Friday, November 10, 2006


Every year I devise a new way to manage Holiday Panic.

And each year I think I've come up with the once-and-for-all way to handle the holiday mayhem so that I won't spend the latter months of the year writhing with festive agony.

And, each year I somehow it worse with my meddling.

Like the year I thought I'd knit gifts for EVERYONE on my list. I started in June and skidded into our family Hanukkah party with claws for hands and gifts freshly wrapped in the car because I was still working on them when we left for the party. Not a good plan.

Or the year I did all the shopping in October and then effectively drew out the holiday season a lot longer than is palatable for Bubba and I. Confirmed by the fact that Bubba wore his scrooge face a full month longer than usual, coming out of Holiday Gloom just in time for Valentines Day which is a none so revered holiday for us anyway. There was not a lot of extra joy around the Finny house that year. Too soon with the shopping, it seems.

And despite my history of utter failure in the Holiday Panic management department, I'm trying out yet another new once-in-for-all method. I call this the "People don't need anymore crap" method paired with the "I think people need to read more" method to create the "You all get a book with a nice bookmark denoting the recent donation to a worthy cause of my choosing in your blessed name and you'll like it" method.


And I'm planning to make this festive holiday wish come true this weekend as I quarantine Bubba in the living room and make him decide with me which of the three books we've chosen will go to which of the faraway and slightly forgotten relatives on our list. And then there's the list itself that will have to be revived from last year as we decide who we now hate and doesn't deserve the joy of the written word in the New Year.

It's a wondrous process as you can see.

Normally I really like choosing special gifts for people and wrapping them up all fine with a card I make myself (or at least choose specially when I'm at Target buying soap), but there's something about bulk holiday gift giving that invokes nausea and the jingly music and inflatable lawn ornaments don't help any.

So, to counter the nausea, get me in the holiday spirit AND revive my recently invented holiday tradition, I'm happy to announce the return of;

Which House is the Ugliest?

Because there's really nothing like making fun of people and they're freakishly decorated houses to get me in the mood to spend months listening to Jingle Bells burst forth from every retail establishment, television and jostling SUV.

Please join in and send over any gems you capture in your travels. I'm sure your neighborhood has some beauts, too.


  1. I'm in full Grinch mode already. I was at an un-named warehouse club thingy last week and the staff were all wearing santa hats and the xmas music was so loud I thought I was going to scream.

    Long ago I cut everyone off, gift-wise at Holiday time except for a tin of assorted home-made cookies and candy and I've made it clear that there's no need to reciprocate. The Holidays have been considerably merrier ever since.

    Unfortunately, it's my turn to host the family this year so not only do I have to make the usual cookies and whatnot for everyone; I also have to have all the carpets cleaned, decorate the house and whip up dinner for twenty five people. Did I mention I'll be in Atlanta the whole week before Xmas doing business? That's right, I'm an idiot.

  2. Ok--I can completely relate! Hubby and I at my insistence attempted to make gifts several years--gourmet cooking oils infused with herbs, jam and jelly. And I really tried to stick with doing homemade gifts only, but people insist on giving us their "list." Can you believe that? Adults with gift lists?!!! This year was gonna be limoncello, but I guess I should just keep it all and drink it myself to help me get through the season.

  3. I always choose a theme for the holiday gifts. Last years theme was Books and games for the kids, this year it's Dance and Shrink that Arse. All things healthy! Yep, all the kids and adults are gonna be shakin their arses off to Dance Dance Revolution or Twister Dance. I'm really careful about what gifts I give because I don't want that dreaded "bad gift giver" reputation. My husband hates it because it means we have to spend a little more money, but I've heard the things people say when they get a tacky gift and it ain't purdy! Or the "regifter" rep, oh the horror!
    I also have a cookie baking marathon for Moki to give to his coworkers and they always seem to look forward to that.
    I'm in for the Ugliest house thing. Wait till you see some of the displays up here in BF North Dakota! hahahahahaha!

  4. Great plan. Go with it. One year I bought books about the volunteer-run, donation only cat shelter here in Rome, all proceeds go to charity and it's a cute book with photos and stories about the cats.
    I like the idea of a theme, makes it easier.
    Steven, sorry I just have to jump in and say: May the force be with you! Sounds like the makings for the sequel of the Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation movie.
    Speaking of which, we don't have houses with Christmas lights around here, but I will do my best, you never know, I might find something. A blow-up "Babbo Natale" (Santa) maybe?

  5. AAaaakkkK Babbo Natale...That's what we used to shriek as kids. We had to go a letto, perche Babbo Natale viene....

    I am all over the ugliest house thing. Down in the Cupertino area, I swear some old folks have nothing better to do than to deck out their houses TO DEATH! I knew I shoulda taken a picture of that one Halloween house. Even our 11 year old screamed in horror!

    I figured I'd start shopping right around now..Works for me, also I am going to be much more rigid with my own list this year. I tried the candy / cookie thing last year, only to have an entire basket fall upside-down upon delivery..(Sharp turn in SF) it totally sucked...

  6. sorry Fin, that's me...above

  7. Oh, Finny, the lights are fun. I loooove the decorated houses. There's a neighborhood by where I work, and everyone gets involved...there are even kids on the corner selling hot chocolate. I love that. I work retail, so it's hard to keep the spirit up. The lights help me. My mom and I go every year down to the bay and watch the Parade of Lights on the boats too. I love festivities. I try so hard not to lose the childlike wonder.

  8. Steven - I can see why you'd be grinched out already. I'd be downright unfit to be around. Although, I'd bet that your holiday cookies and candy are better than anyone is getting anywhere else, which is why they all readily accept them. Good luck with the holiday prep - sounds like a bear. Any chance everyone wants to eat canned tomatoes? I heard a rumor you have something of a stockpile ;)

    dmarie - You know, I've got a batch of limoncello about ready to strain and drink. Perhaps I'll join you and we'll both have a much merrier holiday!

    E&I-I can't wait to see what you come up with photo-wise! I'm sure Fargo has some houses to show off.Remember, the tackier the better. If you can catch your neighbor inflating the giant snoglobe in his bathrobe, all the better.

    Shelley - I remember the cat book! I have it on the bookshelf in the offce. Great idea! And if you find any wacky babo natale blow up dolls (ew) send a lot of photos.

    Stephs- Get some photos of those bad boys!! I am thinking of starting a contest for the freakist one, and I KNOW Cupertino has some gems. I will be doing some baking this holiday, but I think pumpkin chocolate chip loaves instead of cookies or candy. Easier and sturdier :)

    Barb- I'm glad you're out there enjoying the lights. I know there are lots of people that do. And, don't get me wrong, little twinkling white lights used sparingly and tastefully are AOK with me. It's when they're hidden behind four inflatable imaginary holiday creatures that I have to roll my eyes.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.