Dec 28, 2009

Magenta isn't a color.

I'm in Florida right now. My sister's family and mine (minus my daughter and son-in-law) are here for a week of golf, snorkeling and lounging on beach blankets. It's always a nice break to get away from the gray skies of Michigan in the dead of winter.

Our families travel together a lot. A few years ago we did a two week driving trip out west. Chicago --- Mount Rushmore ---- Yellowstone ----- Mt. Zion ----- Bryce Canyon ----- Vegas ----- Grand Canyon. It was the best trip of my life. Amazing sights are even better when seen with so many people you care about.

We have a few tried and true family traditions when we travel. We usually have a puzzle to work on while we sit around in the evening. The kids blaze through the assembly, never leaving any of the fun for us.

The one thing we do no matter where we travel is play the color game. Every person gets assigned a color, red, blue, orange, etc. The object of the game is to not say your color out loud. Once you do, you're out.  The last person standing wins. 
Elaborate schemes and plots are devised to get people to say their color. Even funnier is when somebody says their color with no prompting from anybody else. It's hard to constantly keep your guard up. Color words are more prevalent in day to day converstaion than you realize. You use them to describe things, to draw people's attention to something, they are used in figures of speech and idioms. The game can last for days. Even after you get knocked out you still try to get other people out.

We have developed some rules along the way. We used to let people pick their own colors we learned quickly that silver, gold, magenta and lilac are not uttered in common speech very often. Now we use only basic colors and we put them all in a hat. One thing that is heavily debated is whether you are out if you say your color and nobody in the game calls you on it, either because nobody was around or they didn't notice.

My color this time is red. I have to be careful to not say anything about red skin from sunburns, or traffic lights turning red or to say that I am red faced with embarrassment. My son already has made a few stabs at getting me to say red. Ruthless, this family is ruthless I tell you.

Dec 22, 2009

You're all so sweet.

I made Christmas cookies. I usually do. I have a few standards that make an appearance every year. Nutty Nougats, which are like Russian Teacakes, only nuttier.  I usually make some form of peanut butter cookie. Lately it’s been PB Blossoms, with a nice big Hershey’s kiss stuck in the middle. I usually add two new cookies every year. Four is my limit though. A woman can only bake so much you know.

This year my new additions are Ginger Cookies (a classic) and Peppermint Meltaways. I chose the Peppermint cookies because they look so pretty in the picture. Buttery little button cookies with pretty pink icing and candy cane sprinkles. I decided to bake these last as my pièce de résistance.

First up, the standards which met with the usual approval….. “Mmm, these are my favorites.”……. “Now it feels like Christmas.” Then I made the ginger cookies, they were a big hit, chewy and spicy.

Time for the Peppermint Meltaways. What’s in these? Flour, butter, powdered sugar, peppermint extract, corn starch…. Corn Starch?? Really? OK, I won’t question it. The cookies came out of the oven golden brown and smelling good. Time for the butter frosting, tinged with peppermint and colored a festive red. Get out the icing bag and decorator tips and top the whole thing off with some crushed candy canes.

They’re beautiful. Let’s try one. Buttery cookie with sweet frosting and nice crunch from the candy canes. But something’s not right here. These don’t taste right. Cookies shouldn’t melt in your mouth. Cookies need substance, whether it’s chewy or crunchy.

It was then that it struck me that cookies are like people. You can dress them up to be all pretty and flashy but if you don’t have the basic ingredients in the right proportions, they just aren’t right. People need compassion, honesty, humility, humor, love and kindness.

So my friends and family, take it as high praise when I say that you are all like a nice, big, chewy peanut butter cookie to me. Simply divine. If you get a few of the peppermint cookies on the plate I send to you, it’s OK to not like them. They’re just there for show. Go for the good old standards, they never disappoint. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Dec 14, 2009

Christmas Wonders

Why does everything happen on fast forward these days? One minute I’m complaining about Christmas music starting too soon and the next I’m woefully behind on my Christmas shopping. I have a few gifts purchased but still need a few more, plus all the stocking stuffers. I have the most fun filling the stockings, finding that mix between practical and whimsical.

We put the tree up yesterday. It was very strange to do it without the kids there. Every year each of kids would pull their favorite ornaments from the box and hang them carefully on the tree. Somehow we always ended up talking about memories from Christmases past. This year it was just me replaying those memories in my head. The husband is a bigger fan of Thanksgiving than he is of Christmas. Tinsel was always the last step. My daughter thinks she is the best tinseller in the family. She is probably right, being so precise and particular comes in handy for tinsel. Too much is gaudy and too little is not noticeable.

Last year we bought a beautiful fake pre-lit tree. I had always been one of those holier than thou “Only a real tree will do” type person. But like so many other things, practicality begins to overtake aesthetics the older you get. (This phenomenon also explains the popularity of the comfortable, yet ridiculous looking, Snuggie.)  We have a burnt out bulb that has blacked out the lights on the mid section of the tree.  Ugghhh.  Going to have to pull out bulb by bulb til I find the culprit.

One thing that stayed the same was the dogs being underfoot while the tree is being put up. Even though it’s an annual thing, they never know what to make of all the commotion. This year was especially confusing for them since we moved the tree to a new corner of the family room.

So here I sit, wrapped up in my Snuggie, looking at my beautiful, half lit tree, adjusting to the changes in my family this Christmas and fighting the urge to buy the dogs some presents to go under the tree. If I thought they’d care the urge would be irresistible. I wonder when this will feel normal.

Dec 6, 2009

Not going to say "Told you so." Well, maybe.

I have never liked Tiger.  I hate the fist pump most, followed closely by the childish temper tantrums he throws after making a bad shot.  I admire his golfing talent but have always thought the man's character left something to be desired. 

I once sat through a speech made by Tiger's Dad at a conference dinner.  It was a rambling speech that seemed to have no other point than "I am an awesome father as evidenced by my awesome offspring and you all suck as parents so go home and focus on your kids."  I am not exaggerating.  The man was an ass.  It became crystal clear to me why Tiger is such an arrogant jerk.  I am not surprised in the slightest that he has slept around throughout his marriage.  The whole thing reminds me of Prince Charles marrying Diana to produce his offspring while he carried on with Camilla as usual. 

Even us non PR consultants know what Tiger needs to to do here.  Apologize for his indiscretions in a very public way.  Be sure to look genuinely contrite and try to get your wife to stand by your side while you are doing it.  Why hasn't he appeared in public?  Two reasons I think.  First he has to wait for the steady stream of tramps that he has slept with to die down.  What's it up to now?  Six?  Second reason,  humility is not in his nature. 

Oh and Mrs. Woods.... way to go with the golf club.