November 28, 2002

More Than Just Turkey.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:41 pm

For more than a dozen or so years, Thanksgiving has meant more than gathering to give thanks and to eat a wonderful dinner. The completion of the dinner marks the beginning of the annual discussion to choose a theme for the upcoming Christmas Eve family grab bag. This has become about as difficult as choosing a Pope.

It all started years ago when we decided that a simple grab bag was a bit boring and predictable. It was nice, but still it lacked laughs and genuine surprises. So, we decided that we needed a gimmick and a catchy name for the event. So, the first year was the “Alphabet Christmas.” Each person had to buy a grab bag gift that began with the first letter of the giver’s first name. It wasn’t terribly creative, but it set the tone for future Christmases. Since that time, some of our themes have been:

“Elvis Christmas” (gifts relating to the King)
“Western Christmas” (Cowboy – Indian – gifts)
“Christmas on the Rock” (jail-related gifts)
“No Shit Christmas” (each gift had to smell)
“Harriet Carter Christmas” (we ordered about 12 Harriet Carter “Mystery Boxes”)
“Butt-Ugly Christmas” (the ugliest gifts one could find – it was a riot)
“Name that Tune Christmas” (gifts that collectively referred to a song title). My niece’s gift consisted of: two dice, a jar of Mrs. Dash spices, a cutting board and a flashlight. The song was Paradise Under the Dashboard Light. I was not quite so creative. My gift was a small Brookstone fan in the same box with a candle. The song: Candle in the Wind. Duh. It was a great deal of fun, particularly after a couple Christmas Eve pops.
“Christmas at the Beach” (lots of summer gifts)
“Survivor Christmas” We did this, pre-9/11, when the show was hot. Each had to buy something that someone would really need if stranded on a desert island. I bought a shoebox full of miniature bottles of booze. There were a few toilet paper gifts, as I recall.

Each year, selecting the theme becomes more difficult, and this year required a few extra drinks to get everyone properly oiled to unleash the creativity. For a while, it appeared that we might come up dry. However, after a couple hours, we got it down to three possibilities:

“Mafia Christmas.” This is not only fitting for a New Jersey event, but it also provided lots of gift possibilities.

The “Eighth Dwarf Christmas.” Each person would have to buy gifts that would relate their choice of an Eighth Dwarf, and we would have to guess the identity of the dwarf. Some possibilities for the Eighth Dwarf were “Snotty,” “Boring” or “Unwashed.” This one was my favorite, but the winner was…..[drum roll, please]

“Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Christmas.” So now, I have to buy some gifts that collectively relate to an event in history. Fortunately, I have a bit of time to think about it. Excellent, Dude.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

The Spendin’ of the Green.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 12:57 am

The 11/27/02, the Newark Star Ledger reported that New Jersey’s Democrat Governor James E. McGreevey spent in excess of $105,000 for a “trade mission” visit to Ireland, when he had originally estimated the cost of the trip to be approximately $20,000. The cell phone bill alone was $16,448. Add to that the $22,000 spent on being chauffeured about in a Mercedes, the $760 per night stays in luxury suites, and a family reunion for a dozen of the Gov’s Irish relatives (steak, Guinness and songs), and it is easy to see why the trip was so pricey. Faced with these numbers a spokesperson from the Gov’s office had the moxie to say, “Every effort was made to keeps costs at a bare minimum.”

Later in the day, the Gov denied that he intended to spend the taxpayers’ money and that always intended that the Democrat party would foot most of the bill. He expects the citizens of New Jersey to buy that, even though he fought for three months to keep the records of the trip secret. Sadly, however, he is quite right. After all, we are the John Corzine-Money-Talks State, the Torricelli State, and the State that invented the political trick of parachuting a substitute candidate into an election at the last minute, when the original candidate is tanking in the polls.

Don’t blame me. I voted for all the other guys.

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