Family Christmas parties, Dirty Santa, and the art of regifting

Shrimper

Every year, my husband’s family has a Dirty Santa Christmas party. There’s the pepperoni bread that all the teenagers love, the Bisquick sausage and cheese balls that are like savory truffles, and the peanut butter balls that take an insane amount of powdered sugar to make. When my husband’s aunt was alive, it was an Italian feast, even though she was from Maine and of French heritage. (My husband’s father, however, was Italian.)  

I don’t even bring food anymore because there is so damn much, and there are always too many desserts.

My brother-in-law (BIL) works for a liquor distributor, so there’s always plenty of boozea must-have for any holiday gathering where you’re seeing people you only see once a year and only because you happen to be related. 

As an introvert with social anxiety that I happen to hide very well (unless I’m around someone I think is hot or who I swear is laughing at me on the inside, which is sometimes the same person), I’m not a fan of parties with lots of people I don’t know well. It’s emotionally exhausting, but my six-year-old daughter is an excellent buffer.    

As I am not friends with any of my husband’s family on Facebook, and my husband ditched his account last year, we’re like the black sheep (my husband likes to call himself the stray sheep) of his family; in my family, I’m like the golden fleece, so think what you will about that!  

I cannot compete with my husband’s successful sisters, whose careers have been established for years, while I’m just figuring things out. Their kids are either grown or practically grown, whereas my daughter is in the first grade, and I am working on my bachelor’s degree at 38. I guess my husband and I are both late bloomers.  

So, “Dirty Santa” is always my favorite part of the party. I don’t have to mill around and mingle, as we are all sitting in a circle, opening presents. Honestly, gift giving is a lot more fun when it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s all in fun—when you don’t give a rip about what you’re going to get because you already know it’s probably going to suck.

The year I was into couponing, I tossed some Maxi pads (with wings; it isn’t an angel in need if it doesn’t have wings) in a gently used gift bag. That might have been the year I threw in a Bing Crosby CD in which he dreamily crooned about white Christmases (what the hell is wrong with a green Christmas where we don’t have to worry about dying in a blizzard?). So yes, sanitary napkins + Bing = a hard candy Christmas. 

Another year, I gave away some DVDs when a lot of the same movies I could just DVR (I will never, however, ever part with my Wings and I Love Lucy collection). Last year, I threw in some unused candles (from my candle collecting days), and this year, there’s “The Shrimper”a running gag that’s been passed around my husband’s family for years. I don’t mind getting stuck with it, as I am the queen of regifting. Most of the gifts probably end up donated or regifted anyway; I am not spending money on a nice gift so I can get a bobo present. A good third of Dirty Santa gifts were left behind last year, which, to me, shows a complete lack of regard for the hosts, who have to figure out how to (probably) dispose of them.

Since I have run out of things to regift (ain’t minimalism great?), I thank God for “The Shrimper,” as it’s recurrence keeps another item out of the landfill.

#Micropoetry Monday: Love Story

Sepia heart

He’d been defrocked,
& she’d been disbarred.
They fell in love
as they’d fallen into other traps:
Through blood that flowed
away from the brain &
into their erogenous danger zones.
Their recklessness brought them crashing together,
even though he couldn’t save her
any more than she could defend him.

He was Urban Dictionary,
she, Merriam Webster.
She thought him crude,
he thought her a prude,
but when they had to work together
to meet a common goal,
they found a common interest:
Each other.

He was meat & potatoes,
she, veggie burgers & sprouted grains.
Over dark chocolate mousse
with white chocolate antlers,
they fell for one another,
realizing that the savory had kept them alive,
even as the sweet had sealed the deal with a kiss.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #499: Parent

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Food Processors

Their parents had grown up eating squirrel & possum,
or “tree rats” & “tree hangers”⁠—
anything that couldn’t get away fast enough.
Their children had grown up eating hamburger & liver from the grocery store,
turned into casseroles or smothered with onions to mask the odor
washed down with milk delivered by the Dairy Don Juans.
But their children’s children enjoyed
all-natural lobster & gluten-free madeleines
served with organic water,
showing that as food became fancier,
foodies became softer.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 499

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #498: Autumn

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Autumn Sonata

When Pumpkin Spice everything
took over the shelves
like Christmas fruitcake

& Easter peeps,
autumn was in the air,
& it smelled,
if not tasted,
delicious,
because, for the traditionalists,
nothing pumpkin pie flavored
was as good as pumpkin pie itself.

https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/wednesday-poetry-prompts-498

#Micropoetry Monday: The Lighter Side

When the displaced homemaker
met the desperate ex-housewife,
they cooked up a plan
in the cafeteria’s kitchen
to get a new man;
Ms. baked him,
after which the Mrs. iced him,
& then they tore him in half.

When the 2 couch potatoes wed,
they turned into a bowl of lumpy mash.
When they had their small fry,
they realized they needed to set a better example,
so they drank beta-carotene smoothies every morning,
turning them into the far less palatable sweet potato.

For 10 years,
Messy Wheeler had been
“as cute as a button,”
but when her little sister, Fussy,
who was “cuter than a buttonhole,”
was born,
Messy,
to make her case,
said that you could have a button
without a buttonhole,
but not the other way around,
for buttonholes had no
functional or decorative value.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #495: For (Blank)

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For the Love of Chocolate

Whenever she scored a 50-cent KitKat,
she’d tear & peel the wrapper back
as carefully as she would
undressing a burn wound
& ever so quietly, as she would
performing a secret surgery,
for the sound of candy being opened
was a sound her daughter knew⁠—
like a K-9 knew the smell of marijuana
or a bloodhound knew the stench of expired flesh,
because she couldn’t teach her child
that sharing was good
if she didn’t do so
when the opportunity arose.
Rather than share,
she did her one better⁠—
spending a whole buck-&-a-half
for that third KitKat,
so that that second KitKat
she kept hidden
in the deep bowels of her purse
in case of emergency
would be there.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 495

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #489: Death

tombstone.jpg

Cocoa Beach, FL – Chocolate, the delight of the world, passed away in her adopted hometown of Cocoa Beach on Sunday, September 4, 2050, to global warming/cooling on what would’ve been National Chocolate Day.

Born in Mesoamerica in 450 B.C., she went through many men, where she was mixed and molded to fit their flavor and image, and, at any given time, has been Belgian, Dutch, and Swiss (among others), and been known as Dove, Godiva, and Ghirardelli (among others).

Chocolate was beloved by the world; even those who were allergic often longed for her.  She enjoyed a variety of forms and fillings–ranging from bars and truffles to caramel and nuts.  She loved being wrapped and boxed and paired with strawberries and red wine; her favorite, however, was being melted and running through fountains at special events and fondue nights where she covered a variety of subjects.

Sometimes she was naughty, serving as the third component of a ménage à trois; sometimes she was nice, surprising children as a chocolate bunny in their Easter baskets.

She was every girl’s best friend during PMS and was often the peacemaker after a domestic spat.  She was the muse of numerous culinary artists and women authors.

Most of all, she was the only form of guaranteed pleasure for women.

She will be remembered for her versatility and ability to make every get-together better.  Though she felt overexposed at times, especially when it came to breakfast cereals, she was happy to make life sweeter wherever she could.

Chocolate is survived by White Chocolate, her frenemy of many years with whom she has not known to have collaborated with on any candy bar, though they have, much to their chagrin, been lumped into the same batch of cookies.  Chocolate is also survived by her numerous aficionados, many of whom will be turning to cheap alcohol and mediocre sex in her absence.

Visitation will be at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6, 2050, with a celebration of life memorial service immediately following the visitation at 3:00 p.m. at Divinity Chapel, 6969 Heaven Hwy., Cocoa Beach, FL.

In lieu of edible flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Warhol Campbell Soup Kitchen.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 489