You don’t know shit about Xmas. 

Most of the people that I know have incredibly traditional backgrounds when it comes to the holiday of “giving”. When the holiday draws near, there’s a family meal, gift giving, and the possibility of having to go over to the home of an elderly, extended family member.

If there is a religious thread in your family, you may have to sacrifice an hour of your life by going to mass. (Which is no big deal: It’ll make your mother happy and you can alternately practice yawning with your mouth closed while trying to figure out if the priest has ever touched a penis that he wasn’t attached to before).

To date, the only person that I have ever met that hasn’t had a traditional Christmas holiday has been my wife. She was brought up Jehovah’s Witness. For the uninformed, this sect of Christianity doesn’t do holidays, birthdays, or essentially anything fun. Thankfully, none of that nonsense left a stain on her.

About a week ago, I had two thoughts. The first was ‘Fuck! Xmas is next week and I need to take the kids out of the house one by one to buy presents for other people.’ The second thought was ‘How’d all of this Xmas nonsense get started anyways?’

I don’t know shit about Xmas. I don’t know what you’re smirking at, you don’t know a fucking thing either. 

For your own edification (as well as my own), I have taken it upon myself to look into this matter.

Perhaps bring it up to your children should they put their toes on the cusp of being assholes because they can’t wait another day to get their gifts. Maybe informed your loved one should they be of curious mind. Or, be a selfish shit and keep the knowledge for yourself. It’s your call, homey. 

  • Before Christianity became the hypocritical juggernaut that still holds sway over our society at large, there was a point in this group’s early history where Christmas wasn’t celebrated at all. In fact, no one could agree on what day the ‘Christ Child’ was born until the 3rd century. By the 4th century, Pope Julius I decided that December 25th was the day for celebration. While it wasn’t expressly stated, it was eventually deduced that this decision was arrived at because it coincided with the Pagan holiday of Saturnalia​ (a Roman holiday celebrating agriculture) and the church wanted to absorb the Pagan holidays all together.
  • What’s the most surprising is the fact that Christmas was celebrated back then like Halloween was celebrated now. People didn’t dress up, but there was no shortage of drunken shenanigans. Typically the poor would go to the homes of the rich and demand food and drink. If they were turned away, the poor were socially entitled to terrorize the household they were turned away from until they got their way.
  • When the Puritans first landed, they weren’t having the drunken shenanigan-ery that Christmas was none for. So they outlawed it all together. That’s right: if you were caught celebrating the holiday you were fined and eventually thrown in the pokey.
  • Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
  • What changed the holiday all together and how the public perceived the holiday were the books ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon’ (by Washington Irvine). You don’t need to read either of them. Just know that these two books gave us the boring holiday that we have today. Personally, I’m all for reforming this sumbitch and bringing back the days when people would get piss drunk and fuck with the rich people. I digress.
  • The giving of gifts on the holiday were meant to symbolize the gifts that the Wise Men gave baby Jesus. Suffice it to say that the Industrial Revolution and the advertising industry fucked that up for everyone.
  • Decorating trees at Christmas time is actually a German Tradition that we have to thank Prince Albert for. Apparently when he wed England’s Queen Victoria, he brought the tradition with him to the UK. During the holiday season a picture of the Royal Family was taken and published in an International magazine and now we can’t not have the holiday without having a damn tree.

And there you have it. Now you know a little bit more about the holiday that you were probably lied to about when you were a child.

Merry Xmas you filthy perverts.

How I saved X-mas.

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I am not a fan of Christmas.

I never have been. Even when I was a kid I never liked the holiday. The only appeal it had for me was all of the goodies people gave me.

As I grew up and worked various retail jobs, I realized what a crock of shit holiday it was.

It is a relative fact that the public at large are usually at their worst around this time of year. The days leading up to Thanksgiving when you work in a grocery store are abysmal. Doubly so after Thanksgiving if you work in big-box retail.

When you shit on the retail employee because the store that employs said employee ran out of the dried onions for your bullshit green bean casserole or the store doesn’t have the toy that “little Johnny” wants, are you really “putting the ‘Christ’ in Christmas”?

As a father of 3 and a lapsed-Catholic, Christmas time had always been stressful for my wife and I. 

She was raised Jehovah’s Witness. As I understand it, people belonging to this religion do not celebrate holidays nor birthdays. I’m not exactly sure what the Witnesses stand to gain from this, maybe it’s some sort of cultural flagellation that they need to march through in order to receive their “riches in Heaven”.

As such, the holidays and birthdays meant a lot to her when our kids were young because she missed out on all of that happy horse-shit.

When our family structure shifted to where my wife was the sole source of monetary support, it became harder on her to make it through Christmas shopping without feeling wiped out and more jaded than when she first started.

This past Christmas was different.

I took the duty of getting presents for the kids away from my wife and I gave it to the kids.

That’s right: I made them buy presents for their siblings.

It was the easiest Christmas ever.

Initially, my sole trepidation was that when I told the kids what was going to happen this year, that I was going to have to listen to a fuck ton of whining, goings-on about how one child dislikes the other child because of such-and-such reason, and the classic “Whyyyyyyyy do I have to do it?”.

All three of them were on board essentially from the get-go.

My son needed a bit of a nudge given the fact that he’s been outnumbered for the past 6 years. I can understand where he’s coming from: it’s tough being the only male in social settings, even when that setting is your own home.

Prior to the shopping trip, I made sure that all 3 of them knew why they were doing the shopping this year: Christmas should be about putting the needs of someone else before their own needs.

The rules for shopping were simple:

  1. You need to buy at least two things (one for each sibling).
  2. You need to stay in the $30 dollar and under range.
  3. All 3 of them were to be taken to the same shopping center.

In the span of a week, this kids and I had Christmas taken care of and my wife was at her most relaxed that I had ever seen her at this time of the year.

As far as the shopping went, the girls were a piece of cake. I suppose that this has something to do with the fact that Women are generally better when it comes to this sort of thing. My son on the other hand needed a bit of extensive guidance because of the aforementioned reasons. I had to remind him a lot that he was shopping for someone else, not himself.

Speaking for myself, the best part of it was watching my youngest (she’s 6) actually think about her siblings and what they might like for a present. By and large, she was the one who really got into what she was doing. It was a real watershed moment for myself as a parent.

Suffice it to say, this is how Christmas is going to be until all 3 of the little assholes move out. 

Feel like sharing your “Holiday War Stories”? Scroll back up and let me hear about it! 

 

 

Some thoughts on the idea of Father’s Day.

As per usual, I am a day late and a dollar short when it comes to these ‘themed’ posts. You can most assuredly count the fucks I give about that on one hand.

Fatherhood, let alone parenting, can seem like an insurmountable challenge at the best of times. As men, we are genetically predisposed to the societal conditioning (e.g men work while the women stay at home) that fucked up our predecessors. The challenge lies in finding a navigable path between the pomp and the piss of the past. 

We need to be sensitive while not being insensitive. We need to be accepting of others differences while not  being totally dismissive. We need to accept the fact that we (the current generation of ‘young’ fathers) grew up in a different world than our children are currently living in and as such we need to not let our own past shadow our children’s future. 

I conversed with my friend, The Rock Farmer, the other day about those challenges and we surprised ourselves when we realized that we were cut from the same bolt of cloth

Our motivation for getting through those challenges? Anger. Not fuck stuff up, ‘Hulk-SMASH’ kind of anger but the type of anger that won’t settle for the ‘it is, what it is’ attitude that the 21st centruy has birthed and is hungry for change, for progress. 

The next time that these ‘appreciation’ holidays roll around (specifically Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) it might help to keep in mind that the titles ‘mother’ and ‘father’, are not only nouns, but verbs. To mother or to father is to do your best in raising the next generation that will not only take care of you, but also (hopefully) add value to the world at large. 

I gave my wife wood for Mother’s Day.

Yes, I know Mother’s day has come and gone. No need to be a pedant about it. 

Regardless, I would be remiss if I did not walk you through the ‘punishment’ that I put myself through because of it. 

Mother’s day (along with Father’s day) has always been hit or miss with my wife and I. It’s not that we don’t care about either of those days. It’s also not because we think the other doesn’t deserve a day to call their own. 

Speaking for myself, I think that it’s because we didn’t have a good idea of what those days were really about when we were growing up. This was the direct result of both of us coming from ‘broken homes’. Kind of hard to know what Mother’s day or Father’s day was all about if mom was talking shit about dad or vice versa.

The hit and miss of these days for us has resulted in poor planning and a light touch of misery throughout the day. 
This is not to say that all of them have been miserable. They just haven’t been as great as I thought they should have been

I am a fan of turning negatives into positives. This year, my wife was going to be out of town for Mother’s Day so I decided to capitalize on that and make her something that she wanted: patio furniture

As luck would have it, I had the materials I needed right under my nose. 

  
That’s right: I got the bright idea to repurpose old furniture into new furniture. 


Enter the parts of our sofa
that our kids fucked up. There are two parts. For some reason, the corner piece didn’t get a picture snapped of it. Sorry about that. 

“How hard could it be, right? All you have to do is de-upholster it and see what you’re working with. I ought to be done with this well before she gets home”, I thought. Famous. Last. Words. 

Here’s what the skeleton of the couch looked like. 

   

 

Obviously this was the easy part. See all that white, cotton-y, shit? That’s what was left over from the upholstery. All of what you’re looking at is held in by staples. So many. Fahking staplessssss. 

People who build furniture for a living (presumably in a factory environment) are not shy with the staples. For reals: it took me the better part of a day and a half just to remove all of them. And there were still some I didn’t catch until the very end. 

  
After the clusterfuck with the staples, it was time for me to remove everything else that would interrupts one’s ass from hitting the floor. Above, you see what that looks like. I knew right away that this piece would be a ‘seat’. All I needed to do was to shorten the width of it. 

  
Like so! Basically, I cut the motherfucker in half and left a chunk out of the middle of the original design.  To measure, I used a yoga mat since my wife was out of town and essentially none-the-wiser. The corner piece was a bit of a sticking point for the repurposing basically because it was so goddamn awkward looking. 

  
As you can see above, I made up my mind and turned that odd-ass couch piece into an extension of the original ‘seat’ idea I was struck with. 

My reasoning was simple: Don’t want to lounge, turn that motherfucker sideways and you got a table. 

To finish out the construction of the ‘seat’ piece I used wood from the original sofa corner piece. This posed a bit of a problem as there wouldn’t be enough wood to finish out the ‘extention/table’. However, it was a problem easily fixed by an old pallet. 

  

Ta fucking Da!
I couldn’t stop here, though. As previously mentioned, I live in Florida (aka the ball-sac of the east coast). If I were to put these two pieces outside, as is, the sun would go “OOOOOOHHHH HOW CUTE” and then crush all of my hard work with all of it’s burning hate. 

  

Enter the sander.
Why sand? Because when you’re working with wood that is going to be living outdoors, you need to protect that shit with the weather seal of your choice. My choice was the Thompson’s Water Seal that you can spray on. ($6 dollars a can at Home Depot if I’m not mistaken.)

How much to sand off though? This wood wasn’t meant to be ‘exposed’. It was meant to support cloth and cotton, and all other sorts of nonsense. Yes, that’s right, I fucking guessed. 

  
The top half of this photo is unsanded. I reasoned that as long as there was a slight, noticeable difference in color and texture of my wood, then it would be ready for the sealant. 

  
So far so good. Luckily, when my wife came back to town and I showed her what I had been up to, she was really psyched. 

In short I invested 3 weeks (because I was operating without a plan and it was hot as fuck when I set about this project) and $60 (That is for the sealant, a box of screws, and the cushions. The cushions were the most expensive part!). 

What I learned was that making shit is really, really satisfying. Also I concluded that the meaning behind a given holiday doesn’t matter. If you’re happy and the people that you love are happy, then it’s all goood. 

You can not be around the same bunch of a-holes 24/7.

Since I have become the parent who stays at home for the children, there has been something impressed upon me over and over again: you can not be around the same bunch of assholes 24/7.

Doubly so if it’s the holidays.

Triple-ly so if it’s your family.

In case you haven’t read anything else here, or you just can’t remember, this holiday for my family and I was different than all of the others (not because I had the kids do the X-Mas shopping) but because it was the first holiday that we were on our own (e.g We have no relations that live in Florida).

As per usual, my wife elected to be on call this past holiday (she’s a nurse FYI) because the likelihood of her having to go into to work is pretty fucking slim. It’s her way of sneaking a little bit of a break into her stress-addled career.

That being said, everything lined up to where there was no need for me to leave the house at all.

The kids were out of school for two weeks.

The girls (who have gymnastics) were off for two weeks because the people who take our money apparently get tired out from doing just that.

(The wife, in total worked all of 8 hours over those two weeks).

Nice little family togetherness time, right?

Fuck. No.

Don’t get me wrong, there were nice moments here and there (the kids opening their presents, me and the missus getting out of the house on a couple of dates…) but they were completely dwarfed by the fact that we were all getting at each other’s throats.

A couple of asides: we don’t live in a “social desert” (e.g there’s no one for our kids to hang out with). There’s plenty of kids the same age as our children. Kids palling around with other like-minded kids gets old after a while if it’s the only thing at your disposal.

What our current area can be described as is a “cultural desert” (e.g. their are no museums, no “Little Italy’s”, etc.). Where we live there’s nothing but Urban Sprawl. If you want cultural, you have to drive at least 30 minutes in any direction or else plan extensively.

Additionally, when you are in an “on-call” situation (regardless of the field you are employed in), you’re basically chained to wherever you live because you have to be at work within a certain time frame.

Suffice it to say, these past holidays were rough.

Two days before everyone went back to their usual routine of work and school, I hearkened back to my days of home-schooling (more on that later) the children: I got out of the house, on my own, as much as possible. Bike rides, visiting family, going to one of a kind book stores, you name it, I tried to fucking do it.

Over the two holiday weeks, I did little things (like working out and playing video games) in an effort to take my mind off the fact that I wanted to sneak into my children’s room at night, give them each a reverse mohawk with a set of rusty nail clippers, and then fart on their heads upon exit.

It wasn’t enough.

I suppose I didn’t get out of the house partially out of guilt: I knew that I could be doing more as far as being a part of my family and I knew that if I left my wife at home with the children, things could sour for everyone rather quickly. Additionally, my wife couldn’t go anywhere that would take her more than 20 minutes away from the house.

Should you ever find yourself in that situation, I cordially invite you to give that noise the finger.

If you need to get out of the house, get out of the fucking house. If there’s something at stake, like the sake of your bond between your significant other (or your mental health), just make sure that you communicate your need to be an individual out in the world on his or her own in a way that doesn’t make said significant other feel like shit.

It is that simple. 

 

Have a horror story you’d like to share? Wanna give me my what-fors? Let’s hear it in the comments at the top of this post!