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Saturday, December 23, 2006


This is the final day of the mj holiday workshop, and this is also the day I announce the second winner of the GIRL AT SEA HOLIDAY CONTEST. But before I do, I just want you to know . . . this is only the beginning of the Cheer! I will still be here, writing away. And I am cooking up more things to give away in the New Year. So this is by no means the end of all that . . . it’s just the last day I am sending out cards.

So, I would like to introduce the newest member of the GIRL AT SEA PIRATE DANCE CAMP SOCIETY, an organization that will only expand in 2007. When I reached into my holiday hat this morning, I pulled out the name of Courtney B. Courtney, I welcome you on board.

I had so many good questions to answer. I am still looking them over. Here are some I was able to tackle for today. They are exceptional.

Q: Dear purveyor of Christmas wisdom,

Miss Manners tells us that it is not polite to give charitable donations as
presents. I like buying donations for people who already have lots of stuff
and don't want more. Am I being rude?

Miss mj’s reply: If Miss Manners actually does say this, then my words to her would be: “#$^*#&^$&* &#&^#$^&.” It’s this sort of behavior that will forever keep me from getting her job.

I can sort of see what she’s saying—she wants to spread Cheer though gracious behavior toward other humans. We should be recognizing each other, and a thoughtful gift is one way of doing this. And I love a gift as much as the next person. You should see the way I look at Lil’ Poxy, the first gift I received this year. True love is in my eyes.

But you know what? It’s becoming more and more clear that we have to rethink the way we are doing some things (like how we take care of our environment, and that includes how much stuff we accumulate). Many people with a lot of stuff are wise to this—and so are many people who have less stuff. Many people get their Cheer on by contributing to causes they love. I think as long as the Cheer-recipient knows your intention, that they know you were thinking of them and what they would want . . . you should donate away.

(Just as a little bonus, I have decided to take a photo of my desk at this moment, showing Lil’ Poxy in action.)

From left to right: this website, Lil' Poxy holding my pink signing Sharpie, my Empire State Building ornament, my phrenology head (holding my headphones and my fingerless writing gloves), and the notebook containing notes on the MAJOR PROJECT OF 2007! Bet you never thought syphilis could be so useful, or so cute.

Q: At Christmas, is it fun to shop in NYC or is it just a pain?

A: I am very serious in my love and admiration for my city. I will defend New York to the death. Christmas shopping in NYC brings up a wild mix of emotions, which ping pong through my system.

On the whole, I think there is no better place to be during the holidays. I love it all. I love the shiny decoration (of course), I love the windows, the Rockefeller Center tree, the opening of the ice rink. I even love the arrival of the holiday crowds, who often come in large white buses, seeking Cheer.

As I walk along, say, in midtown (as I did yesterday), my thoughts develop a bit. They usually go something like this:

Block one: So many people have come to visit! This is great. This is exactly how the city should be—bustling. It’s like being in Silver Bells!

Block two: God, there really are a lot of people. Why has everyone stopped here? Oh. To look at a window display. That’s nice.

Block three: Everyone is stopped again. They’re waiting for cabs. Better go around.

Across the street: Same over here. What are they . . . oh. They’re watching the police direct traffic. That’s kind of weird. I’d better try to get across.

Five steps down: Have to stop. Someone is taking a picture of the police.

Crossing the intersection: Whew! Glad to be through that. Now I just have to get down to 54th, and . . . AH! That woman just clocked me with her bag. What? Is she blind?

On the other side: That’s okay. These things happen. Just three more blocks, and . . . another picture to stop for. Someone is posing in front of a store.

In the same spot, twenty seconds later: Okay, if you didn’t know how to use your camera, maybe you should have picked a better place than the middle of the most crowded street in the most crowded city to figure out all of the controls. Just a suggestion.

A few paces on: You did not just give me a dirty look for stepping into your picture. No you did not. I gave you plenty of time, Mr. Photography 101.

Stuck behind the one person, halfway down the block: Look, I love the fact that you are taking this city in at your own pace, which is glacial. That’s nice. We rush too much in this world. But could you just let me by instead of walking in your maddening zig-zag fashion?

Still stuck behind that same person, at the corner: Let me explain something to you, Ziggy. This style of walking, the zig-zag, has only one function: escaping from crocodiles. Perhaps you think I am a crocodile, and that you are evading me. You are wrong on both counts. Pick a side and stick with it.

Just after clipping the zig-zagger with a shopping bag in a desperate leap past: I’m sorry, but that’s going to happen if you persist with your insane snakewalking. You got off easy with me. I know people who would knock you down. I tapped you with a sweater in a plastic bag. You can save the look.

On seeing a small child looking at a display of toys: Now, you see, that’s Cheer. I was getting so grouchy back there. What I need to do is . . .

And then walking directly into a throng of people taking pictures: HAVE YOU NEVER SEEN ICE BEFORE? NOT EVEN IN CUBE FORM? And yes, you can SKATE on it. It’s a miracle of science! I know! Let’s all stop and stare at it!

On catching a glimpse of the ice rink, and stopping: You know. It really is pretty. Relax back there, pushy! It’s the ice rink!

The main point of this is: CHEER always wins. And New York is the best. And everyone should come! (But pick a side to walk on and don’t set up tripods in the middle of the sidewalk.)

Q: Okay, so in "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" there's a line that says something about FIGGY PUDDING. What in the world IS that? Is it like fruit cake?

A: Figgy pudding seems to be a relative of fruitcakes and plum puddings, but is made with (you guessed it), figs. It’s another one of these rich, sticky binding substances to hold in dried fruit. I tend to think of these things in the same way I think of the carbonite that binds Han Solo: a generally evil use of otherwise innocent materials to imprison things that are likeable.

Q: What exactly IS a Yule Log?

A: The Yule log was part of the celebration of Yule—Yule being the winter solstice celebration that predates Christmas, and the holiday from which some of our Christmas traditions are taken. The log itself was a symbol of productivity and good fortune. There were many traditions surrounding the cutting and burning of the log. Sometimes the logs were decorated, or carried around the house multiple times. The log was kept burning anywhere between 12 hours and 12 days.

Today, you can still enjoy Yule loggy goodness, either online or on televised Yule log burnings. What could be more enjoyable than watching a log burn on tv for 12 hours? The answer: nothing.

Yule logs can also be had in delicious chocolate and cheese forms. If these options do not suit you, might I refer you back to my cheesy-clawed friend? Maybe he can grace your table this year!

Let me entertain you. I have crackers.

Q: Who ever thought of kissing under a parasite plant? What is the point of it? To get infected with it's parasitey-ness and develop an uncomfortable rash? (I'm talking about mistletoe xD)

A: Mistletoe is, in fact, a parasitic plant: meaning, it needs to leech nutrients from another living organism in order to survive. For this reason, it is sometimes known as a “vampire plant.”

Naturally, when one thinks of vampires, one images two fangs in the neck, a long sucking noise, and then a rapid indoctrination into the army of the undead. Which, if you think about it long enough, is not unlike kissing.

In kissing, adorable nibbling can quickly become uncontrollable chopping and sucking (hence, the hickey). If you are exposed to enough of the biting and suction, you may well find yourself in the middle of that group we all know so well: THE OBSESSED DATING. These are the people who can’t go five minutes without signaling to their SO in some way, and who start talking about the prom in September, or those people who are already angling to go to the same college as their SO is going to. And they only wear the clothes their SO likes. And they have filled their iPods with playlists that relate to every single event that they have ever lived through with the SO.

And at first your mind reels as you look around. “Who are these strange creatures?” you say. But then you look at your own iPod and notice a “our first trip to the Olive Garden” playlist, and you realize it has been a FULL THREE MINUTES since you last texted your SO. You will seek out the company of similarly hickeyed, glazed-eyed people. You will want to increase the tribe.

I am not saying that dating will bring about the rise of Our Future Undead Overlords, but it is something to think about. Oh, but to answer your question as to who thought of it . . . I have no idea. Therefore, it must have been Jamie Oliver. After all, he was the Naked Chef and he does smack his lips a lot.

You knew it was coming.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS, MAUREEN! I hope you have a grand holiday with lot's of crafts (I LOVED your card, by the way) and good food and good cheer!



12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Maureen! I LOVE your book 13 Little Blue Enevolopes!!! It's one of my favorite books.

6:33 AM  
Anonymous Catherine said...

i got the flesh eating disease for christmas. i named him Beany, as he sort of looks like a bean.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Larkspur said...

Maureen, I can now see the significance of the color you chose for your "notebook containing notes on the MAJOR PROJECT OF 2007"!

-Larkspur, one of your youtube subscribers

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