I Hate Turkey


Home late, another Christmas party put to bed, too tired to ponder more than the turkey dinner at tomorrow night’s party – a reblog of my thoughts on turkey.

notestoponder

Hate is a big word, I”ll temper that to a strong dislike. Turkey has a unique distinction – it’s strictly a holiday meal. No one in their right mind plans a dinner party in May and says “hey, a Turkey would be great”. If people actually liked Turkey, it wouldn’t be disguised as “healthy alternative” sausage or processed into blocks of seasoned sandwich meat – only trotting out the big birds when Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter demand preparation of something nobody wants the rest of the year.

The idea of Turkey eclipses reality. There’s a reason we say “I hope it’s not dry” – everyone knows it will be. Turkey requires gravy, cranberry sauce, or mayonnaise once it lands in a sandwich. We make it into soup or casseroles to disguise a loathsome reputation. Turkey is not great protein, it’s an obligation.

Today was Thanksgiving in Canada. Over time I’ve…

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Christmas Overhaul


Christmas strikes me as an absurd mutation – Jesus wasn’t born in December, ( Romans slipped the occasion in with Pagan solstice celebrations to make it more palatable – Christmas trees mimic early Pagan rituals of cutting branches in mid-winter), Santa Claus mythology is just about as non-Christian as it gets. (Fundamentalists want to ban Harry Potter yet a red nosed Reindeer flies Santa around the world in one night). Does anyone even know why we exchange gifts? Apparently “miracles” happen at Christmas – who performs them?

Pondering “Christmas spirit” led to a conclusion. Christmas needs an overhaul. Instead of painful, politically correct seasonal marketing, why not put our foot down and say “Christmas gifts are no longer required”. I propose Christmas be a time for awareness – giving not to our family, but to the global community. Imagine the possibilities – if we applied even a smidgeon of money spent on gifts towards global initiatives. what might we accomplish?

Ask yourself why we exchange gifts – if reason escapes you, maybe it’s time for a Christmas overhaul.

Real Meaning Christmas Picture

 

“Bored” Games


As a child we played a lot of board games – Monopoly for the most part – more often than not, it ended long before any satisfactory conclusion. Not that it mattered, the rules were simple and it was something to do.Every family had a Monopoly game; expressions like “get out of jail free” or “do not pass go” became part of popular culture.

Monopoly wasn’t something I would ever classify as fun; the premise of collecting property by forcing others into bankruptcy struck me as vicious – perhaps explaining why the game rarely reached a conclusion. I can’t recall a single game with an amicable parting of players. If we didn’t lose interest, it was guaranteed someone stormed off in a huff.

Before Christmas, shopping found me in a game store. Years since I’ve paid the slightest attention to boxed games on store shelves. I’m can’t say for certain what I expected to see; board games never really went out of style – judging by my twenty something kids and “gaming” cafes or bars popping up all over town – boxed games are big business.

I know what I didn’t expect – Dogopoly, Catopoly, Princessopoly – row upon row of “opoly”, knock offs as far as the eye can see. Hard as I pondered, I couldn’t imagine playing Catopoly; in hindsight, I wish I’d taken a closer look at what exactly these cats were trying to accomplish. Likewise the hundreds of “hopefulopoly” speculators trying to cash in. The Monopoly franchise; seemingly unstoppable despite being one of the most boring games in history.

Monopoly began with the best intentions; often playing when we were bored, once in a while the entire family sitting around the kitchen table – full of anticipation, happy to be doing something together. It was a recipe for disaster – games took far too long, financial calamity gripping unlucky children with unparalleled vengeance, attention drifted as the rich got richer – polite players were bored, the rest were sulking or walking away from the game.

Monopoly is a strange game; kids don’t want to land in jail, go bankrupt, face a punitive banker, or live on the wrong side of the tracks. The game drags on for eternity, the only happy players being those with property and money to back it up. Seeing countless versions on the game store shelf left me asking – why?

I have great memories of playing Scrabble, Checkers, and Risk. Card games never caused problems, never sent any of us storming out of the room or feeling defeated.Board games are supposed to be fun; we settled on a game called Theories – players take turns reading a historical or scientific statement with 4 possible answers, others place their answer face down on the table, the reader reads out the answer which may or not be true. Points are awarded for calling a bluff on the reader, or having the correct answer. Dull as that may sound it was lots of fun – fast, silly and never leaving anyone with the urge to storm off.

Parker Brothers marketed the first Monopoly game in 1935. In 1941 the British secret service had UK licensed  manufacturer John Waddington Ltd. create a “special” edition for Nazi held prisoners of war. Distributed to prisoners under the guise of fictitious charities, the games contained hidden maps, compasses and real money useful for escape. In 1994 Hasbro – parent company of Parker Brothers – gave a license to USAopoly for a San Diego edition of Monopoly. Since then, several more U.S. publishing licenses have been granted, licenses exist in the UK, France, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and Nigeria.

I found a blog post claiming  the definitive list of Monopoly versions; a total of 2433 –  written in 2006, I would guess hundreds more are collecting dust today.

http://jergames.blogspot.com/2006/02/monopoly-versions.html

Learning of wartime Monopoly shenanigans makes me feel a little happier;  knowledge of the world’s most popular, boring, rage inducing game, able to find a useful purpose , means Monopoly has one redeeming quality.

http://militaryhistorynow.com/2012/12/20/how-allied-fliers-used-monopoly-to-escape-from-german-pow-camps/

I Don’t Know What To “Do”


Damn you White Stripes. On some level I realize how exhausting putting on fabulous Christmas parties day after day can be.My calendar tells me I’m on day 8 of 13 days in a row without a break. I know I have at least 12 hours tomorrow and won’t be home until 3 AM. For hours now I’ve attempted a ponder and all that’s happened is this White Stripes song looping in my brain. I give up – you win White Stripes, and I know what I’m going to do – pondering can wait, I’m off to bed.

Office Party Refresher Course


Reblogging my Christmas party ponder from last year is a bit lazy – believe me when I say “lazy” has nothing to do with it – more like exhaustion. I would like to add a few more suggestions.

How about tipping the bartender? Your bartender is probably working a 12 hour shift, forced to smile at your shenanigans till their face cracks, and certainly not going to find themselves at a Christmas party enjoying free drinks.

A baked Brie is not a pie. Don’t cut a slice bigger than your fist and ask for a fork. Holy crap – spread it on a cracker.

Please don’t mob the servers as they try to pass appetizers – there’s plenty of food to go around.

On that note – every time you double dip or put your pick or used napkin back on the platter – the server has to return to the kitchen, dump the sauce and get a clean platter – find some manners. Yikes.

notestoponder

My years in hospitality always peak at Christmas. Office party season; the “black Friday” for ballrooms, high end venues, caterers, and event planners. The spring and summer wedding spree pales in comparison. A wedding may take an exhaustive year to plan, follows an itinerary of speeches, dances and toasts. Most people know how to behave at a wedding. Restraint and manners apply to most gatherings. In fact the only function where common sense goes out the window seems to be the Christmas party.

Far from pondering human nature, reasons to “cut loose” on the company dime are clear. That said, I feel an obligation to offer an office party refresher course. In no particular order; some basic rules to consider…..

Dress appropriately, especially if you plan to “tie one on”. Do you really want to face co-workers on Monday morning as the “hot mess” who fell out of her dress.

Your company…

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Oh Christmas Tree


December graces my calendar, Christmas music assaults my last nerve, snow is expected to fall in the next few days – it must be close to Christmas. I know I loved Christmas as a child; not for the birth of a mythical character, but for stringing popcorn garlands and anticipating the pancakes my father made on Christmas morning. I loved the way the tree smelled, it was organic, intoxicating  – a welcome addition to our rather brown 60’s living room.

I find myself pondering Christmas trees, reminding myself how it came to be that our “Christian” world erects this symbol year after year.

We deck the halls because Pagans used to bring greenery into their homes on  the shortest day of the year for the sun god to eat.  It was an “offering” to get well soon; a custom shared by ancient Druids, Romans and Greeks. Jesus could have been born in July for all we know but Dec. 25 was set to soothe uppity Pagans by coinciding with their solstice parties.

Many stories circulate over the first Christmas tree. One account comes from 8th century Germany; British missionary St. Boniface cut down a giant oak tree obliterating everything in it’s path except a tiny Fur sapling. He called it a miracle, dubbing it “the tree of the Christ child”. Decorate it any way you like – all the tinsel in the world can’t alter the fact Christianity adopted Pagan rituals to suit their purposes.

The Protestant reformation of the 16th century banned Christmas; viewing it as little more than a rowdy Pagan celebration. Oliver Cromwell’s England had no place for Christmas, and puritan immigrants to New England were forbidden by law to deck the halls. Christmas falling on Dec. 25 has nothing to do with the birth of Christ, and everything to do with the Roman festival of Saturnalia.

Romans celebrated Saturnalia for one week every year. From Dec. 17 – 25 courts closed and citizens were exempt from retribution. During the 4th century, Christianity succeeded in converting large numbers of people by promising they could still celebrate Saturnalia. Lacking a Christian angle – the church named Dec. 25, the last day of the festival as Jesus’s birthday. In exchange for “observance” of Christ’s birthday, the church looked the other way as Saturnalia participants drank themselves silly, ran naked through the streets, and indulged in excessive sexual activities.

Historical accounts tell of Pope Paul II standing on a balcony laughing as unfortunate Jewish citizens were forced to run naked through the streets. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Jewish rabbis were plucked from Roman ghettos, placed in ridiculous clown  costumes and marched about for the delight of crowds armed with debris to toss at them. A 1836 appeal from the Jewish community to Pope Gregory XVI to stop the abuse resulted in this response “it is not opportune to make any innovation”. Dec. 25, 1881 Christian leaders whipped Polish followers into such a frenzy, 12 Jews were murdered, countless Jewish women raped.

Christmas is not a religious holiday – it never has and never will be. Jesus wasn’t born in December – Christmas is a Pagan holiday celebrating the winter solstice. Christmas symbolisms like the tree, mistletoe, even gift giving – “Christianized” to placate Pagan hordes.

I plan to put up a tree, buy gifts and spend time with my family. Christmas is a welcome break in the midst of dark winter days and crappy weather. Not for a second will I see it as anything other than what it is – the festival of Saturnalia.

http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm