Flash Fiction #214

Swag

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

SWAG

Brucie had a very rewarding Christmas. He was old enough to know that there was no Santa, but smart enough not to say so.

“Santa” had finally brought him a basic cell phone. He’d got socks and underwear (Thanx, Mom) books, video games, dark chocolate and Scottish sweets. He’d watched A Christmas Story and asked for a BB gun, but Mom said that Ralphie’s mother was right – maybe later. “Later…. right.” Adults speak a different language.

Mom had warned him not to just throw his wrapping paper everywhere, so he’d carefully placed it all in a neat pile beside him.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story

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Flash Fiction #147

Humbug

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg

HOW THE GRINCH SOLD CHRISTMAS

Christians own the entire Christmas season!

That’s what he told me when I mentioned Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Yule, Solstice, Boxing Day, New Years, and even Japanese Bonenkai.

There was no Biblical “Love Thy Neighbor.” He’d have none of that inclusive ‘Happy Holidays’ crap.  It was ‘Merry Christmas’ only, or return the Inquisition.

How dare those heathens celebrate when he wanted to celebrate, even if Christ was really born in April?  He even bad-mouthed the Orthodox. Christmas was the 25th – but he wanted the whole month.

I looked around the ‘Good Christian’s’ shop. Bah!  Humbug!  Merry Merchandising, and a Happy Capitalism.

***

My apologies for a non-original, variation on a theme. The first, and hopefully only, Op-Ed letter from someone much like the sadly non-fictional shopkeeper above, was just published.  It seems the more insecure the Christian Fundamentalist is about his beliefs, the less he wants to admit that other religions or even variations of opinion have the right to exist.  He would be appalled to be compared to the likes of ISIS, or al-Qaeda.

A happy and joyous season to all of you, and I hope that none of us meets one of these Grinch’s trainers. 😀

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Flash Fiction #143

Party

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Ann Hall

WASN’T THAT A PARTY?

It had been a most successful and enjoyable Christmas party….at least he thought it had been. Certain portions of the evening were a complete blank, like, everything after the last guest arrived.  There had been 26 partiers – and there were 27 empty wine bottles.  And where was his brandy??

It looked like a parade outside last night. Someone at the taxi company probably got a bonus.  At least everyone got home safely.

His younger brother had threatened promised a New Year’s Eve party.  Now that marijuana was legal, what would the morning after the night before, look like?  Bong, bong!

***

Remember kids, party hearty, but party (and drive) safely, so that we can all meet back here in the New Year.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

To Post, Or Not To Post

To post or not to post….

It’s New Year’s Eve….
We have friends coming over….
I have food to help prepare….
I’m fighting a nasty head cold….
I have nothing in the bank, ready to publish….

What shall I do??! What shall I do?

procrastinate-no

Thank you to all who have stopped by to read my posts this past year (and all years before).  I hope you’ve had a Merry Christmas, and that you have a Happy and Prosperous New Year.  Drop in again on Monday, and I’ll try to be sober and inspired enough to have something for you.   😀

Horrible Example

Priest

I recently came upon a totally-expected Christmas-time rant from a ‘good Catholic’. It opened with the question, “after all, aren’t these Holidays solely and specifically about the birth of Jesus Christ?”

I commented: “In a word, NO! While it might be the most important for you – the Muslims celebrate Ramadan, the Jews have Chanukah, the Wiccans observe Solstice, the blacks celebrate Kwanzaa, Pagans have Yule, Hindus observe Diwali, Japanese have Bonen Kai….. and many more, all at the end of the year. Do as Christ would, and include them all, not with a bragging, exclusionary Merry Christmas, but with a ‘Happy Holidays’ to one and all.”

I got back: “This is exactly what I mean… There has never been a time anywhere except in the last 10 years where people like you, have imbibed this political correctness crap and pretend that this season is anything but Christmas in countries which have a strong Christian heritage. So get back to work and Merry Christmas.

He was railing about the use of the inclusive ‘Happy Holidays’, instead of his exclusionary favorite, ‘Merry Christmas.’ He seemed most piqued about Muslims, and their growing acceptance in the USA.  (but not Islamic religious terms of course, those are acceptable). Well, we will have none of that in our household!

Ignoring the fact that I had just shown him that dozens of cultures and religions have some sort of year-end celebration, he was convinced that none but the anointed Christians should partake. “you should tell them that they should stop benefitting from this holiday and be made to go to work instead. Perhaps if they are to be totally honest with themselves, they should also shun the revelry that goes with it, but out of the Christmas spirit, do so after, perhaps during lent when you’re fasting.”

A subsequent reply to my comment from another of his narrow-minded regulars asked, “How is it exclusionary?  I say Merry Christmas to my Jewish landlady, and she doesn’t mind.”

You may think that yours is the Rolls-Royce of religions, but you don’t include anyone by insisting that they share a ride in it to YOUR CHURCH.  Exclusion is not allowing me to drive my crappy Chevy to my religious services – or to none at all.

I know there are worse examples of religious intolerance, but I don’t know how to access ISIS or Boko Haram’s websites. I think that there are many, I hope a majority of, Christians and Catholics who are more loving and acceptant than this.

His snotty reply incited me to publish yet another example of narrow-minded entitlement. He must have smelled me coming.  When I tried to access his site to copy quotes, I found that he had deleted my comment and his reply, and turned off all comments – but we know that NOTHING is ever really erased from the internet, don’t we?

If you’d like a look at the original, click here https://astrugglingdad.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/merry-christmas-there-i-said-it/comment-page-1/#comment-883 .  Take backup, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you, whichever Holiday you wish to celebrate. Bah, Humbug to Bob Cratchit Catholic, and all his head-in-the-sand, Trump-supporting buddies.

People Of Privilege

Bible

Much has been made in the media recently about “White Privilege.”  On the average, white people receive and achieve things better than people of other colors, generally the darker the hue, the greater the exclusion.  This ‘Angel Aura’ thing extends from jobs, wages and promotion, to housing, education, banking/financing, and general treatment by those in power (AKA lighter skin), particularly police.

White men came to this continent, and made it in their image.  They marginalized the Indians and other natives, and imported black slaves.  There were some who did disreputable things for financial and social gain, and there were some who performed unspeakable acts to justify eliminating anyone who ‘wasn’t them.’  Mostly, they did it from the perhaps-mistaken, but honestly-held belief that they and their way of life were superior.

So too, did the Christians come here and mold society so that they would reap the benefits, and all others would be ignored and excluded.  Some questions and comments on my recent Religism post, as well as some predictable “Christmas” articles, show that many Christians just don’t get it – or believe it.

Religism is real.  It’s the hatred of a particular faith or set of beliefs.  Some ‘Good Christians’ hate Jews. Many Muslims hate Jews, and also Christians.  Catholics hate Protestants.  Ego and insecurity drives it, and the hatred is often for the wrong reason, or for no reason at all.

The blind, unquestioning faith in the pre-eminence of Christianity often has its proponents mistakenly claiming Religism, when other groups’ rituals are included in secular life.  A woman writer recently spoke of knowing about Chanukah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Wiccan Solstice and the like – but wondered why they would want to celebrate at the same time as Christians, and exclude Jesus.

Because of her (and many others’) assumption of the universality of Christianity, it just never occurs to her that the members of these other religions all have their own year-end celebrations, which they would still practice if Christ had never existed.  A few of them have done so for thousands of years before Christianity came along.

There are the Christian haters who are the equivalent of the bigots who gave blankets infected with smallpox to the Indians, because they regarded them as sub-human.  Most of these folks however, are just the ones who have been subjected to the constant, low-level religious conditioning.  The Catholic Church calls it responsive reading, and catechism.  The Government does the same thing and labels it ‘brainwashing.’

Protecting one’s religious rituals can be a good thing – until you try to force them on others.  Inclusion of what is important to others is not exclusion of any portion of Christianity.  Falsely claiming Religism to justify a Christian-only secular public, makes Christians guilty of the same exclusionary tactics that they accuse others of.

A usually level-headed male newspaper writer pumped out a column labeled ‘Stop Diluting Christmas Traditions.’  It might better have been titled, ‘I ain’t gonna share!  You can’t make me.  I’m gonna take my ball and go home.’  A previously Catholic hospital had gone public.  Now funded by taxes from ALL citizens, it provided care for people of ALL faiths, and none.  They decided not to put up the usual nativity display.  Well, how DARE they??!

He was lost, because he couldn’t parade his faith, and held no-one else’s valid.  “It waves away the possibility of any faith.  It empties our plate, and bids us to eat.”  Actually, it removes the “His-only, a-la-carte” plate, and sets up a smorgasbord of beliefs to sample and compare, but there’s no trying religious chili or curry for him.  He’s a dedicated meat and potatoes Christian.

He complained that, “It’s like trying to speak language in the abstract, but no specific tongue,” apparently unlike me, studying all languages, or in this case religions, and seeing how they influence my favorite.

“It’s not a generic ‘Holiday Tree’, because there’s no generic holiday.”  It’s a generic Holiday Tree because it’s everybody’s ‘holiday’, Christmas included – just not exclusively Christian, even though that’s what he, and many like him, want and expect.  There’s reverse Religism here.  They just don’t see that they’re giving, not receiving.

The history teacher of the 15-year-old atheist son of one of the Free Thinkers was ranting about people who wouldn’t accept “proven historical facts.”  When one of the other students asked for an example, she came out with ‘the proven existence of Jesus Christ.’  School policy prohibits discussion of any single religion.  She was in the wrong, no matter how well-intentioned, or deluded.

Our lad pointed out that there was no ‘historical proof’ that Christ really existed.  “Well, it’s all right there, in the Bible!”  That may be, but no other contemporary Jewish – or Roman – document mentions Jesus, his exploits, his execution or his resurrection.  The boy was sent to the Principal, who chastised him for causing a disturbance in class.  No thinking allowed.  Believe what we tell you.

A local mall has a public meeting room which various community groups can book to present their particular points of interest.  The Free Thinkers recently requested a booking, and were, at least initially told, “We’re not sure you qualify as a ‘Community Group’.”  The Ontario Civil Rights Tribunal has dealt with Sofree(Southern Ontario Free Thinkers) as a community group dozens of times, establishing a precedent.  The president even has the complaint form document bookmarked on his smart phone.  A few keystrokes will rouse the Government to set them straight.

Too often, Christianity acts as a big, unthinking, entitled bully.  While less bloody, the difference between its head-in-the-sand stance, and ISIS’ off-with-their –heads methods, is one of only a minor degree. President Obama recently compared the atrocities of ISIS with the actions of the medieval Inquisition, and the usual suspects immediately began screaming about being attacked, and how dare he compare ISIS’s actions with those of the church.  That’s not Religism, that’s reality.

What I Got For Christmas

SDC10719

 

 

 

 

 

I know it’s a bit(?) late, but I wanted to give credit where credit is firmly due.  I took the photos for this post, and thought I’d composed it.  Since I apparently didn’t, there was nothing to remind me, until I started checking photos for a different post.

As my ‘We’re Not Quite Hoarders’ and ‘Autumn Housecleaning’ posts have shown, I/we have been slowly getting rid of no-longer-needed, accumulated stuff.  I am not the most difficult old codger to buy presents for, but, barring a big lottery win by someone who wants to present me with a new house, a new car, and a new motorcycle, I have pretty much everything I need, including a fantastic family.

Almost two years ago, my ingenious grandson, flush with paychecks from his welding apprentice work placement, presented me for my birthday with the ‘En Garde Coupon’ shown above, good for $500 toward any knife I’d like to purchase.

Highly grateful, but ever the pragmatist, I didn’t feel I wanted to bring more stuff into the house at this point in my life.  I can look at beautiful knives, and even handle them, but I had a thought about using a trip through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan to attend a knife show, and meet a couple of fellow-bloggers.  He generously agreed to co-sponsor the trip.

For any who haven’t read them, the antics and adventures of that trip are available in The Fellowship Of The Blog series, beginning with the Prologue.

The trip occurred in October, 2014, but Government bureaucracy stupidity delayed the grant check for his college tuition and texts, forcing him to raid his savings account until it finally arrived.  By Christmas, he still hadn’t said or done anything about the promised amount.  I knew of his problems, didn’t mind about it, and had almost forgotten.

SDC10715

 

 

 

 

 

Then came Christmas!  When it came time to distribute presents, he handed me the above box.  It wasn’t very heavy.  Perhaps it was another of the always-handy, and much-appreciated, Chapters Bookstore gift cards.

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When I opened the box and looked inside, I realized how ingenious and devious he was.  Aided and abetted by his devious and ingenious mother (Can I take any credit for this??), they had carefully rolled up and inserted two new $50 bills, and twenty new $20 bills – the full $500, as promised.

20 Dollars    50 Dollars

 

 

The new Canadian polymer plastic bills do not take kindly to being rolled up – or anything else – quickly flattening back out.  The daughter got out her bag of clip-type clothespins.  They would roll up a bill, clip it to hold it, and insert it in the box.  Clip, insert, clip, insert, until all 22 bills were in, and the box was full(?).  Then they carefully removed the clips.  To a guy whose idea of presentation was to leave some suckers in the paper bag I got them in from an old Mennonite, this just awed me!  (And I’m odd enough.)

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s have a round of applause and appreciation for ‘Thorn’ Smith!  I already profusely thanked him at Christmas, but feel he deserves a digital acknowledgement and congratulation also.  ‘As the twig is bent, so grows the tree’, and this tree is growing strong and true.

He is a kind and thoughtful young man, who treats his Poppa (and everyone else) well.

Thanx again, Kid!  Feel free to show this off on your smart phone till the battery dies.   😀

The Night Before Christmas

Angry Santa

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Xmas and all though the house,
The whole God-damned family was drunk as a souse.
Grandma and Grandpa were singing a song,
And the kid was in bed, pulling his dong.

Ma home from the cat house, and Pa out on bail,
Had just settled down for a nice piece of tail,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutter, and fell on my ass.
The moon blushing down on the new-fallen snow
Gave a nice wholesome lustre to the objects below.

When there to my old blood-shot eyes did appear
A rusty old sleigh, and eight mangy reindeer.
With a ruddy old driver, holding his dick,
I knew in a flash the old bastard was ‘Nick.’

Slower than snails his eight reindeer came,
And he swore and he bitched as he called them by name.
“Now Prancer, now Dancer, up on the walls:
Quick damn it, quick, or I’ll cut off your balls!”

Then up on the roof he scrambled and fell,
He came down the chimney like a bat out of Hell.
He staggered and stumbled as he ran out the door,
Tripped over his bag, and fell flat on the floor.

But I heard him exclaim, as he rode out of sight:
“Piss on you all – What a Hell of a night!”

***

A little girl is in line to see Santa. When it’s
her turn, she climbs up on Santa’s lap. Santa
asks, “What would you like Santa to bring you for
Christmas?”

The little girl replies, ” I want a Barbie and
G.I. Joe.”

Santa looks at the little girl for a moment and
says, “I thought Barbie comes with Ken”.

“No”, said the little girl, “She comes with
GI Joe, she fakes it with Ken.”

 

Just a little serving of Holiday Cheer.  Are you getting into the Spirit?  Or just into the spirits??  I’m sitting here, having a few with my big fat neighbor, Round John Virgin.  He has a pair of pet caribou – a male he calls Bruce The Moose, as well as Bruce’s mate, Olive, the other reindeer.  Be sure to take a big bag of ‘Bah, Humbug’ with you.  You’ll need it when you’re wrapping those last presents.  😯

It’s Beginning To Look A lot Like Commerce

Christmas Presents

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday, November 11, after I stood quietly, respectfully, for two minutes, I stopped at a Dollar Store, and picked up a box of biscuits for the dog.  With my receipt, the clerk handed me a postcard sized form.  If I filled it in and dropped it off soon enough at a downtown office, I might earn a seat in the reviewing stand for the local Santa Claus parade – being held tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 15th.

I returned home to hear the son announce that he’d picked up his ticket for his firm’s gala Christmas Party – being held next Saturday, Nov. 22.  Dear Ebenezer Scrooge, it’s not even the American Thanksgiving yet, and we’re already hip deep in Christmas.  Welcome to the Festival of Conspicuous Consumption.  The decorations have been out, and the ‘Christmas Sales’ have been on since Halloween.  Even today’s crossword had 3-down – gift-bearing trio = Magi, and – guide for 3-down = star, although, admittedly, those are a little more Spiritual than the rest.

Canada is a bit ahead of The States.  We held our Thanksgiving last month, well before the behemoth that is the Holiday Season was on its tracks and starting to move.  We’ll still be ahead of them in a few years when the commercial season begins about the 4th of July, and we celebrate our independence on July 1.

Be sure to give the ‘Good Christians’ lots of room to ignore Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali, Kwanzaa and secular atheism, and insist that their single day in the next two months of celebrations, is the only valid reason for The Season.

Allow the more militant among them a little extra swing room for when they U-turn, and insist that no-one should be allowed to have fun, or give presents, or engage in spiritual introspection, without their permission and participation.  Their cold, exclusionary Grinch’s hearts are well attuned to this icy time of year.

Armed with my CDs, I’m ready for the day, just over two weeks away, when the radio begins delivering nothing but all-Christmas songs, all the time.  I got a new keg of Bah Humbug on E-Bay, and will be downing the occasional shot to keep me topped up, as I help the wife assemble and bake Christmas Holiday cake and Christmas Holiday cookies.

Mom’s Shortbreads

At the behest of the illustrious BrainRants, GranmaLadybug has graciously consented to divulge the recipe for The Scottish shortbreads we make at Christmastime, along with some tips and hints she’s learned over the years.  Rants, and anyone else who wishes to, can add this to their cookbook.  Happy baking, and eating.

1 pound best quality butter (salted)

1 1/3 cups icing sugar

4 cups all-purpose flour

Knead everything together until butter & icing sugar has infused the flour.

Archon’s mom taught me how to make the shortbreads by putting everything on her kitchen table. She put out the flour first, then the sugar and topped it with the butter. She kneaded it together; adding flour a little at a time as she kneaded the dough, until it showed cracks at the edge.

Her philosophy was that the heat of your hand melted the butter & sugar, and was absorbed by the flour.

I started mixing my shortbread in a large shallow bowl by hand, but when I started with arthritis in my hands, this step was done with a KitchenAid mixer.  Usually over-mixing cookies is a no-no.  This recipe only improves with over mixing, but only use a heavy-duty, slow mixer, not the smaller, faster, egg-beater style.

Pat the dough out (small amounts at a time) using the heat of your hand to smooth the dough out to about ½ inch. (DO NOT rush this step. Just use the heat of your hand to do this, and a light touch.)

You can use a wooden board, or your counter top. I use a marble board for this step.

Use a thin metal blade to get your cookie off the board onto your cookie sheet. If the dough is sticking, gradually add more flour to the dough.  If you have to use too much flour on the board you can get a floury taste to the cookie.

Now to bake:  Heat oven to 275°F (using a slow oven helps to meld the flour, sugar & butter.) and bake for 25 to 30 minutes with your oven rack in the middle of the oven.  The cookie should show a lightly browned bottom.  Most recipes say not to brown, but to us the resulting cookies have a pasty taste to them.

Mom’s always had a brown bottom, and they were so rich they made you want more.

We store the cookies in a metal tin, and they are guaranteed to go with tea, coffee, hot chocolate or just on their own.

This guarantee is not valid if you changed the amounts, rolled the dough out, used old decrepit cookie sheets…….etc.  I once shared a recipe with a neighbour.  Her cookies did not turn out because she used the bottom oven rack and really abused cookie sheets.

The quality of your utensils, and attention to detail is what will get you the best results.

Oh I forgot, you have to also infuse the cookie with a lot of love……………..tks Mom.