Merry Christmas To All, And To All—GET BUSY WRAPPING!

THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS - "The Year Without a Santa Claus" airs on MONDAY, DECEMBER 4 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET/PT) on ABC Family. (RANKIN/BASS PRODUCTIONS/ABC FAMILY) SANTA CLAUS, REINDEER

THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS -www.tvguide.com

Twas the night before Christmas, the last minute shopper had been out and about. Came home with his packages begging help from his spouse. Looking for tape and scissors and knowing not where, he had hoped to avoid the gift-wrapping nightmare.

Yes, Christmas Eve is finally here folks. But, we better watch out, and we better not cry, we better not pout I’m telling you why, Santa Claus has finally skipped town. And where you ask, is Jolly Old St. Nick?

Retired.

That’s right, you heard it here first. Kris Kringle has—like Elvis—left the building. He’s given up his North Pole distribution center for an extended stay in the Florida Keys. Sub-contracted the whole workshop out to the PUC—Parents Under Contract. You and I are the new CEO’s of Xmas-Inc. In charge of getting gifts under the tree in time for Christmas morning.

You, me, the Post Office, FedEx, UPS, DHL…etc.

yijenliu.com

yijenliu.com

And who gets the elves you ask? That would be the unemployment office. Bad break for the little guys.

And Santa? Well by downsizing and putting his annually lucrative gift-giving enterprise into receivership; with a deferred compensation arrangement including a 401K, rather generous pension plan, substantial benefit package, and executive stock compensations; plus the pending sale of his North Pole properties, he probably stands to make out like a bandit.

In addition to that, his Swiss Bank account is magically drawing 6%!

You wanna guess who’s left holding that bag? Bingo! Correct, you and I… the public. However, we do get the satisfaction of knowing that our children will have a Merry Christmas. Not to mention that we the adults, will have lighter hearts and wallets.

But, I saw this coming years ago.

Every Christmas Eve Santa would show up later and later. Then my parents would say, Well he’s not gonna show until you go to bed.” Who were they kidding? What did they have to hide? Who were they trying to protect?

That should have been my first clue that Santa was eyeing an early retirement.

Sometimes they’d say: “Kids, Santa Claus has way too many deliveries tonight, around the world trips take time.”—especially if you’re using a sleigh.

Or, “There’s too many holiday travelers in the air and that’s causing flight delay’s. So Santa’s probably in a holding pattern with other air-traffic.”

But my all-time favorite excuse for his being late came the year of the big snow storm; “He’s probably going to need the help of a red-nosed reindeer this year.” That’s a good one.

Over the years—ever so gradually—the job of Christmas delivery began falling to us. At first, I’d just put on a red suit and fake beard. But then I started adding inches to my waist-line with those darn cookies. Then one year, I stuck in the darn chimney.

Where my oldest son found me on Christmas morning. stock-photo-three-of-santa-s-reindeer-on-a-snowy-rooftop-looking-to-see-if-he-s-down-in-a-chimney-2256936

Of course, there was the expected blubbering when he realized I wasn’t really Santa Claus. However, the tears soon dried up when I told him it didn’t mean any interruption in the flow of high-priced goods for his Christmas holiday.

I carefully explained to him there might even be some hush money in it for him.

Naturally, my son was excited by this prospect and immediately initiated a notarized contract—I was astounded to find him a notary public, too! He encouraged me to sign on the threat of exposure to the other kids. I did as directed and was surprised to find the contract stipulated—among other things—that lots and lots of toys were still part of the deal.

So—fellow board members—Santa Claus has made it official; he’s no longer the front man for Christmas—something we’ve all known for quite some time now, anyway

Nevertheless, that leaves us with a very perplexing question to answer. If Santa Claus hasn’t been doing all that frequent flyer on Christmas Eve…

Then who’s the fraud Norad’s been tracking all these years?

AND WITH THAT PUZZLING CONUNDRUM, A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL, A GOOD NIGHT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Uh Oh—A Greeting Card From The North Pole?

 

Ordinarily, I’d love this festive time of year. Twinkling lights hanging from all the trees on a cold, breezy, winter night.

Never mind that you can’t see their reflection on the wet streets below because of all the bumper-to-bumper holiday traffic, butI expect that sort of thing at Christmas time.

epa03970663 Christmas lights on Regent Street in London, Britain, 29 November 2013. EPA/ANDY RAIN ** Usable by LA, CT and MoD ONLY **

epa03970663 Christmas lights on Regent Street in London, Britain, 29 November 2013. EPA/ANDY RAIN ** Usable by LA, CT and MoD ONLY **

Along with all the holiday shoppers in the malls. Pushing, shoving, jockeying for position creating those long lines I always seem to get stuck in.

But, like I said, it’s Christmas time and I expect it—ATCHOO! Uh…I tink I’ve caught anutter nasty code in my dose. (Honk!)

Yet, I’ve come to expect that sort of thing too, during the season of…of…of—ATCHOO!—giving.

Honk, Pfft, and Sniffle. Speaking of which, I’d sure love to find out who gave me this miserable code—SO I COULD GIVE IT BACK TO THEM!

All I do know is, is I better get a stocking full of NyQuil this year—you know, the nighttime cold and flu medicine—along with lots of chicken soup too.

Wanna know what didn’t I expect, though? A Christmas card from the North Pole.

My wife and I arrived home from a pleasant evening out at a little Christmas soiree. She went to check the mailbox and came back with a pile of mail that even Santa Claus would find overwhelming.

“Hey…there’s a Christmas card in here for you dear” my wife said, “and it’s from the North Pole! Who do you know at the North Pole?” she asked.

Poor woman. Guess she never heard of Mr. Narwhal.

All the same, I dropped my Airborne tablet—completely missing my glass of water in the process—and exclaimed, “Silly girl, don’t you know I have connections everywhere?”

Oh I make no secret of the fact I’d hoped Santa Claus would write me again. But in my wildest dreams I never truly believed he would. I mean, not after the infamous blowtorch incident. But we won’t go there… I was only nine at the time, anyway.

Besides, I think there should be an expiration date on that kind of thing, don’t you?

Back to the card. Naturally I was excited. I’d felt my massive letter write-in campaign to Santa over the past year, called—PROTEST 2014—helped the ‘Big Guy’ to see the error of his ways.

This, for not giving me my Christmas wish last year. Or any other year for that matter.

Oh, the wish?

For one million dollars in unmarked bills—to be dropped down a chimney of my own choosing on Christmas Eve.

I could have asked for two million dollars, but I felt why push it and have him think me greedy. So I told him I’d settle for ONE. After all, I’m not the extortionist Mrs. Claus and all those horribly pathetic, itsy bitsy, teenie weenie, tiny, little minded elves have made me out to be. I’m just an ordinary guy whose name is etched in stone on the naughty list, trying to get what’s coming to me.

Who do those elves think they are anyway? His legal counsel!

So, what did fatso send me last year? A buck, that’s what! Oh no, not a full grown deer, but a WHOLE ONE DOLLAR BILL! I found it at the bottom of my Christmas stocking along with a note stating “Son, you made the list again. Love; Santa.” And he wants me to love him for that?

And at the bottom of the page—IN VERY FINE PRINT—it said…

THE NAUGHTY LIST!

Well that was the last straw. I just knew this year was gonna be different. So I lunged for the card my wife was holding— practically knocking her onto our corner table. Fortunately,  her incredible sense of balance helped her find the floor, instead.

Now, with envelope in hand, I eagerly read…

“Greetings from the North POLL!”

(A side note here. One of my friends, Sarah Ferguson (no, not the Duchess of York), she caught this misspelling. Check out her funny response in the comment section below. Though, I’m sure it was because someone spiked my eggnog—which by the way, I don’t drink.)

It card continued…

“You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Comet and Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. But do you recall… the most famous reindeer of all?”

I looked up and thought, “Where’s the old fart going with this?”

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, he has a very shiny nose, tells me there’s a guy impersonating him, also has A RED SHINY NOSE. Now all of the other reindeer, tend to laugh and shout out a name. And it isn’t Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, care to play the guessing game?—Hint, hint…his picture is on your blog, and he has a Red Nose, too! Fancy that—MAYBE IT EVEN GROWS!”

Then he asked, “Do you know who he might be—donkey brain? WELL… DO YOU PUNK?”

I looked at my wife… still seated on the carpet.

Slowly, she came to her feet, “Honey, what is it?” she asked “You look as white as snow!” I turned towards her with my eyes, as wide as saucers. My words barely escaped my lips…

“I’m not sure, but I think it’s just possible Santa Claus is, CLINT EASTWOOD!”

I dropped the card in shock, and continued.

“And you know what else?” I think Santa and Rudolph are out to get me!”

Laughing (skeptically), my wife nervously replied “Oh… that’s nonsense, honey.”

I picked up the card and asked “Really? Well feast your eyes on this! She stared at the card for a moment. Then I asked, “Whad’ya say now?”

“They take a nice picture?” she responded.

But what really concerns me is; I can’t shake this nasty feeling that I might not get my million dollars—AGAIN! I just pray none of you ever make THE NAUGHTY LIST like I have.

You might never make parole! (ATCHOO!)

“Honey! Can I have another cup of NyQuil! On second thought—JUST BRING THE WHOLE BOTTLE!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Carol—Yet Again

Schmoesknow.com

Schmoesknow.com

There had never been a more miserly man than John Q. Consumer—better known as, GOUGED. He adopted his nickname for he felt Christmas was no more than another excuse for retailers to pick a man’s pocket. “Season of giving? Bah, humbug!” he was often heard to say.

His abrasive personality and manner of being were forged out of his disdain for the holiday—and for not spending money in general.

Every year—starting around June—he found himself being bombarded with Christmas deals, on television and in print ads, offering holiday sales on everything—from cars to…well… MORE CARS!

Oh sure, advertisers still offered the cheaply made goods as well—like those that would fall apart after only three or four uses, but, GOUGED, had discovered something more devious.

Retailers would often mark goods up in price in advance of the holidays. Only to reduce prices back down to their original OVERPRICED amount in time for Christmas holiday shopping.

Naturally, GOUGED, became as bitter as the cold that accompanied the festive holiday season.

And after finding that those items failed to work when he got them home, he was further frustrated by having to go back and stand in long lines to get his money back. Many times, only to be told of the retailers no return policy.

He felt preyed upon by the mercantile for his hard earned… MINIMUM WAGE.

During the holiday season the “Ladies and gentleman of charity” could be found standing by their little red kettles in front of many retailers places of business.

They would ask him to contribute to those in need of common necessities. Hoping, that he might be willing to give to the less fortunate, and thus offering provisions for the poor and destitute—of which he was one.

Being part of what was formerly known as, The Middle Class, his answer was always the same. “Bah, humbug.”

No one ever had the slightest clue what that meant. But, they figured as long as the old fool cracked loose with some cold hard cash—preferably tens and twenties—let the old geezer babble and speak all the gibberish he wants.

For the record; Bah, humbug actually translated into, “Hey, when are you dummies going to start contributing to my needs?”

So this Christmas Eve, GOUGED, decided things would be different. He launched into a tirade, and asked his detractors why there weren’t more unionized workhouses in operation paying a living wage to their workers?

And, why bankers never considered lowering interest rates? Or, why unemployment offices never honestly tried to provide for those in debtors prison—better known as credit card holders?

“Right.” they would reply, “Well, you see sir, there are many unscrupulous employers operating, along with banking institutions and corporations, and each is corrupt as all get out. They’re always wanting to pay less while raking in more. Bankers raise interest rates constantly to remain highly profitable. And all this comes at the expense of the suckers… uh… laborer’s and shopper’s.”

TheDailyBeast.com

TheDailyBeast.com

“And why do they do this?” GOUGED asked. “I’ll tell you why. They want to ‘decrease the surplus population’ that’s why! Then you’ll only have the wealthy to fill your little red kettles at this time of the year.”

And they were all to aware of how the tightfisted wealthy seldom did that.

His rant had caught them off guard. GOUGED sounded inexplicably like he was from the United Kingdom, but they knew him to be American?

Realizing his slip of the tongue as he had recently become an Anglophile—no doubt because he had seen far too many remakes of A Christmas Carol—he decided to pause for effect.

Then—now in broken American English—he continued his rant.

“Employers don’t like having to pay health benefits for what is left of their overworked, underpaid employees. So, in order to increase their hefty profit margin—and still reluctantly pay the health care cost—they slash the wages of the laborer’s who helped make them that tidy profit.”

Oh, it should be noted, that many a laborer hadn’t seen a cost of living increase, in about fifteen years.

And, GOUGED, further knew that those who lost their jobs would likely find themselves navigating a never ending call tree over the phone with the unemployment office.

Those few who did manage to get through, would likely be dismissed as unwilling to work. And this was because they were going to be paid far less than what an illegal alien (immigrant, or is that emigrant) could possibly scrape by on.

The “Ladies and gentleman of charity” warned, GOUGED, that the merchants might be angry if they ever heard his views on the state of the economy. Perhaps they might hire some peasant to go about plastering his car windshield (LITERALLY), with thousands of flyers in an attempt to promote one of their sales.

“Bah, humbug!” he shouted at them, and off he went into the bitterly cold winter night. Seeking out his car in a poorly lit parking lot, only to uncover its windshield—WITH A CHISEL AND A SCRAPER!

GOUGED, finally arrived home close to midnight. He was sitting down to a cup of Campbell’s Beef and Barley soup, when someone came crashing through his front door. It was one, Jacob Marley, his former used car salesman. Who only recently had lost his job at the local Carfax dealership.

Hubpages.com

Hubpages.com

Hardly a ghost, but a shell of a human-being all the same. However, GOUGED, didn’t feel this excused, Marley’s, driving through his front door—WHILE INTOXICATED!

It made for a very uncomfortable encounter; “Take heed, GOUGED” Marley began, “for I have it on good authority—I think it was a guy down in front of Macy’s ringing some sleigh bells—that you have forged in life a chain of debt, far less than that of my own!”

GOUGED, cowered over his checkbook—surrogate to his empty bank account.

“Beware GOUGED” Marley intoned, “beware, for you will soon be visited by The 3 Spirits of Madison Avenue over the course of the next 72 to 96 hours. “Beware!” he warbled.

Then he faded from view—while handcuffed in the back seat of a squad car, as he was taken off to jail for a DUI.

GOUGED, thinking, Marley, was a man given to drink and likely suffering from the DT’s, decided to ignore the whole incident.

But, not before he called his State Farm Insurance agent about the damage to his front door. His agent was wearing Khaki’s at the time and sitting at his desk at 1:00 AM in the morning, just waiting for a business call. Not that any of that is important to the story.

Nevertheless, a few hours later, the first spirit of Madison Avenue arrived.

“GOUGED!” it bellowed from the glimmering light of the television screen. “Who is that?” asked GOUGED, grabbing his 12 gauge shotgun.

“I am the ghost of Black Friday past.” replied the voice from the TV. The spirit floated through the disrupted cable signal (which GOUGED paid through the nose for on a monthly basis) and into his living room.

Fearsome indeed was she. Battered of face with clothing torn asunder, the ghost was the full embodiment of a Black Friday shopper. A real Walking Dead zombie! She implored, GOUGED, screaming at the top of her lungs…

“Remember… anything for the deal, anything for the deal!”

The thirty second, million dollar spot—paid for by advertisers—was over. The spirit had vanished, but, not before GOUGED had emptied his 12 gauge into the screen in a blind panic.

“Now I’m going to need a new Samsung 110 inch TV for Christmas.” he frustratingly thought to himself—a sad price to pay for being a gun-toting ARA member.

Now, left with only being able to watch YouTube on his desktop, he gradually nodded off to sleep again.

24 hours had passed, when suddenly a voice echoed from the monitor in front of him. “GOUGED” the voice asked searchingly, “are you there?” He sought refuge under his pegged together, IKEA desk.

“I am the ghost of Small Business Saturday.” it continued. GOUGED,  recognized the voice.

“Bob, Bob Cratchet? Is that you?” GOUGED asked.

Bob was the owner of The Rug Emporium down the street. He was always going out of business for one reason or another, only to reopen a month or so later, but usually with a relative taking over as new owner.

However, old Mr. Fizziwig recently bought him out, or so Bob claimed.

“You have never seen the likes of me, have you GOUGED? For you’ve never shopped locally on Small Business Saturday, have you? In fact, you never shop at all, do you, GOUGED?” asked, Bob.

GOUGED replied “True, and I can’t see you now either, but I recently WINDOW SHOPPED your former store. Which I believe is now under new management by old man Fizziwig, is it not?”

“Window shopping doesn’t count, GOUGED. Ignorance and want, that’s what counts these days. But, I tell you what, my son, Tiny Tim (who stood 25 stone), has bought the store back from old man Fizziwig, and he’ll make you a right fine deal on some new Persian rugs. Whad’ya say?”

GOUGED, thought for a moment and replied…

“Okay… I promise to buy some rugs—NOT! Look, I’m going to need a new computer monitor more than those stupid rugs. See, this monitor appears to be shot!” (and a bang rang out)

And with that, GOUGED, was out of ammo.

Another 24 hours went by. Soon, GOUGED (who practically overdosed on sleeping pills), heard a buzz on his cell phone. He picked it up and clicked on the smart phone only to be met with a reminder, that the third spirit had finally arrived.

It was the ghost of Cyber Monday.

“Am I in the presence of the ghost of Cyber Monday yet to come?” asked, GOUGED, reluctantly. His smart phone beeped in the affirmative. “Oh spirit” GOUGED continued, “I fear you most of all. For I am technologically challenged and do not have a PayPal account. Should I Google how to get one?”

The phone beeped and an image appeared. It was the photo of an H&R Block. Followed by the words “Spend…or else!”

GOUGED thought for a moment, and then asked, “Or else…what?” Another beep, and a picture of Tiny Tim’s Rug Emporium appeared with the words “Closing, everything must go. Going out of business.”

Columbiaclosings.com

Columbiaclosings.com

Gouged asked, “Spirit, are these the shadowy signs of what might be, or what has actually happened? Because, Cratchet is always claiming he’s going to be going out of business.”

The phone beeped once again and the screen on his phone read…

“GOUGED, I fear if you do not start spending money—LOT’S AND LOT’S OF MONEY, AND SOON—Tiny Tim’s Rug Emporium will be no more. And, I suspect a visit from the IRS might be in order.”

“No not an audit!” cried GOUGED.

“Please spirit, I promise I’ll exhaust my savings (all two cents worth), I’ll even spend money I don’t have, max out my credit cards, get a lone from a bank—well at least exhaust my savings, spend money I don’t have, and max out all my credit cards.”

“Can’t do much about the bank loan thing though…banks don’t loan money anymore. But, I swear on my former used car salesman’s liver, I’ll do the rest!”

The phone beeps stopped. GOUGED, figured he’d better sell out to the spirit of Cyber Monday—but FAST!

“Hey… I don’t mind being gouged for the money, honest I don’t!” he screamed, “I promise, I’ll do all the other stuff just like I said. Just please… don’t send the IRS to my door to conduct an audit. I can’t afford a law firm!”

GOUGED, dropped to his hands and knees—and reached under his bed for an an old shoe box full of receipts—just in case. Then he rushed outside and practically drove over a jaywalker carrying a small turkey to get to the closest ATM and withdraw his savings.

GOUGED, proved to be better than his word, though. He gave all his cash until the little red kettles swelled with money. And he bought those Persian rugs, just like he promised he would from, Tiny Tim’s Carpet Emporium.

Of course… he eventually was arrested and put in prison for the embezzling of funds, writing bad checks, and for committing grand larceny.

But, he did keep Tiny Tim’s Rug Emporium from going out of business. Plus, he kept Tim out of debt, all while still keeping Tiny Tim’s Rug Emporium flush with cash.

And after all, isn’t that what the true spirit of Christmas is all about? The spirit of giving—until it hurts?

(Soon to be a Major Motion Picture from some big name studio starring Tom Hanks—then I woke up.)