Countdown to Christmas…Christmas Cards

Let us not beat around the dick on this one: the only (and I mean only) reason why I send out Christmas cards (on the rare occasion that I do) is because I feel an obligation to do so.

Not because I enjoy spreading holiday cheer.

Not because I get gads of cards in the mail and want to return the act of genuine kindness.

Not because anyone told me to.

In fact, people tell me not to all the time. A few years ago, I sent out these really expensive, plantable cards. Didn’t hear from anyone that they actually planted them. Last year I sent out no less than fifty Christmas cards. Can anyone guess how many I got in return? Those motherfuckers were handmade. Required extra fucking postage, due to the size and shape. They each had a personal, handwritten message.

All fifty. All. Fucking. Fifty.

I got two.

After that, a lot of people told me that I shouldn’t waste my time and money. My husband’s grandfather yelled – I mean yelled – at me just about a month ago not to waste my money on Christmas cards this year. He told me that I have better things I could be doing, like watching Turner Classic Movies (his suggestion) and knitting scarves for myself to wear the three days a year the temperature dips below 55 in California.

And it always starts out the same way. Every year. First it is almost natural and common knowledge (to myself) that I won’t be sending out Christmas cards. It isn’t even really a thought in my mind – I am that inherently against doing it.

Then my dad goes through his list of people that are getting cut (after two years with no return card, he cuts the person…my Uncle Ken will not be happy this year after getting slashed…). He always does this in front of me, and I always start to question whether or not I should be doing cards.

I don’t want to. But I start to think that I should.

Somewhere after there I’m in Target or CVS or even the grocery store, and I see boxes of cards. Man, the really pretty ones are only like $7 a box. I feel kind of like a cheap dick for not even doing just that. Or I go to Michaels and I see those boxes of make-your-own-cards kits. They are so cheap! And I mean I don’t have any projects to do right now (which is always a lie I tell myself to try and justify this obligatory feeling I have, which I just don’t get…).

The next thing I know, I’m addressing cards, standing in line at the post office to get holiday stamps, stressing over what to write in the cards to people I don’t know very well or (more often) cannot stand the thought of. And I’m going on my annual search for people’s addresses that I have never, and will never, take the time to document anywhere so that I can stop having to ask.

I hate myself so much for so many reasons, and this is just another one of those reasons.

Then I see things that come in the mail, and I feel like even more of a jerk. Like I did today. I’m still procrastinating on doing cards – I mean I have the postage and the cards, I just…

This year – so far – I have gotten three cards. That’s one more than last year, and there’s still time. Who knows, I may get four. I got one from my aunt and uncle, one from my cousins, and one from a blogger I have never even met in real life. It had a bookmark. And lots of glitter. Glitter that got all over my pants, and made them look a thousand times more awesome than they would have otherwise; which is still on my pants right now and makes me feel like a jerk for not wanting to do cards. (Because if someone I have never even met in real life can take the time to send me this envelope of glittery awesome, surely I can take the time to stop procrastinating and send out these stupid cards I have sitting over there – staring at me, on the dining room table…right?)

So I don’t want to do cards, but I do them anyway out of an obligation that I cannot pinpoint; and I feel like a jerk because other people do them so nicely and willingly and you don’t hear them complaining, while here I am complaining every step of the way and being very open and honest about the fact that I don’t even want to fucking do them.

Still with me? Maybe all this griping is why I only got two cards last year.

Here’s where I think my real problems are with Christmas cards: I expect some in return, and rarely get many (if any at all). And why should I, with this kind of an attitude? Moreover, I feel like I have to include a letter or an update. Like my Christmas card is supposed to include this not-so-humble brag about how wondrous my and my family’s lives are. You know like that stupid Christmas jammies video that went viral the other day: those people basically did nothing but brag about their wonderful lives for the whopping three minutes of the video, and for it they are now Internet celebrities.

I don’t have much to brag about. Certainly not enough to brag for an entire three minute video. Or a half a sheet of paper. If I were to write a Christmas letter it would say something like: “Husband at the same job, nothing changed with the under 18 crowd, we took a couple vacations around California and to Chicago, and I hate my life because I do stupid shit like this Christmas letter.”

Do you send out Christmas cards? What about a Christmas letter? Is your Christmas letter full of back patting and outlines of all the awards your kids have won? Or is it about your back pains and hemorrhoids, like my grandpa’s always used to be about?

More importantly: should I send out Christmas cards this year?

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Funeral Fails

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So I mentioned almost two weeks ago (the last time I blogged, actually): my grandpa passed away on February 6th. It’s been very difficult to get through it – my grandparents and I have had a very special relationship from Day One.

Fortunately, the funeral events are finally over with. Between my husband’s uncle dying last month and my grandfather passing away on the 6th, we had a total of four funeral days this past week to attend. Are you with me on the overwhelmingness faithful blog followers? The schedule went like this:

Sunday, February 10th 

Scattering of Uncle Stevie’s ashes, breakfast with the family, and memorial luncheon

Tuesday, February 12th

Grandpa’s wake near our home and birthday dinner for my mom

Friday, February 15th

Grandpa’s wake near his retirement home – 250 miles away outside Yosemite area, followed by a military burial, followed by a memorial church service, followed by a reception in the church, followed by photos and flowers by the graveside, followed by scattering bird seed around near their old home (like my grandpa used to do), followed by a family dinner at the casino.

… followed by my husband and I driving home just 24 hours after we had made the trek up

Sunday, February 17th

Grandpa’s memorial and celebration of life locally (they lived around where we live for the majority of their careers, then moved back for the last two years of Grandpa’s life), followed by a reception, followed by another party at our house

To say I am tired of all this shit doesn’t really even cover it.

But in the last week, I have spent an unprecedented number of hours and days with my mom, and quite frankly a lot of people – something that is typically considered a nightmare to misanthropes such as myself. I was talking to my Uncle John yesterday, and said that this is the most time I think I have ever spent with my mother; and his response was that he knew I was ready for some space. That’s putting it nicely, though. It was a fucking nightmare. My worst nightmare, wrapped into a huge ball of anxiety and sadness and missing my grandpa.

And there were a number of funeral fails, or death-related pet peeves that came out of it all.

Funeral Fail #1:

Expecting Everyone To Grieve The Same Way

179783_659293169593_1073053114_nSure, I was sad about the fact that my husband’s uncle died. He was hit by a truck while walking across the street – a tragedy in itself; and his life was very tumultuous as well.

But I also didn’t know him too well, so expecting me to break down crying while we scattered the ashes was a little weird. And still, I was asked by one of my husband’s cousins if I never cry at a funeral, or if it was just them. I understand, people are sensitive with their pain, but my God. I said “I just am glad Stevie is finally at peace in the ocean with the other surfers” and I got a cold shoulder.

I’m sure it didn’t make things any better that I proceeded to then walk back from the edge of the pier to wait for them. I just couldn’t be expected to start sobbing, or be interrogated for not doing so – especially when I was trying to keep myself under control after my grandfather had just passed away a few days beforehand. Nonetheless, it made me think about how many people out there truly do expect people to all grieve the same, exact way.

Funeral Fail #2:

Scheduling Funerals On People’s Birthdays

48119_659676985423_1001985731_nI understand the already-sensitive nature of scheduling a funeral, wake, memorial service, and so on, between the schedules of the churches, parties involved, and funeral homes. But I also think there is something inherently wrong with scheduling funeral events on someone’s birthday.

Two of the dates of my grandfather’s funeral events were scheduled on people’s birthdays. What was particularly frustrating about this was that everyone expected to be able to leave the wake and just chipper up for the birthday celebrations immediately afterwards. To make matters worse, the first was my mom’s. Even in a time of grief and sadness, she still managed to try and micromanage and drama up the entire thing.

First she yelled at me for suggesting that we have a potluck-type thing at my house, since my grandma would no doubt be too exhausted after the wake to go out into a restaurant for dinner. Then she yelled at me for saying it should be potluck, and then told most of the people coming over just to not really bring anything. And in my mother’s typical fashion, when everyone sang her “Happy Birthday,” she just had to call her Hillbilly Husband out in New Mexico, put him on speaker, and involve him in the festivities. She always does that – puts him on speaker, as if this will rectify the fact that the family has either never met him, or only met him for a brief time years ago. This is as if to make OK the lies this guy has told, the fact that they eloped and never really included the family in any kind of celebration afterwards, and all the other egregious offenses that have occurred since this Trailer Park King entered into our lives … but I digress.

None of it would have been necessary had we just been able to schedule the wake the day before.

Funeral Fail #3:

“Do You Remember Me?”

Let me start this final rant off with something nice: I very much appreciated all of the people that came to visit and mourn and pay their respects to my grandfather. He was an amazing guy, who made a lot of friends and treated everyone he knew like family.

To their credit, most of the people that came to any of the three of my grandfather’s funeral days were very understanding of the fact that I might not recognize them. “Of course you wouldn’t recognize me – the last time I saw you, I held you as a little baby!” and so on. Those people were fine.

But then there were those motherfuckers that had to just expect me to know every faceted detail about them, in spite of the fact that I haven’t seen them since I was five. And then there was the lady whose pants fell off while she was looking into my grandfather’s casket (I shouldn’t joke about it, I’m sure it was embarrassing) who kept saying “well, I would expect you to remember me, but I just can’t remember you…”

By contrast were the vast number of people who said the words “oh, I didn’t know your mother had a daughter …” – a statement which speaks volumes, but we will gloss over for the moment.

Yesterday’s was the final straw for me. A woman walked up to me and said “Heather, do you remember me? You used to be my pharmacy technician! Are you still there?” I said that I was not. That I haven’t worked in the goddamned pharmacy since I graduated from college almost six years ago (I left out the expletives). I thanked her for coming to “my grandfather’s memorial,” which is when she said that my grandpa had hired her to work at the church we were in. But then, right as she started to walk away, she turned around again and said “I can’t believe you don’t remember me – I mean, I got a lot of medicine at that pharmacy while you were there…I thought you would have at least taken the time to remember me…”

Really bitch? My grandfather – who, you just explained to me, you wouldn’t have a job here if it weren’t for – just died and you are giving me shit about the fact that I couldn’t necessarily recognize you from a two-bit, part time job I had just to give me some extra cash while I was in college – over half a decade ago? REALLY?!

The moral of the story is that people should really just stop dying. Since that is not going to happen, I suppose the other moral is that when you have multiple funeral events to attend, and are in a position of extreme sadness and grief, you should probably just fix yourself up daily Valium-Wine cocktails. That’s essentially what I did (well, the wine part) this last week. God only knows what I would have done had I not…

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By the way, doesn’t my grandma look amazing for a woman who just lost her husband of 63 years? I think so. While I am absolutely devastated at the loss of my grandfather, I think I can speak for both myself and my grandma when I say that this next phase of life in his honor is pretty exciting. I’m starting it with making a quilt out of his shirts for my grandma, having her come over more to teach me to cook her most famous dishes, and letting my grandpa wrap his arms around me every day as I wear his oldest and most cozy cardigan sweater. I love you, Grandpa.

STFU Fridays: Guest-Starring the Back of My Hand

For today’s STFU Fridays, I have a special guest: the back of my hand. Yep! You got that right, I’m featuring people that need to Shut the Fuck Up, and apparently need to receive a good backhand to do so.

Suggestive Sellers

I don’t know about any of you, but I am getting sick and damn tired of people trying to suggestively sell. These people for real need to shut the fuck up, and will soon be receiving a hard smack with the back of my hand to do so.

Exhibit A: the Nail Salon

I go to the nail salon frequently. You all know some of my prior experiences with that whole Korean Hooker thing. Well, I’m currently in search for a new nail salon because I just couldn’t take the weird, fucked up shit that went down at my former nail salon anymore; and by “currently” I mean it’s been months.

The problem is that I can’t seem to find one that will tone it down on the suggestive selling. Even when I’ve been there a few times, it’s incessant. “You want manicure with your pedicure?” No. I don’t do my nails, just my toes because I get ingrown toenails. “You want callus remover on your feet?” No. I come every two weeks because I get ingrown toenails – I hardly have any calluses at all. “You want to wax your ugly eyebrow? They look ugly so big.” Seriously?

Back of my fucking hand next time someone says my eyebrows are ugly.

Exhibit B: Restaurants

Okay, in the interest of full disclosure and maximum humor, I used to work in retail food service. I was a drive thru bitch at Wendy’s – quite an experience, I might add. I was even employee of the month once.

But I always had a problem with suggestive selling. It just seemed ridiculous. Someone comes into the drive thru and orders only a soda, suggestively selling them a fucking hamburger or baked potato seemed just stupid. Not once did anyone say “oh, yeah … you know, I really was only thirsty, but now that you mention it maybe I would like to just pork down an extra 1300 calories! Thanks for the suggestion!!”

We go out to eat often and what I just can’t take is the suggestive selling. Sometimes it is just so bad and hard-pressed. I don’t mind hearing the specials. I don’t even mind if they ask if we want an appetizer. But when they push and push and push AND PUSH, it’s just so frustrating.

What’s worse is that these failed corporate policies have the employees focusing so much on suggestive selling that they fail to get anything right in your actual order. I cannot tell you faithful blog followers how many times I have gone out to eat and they got the order wrong because they were clearly too busy trying to push their wine flights or new desserts or meal add-ons or whatever. Last week, in fact, I went out to dinner with my father one night at our local Macaroni Grill and the waiter was so busy suggestively selling that he didn’t notice my food looked totally wrong and had shrimp in it, despite the fact that I did not order that. I didn’t notice the shrimp at first. And why would I? I didn’t order it. Funny thing, though, is that I’m allergic to shrimp. Once I realized it, they sent over the manager and we left immediately so I could take some Benadryl and an Epipen. In the end, the most egregious was not just the suggestive selling, but the fact that they never responded to my email about it afterwards.

Instead of worrying about pushing your shitty tortallachi and crab appetizers, how about just shutting the fuck up and worrying about getting things in the order right?

People That Make Commentary About My Husband and Me

Article One

When my husband married me, he knew what I was like. He knew I was snarky. He knew I didn’t tolerate bull shit. He knew that I have an unrelenting sense of humor and that the way that I express love is through humor and teasing. He knew that I am not OK with lying, in any way shape or form. He knew that I am from the Midwest and, therefore, don’t believe in some of the marital-standards that California has. (There’s a reason divorce in California is over 75%, by the way.) This is the way my entire family is and it is who I am. If anyone doesn’t like it, they can kindly shut the fuck up. If my husband didn’t like it, he shouldn’t have married me. End of story. Butt the fuck out.

Article Two

I know that this is going to seem very, very strange to some people. I know that in our very bizarre, little California community, husbands and wives do not usually show much public support for each other and their endeavors. I know that you don’t hear my father-in-law ever telling stories about my mother-in-law’s encounters at work. I know that many of our friends consider this to be wrong – for whatever backwards reasons they may think so.

But that doesn’t mean that it is strange, bad, inappropriate, or anything other than a good thing if my husband chooses to be supportive of my own endeavors. If he wants to talk about me as a writer, he should be able to do so. If we put together a Facebook page for his side of my blog, that should not be so out of the realm of normal to so many people.

From now on, anyone that makes a comment to me – or anyone, really – about the way my husband and I operate; or about how odd they think it for him to be supporting of me in the ways he wants to, will have a special date with the back of my fucking hand. It’s time for everyone (and I mean everyone) to let us handle our own marriage.

People Closing in on My Territory

People have been closing in on my territory a lot lately and I have had just about enough of it.

To the people that want to tell me how to be a parent; that want to talk to me about what they think I’m doing wrong when disciplining right in front of my kid – shut the fuck up or meet the back of my hand.

To the people that want to butt into my business when I say that I homeschool; not the ones that are interested to learn more, but the people that want to tell me they think I’m wrong for depriving my child of the socialization (from the mother who encourages her kid to bully) – shut the fuck up or meet the back of my hand.

To the people that want to try and out-do my baking (ahem, family … ahem, my mother); know your role – I’m like Martha-Mother-Fucking-Stewart on crack so you’d better shut the fuck up or meet the back of my hand.

To the people that close in on my ranks as a writer and a blogger; that ignore my existence in the writing-and-blogging-world for the explicit purpose of trying to overcome me (head’s up, bloggers – a lot of people do that); that oust me as a social networker, a views-getter, and even on lists like Top Mommy Blogs – shut the fuck up or meet the back of my hand.

So the back of my hand is going to be pretty tired soon. There are a lot of people I see in desperate need of a swift but firm encounter with it. For the rest of you, have a great weekend or shut the fuck up.