess they are surprised when a granny comes crawling out of the car. Actually, I don’t get valet parking as often anymore. I have an image to maintain. I might not look cool getting out with my bad knees and walking cane. I usually get out of it inside the garage, where no one can tell if I’m not looking cool.

My grandkids think I’m about the coolest granny they could possibly have and always want to ride with grandma in her car. Yep, kids know a cool car when they see one. “My grandma drives a race car,” I heard my grandson say once.

So far I can still get in and out and drive it without looking too much like an old fogy. As long as we both hold up and don’t show our age too much, I guess I’ll keep on driving it, even if the only places I have to go are Walmart and the Sonic drive-in.

The cops try to pull over Corvettes for speeding. We’re a target. Guess snagging a Vette gives them bragging rights. The other day I got pulled over for running a red light. (The darn thing was yellow and I didn’t have time to stop, at least in my opinion.) When the cop looked at my license and saw how old I was, he let me go. “You drive careful, mam, and go straight home,” he said.

If ya’ll see a silver streak going down I-24 in the fast lane, that will be me. Go ahead and wave — you know you want to. I’ll wave back because I know what you are thinking. Look at that cool car!

I may be a grandma and I may have bad knees, but I’m still cool, ya’ll.

Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss




Posted in Automotive, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rubber Bands Fad


Not too long ago, a fad among the elementary school set was — would you believe — the rubber band. Now the rubber bands they were going gaga over are not the ordinary brownish ones that probably come to mind when you think rubber band — or even the pretty red and green ones that you sometime see. These were colorful rubber bands, but what made them special was their shape. They were shaped like chickens, ducks, dinosaurs, elephants or just about any other animal or object you can think of.

I was first introduced to them when my grandson came in with a few of them. It seems the kids at school were going nuts over farm and zoo shaped rubber bands. When I asked “Why?,” the answer was “Why not?” They were cute, cheap, and best of all, “When you stretch them, they return to the original animal shape.” Of course, that made perfect sense, at least to a child.

It seems that the kids took them to school, traded with friends for harder to find rubber bands, and wore them on their wrist or arm. My grandson wanted more of these miraculous rubber bands. We couldn’t find them locally and resorted to ordering them on the internet. He spent half of his birthday money to order several batches and couldn’t wait until the big brown truck arrived with them.

Now, I never thought I would be party to such foolishness as collecting animal shaped rubber bands. But then I remembered Beanie Babies. Remember how we chased all over town to find the one Beanie Baby that was in high demand? Where are Beanie Babies now? Forgotten in the bottom of a dresser drawer? That’s where mine are, I think.

Anyhow, the lowly rubber band came into its own. Remember when every newspaper was secured with a rubber band before it was delivered to your home? Now they come in plastic bags. Or how strawberries came in plastic crates covered by cellophane secured with a rubber band? Now they come in plastic boxes. You may still find your celery or broccoli secured with a rubber band, but the rubber band has become what is called a “mature product,” meaning the demand for them is not increasing.

Almost everyone has a few rubber bands around a door knob or stashed in a kitchen drawer with the scissors and paperclips. Any office worker can find a few rubber bands in the desk drawer, so handy for holding together a pile of file folders or a stack of letters. In fact, rubber bands are so useful for letters that the Post Office is said to be the largest user of this handy item. It was the Post Office that came up with the idea for coloring them red due to postal workers dropping them and forgetting to pick them up.

The history of rubber bands is almost as old as the history of rubber itself, which goes back to the time of Columbus who discovered it being used by Mayan Indians. After the Europeans found out about rubber, it wasn’t too long before the sticky substance was vulcanized into a useful product when Goodyear accidentally mixed rubber with sulfur by leaving it on a hot stove and forgetting it. Fortunate for him that rubber was not explosive when mixed with sulfur or we would be driving cars with wooden wheels now.

Anyhow, all is well that ends well. Along with the dozens of other rubber products, someone invented rubber bands by covering a hollow tube with rubber and then cutting the rubber into strips. Now we have thick and thin, long and short, plain and colorful rubber bands for any use you can think of — even for kids to collect, trade, and wear on their arms. New shapes are coming out all the while: cars, flowers, hearts, anything you can think of. The more unusual the shape, the more in demand it is.

It seems to me that I recall rubber bands being used for slingshots to shoot paper wads when I was a kid. I’m certainly not going to mention that to my grandson. Obviously, times have changed and I don’t want him to come up with any new (old) ideas to get in trouble with.

But rubber bands? Who could imagine that rubber bands would ever be a fad?

Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss

Posted in Crafts/Hobbies, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vacation from Work

This time of the year reminds me of my working days and how I always looked forward to a few extra days off around Christmas.

“Are you taking off next week?” asked my co-worker.  We had two days off for the Christmas holiday, so a lot of people were taking the other three days also, a good way to get a week off without using up your leave. I had already asked off for Monday.

“Well, I planned to work on Thursday and Friday, but I would like to get some rest.” I had not had a vacation in ages and I needed some down time. Counting the weekends, I would get nine days off. I should be able to get a lot of rest in nine days.

That Saturday, my first day off, I decided that I needed to clean the house. It was filthy. I had some remodeling done, and there was sawdust everywhere. It took an entire day just to run the vacuum and clean up the mess. And Christmas was coming soon!

On Sunday, We decided to unpack and put back all the things that we had moved out of the worker’s way: lamps, pictures, knickknacks.  A good idea, and as long as everything is off the furniture, I might as well polish the wood.

Monday, the day before Christmas Eve – I wanted the house to be somewhat normal for Christmas, so I polished my silver and copper items, a job I hate, washed glass items, and put back everything the way it should be. Sure looked nice. After two solid days of housecleaning, I was pooped.

Christmas Eve already – I needed to go to the grocery store or we would not have anything to eat. The store was packed. Well, what did I expect? I thought I would get a sliced ham so I would not have to do too much. Of course, I had to fix my famous green Jello salad and a few other side dishes. Gee, I was worn out from cooking and cleaning and the next day was Christmas.

Christmas Day – Grandkids were there. Presents were opened and wrapping paper thrown all over the place. I cleaned up all the mess and put the food out. Everyone ate, and I cleaned up that mess. I didn’t want to do house cleaning on Christmas, so I left it for the next day and tried to enjoy Christmas.

Thursday – The guy was coming to install my new dishwasher. Did I mention my old one died and I had been washing dishes the old-fashioned way? Direct TV was also coming. The TV was on the blink. The laundry was meeting me in the hallway, so I had to do that. I thought I was supposed to be getting some rest?

Friday – Things started out well, except there were so many little things left that I needed to get done while I was off and had time. I made a list: Paint bathroom door, vacuum tops of cabinets (I didn’t get to that before) Work on door to attic that is sticking, and the door on my computer desk had fallen off. I tried, honestly, but this is stuff for a handyman, not me.

Saturday – I had to go to work next week, which meant I needed to go to the grocery store again to get food for lunches. I also needed to go to the drug store and to Walmart to return that mini-blind that didn’t fit. As long as the line for returns was, I wondered if I should just throw it away and get a new one.

Sunday – I needed to get rid of the Christmas decorations. I needed to press and hang up the clothes I got for Christmas. I hadn’t had time to try things on yet and they were still in the boxes. Tomorrow it was back to the office.

Monday – Gee, the nine days sure flew by. It was good to get back to work where I could finally get some rest. Staying at home was just way too much work.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

Posted in Holidays, Home, Humor, Work Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Seeing Blue on eBay

It usually happens when I’m innocently looking for something and end up on eBay. I start browsing and first thing you know I find something I simply must have. My body takes control of my common sense and forces me to bid.

It’s the fever — auction fever. Once you decide you want something enough to bid on it, you can’t stand it if someone else bids higher than you do. To avoid the fever, I have to not bid at all and just firmly delete an item from my watch list so I won’t be tempted.

A blue sapphire ring caught my eye. I knew it wanted me to own it. I don’t even like sapphires, but this one was calling my name. There were other rings that were similar, but I wanting that one — just my size too.

And so it begins… I bid on it, and someone else bids higher. The emails from eBay start to arrive. “Your bid has been received.” I knew that. Then, “You have been outbid.”

And when you look at the website, the red flag is there “OUTBID” so you are sure to see that you didn’t bid high enough. “Don’t let it get away. Bid now.”

Oh, these people have it down to a science. And when you bid as much as you can, someone else always can bid more. And so it goes.

The only salvation is the time limit. The minutes tick away one at the time, and the vultures set in wait so they can outbid each other at the last minute. Instead of the green check mark saying “You are the highest bidder, hope you win.” You get the red X saying, “Sorry, you have been outbid.”

But not to worry, they have suggestions for similar items that you can bid on.

I know the ring probably isn’t a sapphire and the silver probably isn’t sterling. I’m really better off if I don’t win. Buying jewelry on a place like eBay is not a very good idea.

Bids starting at only 99 cents for 14K gold and diamonds? I don’t think so. There seems to be no truth in advertising on the Internet. They can say anything they want. Even things that are stamped 14K gold can be counterfeit. When similar items sell for $300 or a thousand, I’m certain it is not real gold, much less real diamonds.

You have buyer protection, sure, but in the end all they can do if the seller refuses to return money is shut down the account. With my suspicious attitude, I’m not going to win much in the cut-throat world of eBay.

But the blue sapphire continues to sing the song of the sirens.

As luck would have it, I win the ring — a blue sapphire, or at least a blue something. In the evil game with eBay vultures, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

At first I felt a little bad for the people that lost… until I realized there are a dozen other rings listed just like the one I bought. And the losers are getting consoling emails from eBay, right now saying “Sorry you lost this time, but here are some other items that you might like.”

There’s always the next time… and the next… and the next.

So, if the ring is blue quartz, or glass, and not sapphire, so what? Who will know the difference if I don’t tell them? As long as an item is worth what I paid to me, it is a good deal.

The email from eBay comes, “Congratulations, you won the item in the last few seconds.” I’m feeling pretty special until I realize that I didn’t really win anything — I’m buying it.

The next email from eBay is the bill.

Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss

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Kicking the Candy Habit

It’s the season for sweets, and I LOVE old-fashioned hard Christmas candy. Sugar is not treated as a negative by our society. We give cookies to our children, use candy as a reward for good behavior, and celebrate birthdays, weddings, and holidays with cake.

No wonder I’m a sugar addict.

People can digest some sugar, but we cannot handle the amount of refined sugar in the American diet. The average person eats 150 pounds of sugar in a year. If you eat more sugar than your intestines can absorb, bacteria and yeast feed on it and create gas and cramps. After several days of an upset digestive system, I decided to eliminate possible causes one at time.

I know I am eating too much sugar, but I have chosen in the past to ignore it. I can’t give up sugar. If you’ve ever tried to cut back on sweets, you realize how incredibly difficult it is. Some experts say that sugar is as addictive as drugs. I thought of all the sweet stuff in my life and knew – I’m GUILTY of abusing sugar.

Just say no and stop sucking up candy. No problem.

I’ve put away all the candy. But from the top of the refrigerator, it calls my name. I try not to think about it, but the harder I try, the more I think about it. Visions of candy canes dance in my head. I sure picked a heck of a time to give up sugar — during the holidays.

I crave candy like a pregnant woman craves pickles and ice-cream. Did someone say ice-cream? If I can’t have candy, maybe ice-cream? But almost everything seems to have sugar, even things that don’t seem sweet. Maybe I can give up foods with large amounts of sugar and then take on smaller offenders after I have conquered the obvious.

I am getting crabby, though. “Just one piece of candy won’t hurt,” says the devil. “Do you like having cramps and gas,” says an angel. And so it goes, on and on and on. I am angry because I feel deprived. I yell at my family. “Sorry, it is my withdrawal from sugar,” I tell them. “Try to stand me a few more days.” I am climbing the walls. I crave sweet rolls stuffed with sweet fruit filling and sprinkled with sugar.

How long is it going to take to kick this habit? I ask “Dr. Google” and find it will be about three days. I think not —  three weeks, maybe, three months, possibly. But I am determined to lay off the sugar, not only for my immediate predicament,  but also because a high-sugar diet causes tooth decay, heart disease, and diabetes, not to mention weight gain.

I feel weak. Sugar in the blood gives you energy, but it quickly burns up and the bottom falls out. I sliver through the day dragging my belly. Sugar is in everything, even applesauce, oatmeal, and canned fruit. I read the label on my yogurt and fructose is one of the main items listed.

Sugar by any other name is still sugar.

Candy sings the song of the siren. I love sugar/I hate sugar. I need to rid my home of sweet stuff. I can’t be tempted to eat what isn’t there.  How long will this obsessive craving go on? I feel dizzy. I need something sweet or I may pass out.

Eventually, though, I get through the worst of it. No more popping a lemon drop in my mouth while on my computer. No more soda, no cookies, no ice cream, no cake, no pie, no more climbing the rock-candy mountain of sugar addiction.

My hands are still trembling and I can’t help wondering, why does something so bad for you have to taste so good?

Copyright 2015 Sheila Moss

Posted in Food, Health, Holidays, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Shopping by the Seat of My Pants


We are well into the craziness of the Christmas season. As for me, my fingers are doing the walking this year and I’m doing my shopping online. Don’t worry about me. I’m not a compulsive shopper, as this column might seem to indicate. I have short periods of addiction and then periods of sanity in between. Thank goodness for computers as I’m just not into mall walking any more.

I don’t know about you, but I’m more of a Cyber Monday kind of person than a Black Friday sort. Camping out in the cold and getting mobbed is not worth the trouble in my book, even if I miss out on some bargains that I probably don’t need anyhow. You can always find it online if you don’t mind shopping on the seat of your pants in front of a computer.

My cyber shopping began years ago when I found Amazon and could order any book I wanted and have it in my mailbox within a few days. I bought a lot of books back in the day. Then my shopping expanded to include video tapes and the Amazon inventory expanded until they had it all. I wanted it all and kept on shopping on the seat of my pants.

Then I discovered eBay. I stayed up nights waiting for listings to close so I could get the final bid. I couldn’t quit buying, even though the quality was sometimes iffy. How much can you actually tell much about an item from a picture?  But I couldn’t resist and continued shopping on the seat of my pants.

You would think I would learn, wouldn’t you?  Forget it, a cyber-shopper never learns. I found more online stores that I liked, mainly through trial and error. Lands’ End had turtleneck tops with extra-long sleeves. Before that, I could never get sleeves that were long enough, a very good reason to continue shopping on the seat of my pants.

Once you buy from an online store, they give your address to other places and you begin to get temptations from cyber-sellers everywhere. Most junk mail goes straight to the trash, but a few emails were looked at first. Before I realized it, I was compulsively shopping and had crashed-landed in women’s clothing on the seat of my pants.

I discovered Shoebuy.com. I love shoes. At first I only ordered brands that I knew. Tell me, what could possibly be more unlikely to fit than shoes? But they know about people’s reluctance and give free shipping and free returns.  Who could resist that? What could possibly go wrong? Nothing – unless you try to return the same pair of shoes more than once, and the free postage runs out. You find you don’t need shoes anyhow when what you are wearing out is not shoes but the seat of your pants.

My current addiction is Zulily. I saw the online ads for children’s clothing and I was not interested. But one day I clicked and that is the day I found Rising International Woman, colorful and different clothes and purses handmade by women in Nepal. Buying these products helps women in poverty earn money. Who could argue with that? There was a one little catch — no returns. 

The boxes started arriving. The mailman hated me. He should love me, though; I’m giving him job security. A few more shopaholics like me, and he can retire early. I love online shopping — no walking till my feet hurt, no crowds, no wasting my time looking for things I can’t find. And it’s easy to shop from your own home, in front of the computer on the seat of your pants.

The downside, you say? Well, I do spend a lot of time at the various postal services returning clothes that do not fit. But things work out often enough. I have not been to a shopping mall in ages, or any other brick and mortar store other than for groceries, now available online too.

By the time the pandemic came along and everyone was doing it, I was a seasoned pro. Why would I go out to shop when the largest mall in the world is sitting on my desk and I can buy anything — shopping on the seat of my pants.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

Posted in Holidays, Humor, Shopping | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grandma’s Secret Recipe

Holiday season always brings to mind a traditional holiday favorite — fruitcake. So many jokes have been made about tasteless fruitcake that there are not many left. People joke about fruitcake like you buy at the supermarket or receive as a gag gift from someone at the office.

These are not real fruitcakes. They make great doorstops, paperweights, or bowling balls. Most people save the pretty metal can and throw the cake away or pass the cake on as a gift to an unsuspecting relative.   

Real fruitcake is homemade like the kind my grandmother used to make. I don’t know where she got the recipe, probably off the back of a box as it doesn’t seem like anything that would have been handed down through generations.

I’m going to let you in on one of our family’s best kept secrets — the recipe for Mama Caldwell’s fruitcake.

The most important thing about a fruitcake is the fruit. Some people seem to forget this very important fact. They try to save money on the main ingredient and buy those sticky packages of candied mixed fruit. No, no, no! This stuff has orange peelings in it. How can it possibly be good?

Pass by the cheap stuff and go for a container of candied pineapple.  In addition, you need candied cherries, red, green, or both. The more fruit, the bigger the fruitcake will be. Of course, you need nuts. Mama Caldwell used black walnuts and pecans, but most people do not have walnut trees in the backyard, so it’s okay to only use only pecans.  Add a box of raisins and that’s it.

Here’s the secret part: a package of marshmallows, a box of graham crackers crumbed, and a can of Borden’s Eagle Brand Milk. You can use packaged crumbs if you are too lazy to make your own, but do not try to substitute any other kind of condensed milk. Eagle Brand is the only kind that will work. Some have tried other things and learned the hard way.

You need a tube cake pan. If you don’t have one or never heard of such a thing, you can use a bundt cake pan or a loaf pan, but line it with light aluminum foil first. Without the lining, you will never get the cake out of the pan. Just take my word for it and don’t worry about how I know.

Set aside about half a dozen cherries and some pineapple. Don’t ask questions. I’ll tell you why later. Mix the crumbs, fruits, and nuts in a large bowl. Melt the marshmallows. Grandma Caldwell used a double-boiler, but you can do it just as well in the microwave. When melted, stir in the milk, pour over the crumb mixture and stir.  

If you have a spouse or child that likes to help in the kitchen, call in the reinforcements. You need help to press the warm mixture quickly and firmly into a pan. If it starts getting hard before you are done, you will have a big sticky mess.

When finished, refrigerate in the pan.  Yes, you heard me right. No baking. How easy is that? The next day, remove the cake from the pan and use the reserved fruit to decorate the top. Wrap it in heavy foil and store in the refrigerator, the longer, the better so the flavors blend.

Mama Caldwell sometimes wrapped the cake in muslin soaked with her good homemade wine and aged it in the cellar, but that is not part of her recipe since she was a Baptist and people might talk.

If you couldn’t get the cake out of the pan, quit trying to cook. It is hopeless. Go to the supermarket and buy one of the bricks they sell there. You can always soften it with brandy. Use enough and you won’t care whether it is tasteless or not.

Remember, this is a secret family recipe. Do not give it to anyone. Keep it a secret like I did.


Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss

  

Posted in Food, Holidays, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Wish List for Santa

santa

In a world of greed and fear, Santa is unique,

‘Cause everyone likes Santa and thinks he’s pretty neat,

So why don’t we ask Santa for the things we really need,

Instead of all the useless junk for which some people plead?

Why don’t we ask Santa, with the reindeer and his sleigh,

To help us solve the problems which confront the world today?

With Santa flying in Iran, the soldiers wouldn’t shoot,

And making peace across the seas could take a different route.

Santa could bring food to feed the hungry and exposed,

And homes for all the homeless folks whose houses were foreclosed.

Too many children don’t want toys but just enough to eat,

And we need jobs for the unemployed to keep them off the streets.

Santa could fly round the world to deliver a vaccine,

For all the scary viruses that scientists have seen.

Santa could have immigrants in his workshop to build toys,

Jobs are what they really want and just to be employed.

With Santa in the Congress we could get the laws we need.

Who would vote against Santa’s bills or question Santa’s lead?

He could look into global warming, a problem we’ve been dealt,

‘Cause he’d really be in trouble if the polar ice caps melt.

Santa should be President — too bad kids can’t vote,

But voters were all kids once too, so maybe there is hope.

If this wish list seems too difficult for Santa to achieve,

Know nothing is impossible as long as we believe.

And when the list is finished, and we all stop to observe,

Perhaps we’ll have the kind of world our children will deserve.

Copyright 2008 Sheila Moss
Updatd 2015
Posted in Holidays, Humor | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Two Faces of Christmas

It seems to me there are two kinds of people when it comes to Christmas. Which side of the fence are you on?

CHRISTMAS CONFORMIST:  Keep an alphabetized list and address Christmas cards early so they will be ready before you get busy. They can be mailed on the first of December.

GRANNY GRINCH: I considered sending cards, but forgot to buy them and don’t keep a list anyhow. After a few years of this, I only get cards from the dentist and plumber.

CHRISTMAS CONFORMIST: Buy Christmas wrapping paper after Christmas when it is on sale. Store it in a plastic container so you can find it when you need it. Nothing beats the fun of wrapping gifts in colorful paper and placing a pretty bow on top.

GRANNY GRINCH: Are you kidding? Wrap gifts? Wrapping paper became extinct when gift bags came into my life. Gift bags are the best invention that Santa ever made.  

CHRISTMAS CONFORMIST: Buy Christmas gifts all year long when you find things on sale. Then you can enjoy the excitement of shopping for a few items at the mall without being under pressure.

GRANNY GRINCH:  Getting mauled at the mall in the Christmas crunch is not my idea of fun.  I order online and let Google and Amazon do the walking.

CHRISTMAS CONFORMIST: Get the largest tree you can find and put it up before Thanksgiving. Artificial trees can stay up longer.

GRANNY GRINCH: What I’m waiting for is a pre-lit tree that also has the ornaments pre-attached and opens with a button,  like an umbrella. Until then my tree is getting smaller and smaller every year. By next year it may be gone entirely.  

CHRISTMAS CONFORMIST: Collectable ornaments make the Christmas tree special.  Try adding a few new ones each year. Or make your own and personalize them. Vintage ornaments also bring back special memories from previous holidays.

GRANNY GRINCH: Obviously you don’t have a cat. I spend most of the holiday chasing the cat out of the tree and picking up ornaments that she has pulled off the tree and knocked under the furniture .

CHRISTMAS CONFORMIST: Play Christmas music and bake some cookies. To really enjoy Christmas, you must get into the spirit and right mood.

GRANNY GRINCH: My Christmas spirit has been spirited away, right up the chimney with Santa.  I keep suffering though the hubbub and hullabaloo and manage to keep my sanity, or at least some of it. 

CHRISTMAS CONFORMIST:  Drive around the neighborhood and look at the outside light displays. Be sure to take the kids or grandkids.

GRANNY GRINCH:  The commercialization of Christmas has ruined it. Too many houses decorated with lights and choreographed with music; too many stores playing Christmas carols in October; too many Christmas commercials on television; and too many designer Christmas trees with coordinated ornaments.

CHRISTMAS CONFORMIST:  Give little hints about what you want for Christmas so you will be sure to get what you want.  You can also make a wish list at places like Amazon, or just ask family and friends for gift cards for your favorite restaurant or department store.

GRANNY GRINCH: I don’t want anything. I have everything I need. The best thing about Christmas is the Christmas candy. This year I’m giving myself a really great gift and take off from work.

CHRISTMAS CONFORMIST: Think Norman Rockwell, and Currier and Ives.  Keep your finger crossed and wish for snow. I LOVE Christmas! I only wish that the Christmas season lasted longer.

GRANNY GRINCH: Think Grinch, and Scrooge. Snow would be the last straw. All the planning and anticipation, all the getting ready, buying gifts, all the work, and in a day — it is over!  

Can I take down the tree and let the cat out of the basement now?

Copyright 2011 Sheila Moss

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A Christmas Tree Story

Dear Friends,

Thank you for the lovely Christmas card and for inviting us to your New Year’s Eve bash. I have been meaning to write, but we have really had a busy year.

We decided to have a real tree for Christmas instead of using an artificial one like we usually do. Decorating the Christmas tree has always been a favorite part of our holiday.

We didn’t know about looking for a tree that is fresh by bending the needles to see if they break. It was hard enough to find one with a trunk that wasn’t so crooked that the stupid tree would not stand up.

We were supposed to cut two inches off the trunk to keep it fresh, but you pay for those things by the foot. Why lob off $20 worth of the tree? We couldn’t find the saw and who wants to spend all evening sawing anyhow? We thought it looked okay the way it was.

I put some water in the tree stand when we finally got the thing standing up. Who knew a tree could drink so much water? It looked a little limp but we couldn’t run a hose to it in the house.

Did you know you can put an aspirin in the water to keep it fresh? Me either. I’m not Martha Stewart and I didn’t think it had a headache. I did, though, since by now needles were falling off the thing like rain.

I found some antique lights at a garage sale that were really nice. Somebody had probably torn off the UL label, but they worked just fine except for a few lights that blinked and sizzled a little. It didn’t matter to me.

I plugged all the lights sets together and put them on the tree. I know they say that you should only use three sets on one extension cord, but I couldn’t have extensions cords running all over the house. We would probably trip on them and knock the tree over. I used one extension cord and ran it under the rug where it would be out of the way.

It was a beautiful tree. Everyone agreed it was the prettiest tree we have ever had.

We are still not sure what happened. We were eating dinner on Christmas Eve when the smoke alarm went off. This time, believe it or not, it was not my cooking that did it. We thought it might be the candles on the table until we realized that smoke was coming from the living room.

Have you ever seen a forest fire?

Thank goodness for neighbors. They heard us outside in the snow screaming FIRE, FIRE and called 911. After the firemen left, we went to a motel and will stay here until the house can be rebuilt. We were not very happy about all our Christmas presents burning up, but the firemen said we were lucky as it could have been much worse.

When it was on the evening news, the news anchor said that fire departments get a lot of calls during the holiday season from people like us who set the Christmas tree on fire with unsafe lights. I’m glad we are not the only ones. Did you see the story on the front page of the paper? You probably didn’t recognize me in the picture with all the soot on my face.

Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know that we will not be celebrating Christmas this year. We plan to help out at the local soup kitchen since we now know what it is like to be out of house and home during the holidays. I don’t care if I never have another Christmas tree — ever!

We would love to come to your New Year’s Eve party, though. It will be nice to be with friends and celebrate after such a hectic year. Thanks for asking.

You are not planning on shooting off any fireworks, are you?

Copyright 2011 Sheila Moss

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Don’t worry, the part about the house burning is fiction. However, the safety precautions are real. Somehow people seem to remember a fictional story better than a lecture. Happy holidays!

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