Monthly Archives: December 2016

2016: Get Thee Behind Me!

At year’s end, bloggers feel compelled to write a recap. But who in their right mind would want to remember 2016? As Americans, nay as human beings, we collectively experienced a pretty rotten year full of protests, anger, division, terrorism, and loss. This is a humor blog, dedicated to finding the funny side of any given situation, but 2016 made it difficult to find the funny. 2016 owes us an apology!

This year, we suffered an inordinate number of celebrity deaths. We began the year by losing David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Glen Frey within a few days of each other. Soon after we lost Prince. We lost some of our favorite tv parents: Florence Henderson and Alan Thicke. John Glenn was the last man with The Right Stuff. At the end of the year, we lost Carrie Fisher then her mother, Debbie Reynolds, the very next day. I can’t list them all, or what they meant to me, but on a personal note, Debbie Reynolds affected me the most.

While not technically a death, in 2016 saw the end of Brangelina, a couple that probably no one was rooting for in the first place. We often find ourselves taking sides in divorce, but this is the first time I can recall the masses siding with a third party. Most who gave a crap about this ending, gave it to Jennifer Aniston, the scorned ex-wife of the “Bra” part of Brangelina. Apparently, he lost the “d” in the divorce.

There were more boycotts and protests this year than I can recall. The Oscar boycott. National anthem protests. Political protests. Brexit. Remember last year when our biggest debate was whether the dress was blue and black or white and gold? Unfortunately, 2016 in America was dominated by the worst election year ever. We were expected to choose between the two most unpopular candidates in American history. What are the odds that the two worst candidates would both be running for president at the same time?

This year also brought several new words and phrases into our collective vocabulary that I would love to retire: Sheeple, Get Woke, a certain P word that we heard way too much on tv, and my personal favorite… private email server.

While 2016 had a terrible year, by comparison, many of us were able to look at our personal lives and realize that we had a pretty good year. If 2016 were a person, he or she would probably be more disliked than the aforementioned presidential candidates (although that’s hard to imagine). Most people just want it to go away and leave us alone, but 2016 did have a few shining moments. The Olympics brought us much pride, (if you forget about Ryan Lochte). The market is up. Unemployment is down. The Cubs won the World Series after a 108 year wait.

When a year is this awful, it gives us hope that the next one can only get better. Agreeing on that point may be the first step in coming together again. Before you know it, we’ll find that we have more in common than 2016 allowed us to see. Let’s hope that all the bad that came with this year will leave with it. Lift your glasses high and say goodbye to 2016.

What I’ve Learned About Life From the Hallmark Channel

It’s that time of year again. Whether I’m wrapping presents or addressing cards, I’m doing it in front of the tv watching the endless loop of Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. I’m telling you this without the slightest hint of embarrassment. Yes, I know they’re cheesy. They’re like the tv movie equivalent of the ugly Christmas sweater. No matter how hokey they are, you drag them out every year and wear them in public without shame. Even better, you love getting new ones. The same is true for Hallmark Christmas movies.

Before Hallmark had it’s own channel, they made tearjerker commercials about their cards. They were like mini-movies and best ones were at Christmastime. We’d fight back tears as the lonely old guy who thinks he has no friends gets a Hallmark card from the kid next door. The hardened professor who’s about to retire gets a card from a former student and our hearts collectively melt as we see the influence the professor had on the world. The senders of these cards “cared enough to send the very best,” we were told. Now these mini-movies are full length and full of lessons. Here’s a few things that I’ve learned…

Monikers matter

The holidays can be busy and stressful. With all of the shopping and preparation, there’s little time left to look for love. I’ve learned from Hallmark that your chances of finding love at Christmastime are exponentially greater if your name is holiday related. Names like Holly, Noel, and Eve seem to fare well this time of year. Most often, love will be found with someone she can’t stand, especially if his name is Nick or Chris.

Holiday happiness

In Hallmark movies, families don’t discuss politics around the dinner table. There’s no Facebook or fake news. No election year craziness. Sure they have money problems, loneliness, and bitterness about the past, but these are problems that can be easily solved if they’d just open their hearts and minds to believe in the magic of Christmas.

They’ve lost the Christmas spirit, but something or someone will come along and remind them of what they’ve lost. Isn’t that why we love these movies? They give us hope that the spirit of Christmas can live on all year.

Santa is real

Another thing I’ve learned is that I believe in Santa Claus. We all lose that somewhere along the way, but it all comes rushing back when I sit down and watch these sappy movies. Hallmark movies teach us that Santa is still watching over us well into adulthood. It’s much harder for us to see it, and a kid will have to convince us, but eventually we believe again.

Hearts heal

The characters in these movies have often experienced painful losses. It may have been divorce, loss of a spouse or a parent who abandoned them. They’ve hardened their hearts to avoid feeling that pain, but that’s not how their storied end. From Hallmark, I’ve learned that no matter what life throws at you, the heart heals and can love again.

A few more things

Other Hallmark lessons… It will snow on Christmas. It’s never too cold to go out for a walk. No matter how cold it is, your nose won’t run, you won’t shiver, and you’ll look fantastic. You can have a nice home with beautiful Christmas decorations on the tiny salary you earn at a bakery, or diner, or the front desk at a small town lodge. Being forced into close quarters with someone you don’t like will almost always lead to love, as will broken down cars, cancelled flights and falling on someone at the ice skating rink.

So put on that ugly sweater and join me in front of the television for some hope and love and the spirit of Christmas. May it live all year long.

My Sister’s Brother and Other Fictional Characters

The blog posts that have received the most feedback and comments have been the ones about losing my dog and my grandfather. In my first blog post, I mentioned that I once tried to be a writer, a novelist, but the agents who read my submissions didn’t like my writing style. It seems that my talents are better suited to biographies rather than fiction. However, my sister once created a fictional character so believable that she was given bereavement time off work to mourn his passing. Let me explain…

My sister had used up all of her time off at work, but really wanted to be with the rest of the family for a weekend at the lake. So, she created a fake death in the family. Her make-believe deceased loved one had a name and a backstory, as any good fictional character would have. His name was Vance. He was only 36 when he dropped dead from a sudden, and unexpected, heart attack.

Luckily, in those days employers didn’t ask for obituaries or death certificates to prove that a relative had indeed died. This was a simpler time when employers treated employees like adults and trusted us to behave as such. Perhaps fake dead relatives are the reason we are no longer afforded this luxury!

Ironically, Vance’s death was only the beginning of his story. Months later, when my sister had long forgotten about the passing of her imaginary brother. she started dating her manager. He accompanied her to family events and fit right in with us. After being in our homes, listening to our stories and looking at the framed family photos on display, he noticed that something was missing. Eventually, he asked my sister why we never talk about our brother. She responded that we didn’t have a brother, there were just three sisters.

Then it hit her! She had to come clean and tell her boss that she’d invented the story just to get the weekend off. Perhaps this was the moment that he understood why she returned to work after the “funeral” with a sunburn!

My writer’s hat is off to my sister who is far better at creating fictional characters than I am. No one ever suspected that her story wasn’t true. Not even me! After that weekend at the lake, I sent my sister a sympathy card. It said, “Sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. Love, Your Sister.