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Sunday, November 30, 2008


If you have been around here for a while, you will know that I am more than a little obsessed with the holiday season. I love Cheer. I cannot get enough. Soon, I’ll be opening the MJ Holiday Workshop, as I do every year, to distribute CHEERFUL things, like books and cards.

And in the past, I have often liked to use this special time of year to give out advice. I thought I’d do a little of that today.

It seems now that when I am working a lot, I check in with Facebook once or twice a day, as it is an excellent way of seeing what and how everyone is doing. The other day, I asked people if they had any questions that needed answering. I got many excellent questions. Here are a few of them.

Julia asks:
is there a bad reason to leave and never come back?

Well . . . and I’m not saying I have any direct experience with this . . . but say you burned the place down by accident because you were decorating a makeshift disco with hundreds of tea lights and you didn’t know your spray glitter was an accelerant and the whole place went up like Edward Cullen riding a rocket on a sunny day. That’s a really good reason not to come back.

Faith asks:
do you accept apprentices of awesome?


Tim asks:
How should one handle bitchy customers at work?

I have held many jobs in which I dealt with the public. I remember well dealing with bitchy, longwinded, annoying, unfriendly people who have come to take your time and ruin your life. This kind of customer is impossible to dismiss. They don’t care about you, or the other people, or common decency. They’ll scream, they’ll throw money in your face, knock things off shelves. They’ll make twenty people wait in line behind them while they rant and rave and announce that they don’t care. You can never be rude back, sadly, as that just adds fuel to the fire (and see the above questions for where that will get you).

This kind of anti-Cheer behavior must be stopped. I used to employ many methods for doing this. Here is one of my favorites. It never failed me.

Say you work at Target, at the customer service counter. For the last twenty minutes, you have watched a horrible woman screaming about the fact that the store has run out of the Hannah Montana Rockstar Powerdrill and Bake Sets that were advertised in the circular. She has been taking out her wrath on an innocent checkout girl. The checkout girl, reduced to tears, pointed at your counter in defeat. Now it is your turn for punishment. But no. You will not go down quietly. You need to be one step ahead of her. Before she even gets to your desk, run around so that you are standing in front of her on the same side of the counter. Bow low at the waist and pretend to take off a hat.

From this point on, speak entirely in Renaissance Fair speak. Wring your hands together and say something like, “Please, good madam, speak to me that I may absorb the gist of your need!”

This should set her a little off-balance, but she’ll keep rambling on. Whatever she says, just look shocked and exclaim “Most injurious, sweet lady! Most assuredly injurious!” Offer her a chair. If there is no chair, offer your own back as a bench. Say, “Fie on this! Fie, fie! Come. Together we shall investigate this injustice and rectify all that seeks rectification.”

Lead her away. Make sure to keep stopping and bowing and that you always walk a few steps behind. Go to the toy section, but to the wrong aisle. Proceed to take every single toy off the shelf and ask, “Doth this be the object of merriment?” Whenever she looks like she is tiring of you, jump up and down and exclaim, “Curseth my pumpkin head! I have possessed the knowledge all this while! I will bring the bauble henceforth!” Disappear. Come back with a toaster oven.

After an hour or so, when you have exhausted all the objects in the aisle, scream at the top of your lungs and say, “Fair lady! Fair lady! Do you hear the sound of carriage wheels on the road and the steps of a hundred mighty horses? I THINK THE QUEEN IS COMING!” Run out of the store and never come back.

Tobias asks:
Maureen, where does one meet cute nerdy gay guys who like to watch Dr. Who and House?

Tobias, everything you need to know—all of the essential skills of attracting the ladies or the mens—can be found in the works of 1990s manboy band, Color Me Badd. Color Me Badd was so bad that they had an extra “d” on their name. What did the “d” stand for? No one knew. That was just one more thing that made Color Me Badd so very badd. These guys were so goodd with the opposite sex that they could have all the consonants they wanted.

Color Me Badd

The theme of every single Color Me Badd song, as far as I can tell, is how much they want to get wit chu. Their hit song “I Want to Sex You Up” is more or less the only textbook you will ever need to learn the Art of Love. They are very on-message. What do they want to do? They want to sex you up. The song never deviates from the theme of sexing you up. We are never left scratching our heads and wondering what is going on. Sexing up is going on.

Lines like “we can do it until we both wake up” and “we can make love until we both drown” made many people think Color Me Badd was a little confused about what “sexing up” was. But that’s the baddness of Color Me Badd—no one knows what they’re talking about, really! You just know that it a). is smooooove and b.) involves really big pants.

I think it could only help you to learn every move and line of this video, get the biggest pants you can find, and head to the nearest con. Slide on up to the debate about who the eleventh Doctor will be, and at the first pause bust into your move. But you will, of course, have changed the lyrics of the song to reflect the occasion, so you will sing something like:

Want to get you in my Tardis
Just like that Rose Tyler
Show you my big blue police box
And my sonic screwdriver

By the time you are done, EVERYONE will be attracted to you. It is merely up to you to select the appropriate nerd.

Kayla asks:
I'm trying to compose a short, fun little song for kids....and I'm not for sure what it should be about. Giraffes who love giraffes? penguins? llamas? I just don't know. What do you think? :)

Back when I was an editor, I had an assistant named Cartography Jones (not his real name, but a name I bestowed on him). I spent the majority of my time at work trying to make Carto’s life better, and one of the ways I did this was by hiding pictures of lemurs all over his desk. Dozens and dozens of pictures of lemurs. He would come in in the morning, tired and bleary-eyed, and slowly notice the round, gleaming eyes of a lemur peering from just over his monitor, or just under his mouse, or on the fourth page of a report, or out of an “urgent e-mail of instructions” I had sent him. Sometimes the lemurs were under his mug. Sometimes they were in a book, waiting to be discovered weeks later. Sometimes the lemurs were in his lunch, carefully placed just under the wrapper of his sandwich when he stepped away from his desk. Sometimes he would even go home and find lemurs in his bag, his hat, his laptop. I buried pictures of lemurs deep in actual work files, attached them to spreadsheets, planted them in the conference room . . ..

There are many pictures of lemurs on the internet!


Because I was his boss, Carto knew that the many, many pictures of lemurs that haunted his every waking moment were important, and good for his personal and professional development. Sure, they made him shaky and screamy and sometimes he would beg for NO MORE LEMURS, but I would just smile and nod and send him more important e-mails, only some of which were full of the moony, crazed faces of lemurs. What I was trying to show him is that sometimes, life gives you lemurs. Now, I know that it sort of follows to say something like, “When life gives you lemurs, you should make lemurade.” But there is no such thing as lemurade, and if there was, it would be disgusting.

The main point is that it is awesome to be someone’s boss because you can send them 2000 pictures of lemurs and there is nothing they can do about it. So stay in school and become a boss!

(You are probably thinking that this means that I want your song to be about lemurs but I would actually like it to be about penguins.)

Ariel asks:
How might one go about getting free Starbucks on a daily basis?

I have a plan that will not only get you free Starbucks every day, it will also SPREAD CHEER! Pick a local Starbucks, the busiest one you can find. If it has disaffected, emo staffers, so much the better. Purchase one (1) shiny holiday sweater. If it lights up or has tinkling bells, again, so much the better. Also get one bag of discounted holiday chocolate from the drugstore. Let this get a little melty and misshapen, and then put it in the refrigerator to harden it in its deformed state. Also, if you can, get your hands on a slide whistle.

Now you are ready for action.

Position yourself in the middle of the Starbucks with a large smile on your face. Wish everyone who comes in a happy holiday. Then, when people are least expecting it, break into Jingle Bells. Don’t go for quality—go for Cheer. Use that slide whistle as much as you can. Emulate this sound:

Leave the store abruptly. Come back again 15 minutes later. Stand around for a few minutes, and then sing again. Make it look like you are going for the door, but then pause and come back in. You must build a sense of anxiety in the staff, who are now watching your every move. Make sure you are always smiling. Pass out a round of deformed candy to customers and staff. Do this all day.

While you stand there, try to figure out who runs the place. Avoid the manager. The manager will be looking for the most legitimate way of throwing you out. What you want is the Assistant Manager, the person who has probably been there the longest and hates you the most. Go up to this person and say, as quietly as possible, “One grande eggnog latte and I am gone. Leave it outside in five minutes or I come back with the accordion.”

Coffee is cheap, and one eggnog latte is definitely worth the price of peace. So while the manager is looking through the corporate manual, the Assistant Manager will be brewing you one hot, delicious eggnog latte. Leave at once with it.

Come back the next day. This time, don’t go in. Make periodic passes by the window, holding up your slide whistle happily. Go away. Return, and sit quietly in the corner for an hour or so. Really build things up for your performance. When the Assistant Manager looks over (these are the people who work every day), make a drinking motion with an invisible cup and hold up one finger. You mean, “One eggnog latte.” It would be really effective at this point if you could pull out some stuffed reindeer antlers or some bells.

You may or may not need to sing at this point. Every staff has a different level of tolerance. But within a few days, you should have them to the point where they will simply hand over the eggnog latte the moment you appear. You may have to travel from store to store, but since most Starbucks seem to be located about ten feet away from each other, you can assume word has spread.

But what about after the holidays? you ask. This works even better in July!

Emily asks:
what's the best way to tie your shoes?

It is best to hire someone for this task. It is quite dangerous.

Al asks:
What happens to socks in the drier?

I answer this and several other pressing questions in Scarlett Fever.

Let’s kick off some CHEER right now. A signed Let it Snow to a random commenter! Please tell me what is going on with you, and if you have any CHEER-related problems that need solving!

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Anonymous Elise said...

They talk about what happens to socks in the drier in Suite Scarlett? I must have missed that, I should re-read....

10:42 PM  
Blogger Courtney said...

I just won NaNoWriMo. How's that for holiday cheer! :)

10:53 PM  
Blogger Jacklyn said...

I already have a signed LIS, by john at least haha and you have exclamations after your name b/c it was post-feud lol

in the color me badddd photo - the blue suit looks like adam sandler haha

10:56 PM  
Blogger TheKnittingViolinist said...

this blog has definately spread the cheer, haha. soo funny! <3

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Gabriella said...

ooo..Holiday time

It almost snowed today! =)
Actually is snowed for about 5 minutes and then turned to rain, but hey, at least a tiny bit stuck for about a minute.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took entirely too much pleasure from the "how to get free Starbucks" bit. Also, are you sure you're not a marketing rep for a popular brand of laundry detergent? :)

11:02 PM  
Anonymous ElectricFeel said...

the face the you listen to MGMT makes me unbelievably cheery! you so cool, maureen.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Chelsea said...

I cannot breathe from laughing. You are just too funny.

I want to read Scarlett Fever with all of its Spencery goodness. Just a little over a year... I can do this. Anything worth having is worth waiting for. *twitches*

I plan to talk about Let it Snow on Five Awesome YA Fans on Christmas Eve. It will be epic. TEAM MAUREEN. :)

11:02 PM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

Who on earth would be afraid of lemurs? They always look surprised! They are clearly more afraid of you than you could ever be of them!

11:03 PM  
Blogger M.Gillmer said...

Well, that was awesome. What is going on with me?!?!?!!? I am writing a book so I can graduate high school but have gotten essentially nowhere. I am still happy despite this small fact. I get to help my greatuncle unload Christmas trees off of a truck, roughly 200 trees, on Thursday. This will then in turn help spread holiday cheer to the little kiddies who like Christmas trees. No cheer related problems though, which is suprising!

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Courtney said...

Real or fake christmas trees?
What do you do if your fake christmas tree with attached lighting doesn't light up?
What about if your cats enjoy eating and climbing your fake christmas tree?
Should you give in and buy a real one, or teach those little kitties a lesson?

11:04 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

Is anyone as seriously tempted to try that Starbucks thing as I am?


11:05 PM  
Anonymous Carla said...

that was a dirty song
i love it
how do you find such weird clips on youtube?

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Amanda Catherine said...

haha, great blog. I should be working on an 8 pages term paper due tomorrow, but I needed some Cheer, and this certainly helped. Now I must get to work on that odious paper. I assure you, however, that whenever I feel that need for Cheer once more, I shall return and read the story of the lemur desk! That reminds me....I also need to write a paper on primates! O.O gotta go!

11:06 PM  
Blogger tara said...

I would love a signed Let It Snow :)

what is going on with me?
umm just finishing up finals and getting ready to enjoy cheer fest with the family

11:09 PM  
Blogger Sarahbear9789 said...

I kind of want to try that Starbucks thing. I now have "I Wanna Sex You Up" stuck in my head. Ugh... I also want a pet Lemur.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth Ingram said...

First off, one of the million times I tried to post this and the request didn't go through because it was caught in cyberspace by some pretty nasty cybermonkeyz, my confirmation word was "methurs," which rhymes with "lemurs" sorta. Do with that what you wish. Songs are encouraged.

And lastly, how does one enjoy this monstrous holiday season while knowing that a trip to disneyworld and a pet parakeet awaits one at the end?!!!1!!?!!!!1!!

11:12 PM  
Blogger alli. said...

I am incredibly excited for christmas (and have all the cheer I need) :) the only problem is it's a little less than a month away :(

AND I still have 3 full weeks of school until christmas break.

to keep myself occupied we'll probably be putting up our tree soon and decorating the house with all of our nativity sets and listening to christmas music :)

Right at this exact momment it is snowing. :) VERY cheery indeed.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Kris said...

what should one get the fellow (and co-worker) she fancies for the holiday, without making it blatantly obvious that she likes him?

help me, oh wise one!

11:19 PM  
Blogger Breezee said...

Do you know of any ancient snow dances? you know, like rain dances, but for snow? Everyone keeps talking about how it's snowing where they are, but not in boring old Oregon. All we get is rain. :\

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am now giddy with cheer, and will continue to work on Hamlet and college applications with the notion of going to Target and speaking in ye olde english sayings. How should I inflict cheer upon a college admissions office?

11:25 PM  
Blogger mary said...

you're fantabulous!
this just made my day!

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

It's not very cheery here in cold, rainy Maryland. Do you have any simple, easy, and relatively cost free ways to quickly increase cheer?

Also, I have to dress up like an elf this Saturday. Do you have any suggestions that will enhance my performance as one of Santa's elves?

Thanks for the laughs Maureen. =)

11:34 PM  
Blogger Lauren Williams said...

I have to write 5000 words of non-creative material in two days. Is that enough of a CHEER-related problem?

11:45 PM  
Blogger scoutfinch87 said...

Maureen, if for some reason you ever grow bored of being a novelist, I urge you to become a psychologist and give advice to people for a living.

I do have a question for you MJ. I really enjoy the holidays and I would like everyday to be Christmas, but I cannot afford a time machine, thus I am unable to repeatedly go back to Christmas Day. What alternative would you propose, preferably one that costs under $5? Gracias.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Elliot said...

*runs to nearest starbucks*


11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would so love to try the Starbucks thing, cause i starbucks is awesome. I'm gonna learn those dance moves and work them into my new style of dance, Irish break danceing, any idea for a song to dance to? I would enjoy a signed copy of Let It Snow

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Sarah The Penguin Ruler said...

Dear Maureen,
You wanted to now what was going on with us, and here it is.
I'm sick, have a crazy dog underneath my computer and a huge project to finish before tomorrow.
So... Nothing is going very well.
Hope everything is good with you, and just letting you know that a signed copy of Let it snow, would be very awesome.

^^^, Sarah

PS, I finnaly saw Mamma Mia, and the awesomeness of it, was quite astonishing.

12:07 AM  
Blogger Khyrinthia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lemurs are okay, but not as cute as:

12:11 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

LOL, I love it! Since I cannot drink coffee or tea, the Starbucks thing is out. But I shall try the lemurs though...I have a co-worker who needs punishing for playing pranks on me. He is quite the menace.

Speaking of which, do you find any of the Madagascar penguins as enchanting as I do? Though I am a scared of the one who carries a knife.

Can't stop giggling...thanks for the laugh!

PS. Can you enable the RSS feed on your blog if it isn't? My blog reader is yelling at me that it cannot find one...sigh. Of course, it has yelled at me before and it was a false alarm. In which case, ignore this.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

Forgot this..spreading some penguin CHEER!

12:20 AM  
Blogger lanna-lovely said...

My cheer related problem is that my mum is attempting to down-size out Christmas tree from a 6ft one to a 4ft! That's shorter than me!

She tried this last year, but I huffed and said "fine then! I want nothing to do with you or your midget tree!" and I had won the argument.

But this year, she was sneaky and she actually went out and bought the midget tree! Even though the one we have now is made of sparkly and awesome. I was outraged!

So me and my brother tag teamed her (not like, wrestled her or anything. We attacked, with words!), telling her the midget tree sucked and was made of fail and we would be shunning Christmas if we had to spent it in the presence of said midget tree, but she wouldn't budge!

So we took drastic action! I lured my mum out of the house (okay, so I went with her to pick up my sister from work, but still!) and told my brother to hide midget tree while we were out.

And when we got back my mum was stuck somewhere between annoyance and amusement at the fact we had hid the tree and I was disgruntled about the fact my brother was so unoriginal that he hid the tree under his bed - I mean really, she'd find that easily!

We plotted to relocate it to the attic next time she was out (because she would never look up there, she hates the attic) but my brother -traitor that he is!- gave her the tree back!

Damn him!

So anyway, my mum may have won the battle but she will not win the war!

Plan B is that I will put up the old tree of awesome while she is out one day! (and my brother, as punishment for being a traitor, will be forced to carry it down from the attic for me)

I know my mum, she'll huff a little but she'll be amused at the same time and she'll give up because she can't be bothered taking the tree down and then I'll have won the war!

If she somehow manages to get the midget tree up before I can execute plan B then I fully intend to stomp my foot, shout "Bah humbug!" and then storm out of the living room with a dramatic flip of my hair. Hmph!

...So yes, that is my cheer-related problem, my mother is trying to kill my christmas cheer with a tree that is shorter than me (which is saying something because I'm barely over 5ft tall).

Oh how I wish I were joking about all of that, haha. But I'm completely serious, about all of it (even the hiding of the tree, my family is strange).

What would YOU do?


12:21 AM  
Blogger angela said...

I just may try that Free Starbucks Plan.

P.S. You know tomorrow morning Stsrbucks is giving free coffee at at 7 am?

Holiday CHEER advice question. hmm.
how bout.....
-drumroll please-
For the Free Starbuck Plan, would throwing up your eggnog latte after 7 days of straight E-N/Ls work jsut as well as a sparkly reindeer ears headband?

12:27 AM  
Blogger Christie said...

Maureen, you always manage to put me in a good mood through your videos, books, and blog. You seem like a really fun person to be.

Can I be you when I grow up?

12:43 AM  
Anonymous Eileen said...

CHEER PROBLEM: Every year my mom gets more stressed and more stressed until finally on Christmas Day she spends the entire day being angry at my grandmother (her mother-in-law) and doesn't want to open any of her presents. Any solutions?

And I'm supposed to be finishing my senior thesis right now and starting another paper, but decorating for Christmas and reading your blog is too distracting :)

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Tasha said...

My cheer related problem is that I have caught chicken pox (I'm an adult btw :()from apparently the spawn of Satan AND I still have tons of shopping that needs to be done. I suppose I could still do said shopping, but then in a few days I will be reading your comments and someone will mention me as the spawn of Satan that's handing out itchy diseases for Christmas. :(

Nonetheless this blog made me laugh (in-between screaming for wanting to scratch) so I suppose I can't complain for the rest of today!

12:59 AM  
Anonymous rdsull89 said...

How ironic! I'm writing a Hamlet essay and that whole bitchy customer sequence seems just like what Hamlet would do.

I couldn't stop laughing.

1:02 AM  
Blogger love.life.fool said...

It snowed today! And stayed on the ground! there is my holiday cheeriness.

yay snow!

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Sydney said...

How can I be cheerful while I work on Christmas eve at walgreens?

1:27 AM  
Anonymous Briana said...

It's the first winter storm of the season here in Milwaukee, and I'm COLD. How am I supposed to stay cheerful knowing that I'm going to have to trudge through this crap going to and from class come tomorrow morning?

Oh, and I have a cup of Swiss Chocolate Almond coffee I just brewed up <3 I think I'll be able to handle it tomorrow <3

1:41 AM  
Blogger BLACK.blood said...

Right now I'm studying for Biology because I know I have a test this week, and after that I have to teach myself a chapter from Western Civ because I have a test for that, too, then read a book for school, do a few worksheets, and if I have time, sleep.

My problem is that I have NO MOTIVATION TO DO ALL OF THIS. School, psht. It is overrated. I would much rather drop out and become a professional soup taster.

1:46 AM  
Anonymous Allie said...

Funny funny funny blog! Right now, well, I just finished reading your blog! Before I was hanging up posters for my dance performance, and passed by Starbucks.
I didn't go in though. Starbucks scares me.

Oh and I have one question- How's our friend Alan Rickman doing? :D

1:54 AM  
Anonymous Gina said...

What's going on with me is that it's the first day of SUMMER here in Australia! So I definitely do not have a cheer problem.
Except that no matter how hard I ask, I don't think the weather gods will Let it Snow.

1:56 AM  
Blogger Emma said...

Hi Maureen,

Life is pretty good, I'm done Nano! *dances* WOOHOO.

Okay, major holiday problem,

This is my first year with my parents separated, and my mother is a TOTAL christmas person. Fake white tree in every room, gingerbread and spruce smells everywhere, GOOD FOOD. And I love all this, I love christmas and the snow.

My dad, well, he hates shopping for people, and he rather not have christmas at all.

How do I keep my holiday spirit around my father? And is there anyway to make him more cheery? (He has a girlfriend if that helps at all with convincing him).


That Emu girl whose Facebook you have at YA for Obama. Also known as Emma the Sekrit Sister.

2:04 AM  
Anonymous Meaghan said...

Currently I am facing my worst fears, college finals. What's some good ways to cheer myself up for the holidays after I finish my exams?

2:15 AM  
Blogger Abby said...

So I'm sitting in a Starbucks as I'm reading this. You don't know how much I want to stand up and start singing Jingle Bells.

I do indeed have a Cheer problem. I current have a friend sitting next to me who is speaking right now (and I quote) : "Have you ever met anyone who has less holiday seasonal than me?" I need help! How can make her get into the holiday spirit. I've thought about showing up at one of her basketball games in holiday gear and singing, or possibly sneaking into her house and smothering it in Christmas decorations so when she wakes up she can't escape it! Do you have any other ideas? (Whatever I do, I'd be happy to post pictures or video of my extravagant scheme! I'm getting all Cheery already just thinking about it!)

2:20 AM  
Blogger stephie said...

My Cheer related problem: I am all out of it. Cheer, that is. I am Cheer-less, sans Cheer, unCheertastic, no Cheer here! The people, the hustle, the bustle: all leave me Cheer-less. Advice? Concerns? Signed copies of Let it Snow? That would help.

2:39 AM  
Blogger lauren said...

The unnaturally synchronized movements of Color Me Badd make me want to get up and boogie! Now where are my parachute pants?

Here is my cheer-related question: it seems that a lot of Americans are going through rough times this year, and are not exactly in the holiday spirit. How can we instill cheer in EVERYONE in America?

2:39 AM  
Blogger Bibliocat said...

when will the sequel to Suite Scarlett be published?

2:50 AM  
Blogger Khyrinthia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:08 AM  
Blogger Alysa said...

Someone (I don't know who) is trying to spoil a good part of my Christmas cheer by banning children from the church's evening Christmas program in 2 weeks. Anger and cheer do not mix well.

3:16 AM  
Anonymous Lisa H said...

Okay, I have a holiday cheer advice question thingy...what are some cheap (preferably free) ways to celebrate Christmas when I have no money to buy presents?

3:16 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

it's my birthday today. how's that for cheer?

the fifteenth anniversary of the most glorious moment of my parents' lives.

3:25 AM  
Blogger N. said...

well, for me, I'm trying to keep the cheer up while I'm studying for finals...ew! two weeks of finals! I have decorated my room for Christmas, though! I am like you! I love Christmas and the cheer and everything going on :)...the only problem I have is that my roomie won't get into the Christmas spirit! she doesn't want to decorate :(...help!!! what do I do?? I'm sure you know what to do :)

3:30 AM  
Blogger downyegg said...

I'm using the last hours of November to feverishly finish my NaNoWriMo novel... it has degenerated from an actual plot into a lot of me typing whatever comes into my head and considering the phrase "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" way, way too much.

3:32 AM  
Blogger Meghan said...

Hello Maureen! I am trying to stay cheerful, although school is making this difficult. AP classes are wonderful at times and hellish at others. And I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to handle Christmas with my parents (my father moved out in October. damn divorces). Shall I spend it with my mum or dad? I guess I'll figure it out eventually.

3:40 AM  
Anonymous Zoe said...

I have a mission for you Maureen, should you choose to accept it: find Zoe a job. My sister and I are going on a grand adventure to New Zealand. It will involve bunji-jumping, jet boats, cycling, spelunking (the tecnical term for voluntarily descending into a pitch black cave and spending your day groping around in the dark) and possibly horse riding. You will have noticed most of these activities require money. I have none. Or at least, not much. So my cheer-related question is: how do I go about getting myself a job??

3:41 AM  
Blogger Lauren! said...

Anyone who's ever had a Capri-Sun knows that it's pretty much impossible to screw it up. It's a little tin pouch. With a straw that you stab it with. Now everyone has gotten to that point where the little straw isn't quite pointy enough to pierce the mighty armor that is the juice pouch, causing you to use a pen/knife/sharp object of your choice. But not I. I manage to get past the only obstacle that a juice bag might hope to present, then just as I am glorifying in my victory, I realize there is a blockage in my straw.
At this point, anyone with reasonable sense would stop the obsessive quest for juice and think Ergh, there doth might be a blockage in thy Capri-Sun. But not me. YOU WILL NOT WIN CAPRI-SUN STRAW!!! I WILL NOT BE DAUNTED BY YOUR PUNY ATTEMPT AT WAR!! That worked well, right up until the point when something having the taste and texture of skin came hurtling at my unexpecting mouth.

So my cheer related question is...How do I go about getting over my fear of Capri-Sun?

3:51 AM  
Blogger Kiersten said...

I hate the holidays. Don't get me wrong, I love cheer and Christmas music and shopping as much as the next person and eating my body weight in turkey and mashed potatoes probably more than the next person, but there comes a point when we need to rethink things. Christmas music on radios should not start on Halloween. This is far too early. People should not have to worry about getting trampled to death at a walmart while trying to buy a hannah montana rockstar powerdrill and bake set. Also, people get very anxious around the holidays. They have mental breakdowns and start throwing spatulas while making pie. They start rippingout their hair and rocking back and forth on the ground humming a deranged and slightly off key rendition of jingle bells. So Maureen, how do we survive the holidays? Do we take the same plan of action as we do against a zombie apocalypse? Do we hide under our beds until they're through? Or do we welcome the crazy with open arms?

3:58 AM  
Anonymous Caroline said...

I work at a toy store which is a very CHEER-tastic place right now. But we have a problem. We have adoreable Hannukah and Christmas wrapping paper but we only have red and green ribbon and blue ribbon. Everybody knows that three ribbons are required to make a CHEERful bow. What other colors should be added into the mix??

4:19 AM  
Blogger Bobina. said...

I totally just scared my family and cats by laughing hysterically at your whole post.
The Starbucks plan: could I possibly get a group together for that? With rounds and harmonies?

The CHEER has taken a hold of me. My family won a turkey in a raffle, so I'm gradually convincing my family to donate it to the food pantry. Partly because I'm a vegetarian, and partly because others need it more.

What is your advice for surviving the Christmas shopping mania at the mall? Should I break out the full body armor?

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome post, the jingle bells video made me lol and cry in pain at the same time

How do I get into see an R-rated movie if I'm not 18 or over?

4:32 AM  
Anonymous Raelyn said...

my life at present: reading suite scarlett, getting my tonsils out in a week (although last year, my tonsilitis allowed me to stay home from school and participate in the nerdfighters taking over youtube... hm... may have to reconsider priorities), and plotting to hang some CHEERful mistletoe in my school's main hallway the last week before Christmas break, but wondering, HOW DOES A 5'4 PERSON MANAGE THIS???

5:01 AM  
Blogger Cassandra said...

I once wrote a college essay on different theories about what happens to my left socks after I put them in the dryer. My prof forget to specify the paper was non-fiction ^^ (still aced it though)

5:06 AM  
Blogger Nadia Murti said...

How did the story about the lemurs answer the girl's question?

My CHEER-problem: I don't celebrate Christmas, and it gets quite very annoying to hear so many people saying "Merry Christmas! Jesus bless you!" every other minute. How do I deal with this?


5:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well christmas at my house is now just a really big dinner with some gifts...how do i make it fell more christmas-y?

5:19 AM  
Blogger KT said...

My cheer hurdle:
I recently moved out on my own and I've been a bit lonely. I'd like to invite some of my neighbors over for some kind of Christmas party, but I'm painfully shy. Do you have any cute, painless way to invite them over?

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please share possible ways to avoid getting punched in the face. This is the Numero Uno of Importance. My punch evasion skills are nonexistent it seems. I have tried punching back. It seekms to make angry punch-happy critters twice as likely to hit again. Helpz me, pleazes.

5:43 AM  
Anonymous Becca said...

Sadly, I am lacking in the Cheer. The one and only thing I enjoy about the holiday season is baking cookies. But I realized today I am out of cookie recipes! THIS IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM. Can you help me?

6:22 AM  
Blogger theblueinthegrey said...

Why Maureen Johnson I also love holiday cheer! I will likely torture my future children with green and red fuzzy things and antler ears and tiny little multicolored light bulbs. What is going on with me is that I am dying of laughter and won't be able to stop thinking about lemurs for perhaps the 5-6 days following my reading your blog post. I probably also won't be able to breathe. I also can't stop reading let it snow. I may have it memorized by the time it is due back to the library from whence it came!

6:58 AM  
Anonymous Cat said...


What is the best kind of cookie?

What is your opinion of the Twilight phenomenon?


6:59 AM  
Blogger Little Willow said...

Color Me Badd. Oh my goodness.

Tenth Doctor for the win!

6:59 AM  
Blogger Monica said...

My sister and I need to swap rooms this holiday break, which involves moving lots of heavy furniture. However, we are both pretty small and muscleless! What is the best way to find enough muscle to get the job done?

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Stephanie W. said...

I loved your dedication page in "Let in Snow." As it so happens, I actually work at a Starbucks (although I'm NOT an "emo staffer") and DO have to say grande latte three thousand times a day. And today during a HUGE holiday rush, what do you know? The credit card reader decided it didn't want to work anymore. So thanks a ton, it really made me smile. :]

7:18 AM  
Blogger Krissy said...

My main cheer (CHEER) problem is getting people to put up with all of mine. Christmas is my anti-drug. Or my drug. Depends how you look at it. Huh.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Mary Mo said...

My cheer problem is that I'm actually looking for a job. Something that won't suck my soul out of my nose would be great!

Also... Color Me Badd... is just the answer to all of my prayers. :)

7:27 AM  
Blogger betty said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:28 AM  
Blogger betty said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:29 AM  
Blogger betty said...

My cheer level is rather high right now since I just got done setting up my christmas tree. However, it will soon decrease as I start studying for a "midterm" that is a week before finals. Winning a signed copy of Let it Snow would make my cheer levels rise again.

(Hopefully the third time is the charm for the comment, since I seem to lack reading skills)

7:31 AM  
Anonymous serafina zane said...

I am cracking up right now. This is a common symptom of reading your blog.
I am also filled with Cheer. For unknown reasons, I'm really into this whole Holiday thing this year. Whatever. CHEER!

The parts of my life not filled with cheer, however, are filled with woe/confusion/befuddlement/distress/careful consideration.
---Now that NaNoWriMo is over, what should I do? I get scary when not goal-oriented. I might build a robot army or start a dozen short stories.
---What kind of robot army should I build?
---I do have a new story I want to start, one with zombies and everything. Except! Main Female Character's current name is Knives Maybe Ramses and a friend thinks that, as there is already a character named Knives in Scott Pilgrim, I should choose a different name. I argue that our culture is mad of rehashes and outright theft, and that there are no such things as new ideas. Also, I search for new names. Why is nothing else as awesome?
---What exactly happens in the Scarlet Letter? I got the adultery part. HOW CAN I READ A BOOK IF I OPEN IT UP AND FIND NOT A SINGLE PARAGRAPH BREAK ACROSS A TWO PAGE SPREAD? Why is the Scarlet Letter not Suite Scarlett or Scarlett Fever?
---How do I learn to speak French? I suspect the answer involves unicorns, but have had trouble finding any lately. Consequently, I can only say "The vampire snowman is eating Chinese food" and "Your mother is a werewolf who never loved you."
---Where can I find some unicorns? Or possibly just unicorn blood. Do I dare rely on creatures of such pure evil to pass French III?
---Why does Blogger despise my Livejournal account so? I have been unable to post comments for weeks and weeks! I am not issuing a malformed or bad request, Google!

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Leah said...

MJ, I have a rather disheartening Cheer problem.
You see, this year was my first Black Friday. I had been told that people are often kind to each other and strange women bond with one another in order to make holiday wishes come true.
Lies, lies I tell you! I was jostled and shoved so much that I have bruises! How is that the spirit of Cheer, I ask you? When I had to push past people I "excuse me" and "Sorry"-ed my way through the crowd. If others were scratching their heads in confusion, looking for the Hot Wheels Holiday Pack that was sold out, I told them I had just seen them at the previous store. I even held one woman's baby while she went in after a Hannah Montana doll! How is it that I am so full of Cheer and so many others are full of Grinchiness? Is it because I am young and naive?Am I just too good a person? Why is it that at the time of year we celebrate so much brother and sisterhood, so many of us act like the Grinch? Have you ever dealt with such a human?

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I just point out that this blog received more comments in ONE DAY than your last one got in two and a half weeks.

Lesson learned: MORE ADVICE BLOGS. They are grand.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Alicia said...

I am doing very well, thank you! I just finished NaNoWriMo and won. This was my first year attempting so I'm very proud of myself!

But anyways, I am very much in the christmas cheer. My mom set up her christmas village last night and I laughed. I'll never look at it the same since Let it Snow...

8:01 AM  
Blogger crazy_gabrielle said...

I finally just finished my NaNovel! I finished it at exactly 50K words, and those last four words actually made the sentence better and less confusing.

ANYWAY, I'm really happy because this is the first time I've won NaNo (I tried last year but failed miserably), and it's also the first time I've finished a "real," full-grown novel. (The only other one was a 40-text-editor-page book I wrote when I was ten.)

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Zach said...

I hope you do another one of these as the holidays come closer!

Lemurs for the win!!!

8:42 AM  
Blogger Khyrinthia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Khyrinthia said...

Goodness, my comments had a horrid amount of typos. -deletes those comments-

Now, I have two questions, one cheer related and one not:

Noncheer question: How is Alan Rickman going to play the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland if JK is still holding him hostage?

Cheer question: How do I stay cheery during Christmas break when I have to study my brains out for the whole break? I have finals the week I come back, and I'm assuming all the studying I'll have to do will turn me into an unnaturally angry pre-ghost-encounters Scrooge. How do I keep my mind and cheer intact?

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maureen I have a problem. I have lost my holiday spirit. It is gone. How can I get it back?


9:09 AM  
Blogger mina said...

Wait, so when's Scarlett Fever coming out? Will it be in time for Xmas? oR maybe new years? CUZ then I can put it on my list!

I have a question for you. What sort of wonderful CHEER traditions do you have in plan for the holidays?

9:33 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

What's going on with me? Not much, I just finished high school.

What is the best way to spread cheer in the workplace? You know, a place like Target

9:41 AM  
Anonymous christina cash said...

This is my last christmas at home from three years my husband is in the service so we are moving to Germany. How do you deal with being away from your family for so long? Especially on the holidays?

My Cheer is that I get to spend time with them now.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Maureen, I know I comment on every one of your blogs by saying the same thing, but it is always my first thoughts: YOU ARE SO FUNNY. Honestly, you should win some kind of special award for decreasing worldsuck by writing these types of posts. The best part is that it's never what I think it's going to be - when I got to the part about Color me Badd, I laughed so hard.

I actually am full of Cheer right now; my life is good. And when I hit exams in a few weeks (which of course are the brick wall in an open meadow of Cheer), I know I'm going to read this post over and over instead of studying.

QUESTION: The only thing that is preventing me from maximal Cheer right now is the disgusting perpetual rain. Where do you stand on the rain/snow debate? I am convinced that snow is much more pleasant and that once December hits, there should be only snow, no more rain. (I live in Canada, so this should be possible!) Thoughts? Do you prefer snow or rain? Any way that you can either increase my Cheer during the rainy season or invent some sort of dance I can do to encourage the snow?

10:05 AM  
Blogger Tiff said...

I just finished writing (not editing, mind you) a paper on how Proust's male characters gaze on his female characters, Freudian narcissism, desire, and how that relates to the reader gazing on the book. Yeah. That's what's going on with me. LACK. OF. CHEER. My question is--how do I now get CHEER-Y when the paper is due tomorrow, I have 30 essays to mark, and another paper to write?

I can't wait for Scarlett Fever--never mind Spencer, I want more Eric!

10:41 AM  
Blogger Gin said...

my christmas tree is kind of sad and miserable. it is tiny. it makes me hate college. i decorated it by myself. depressing. i need some dang good cheer.
also, you are absolutely hilarious

11:10 AM  
Anonymous hannah said...

Summer holidays are coming up and basically all I can think is YES! YES! YES! because it is the summer before Actual Studying has to take place.

But my friends live so far away. It's hard to get together because of travel but counting in parents being restrictive makes it so much harder. How do you deal with worried parents?

11:14 AM  
Blogger Elzabelle said...

I just searched the word "cheese" in your blog, because I was looking for that video you posted some time ago about the Gloucester cheese roll.
I don't think you would believe the number of times you use the word "cheese" in your blog. It is fairly astounding. = )

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Caroline said...

I got sunburnt yesterday! Yay for Christmas in New Zealand! I'm seriously thinking of doing the Starbucks thing now for some free frappucinos to cool off. My only Cheer related problem is my lack of a job and, being a poor student therefore, my negative amount of money. I think I will make everyone gingerbread men for Christmas in lieu of presents, possibly ones that look like Colour Me Badd. Thanks Maureen!

3:36 PM  
Blogger Plucky the Dragon said...

What are some good, unique gift ideas for those of us who have no money?

4:18 PM  
Blogger david elzey said...

how does this cheer thing work when dealing with dozens of out-of-town relatives (and exes!) dropping by for extended periods of time and eating all the food, everyone complaining about having to see each other when seeing each other was the point of their visit in the first place, and all the emotional eating that culminates with crash diets and resolutions to never do it all again... until next year?

no, seriously, how did cheer become all this non-cheer?

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Amha said...

Ooh, I want a signed copy of Let it Snow. And speaking of snow, it's snowing here in Norway now. Perfect way to start December.

And my cheer-related problem, I have no idea what to give to my friends for Christmas. Any ideas? Something that doesn't cost too much?

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Julia Rios said...

Ha'penny by Jo Walton and Suite Scarlett both feature a group of performers working on a production of Hamlet. If I were to give my mother the ultimate trilogy of books about people putting on productions of Hamlet (because nothing say Christmas like family and friends battling to the death!), what should the third book be? Is there perhaps a novel about Abba producing a musical Hamlet? With a soundtrack?

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Becky said...

Hi MJ,

This blog post made my day. Literally. I was a bit upset because the Queen visted my street the other day (she came for the college's 500th anniversary) and I didn't get to see her.

But thanks for cheering me up!

7:21 PM  
Blogger Steffi said...

I wish to meet a man with a murse. How do I go about attracting one?

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Nora said...

Thanks for the fun blog. Here is my question:
How do you write a dance scene without it seeming like it came straight out of Dirty Dancing?

7:52 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Care to translate any of these into Hanukkish? Somehow I don't think pelting Starbucks personnel with burning oil lamps really fits the bill--but then I might be wrong. (At the very least, it gives me a good reason to leave and never come back, though, right?)

8:05 PM  
Blogger appletrain said...

Can you cheer me up?

I can think of one way you can :D

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Lindsay K. said...

i have SO much work to do before the semester ends, it is really interferring with my cheer-output. i mean the cookie project has been put on the backburner and the card production has come to a standstill! okay, this is partly due to a lack of funds, but still! there is a definite lack of time.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Kaitlyn said...

Maureen how do you spreed the cheer when your sitting in an airport during a storm, There are two planes. Your plane is said to be delayed and the other on time. But in truth your plane is on time and theirs is delayed. How do you keep them from killing you?

9:32 PM  
Anonymous JK said...

I was very lacking in Holiday cheer today until I read this blog post. I have a Holiday cheer question. I live in a somewhat small dorm room and I was wondering how to decorate it for the most holiday cheer. I'm pretty sure I won't be able to fit a tree, considering most of my space is taken up by a desk, bed, and my overflowing bookcase.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Christina Hicks said...

Maureen, I'm a young adult librarian and this year one of the students I work with was me for Halloween. Not hard: wear glasses, have brown hair, wear a blue Friendswood Library lanyard and you're good.

My question is: if someone were to be you for Halloween, say next year, what would they wear?

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you suggest dealing with raging conservative parents who make you life a living hell during the holidays because you voted for a certain black president-elect?

Oh, and if you sign Let It Snow for me can you cross out John Green's name? He crossed out yours.

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Julia said...

i thank you for your answer to my question.
i now feel so completely awesome, there are no words for it.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I can not wait for Scarlett Fever, sounds funny, most of your books are.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I would really love a signed copy of let it snow. Also, this post was even more hilarious than usual and I am definitely terrorizing my local starbucks.

12:51 AM  
Blogger Reese said...

I have been catching up on a weeks worth of homework. If anyone could use Let it Snow it is me.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous blissfullydazed said...

Man, I am in love with that Renaissance Target guy. Seriously.

Hey. That jumble-word-human-verificator-thing below under the box says "thumbra". Just thought you'd like to know. It can be your mantra for life. As in, whenever you're feeling down, whenever the angsty teenage Starbuck's worker screws up your order, whenever the fanatical JK has taken your last perfect jar of jam, you can simply shout, "Thumbra!" and all will be well.

Great post. ;)


1:20 AM  
Anonymous Bridget said...

This blog made my day! I'm in the middle of taking finals. How do you suggest keeping the cheer levels up during this horrific, brain-frying time?

2:08 AM  
Anonymous Triskaideka said...

all the tickets are sold out for a concert i want to go to how do i get in without getting kicked out by House Of Blues Security?

2:23 AM  
Anonymous Camilla said...

What is the best way to spread cheer when one has no money to spend on typical cheer-spreading gifts for family and friends?

2:24 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Jingle Bells, Slide Whistle Edition? Someone give that guy a record deal. Or maybe just an eggnog latte.

2:43 AM  
Blogger WhitneySue said...

I am the only person with any holiday cheer in my family, and believe me I have A LOT of it! I just love all things christmas; the gift wrapping (though im horrible) the decorating, the music, the pictures even! its just all so great, but i digress... I guess that my holiday cheer related problem, being the only cheerful person this time of year, would be just how to deal with those annoyingly cheerless people?

or even better how to spread the cheer!

2:53 AM  
Anonymous Emily Rose said...

Your blog just made a bad day better:)

3:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always get really lonely around the holidays. I feel like everyone around me is having a great time and enjoying the cheer around them, but I haven't been able to enjoy the holidays since something happened to me around Christmas a few years ago. What do you suggest that I do to get the holiday cheer back? Can I have a hug?

3:10 AM  
Blogger Jez said...

+ How do I go about finding great deals for Christmas presents...but stop buying everything for myself?

+ What's the best way to induce cheer after almost sliding off the road six times on the way home from school? (this happened today)

3:31 AM  
Blogger Keila said...

HEY MJ!!! I love that you are soo funny and I that your advice is so wonderfully brilliant. So as you can probably tell I'm about to ask you for some advice. I am in dire need of a laptop and I asked my mom for one for Christmas but my dad is opposed. He thinks that I will connect myself to the computer and never emerge from my room again. Which is completely ridiculous. So how do you recommend I go about convincing him?

4:10 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Ms. Maureen. The one cheer-related problem that I need solving is that when I left work on Saturday afternoon our bookstore only had one copy left of Let It Snow. ONE. If there isn't one for me to handsell tomorrow when I return to the fold, there will be a sad lack of cheer at BookPeople. It is especially tragic since Stephenie Meyer's books seem to all be between printings, and I need an adequate substitute to put in the hands of disgruntled grown-ups who live in fear of buying non-peer-approved YA titles. Help me, Solver of Cheer-Related Issues!

Also, I have this cat who always sits on my books while I'm trying to read them. Very annoying.

5:15 AM  
Anonymous BookClubDallasErin said...

Have you ever watched Zaboomafu? Any person who likes (or even tolerates) lemurs should.

5:24 AM  
Blogger Silverspurs.summerwine said...

Hi Maureen!
I was wondering, how do you manage to give such AWESOME advice?
Is it a skill you acquired or something you were just born with?

I'd lovee a book, please!

5:53 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!!" Thanks for helping me to get into the season. You are too funny.

6:05 AM  
Anonymous shaylaluna said...

Lots of Comments!
I would totally love a copy of Let it Snow. I think that Lauren Myracle should cross both your names out and sign EXTRA BIG!!!!! With lots of exclamation points. Hmmmm, my cheer came to me in the form of my best friend's brother insane ideas when it comes to holidays. They had a tree before Thanksgiving! This was only becuase of a conversation they had that went like this...

BF's brother: I want a christmas tree!

Parents: not right now.

BF's brother: NOW!

Parents: not right now

BF's brother: NOW NOW NOW

Parents: NO


this went on for a while.

I definetly need some holiday cheer! I wont be getting a tree, I've never gotten a tree(I'm jewish).


What should someone do to spread cheer if they're not getting a tree, for above reasons, and are lacking in cheer themselves?



6:20 AM  
Anonymous halle said...

So every year my friends and I exchange gifts, but lately I don't feel right about receiving gifts as I basically don't need any of them. So, what I'm going to do is donate the gifts to children who actually need them. I'm also going to ask my friends to do it too.

7:40 AM  
Anonymous halle said...

That's what is going to make me cheerful this year :)

7:47 AM  
Blogger riane said...

I'm afraid of Santa, and his elves. Reindeer also terrify me. They always have. What should I do?

8:10 AM  
Blogger Ayla said...

I thought I left a comment but it disapeared. . . Strange. . .

I am sad. I started reading your blog right after you stopped giving things away for the summer. I was sad because getting a book from the author is just about the coolest thing ever.
So now you are giving out a signed copy of Let It Snow. I have always wanted to get a book signed but I live in a small town and my mom wont take me to the city just because an author is there. It is tragic.
So if I were to be that random commenter I would be very happy. I would donate my copy of Let It Snow that I just bought to some needy child. To spread the joy and CHEER.
I loved Let It Snow, by the way. I got it right after Thanksgiving so it was just in time to get me in the Christmas Cheer mindset.

8:20 AM  
Anonymous SarahE said...

You have very excellent advice, Maureen, except concerning how to handle crazy shopping evils. I, for one, do not wish to spend this Chrismtas season in the hospital.

Your mention of lemurs reminds me of last year's biology project. We had to do a big giant report on an animal that we observed in the zoo and then make a grant to study it in the wild. And my animal was...ring-tailed lemurs!!! So, I've just realized that I have thousands of pictures of lemurs, right on my very own camera! I can torment whomever I wish with endless lemur pictures! This doth fill me with Cheer. (Cheer, I think it should be noted, must always be capitalized: Cheer).

That Starbucks idea...pure genius. I'm doing it at the three Starbucks nearest my house so that I can have free eggnog lattes at breakfast, lunch, and for an afternoon snack. I'm doing this everyday until Christmas!

Questions for Cheery-ness:
So, I have to spend holidays with my stepmother's family. Now, I like my stepmother, but I loathe, Loathe, LOATHE and despise her imbecile family. Usually, my sister and I, when subjected to this, go and hide in the basement and play Rollercoaster Tycoon 2.

Did you know that on Rollercoaster Tycoon you can actually manipulate the people in the park? At the exit, if you stop them from leaving with a no entry sign, they get very depressed and drag themselves around, heads hanging forlornly. You can also drown them. One time, when I logged onto the game, I realized that my sister had drowned 20 people in a row. It wasn't very Cheery. She also made one of the rides crash, killing eight more souls. It was truly terrible.

Anyway, while I am sure there are worse things we could be doing with our time (like, you know, really drowning people), we wonder if you have any suggestions for activities with a hint more Cheer-tasticness. Perhaps you also know the name of a good counselor for my sister?

8:26 AM  
Anonymous SarahE said...

Oh, and I forgot to ask:
Since you say you are accepting apprentices of awesomeness...Can I be one? If yes, how do I go about beginning my apprenticeship?

8:30 AM  
Blogger AzulEyesSkier said...

I am random commenting! I want to read Let it Snow so bad but I have to wait until I get back to the states to purchase it in late December (Just in time for Christmas!). And I have a cheer problem! I am attempting to enjoy my time studying abroad for a semester and I only have three weeks left and I have a roommate/supposed friend who takes my things without asking! Just takes them and uses them and when I ask for MY things back, doesnt give them. Says she needs them for her own comfort. Makes it very difficult to be cheery. That's why I need a cheery book full of holidy goodness! Or I could just make my own and stand below her bedroom (its a loft) and sing jingle bells until she gives me my stuff back!

1:48 PM  
Blogger NightDrive said...

Im a mostly cute Doctor Who and House fan....^_____^

Oh boy am I tired. Its 3 am and I worked all day. Why am I up???

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Suvi said...

I have a problem.

My mom keeps on buying these orange flavored gingerbreads. I'm pretty sure she only buys them to bring cheer into our home by looking delicious on the table. But the problem is, they don't only look delicious, they are delicious. They are the best gingerbreads I have ever tasted. The way the orange blends with the spices... Perfection. So, Maureen: How can I stop eating them?

5:20 PM  
Blogger RoboFillet said...

Yes I have a cheer-related problem. It is quite onerous actually. My problem is that the local council has refused to put up Christmas decorations on the street lights this year so they can "save money in these difficult times".

How can I convince them that cheer is actually priceless and they should start strapping Santas to the lamps immediately?

5:24 PM  
Blogger Samantha said...

I am convinced the month of December is trying to kill me, what with all the papers I have and exams to study for. Sadly, this leaves me with very little time for cheer when I'm not procrastinating dreadfully.
How do I survive?

7:14 PM  
Blogger ellie_enchanted said...

Hey MJ!

I'm in need of cheer of the Hannukah type. It's in about three weeks, but until then, my teachers just LOVE to pile on the work.

One of the projects I have to do is interesting, so that's good.

Oh well, happy holidays and lots of CHEER to everyone!

8:49 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

This was absolutely amazing and certainly cheered me up for the holidays. When I read the free Starbucks question, I thought of the obnoxiously rude Target customer who would probably be great at getting free coffee but for the wrong reasons.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I have a cheer-related problem! My mom refuses to let me listen to Christmas music at home. What do I do?

9:33 PM  
Anonymous CortneyJ143 said...

Oh MJ, your post literally just made my day. I kept laughing out loud, which was slightly awkward because I am sitting in the patio of my school. And where is my school you ask? While, I am currently studying abroad in lovely Sevilla Spain. And since it apparently it never snows here and I am going to be here for Christmas, I shall need a little extra holiday cheer...perhaps in the form of a signed copy of Let it Snow, which I am DYING to read!

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Hillary! said...

I would just like everyone to know that it's not the cashier's fault when prices are mislabled and if you are not finding that really awesome thing that was on sale for a really good price don't take your anger out on any of the people working in the store, it's while supplies last, so really, it's your fault for not being fast enough, not mine...My thanksgiving was delicious! We had Cajun turkey, it was spicey!

10:37 PM  
Anonymous SuperMelon said...

Maureen, I want to be your apprentice of awesome.

'Nuff said.

Can I have a copy of Let It Snow? I'll love you forever. =D

12:39 AM  
Blogger Callidora said...

I was bowling with my family after Thanksgiving and suddenly Dancing Queen began to play. I started jumping up and down and thought of you as I sang along. I don't understand why people were staring at me. Probably because I'm an amazing singer :)

1:27 AM  
Blogger lightforms said...

Two words: SingSong ABBA

Will there be video proof of the cheer emanating from behind the mic? Maybe this needs to be put beside BlogTV on various book tours.

3:27 AM  
Anonymous melanie said...

tomorrow my fellow high school band geeks will walk into the band room to find it wallpapered with pictures of lemurs! muahahahaha!

5:36 AM  
Blogger Halah said...

so this cracked me up. i would totally try the target or starbucks ideas. ill have to come up with one of my own and let you know how it goes. hahaha

6:17 AM  
Blogger Al said...

The How To Get Free Starbucks answer was brilliant. Totally had me cracking up.
I went to Starbucks the other day and it definitely put me in the "holiday is upon us" mood.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Kira902k said...

oh my. you made me wake up my dog, i was laughing so hard.

my way of spreading cheer is by going up to people, getting right in their faces and saying "HI!!!!"
and if they don't reply i say "MERRY HOLIDAYS"
most of the time, at this point, they start getting nervous uncomfortable looks on their faces. this is the time when i say "GOD, YOUR SO RUDE, I'M JUST TRYING TO BE NICE, AND YOU JUST IGNORE ME?!" and stomp off.

(if only i was brave enough to ACTUALLY do that)

so yeah.
signed copy of Let it Snow, eh? hmm..
wonder who'll get that! (ME ME ME ME ME)

6:56 AM  
Anonymous Summer said...

is there a word for someone who constantly thinks they see UFOs? or the guy in the Number 23? is there a word for people who think they see things in everything? I keep thinking there's a word for it but nobody knows. help me!!

8:15 AM  
Blogger Jenn H. said...

Thank you. I needed this post this morning. ou always cheer me up!

Cheer-related problem: My keyboard has developed a small 'problem.' If you try to use the 'Shift' key with certain other buttons, it doesn't work. How did this happen ngry punching by frustrated spouse trying to figure out how to upload pix on his own. So, now I have to find new and creative ways to type some upper case letters and puncuation. t least until I buy a new keyboard :(

a signed copy of ' et it Snow' would definitely help!

7:08 PM  
Blogger Hollishillis said...

Maureen! I'm poor! Very poor! So poor it's painful (okay it's not that bad but still). Do you have any suggestions for cheap gifts to buy or make for friends and family?

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mamma mia ! i am finally facing my waterloo ; lights are blinding me! i suppose that the winner will take it all, but i am wondering how i will carry on when its gone! i need some money, money, money to buy my xmas gifts! fernando, does your mother know that you're out? voulez vous, chiquitita! for christmas i want someone to take a chance on me, someone who is one of us. my closing words - Thank you for the music !!!!
*hope you like my little abba tribute... <3

11:57 PM  
Anonymous tess said...

mj...where has JK Rowling been lately? Any news on the Alan Rickman situation? Do you think she's gone for good? Or is this merely the calm before the storm?

4:23 AM  
Blogger Miss Hannah said...

What is going on with me:
I FINALLY got Twilight from my local library (I have been on a very long waiting list) and picked up Suite Scarlett while I was there too. I also got my name on the list to be the first person to get Paper Towns when it finally comes in (the library database assured me it was "COMING SOON!"). I'm so Cheer-filled I could pee.

Cheer-related problem:
Due to my pay schedule, I have to order many of my Christmas gifts from Amazon on December 15th. The website claims that as long as I order by the 17th, I am guaranteed to get the items by Christmas Eve. However, I am a pessimist. If the gifts do not arrive on time, how do I avoid a Bergermeister Christmas fiasco and ensure Cheer for all? What kind of last-minute, Christmas Eve, Cheer-filled gifts can I whip up on a shoestring budget in a very small town with no mall?

6:02 AM  
Anonymous HebrewRose said...

I have a serious Cheer problem, Maureen. My whole school is Christian and I am not and I am having serious Santa jealousy! What's a Jewgirl to do?

What's going on: Um, nothing. THIS IS MY LIFE.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Slade said...

How I am right now is an interesting question, actually. I just broke up with my boyfriend, as it were,* because we both looked at each other last night and realized we just don't love each other anymore. It's very amicable and bemused, and now we're each figuring out what we'll do next, since the larger drama than this is in fact our respective (and remarkably parallel) quests for abiding non-dual awareness, or enlightenment. In my case, I'm pretty sure my path leads shortly to a cheap apartment on the Jamaican coast with a beautiful view of the beachside cliffs just across the street. So that's how I am: my Christmas Cheer is involved in filleting my personality and basking in the blinking glow of palm trees done up in strings of lights.

And I fucking loved Let It Snow. It helped me address my own self-absorption, and having now lived off of Waffle House for breakfast for over a week, I have discovered a new appreciation for the setting. My mother has, every year since we were born, bought my brother and I cheesy Hallmark ornaments; if these ornaments were little buildings, we'd have a small city by now, and I'd have to call it Flobie.

I hope everything is going well with you. The universe is truly a glorious place to live.

*Details have been heavily glossed over because lots of minors read this blog.

7:40 AM  
Anonymous thelogophile said...

I read part of Let It Snow in class for a speech project where we had to read aloud!

It was superfun.

Loved the post.

1:20 AM  
Blogger *Heather* said...

Hmm...What's going on with me....?

I have a christmas chorus concert tomorrow. And we're eating Italian food before. So I'll have garlic breath and be blowing it onto the back of someone's head. Also I'm going to Disney World next weekend to sing in a giant concert at Epcot. Two concerts, actually. And we have to wear heavy robes and hold electric candles. It's hot and last for about an hour. What's the best way to keep from passing out singing Christmas music?

2:58 AM  
Blogger Renee said...

Ok. So. Did you hear that Paterson Joseph is the odds on favorite to be the 11th Doctor. This? Is awesometacular news. Why? Because Paterson Joseph played the Marquis de Carabas in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. And the Marquis can kick anyone's arse (well, not counting Croup and Vandemar but as they're no longer around... we won't count them.) And the Doctor should, most definitely, be able to kick anyone's arse.

Ok, advice needed oh Advice Queen:

My honey has asked me to marry him. I have said yes. Because of being mostly poor we postponed getting a ring. This was two years ago. We are supposed to be getting married on Halloween (which will be AWESOMETACULAR! Want an invitation?) I still have no bling bling on my ring ring finger. I know, right? I love him dearly but he spends money on buying me tickets to see my favorite band (Counting Crows and OMG they were awesome) and it's cool, I love it, but I'd really like to have some sparklies on my finger so that when I get hit on (*guffaw*) I can go "Naw dude. I'm taken."

So, should I bop him on the head with a wet sponge? Should I inundate him with photos of the pretty sparklie that I've fallen in love with? Should I sing ABBA at the top of my lungs for days on end? I'm just not sure what to do.

So I have come to you Advice Maven! Please, tell me what you suggest.

3:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Must have scarlett fever need more spencer:)I have a question: what school name do you like better Wilson or Milikan (yes I relize you have no idea what these are i just need to know which you think sounds cooler)

also is it possible to pass algabra

5:30 AM  
Blogger Bryan B. said...

First: I am a closet Color Me Badd fan. No, really. It's kinda sad.

Second: I once rode on a roller coaster behind the two white dudes from Color Me Badd. No, really. It was kinda cool.

Third: My mom once took me to a Guns N Roses concert, not knowing who they were, all that. After the concert, I wasn't allowed to listen to them anymore. So, she brings home a Color Me Badd cd and says, "Listen to this, you'll like that "I wanna set you up" song." No, really. It was kinda ironic.

Fourth: Color Me Badd is good. But, Snow - you know, the Informer - he's just all kinds of stuff Color Me Badd wishes they could've been....okay, not really - I just wanted to drop a Snow reference.

So, yeah.

9:15 AM  
Blogger potientially_ said...

I would love to here your opinion about creating cheer while living in a university dorm room! In easy to understand step-by-step instructions of course... freshmen's heads tend to become mush around this time of year ;)

9:06 PM  
Blogger Hillary said...

I love the lemurade thing. lol!

7:28 AM  
Anonymous Kait said...

I need to try that. I want free coffee! Also, I don't understand the appeal of eggnog. I tried it a couple of days ago, and I spit it out in the sink. It was that bad. Though I should probably mention that it was soymilk eggnog. That might have been half the problem.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Dasha said...

The fact that there is very little snow in England is depressing. :(

We haven't had proper snow... for a long time. Not since before I can remember, anyway. We have like, less than an inch, from time to time (ie. once or twice a year), but rarely more.

Siigh... Might go to the States for Christmas, then xD
snow + christmas = cheer <3

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that is an intense looking lemur!

I'm really not sure if I've commented on here before, so if I haven't -- hi! I really enjoy your books, and I also enjoy random blogging... Almost as much as I enjoy Christmas and chocolate covered licorice (have you had this? it's a little bit of awesome)

-- Ashley

5:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I`ve noticed that you are not a very big fan of jellyfish, som my random comment will be about a VERY traumatizing jellyfish experience I had this summer....

I was in Israel and we were on this beach. and my friends and I were like swimming, and then we were all stung by jellyfish.

These were no ordinary jellyfish, they were EVIL! They attached themselves to some people`s legs, or went inside their swim trunks, and they WOULD NOT LET GO!!!! People had to pull them of (given that I have always had a healty dose of jellyfish fear, I didn`t swim after getting stung just a bit)

After pulling the jellyfish of people`s skin was all swollen. On one boy it was blue!!!! really swollen, like a big LUMP, and BLUE!!!! (he had to be hospitalized.)

I actually do not have a cheer problem,I am full of cheer, but I really wanted to share my little experience....also, I don`t live in an english speaking country, so I would LOVE to win your book so I could actually read it (hint hint)...

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Olivia said...

Here's my cheer problem: my extended family is insane, and several should probably be in an institution. They yell at each other loudly in french and english (bilingualism at work, government of Canada!) and tend to get into fights. The Issue: They're coming to visit me this Christmas. For FIVE days. How do I stay sane so I don't have to lock myself in my room with boxes of sugar cookies for sustenance like I did last year????

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Nuwon Wearspants said...

Reading your blog made me laugh and cheered me up. What do you do when you have problems getting gifts for people?

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Nuwon Wearspants said...

I have a best friend, and my best friend has a problem that I'm all out of advice for. What advice do you have for someone recovering from a several month old break-up who no longer loves their ex (because they treated her badly, she realized) but still gets occasionally sad about it? I've tried giving her advice, but to no avail. Her ex is also dating again, and she would, but no one is appealing. I don't know what to tell her to help her not be sad (even though she's only sad sometimes), and I don't want her to be sad at a time when romance is an emphasized aspect of the holidays.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Louise said...

Your blog brings so much cheer into my life! My day is currently full of cheer, as we have just had our first real snow (about an inch, but enough to make the world all white and lovely) and we went today to cut down our own Christmas tree, which we are now decorating while listening to holiday songs.

I have a cheer-related question: I believe, perhaps naively, in the romance of the holiday season. Part of the magic of cheer, it seems, is that people start to sort themselves out into couples, suddenly gaining the courage to declare their feelings for one another, start clever conversations, or kiss. While everyone around me seems to be undergoing this cheer-filled phenomenon, for me this particular aspect of cheer is sadly lacking. Is there any way, other than carrying mistletoe with me everywhere, to ensure a special cheer-related kiss by New Year's? You have such wonderful advice, I'm sure you can help me come up with some sort of scheme...

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Karen/Alleykat said...

I love how you talk about the evils of bitchy customers, and then go on to encourage people to traumatize the assistant managers at Starbucks. :D

And that jingle bells song was the funniest thing I've seen in months. :D

Looking forward to more Cheer soon! <3

2:27 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

Any advice for dealing with finals?

4:20 AM  
Blogger L. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:37 AM  
Blogger L. said...

*waves hand wildly*
I have a cheer-related question!

For Christmas, I am making little no-bake treats for my friends and acquaintances. Problem is, I have no freaking clue where to draw the line between people who should have a little present and can go without. Do you have any advice on this, Great Cheerful MJ?

3:39 AM  
Blogger Molly O said...

question: how does one evade the hordes of screaming Twilight fans who have hijacked what should be a season full of various YA-related holiday cheer? I can't talk about a book nowadays without someone going "But you know what's an even better book? TWILIGHT!!!" And I am not actually a huge fan. I want to help these people get beyond their obsession with this one silly series - because there are so many more awesome books out there! And I'm tired of hearing about OMG EDWARD CULLEN! How to make them calm down?

3:53 AM  
Blogger Odette said...

I have several questions.

You answered how to deal with people at work but See my problem is slightly different. I am 15. I volunteer at the Science Museum of Virginia, specifically I am the IMAX Dome and Planetarium Usher. People do not believe me because of my age. How does one make these people realize that I DO know what I am talking about and NO I cannot let anyone into the planetarium after it has started (Safety reasons)?

How does one avoid their annoying older sister, that one cannot stand because one's sister makes everyone around them change, when she comes home from college for winter break?

Who is Blaise Zabini? What does he want? Where did he come from? Will he be an Uncle or an Aunt?

11:54 PM  
Blogger Dasha said...

It's actually been a fairly sucky month or so. I'm hoping that it improves leading up to Christmas; I want my holidays full of cheer, damn it, not suck!

Essentially I discovered that two of my 'closest friends' hate me and another of my best friends >.> Which sucks. Also, I got super-stressed and started losing sleep because of school and the friend thing and NaNoWriMo (which I did win in the end!)

My question is, what does someone do in a situation like that?

Let It Snow would sure cheer me up though, Maureen ;D

4:22 AM  
Blogger Dasha said...

Sorry for the double post, but I just remembered -

Are you going to the UK again anytime soon? I only just found out about you recently, after you'd left. Also, the bookstores nearby don't sell your books, and the library doesn't have any either.

4:24 AM  
Anonymous Mal said...

Maureen, o oracle of cheer-related wisdom....

How do I find holiday love?

and what should I do to get into a really festive christmassy mood?

and my three cousins (two of which are my age), aunt and uncle are spending christmas with us, AND I HARDLY KNOW THEM! what do I do to avoid a lot of awkawardness?

Hope you have a nice holiday, by the way!

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must try the Starbucks trick.

Maureen you are so funny! Thank Libba for introducing me to your blog. And I'd like to read Let It Snow... hoping for some Borders cards for Christmas!

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Marylou said...

thanks for the cheer. question: how can one use to holiday spirit to enhance, rather than detract from, December birthday cheer? I hate to see people forgotten in the busy craziness of the season...

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anna C. said...

Hey MJ!
Not much is going on with me. I'm really excited for Christmas, it's my favorite holiday. The family gathering, the pretty lights, the awesome music, the snow... love love love it! =D What's your favorite Christmas song and why?
I loved Let It Snow SO much! Especially how all three stories connected. I didn't think they would, but they wrapped up quite nicely. Any plans for another like it? Perhaps about summer vacation?

10:35 AM  
Anonymous RainbowTapir said...

I'm sick :( Not very cheertastic.

My question is, what do you do when you're sick? Lounge around in bed all day? Watch telly? Write some more of Scarlett Fever? (hint... I think everyone here would prefer the latter)

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Marie C. said...

I just found what may be the most cheerful item ever invented: http://www.inflatablefruitcake.com/

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anna P. said...

I am having a hard time getting cheer this year. Three of my family members died in the past 4 days. It's a lot to take in and it doesn't feel at all like December to me.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I've spent the past two days reading your blog, and although I haven't read your books, I definitely plan to drop by a library or bookstore and check them out. You are fantastically cool, and extremely hilarious.

And, since you asked--

My winter break has just started, and since I am a high school senior, that means that there is very little CHEER and quite a lot of COLLEGE. (Everyone lied when they said senior year was fun; I have done nothing but study and write essays and have demoted sleep to the tenth most important thing on my list.) I've just turned 17 and my parents are planning to give me something special for Christmas, instead of two separate gifts, because of the economic crisis, but I really don't care too much at all because it was nice just to have them in one place with me. (They are divorced and we are all extremely busy; I live with my mom but such is my life that I haven't emerged from my room to do anything but shower and get into the car to go to school in three days.) Despite college apps I am super excited that I'll be able to sleep in a bit and plan to celebrate by spending 10 hours a day in an art studio and working on my novel for a scholarship competition. (This is probably the wrong reason to write a novel for, or at least one of the worser ones, but the only effect it's really having is making me aware that I really need to finish it.)

I have a question, though! I am celebrating Christmas more or less on my own (my parents have to work through the holiday), and there is nothing quite as CHEERless as an empty house and a dinner you need to eat on your own, and the cold lights of a Christmas tree. Is there anyway to make things seem more CHEER and less BOO?

6:56 AM  
Blogger Amelia said...

on election day, starbucks handed out free coffee, but it was gross and watery. at first, you had to vote to get coffee, but apparentally that counted as paying people to vote, so then it was free. but i believe that out of spite, they used spilled coffee grounds off of the floor.
what was this comment about again? OH RIGHT! i would absolutely positively LOVE a signed let it snow! i got it from the library and it was so good!!
you are amazing at cheer-spreading maureen, especially with your blog posts. thanks for making me laugh everyday! =]

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Dani said...

I love customers who always think they're right and have bad math skills. The two of those go together wonderfully!

9:04 PM  
Blogger JessieGirl said...

it is almost christmas and we've heard nary a holiday word from you. have you lost your cheer?

11:30 PM  
Blogger LibraryHermit said...

I have a CHEER related problem. Finals are sucking all of my CHEER away. How can I get it back?

6:11 AM  
Blogger barbara said...

What do you do when you are an hour and a half away from yuor parents home and it snowing there, but not were you are and you have no form of transportation to get you there?

My Cheer problem is that I am sick! I can't breath out my nose.

I want a sign copy of let it snow please!

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Devyn said...

I am cleaning my room, working on my new March deadline and being sick. Clearly if you are sick you can use more CHEER in your life.


12:46 AM  
Blogger NoOtherRoad said...

You want to know my plans for this holiday season, now?
~Get somwhere with my novel.
~Find all the pictures of lemurs I can on the internet....and turture my faimly with TOO MANY LEMURS!!!
~Go to every single store in the tri-state area and help the workers who have bitchy customers.
~Get free coffees from Starbucks. (Though I don't think my mom will approve of this one...)
~And of course, finish Suite Scarlett!

You see the things you inspire me to do? I don't know if this is really a good thing.

6:19 AM  
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