Merry Christmas? #3LineTales

It’s been a busy few weeks while we’ve been off for the summer holidays. I sent my children’s book to several agents…I can now consider myself alongside the likes of JK Rowling as I’ve had my first rejection email!  Woohoo!

I’m currently working on a ‘cosy mystery’ novel, trying to fix some major plot holes before I hand it over to my editor at the beginning of October.

Less than two weeks to go before school starts. Chances of me signing to an agent/finding freelance work/winning the lottery before then??  Answers on a postcard etc etc.

In the meantime, here’s a quick Three Line Tale using the photo prompt below:

Merry Christmas?

Jeff bounced up and down on his chair, clearly desperate for me to open the oddly shaped present, covered in Santa wrapping paper. ‘Careful! It’s fragile.’

I gently pulled off the paper to reveal the hideous remains of a horrible snake type creature, its huge jaw lined with ferocious sharp teeth. ‘I got it off Ebay. Emily’s going to love it; it’s amazing!’

Emily did not appear amazed, choosing instead to suck on her toes. ‘Well, it’s certainly unusual, Jeff,’ I said, ‘but I’m not sure it’s quite appropriate for our six-month old baby’s first Christmas.’

photo by Samuel Zeller via Unsplash
Photo by Samuel Zeller via Unsplash
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(I’m Always Touched by Your) Christmas Presence, Dear

My best, but slightly weirdest, Christmas present this year was…a Lakeland Bobble Buster.  Truly, it’s awesome and has totally restored my faith in knitwear.  A quick survey of friends and family revealed more strange, yet loved, gifts.  I’m not talking about the sort of tat that you pretend to like when you open it but bin/donate/re-wrap first thing on Boxing Day (penis pasta, comedy slippers, willie warmers etc).  No, these are presents that are pretty lame but for some reason make you really happy.  Here are a selection of gifts that brought Christmas cheer to the easily pleased this year:

Did you receive any bizarre, yet awesome, Christmas presents?  Can anyone beat the Greek lady’s bottom??  Without mentioning the wooden spoon…

Word Up: A Happy New Year to all our readers…

So, after the compulsory Christmas over-indulgence, it’s time for a New Year change.  No more Ferrero Rocher for breakfast, Bucks Fizz at 10am or evenings snacking on crackers and cheese.  No more staying with family and friends, being offered cups of tea all day long, meals appearing out of nowhere and dishes miraculously cleaning themselves.  Now it’s back to grocery shopping, cooking, washing-up, cleaning and hoovering.  What could possibly be depressing about that?

New Year’s Resolutions:

Spend less time on the computer. I had a total break from email, blogs and the internet over Christmas, which was actually very relaxing and I’ve got to admit that I kinda didn’t miss it too much.

Spend more time writing novel.

Get fit/lose weight (got to have that one, it’s been on the list since 1989).

Be more positive.

Unfortunately, I’m going to break the last resolution immediately with a grouchy post about some of the annoying phrases that drive me bonkers.

Don't reach out to touch my base

Me Time – I’ve already mentioned this one but I don’t think it can be over emphasized how irritating it is; what’s wrong with just having some time?

Touch base/think outside the box/take it to the next level/blue-sky thinking – these were spouted all the time when I worked in marketing.  That might help explain why I hated 93% of the people there.  I refused to use any of them.  Could that also help to explain why I was made redundant?  Twice.  From the same company.

Reach out – as a synonym for making contact, eg ‘Please reach out if you need assistance.’  This is the favourite expression of HWW’s American employer.  Reading it ten times a day in emails is actually causing him to develop premature frown lines and a nervous twitch.

Happy dance – as in, ‘I just got a free muffin in Starbucks…happy dance!’  Really?

Calm down – my rage rises in direct proportion to the amount of times this is said to me.

It is what is it/it’s meant to be – why?  Says who?

I wear many different hats in my daily life – I actually saw this on a CV, which went straight in the bin.  Obviously.

I always give 110% – no, you don’t.  You cannot give more than 100%.  EVER.  And who gives 100% all the time anyway?  Certainly not at work. Another CV favourite.

Mumpreneur – ever heard of a Dadpreneur?  (Thanks to angels&urchins for that one)

I’m not being funny but… – I’m about to make a really bitchy comment.

Cheer up, it might never happen – how do you know??

Plus several others that I can’t list here because they are used on a daily basis by close friends and family… And now that I’ve got all that off my chest, I will (try to) be positive for the rest of 2014.

Any expressions that irritate you so much that you want to slap the user in the face with a damp dishcloth?

The Night Before the Night Before Christmas: A True Tale

ChristmasMouse

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Twas the night before the night before Christmas, when all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The presents had been hidden by Mum with great care,

Knowing the children would search everywhere.

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We children should have been snug in our beds,

But visions of wrapped treasures danced in our heads.

We’d requested so much, sitting on Santa’s lap,

Operation and Twister and not too much crap.

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I woke up my sister with quite a loud clatter,

She was so cranky; asked, ‘What the hell’s the matter?’

It’s time,’ I did say, ‘We must find all the stash,

‘Of Walkmans and Rubik’s and shedloads of cash.’

christmas cash

‘Get up, shake a leg, we really should go,

To find what’s been bought for us, I just have to know.’

‘For god’s sake, not this again,’ said my sister dear,

‘Must we really go through all this bull every year?’

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We pulled on our slippers and left lickety-split,

Knowing our searching must be done real quick.

Through each room of the house we delved with great aim,

Hunting for labels inscribed with our names.

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We searched in the lounge, in the hallway and kitchen,

Sister dawdled behind, moaning and bitchin’.

Then finally the spare room offered up a great haul,

On top of the wardrobe were presents – yes, them all!

christmas sack

But the wardrobe was massive, stretching up 8 foot high,

‘Stuff that,’ said my sister, ‘We can kiss them goodbye.’

But I wouldn’t give up now we’d had our breakthrough,

I pulled forward the bookcase: as steps it would do.

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I climbed up the shelves with the rashness of youth,

Leapt onto the wardrobe for the moment of truth.

Pulled open the sack, eager for what I had found,

Sister yelled,‘Oy! Pull me up, stop messing around.’

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Climbing onto the shelves, sister followed my route,

Puffing and huffing, I hauled her up to the loot.

Presents in paper and ribbon filled up a great sack,

With trembling fingers, we peeled the wrappings back.

spacehopper

Caution did go and we were no longer wary,

Ripping open boxes, things got rather merry.

Kerplunk, Simon Says and Etch-a-Sketchers to go,

Space hoppers, Jackie annuals; we couldn’t say no.

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Unveiling a TV, sister leapt in disbelief,

Sending presents flying to the ground down beneath.

Flailing in shock, sister banged into my belly,

I stumbled and wobbled, grabbed onto the telly.

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Crashed over the edge, hit the deck – telly and self,

It smashed into great pieces: the end of our wealth!

The wardrobe did sway and fell onto the bed,

Sister trapped behind the wardrobe – possibly dead.

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I jumped off the floor and ran out with a smirk,

Left sister alone, screaming in rage and in irk.

Mum ran in, saw the damage and so did explode,

(I was tucked up in bed, pretending to doze.)

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Sister freed from her trap, how she did bristle,

Raced into my room and attacked like a missile.

But I heard her exclaim, as she put up a fight,

‘Happy Christmas?? No way – you’re in trouble tonight!’

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free-merry-christmas-banner-psd-download-lszykgxi

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This post is an entry into the Hudl Christmas Cheer competition with TOTS100.  Don’t worry, this is a one off and there will be NO MORE poetry in the future!  

Thank you to everyone who left comments on my entry to the Expats competition.  I’ll let you know how I intend to spend the prize money…

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Christmas-Tree-Wallpaper-christmas-8142630-1024-768Although I like the speed and convenience of email, text messages, Facebook and tweets (that’s a fib, I don’t understand how Twitter works…), I adore receiving a tangible letter or card through the post.  It doesn’t have to be much, a postcard or scribbled note will do.  There’s something heart-warming to think that someone thought of you and actually went to the effort of finding just the right card, sitting down to write a cheerful message, then sticking on a stamp before battling through hail or gale-force winds to the postbox.

I’m even more ardent about Christmas cards.  Ok, an e-card is (just about) better than nothing but I love the festiveness of putting all my cards up on the mantelpiece, admiring the diversity of all those cute snowmen, nativity scenes and semi-clad Santas displaying their Christmas baubles.   As someone living abroad, far from family and friends, it brings a spark of joy to my day if I receive a jolly Christmas card from home. Christmas can be a lonely time for many (not just ex-pats) and Christmas cards are a small way to bring a bit of happiness to one another.

They can also be a fulfilling experience for the sender.  I love the ritual of writing my cards; Christmas carols playing in the background, enjoying a glass of mulled wine and a couple of mince pies.  Thinking of those I’m sending cards to and remembering the times we’ve shared together: good or bad, intense or light-hearted, drunk or sober.

3701b2af57e80243fa85a4dc585d54c1However, that was all in the past.  The huge number of friends who don’t send cards anymore has worn me down and I don’t think I can be bothered this year.  It’s so belittling to send a Christmas card to someone only to be told in a supercilious tone, ‘Thanks for the card.  Of course, we don’t send them anymore.  We give to charity instead.’

What a cop-out.  I think they’re two completely separate things.  It’s like me saying, ‘Oh, I’m not sending Christmas cards this year because I need the money for my wine fund,’ or ‘I won’t be giving you a Christmas present because I’ve spent the money on cake.’

Why not do both?  Most people in my ‘social set’ (ooooh, get her) can afford to send a few cards as well as donate a tenner to charity.   I’m not talking about sending cards to everyone you’ve ever met but it’s nice to show close friends and family that you’re thinking of them over the festive season.   Surely giving to charity can be a year round activity, not just confined to Christmas?  At other times of the year people don’t say, ‘I’m not sending you a Birthday card this year; I’m donating to charity instead.’

I’m always a little tempted to check-up on those who send an email stating their intention to donate to charity.   ‘Could I see your receipt from the RSPCA for your donation please?  Oh, lost it have we?  Rather convenient…’   Why not just tell everyone, ‘I can’t be arsed to buy a load of cards, spend hours of my precious time writing cards, addressing envelopes then driving to the postbox, when I could be at home drinking Babycham and watching X-Factor.’   Actually, I do have one friend who says this and, you know what?  I totally respect her for it!

And to those who moan about what a waste of money cards and stamps are – well, surely we all waste money like that every day?  Buying a newspaper?  Daily cappuccino?  Or my real bugbear – spending hundreds of euros a month on utility bills???Christmas-christmas-36046291-500-313

What do you think?  Are Christmas cards a total waste of money, time and trees?  Or a wonderful way to keep in touch at this special time of year??   There’s still time for me to be converted back to a Devoted Sender of Christmas Cards!  Mind you, I may have offended most of my friends with this post so I won’t need to send many…