Remove the cranky pants

When Christmas dawns on Thursday, I’ll hopefully still be in bed … at least till the crazy cat decides I’ve slept long enough and that he wants his present now. Yes, I give the behemoth a Christmas present. I like to live.

I won’t be with my human family, unfortunately, but I’ll still celebrate, which is one of the great things about our country—we have the freedom to do things here that people in other nations can only dream of. For some that means freedom to plunge further into debt to give lots of expensive gifts, some of which will just be returned the next day. For others it means celebrating simply, or not at all.

Is this all? I need more gifts!!! Image found on

Is this all? I need more gifts!!!
Image found on

My family for years has taken the “no gift” tack, at least for the adults, reasoning that rampant consumerism isn’t what the holiday is supposed to be about. Sure, there’s still an occasional gift (thanks, Mom), but they’re not the reason we get together. We get together so we can talk about the family members who aren’t there (be nice, guys) and laugh at funny stories, usually told by my brother Corey. Then we eat beans, chili and soup and talk and tease some more until we’ve had our fill.

I get presents? Woo hoo!

I get presents? Woo hoo!

When we were kids, though, we reveled in all the gifts and assorted holiday goodies (cornbread dressing, especially my Mom’s, should be an all-year-long thing!), and it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility for us to dive into a pile of wrapping paper and ribbons as if they were fallen leaves.

It’s great to see the wonder and surprise on a child’s face when Santa (or someone) comes through with just what she wanted.

Nope, not what I wanted, but I still played with her. If I still had her, she'd be worth a lot more now. Image found on

Nope, not what I wanted, but I still played with her. If I still had her, she’d be worth a lot more now.
Image found on

My friend Tanya had a Fashion Plate set, and I just loved playing with it. Image found on Kim Piotrowski's Art & Inspiration blog.

My friend Tanya had a Fashion Plates set, and I just loved playing with it.
Image found on Kim Piotrowski’s Art & Inspiration blog.

I still have a bone to pick, though, having gotten a Fashion Photo Barbie rather than the Fashion Plates I wanted one Christmas; c’mon, Santa!

Now I see how little all that mattered, and I’d give anything to be able to be back with my family, including some who’ve passed on. My Nanny Opal, for instance, could always pick her grandkids out of a crowd. Somewhere, there’s a photo album that includes pictures from one of the Christmas parades held in the town where my brothers and I went to school. Even with a bag over my head (I was Rudolph in our class’ Christmas train—we weren’t very inventive with our costumes), she knew it was me and was proud, no matter how goofy I looked or acted.

I know—me, goofy. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

In my pre-goofy days, with Nanny Opal.

In my pre-goofy/mildly goofy days, with Nanny Opal.

For you, my extended family (complete with the “eccentric” relatives with whom you should never discuss politics), I have a few wishes I wish every year, which should tell you something.

A sense of humor. You’re gonna need it because no matter how utterly peaceable your family usually is, at Christmas, someone will always put his foot in his mouth and start a fight. Ahhh … the holidays.

An open heart and mind. Nobody likes a crank, not even other cranks, and many of them are so cranky because they refuse to believe anything that doesn’t fit their worldview. Even Scrooge could laugh … these people, not so much.

World peace, even if just for 15 seconds. It’s better than nothing … and nothing is usually all I get from this wish. Still, hope springs eternal.

Image found on The Returned Missionary.

Image found on The Returned Missionary.

Optimism. If all you look for is the bad, that’s all you’ll ever find. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best; that little bit of hope can be the key to better things.

Chocolate. ’Nuff said, but never enough eaten.

The ability to compromise. Remember that no one can get everything he wants, so stop taking your ball and going home. Besides, we talk about you when you leave. Actually, go ahead; I’m feeling catty.

Pretty much me on an especially bad day. Gif found on Giphy.

Pretty much me on an especially bad day.
Gif found on Giphy.

The retirement of horrible, horrible words and phrases like “irregardless” (a nonword, really), “feels” (you’re having feelings, not feels!!), “race card” (especially when someone accuses someone of playing it who didn’t) and “cray cray” (just say crazy and be done with it). For myself, I wish to catch all typos on my page before they hit your porch … my head’s a little sore from banging on the desk after seeing Tuesday’s page. I really can spell relevant … type it, on the other hand … I could say I meant the present participle of the French word reveler … but that would be a lie. I missed it, as did everyone else who saw the page before publication. Damn typoglycemia

Perspective. As food critic Anton Ego opined in Ratatouille: “… you know what I’m craving? A little perspective. That’s it. I’d like some fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective.” Ego’s not the only one yearning for perspective, but partisans have the tendency to skew the debate in the way that’s most advantageous for whatever campaign they’re waging, such as the nonexistent war on Christmas. If you’re being exiled, imprisoned, tortured or killed for your beliefs, you are being persecuted. If someone wishes you “happy holidays,” you’re not, so stop trivializing what people who are actually being persecuted are going through.

This won't be happening. I like my blood where it is, thankyouverymuch.

This won’t be happening. I like my blood where it is, thankyouverymuch.

Family and friends, whether human or of the fluffy variety, the goofier the better. My goofy fuzzball and I will be spending the day watching sappy Christmas movies, and maybe the Catherine Tate Christmas Carol special (again). It doesn’t make up for not being with Mom and my brothers, but at least I’ll get a laugh or three out of it. As long as I don’t make the boy move at any time. He gets testy when his rest is disturbed.

Most of all, I wish for all of you all the love and happiness possible. Save being cranky for another day, why doncha? Or at least wait till I’m out of the room. I get enough of that at home.


4 thoughts on “Remove the cranky pants

  1. Wednesday is my favorite day of the week, because your column is in the paper. I loved it, and I’m sorry you can’t be with your family on Christmas. If I were going to be in town (and I wish I weren’t traveling), I would bring a treat for you and Luke.

    We are going to visit my parents in Texas. My dad is 81 and has dementia and Type I diabetes. His health is very fragile right now. Christmas is his favorite holiday. Even when we were little kids, he always made sure we had presents under the tree. We weren’t rich financially, but he grew up very poor and didn’t have happy Christmas memories. Although my sister and I would like to drop the gift exchange, my dad would have our hide if we even suggested such a thing. He also makes the best fudge pies. I hope he is able to make them this year. With my mom as sous chef, he may be able to pull it off. We usually play games, watch The Christmas Story marathon, and burp after eating the food that could feed a platoon or a small country. Dad doesn’t have good short term memories, but he can talk a blue streak about things that happened decades ago.

    The letters to the editor were great today too. I love the first one (the person taking issue with “irregardless,” which I also hate, but my dad says it, so he gets a pass). The author wondered why people use long words when a short word would suffice. That was music to this freelance editor’s ears.

    I’m sorry you are missing time with your family, and I know you also have the recent memory of your nephew’s death. Holidays seem to amplify grief.

    Take care, and be sure to post photos of Luke with his gifts. Charlie the Cat is ready to open his stocking this morning. Josie, the lhasa poo, is being much more patient.


    • Aw, thanks!

      Safe travels to Texas, and give your dad an extra hug for me. Those sound like great memories (and fudge pie ,,, drool), My grandma for the last decade of her life was pretty much the same way, but we didn’t mind so much because she had such great stories of the old days. Enjoy him!

      The long word thing is one of the reasons I cringe every time I see “approximately.” Just use “about,” people! 😀

      I’ll still talk to Mom and the boys, but they won’t get to see my happy, smiling face or give me noogies.

      I put Luke’s stocking where he can’t reach it, but he knows it’s there (and it’s got catnip in it). Tomorrow morning’s gonna be fun! 😀

      Merry Christmas to you, your family, and Charlie and Josie!


  2. Thanks!! My dad’s fudge pie recipe makes three pies, so I imagine I will have some to share. It’s the best pie ever. Dad gave my husband his secret recipe 20+ years ago before he had triple bypass surgery. I got mad when my husband tweaked it and added different flavors. My mom wrote the following in my baby book when I was two: “Sarah dislikes any deviation from the routine.” Although I’ve matured since age two, don’t mess with my dad’s pie recipe.

    Another phrase that bugs me – “Due to the fact….”

    I think we’re getting ready to hit the road. Take care and enjoy your sweet kitty cat and the holidays. I could write a book about not being “home” for the holidays because we’ve moved so often. Sometimes home is in your heart, and that’s not a bad place. Of course, that can’t replace noogies.


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