5 Things You Didn’t Know About Not Knowing

Top view of young businessman making decision

In this, the few hours before the Christmas holiday, every website is giving their list of things you aren’t supposed to know, in lieu of real information:

  • 10 Facts about the Holiday season
  • 8 Things You Never Knew about “Elf on the Shelf.”
  • 11 Ways to Flu-Proof Your Home
  • 10 Of The Most Bizarre Animal Species Discovered in 2015
  • 10 Dishes to Make For Christmas Morning Breakfast

I love it! There are so many articles out there.  I want to learn everything and knowing that Donna Reed’s daughter wasn’t named after Mary from It’s a Wonderful Life (she’s named after her grandmother) will really help me in life if I ever get on Jeopardy.  What more to you need to know about Elf on the Shelf that isn’t already in the title?  Can anybody really Flu-Proof you home if you have kids in child care?  I think not. Even if you are running after them with Clorox wipes for everything they touch.

Some of these facts doesn’t even make sense.  10 Dishes to Make For Christmas Morning Breakfast?  If coffee is not one of them, then fuck you!  Coffee is a dish in my house and it is best served hot.  How many animal species can you remember?  All of the new ones look like the old ones, except there is a new name for them.  10 Facts about the Holiday season?  I’m going to be in my underwear watching It’s a Wonderful Life Christmas Eve while my girlfriend is asleep on the couch.  That is a fact!  All of my Christmas Cards will arrive after Christmas (because I haven’t started them, actually I’m waiting for other people to send theirs so I can copy their return address.) That is a fact!  Oh, Martha has a new cat that’s been added to her card, how nice!  I’m sure Fluffy will be heart broken if I forgot her name.

Ok, enough of the bitching.  Here is my list of things you didn’t know about not knowing:

  1. I was going to write this. This is a given. Someone was about to and I beat them to the punch. He’s a suggestion, write about knowing about not knowing.  I knew that I didn’t know I was not knowing.
  2. This is where the writer tries to surprise you can keep you reading.  75% of people surveyed didn’t know that they didn’t know and thought that they knew. Now you are impressed.  There was a survey.
  3. This one is usually one that you kind of remember.  Some of the people on the Earth are women and some others are men. Way obvious! Even my cat figured that out.
  4. Now it’s blatantly obvious. This is an satirical article. If you didn’t get that, start back at the beginning.
  5. Blah blah blah.  No one reads the last one anyway.

Well, now you know what you didn’t know about not knowing.  If there are any questions, please put them in very small type and email it to yourself.

Happy Holidays!

Ugly Christmas Tree?

charley brown chistmasReading, PA, a town from whence my mail arrives, hit the national headlines regarding an “ugly Christmas tree” placed at the town square at 5th and Penn Streets. Immediately the local press dubbed it a “Charley Brown” Christmas tree because of it sparseness. It’s been called all sorts of names from pathetic to wimpy. Almost immediately, businesses collected $1000 dollars to get a “real” Christmas tree to display down the street, so Reading wouldn’t have to deal with this “shame.” They got another tree and placed at 2nd and Penn Streets.

There was a knock at my parent’s door, last week, in the midst of dealing the death of my aunt. It was my brother’s ex-wife, and my nephew, who I haven’t seen probably since he was two (did I mention that he’s 18 now?) The divorce was ugly, and despite my mother sending Christmas and birthday cards to my nephew, and a reciprocated occasional picture, there was no other contact. They drove down from the Poconos to see the living Charley Brown Christmas tree, and decided to stop by.

A Charley Brown Christmas is just one of those things that I just have to see, or it doesn’t feel like Christmas to me, along with It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (1947 version), A Christmas Story (on for 24 hrs), and Scrooge (1951, with Alastair Sim). Does it really matter? It doesn’t to me. If I don’t see any of them my world is not going to crumble into dust. My question is, does it really matter to Reading what their tree is? The tree is just a symbol, just like the menorah that stands next to it. Will Christmas stop because of this shitty tree that the local government has put up? No. Will faith be influenced by this sparsely populated piece of wood? No. So why? We are told the gift doesn’t matter. We are told to “remember the reason for the season.” How does getting another tree promote that?

It was thought, way before Christianity, that pine, spruce and fir trees would ward of evil spirits and illness, so people would decorate their homes with boughs over their doors and windows. Their belief were driven by the fact that these trees made it through the winters, and that reminded them that green plants would return in the spring.

It wasn’t until the 1600, when Germans started the “Christmas” tree tradition. In the 1830’s German settlers brought the tradition to Pennsylvania. Because they were considered pagan symbols by many, Puritans outlaws them. It wasn’t until 1846 when Queen Victoria and her family was illustrated in the London News standing around a Christmas tree, making it fashionable to have one. By the 1890’s Christmas trees and ornaments were becoming an American tradition. So what does this do to the ugly Christmas tree? Nothing. It makes me wonder where we’ve come when our symbols have more priority then the message it is supposed to be sending; peace, love, charity, and kindness.


The Luck of the Irish

wpid-2011-03-26_14-29-20_594.jpgThis St. Patrick ’s Day I’ll be flying to Wisconsin.  Why Wisconsin you ask?  I say, “Why not Wisconsin?”  Unlike many other of the jobs I have in life, I have one that pays me, and they are sending me to Wisconsin.  So while you are downing a green pint of brew, on the sunny porch of some Irish pub, remember me, sitting in Philadelphia Airport, waiting for the plane, and then my layover in Detroit.  Have a second shot of Tullamore Dew or 18 year old Jameson Whiskey, and drink a toast to me (if you can’t think of Mother, potatoes, corned beef, whiskey, beer or anything else to toast.)

St. Patrick’s Day has always been something sacred in our family; a shot of Tulllamore Dew (gross stuff) with The Old Man, some Killian’s Irish Red beers, and old Phillies Cigars (my Dad’s favorite, I don’t know why), freezing our asses off in his garage.  This was our big bonding movement of the year, the one time we accept that we do have some Irish blood in our veins, and soon to be Irish vomit on the floor of the garage.

My Aunt Betty and Uncle John (Murphy) used to have St. Patrick’s Day parties in their suburban NJ, detached two car garage, but like all of us in later years, it’s become too much work.  Grand parties they were.   Everyone turned out for their parties, neighbors, friends, relatives, and anyone else that might have passed by the blocked off street.  All were welcome and everyone had a grand time.   It was also a chance to catch up with the relatives I don’t get to see;  my Cousin Renee, Cousin Danny, and Cousin Jimmy as well as to have a drink with Uncle John (who used to call me, “Palsy Walsy” and everyone after a few).  A big bear hug from my uncle, or a crushing handshake, and you felt part of the family.  There was a one person band playing (guitar, harmonica, drum, and a bass pad with his feet) old Irish tunes that a few knew the lyrics to, and the other just made it up through their slurred speaking.  Some songs were sad some had us doing a jig, and after a few beers there were a bunch on the dance floor, enjoying the day.  Bad snows be damned on a party day, and cold?  After a few beers there wasn’t any cold; the keg was flowing and the whiskey too and the music kept you moving.   I miss those parties, but the greatest part is I can always remember them, the people and the fun I had.

Have a happy and safe St. Patrick’s day.

Believe it or not this was a Blue Moon with green food dye I had one St. Patrick’s Day.


What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

when harry met sallyIt’s December 31st.  It’s this time of year I think about When Harry Met Sally.  If you haven’t seen the movie then I’d really recommend watching it.  The two would be lovers have had gotten together and fell apart, but they remained friends throughout the years, they always spent their New Year’s Eve together.  Until the end.  Sally was at this fancy party, and ready to leave because no matter how much fun other people have, if you ain’t part of it, there really is no point in being there.  Harry is at his home, eating Mallomars and realizing he’s a dick.  And that he’s in love.  So he runs across town to the party to see Sally and he gets a little pushback from her, but she loves him also.  When you are in love, in these movies, love concurs all!  Great movie.  I cry at the end, no matter how many times I watch it.  Who doesn’t love, love?

I’m spending mine with Kim.  There could be any number of places to go out, but I think we are staying in.  Maybe watch a movie, cuddle and nosh a little.  My parents had a tradition, maybe it was the only “child appropriate” film on TV at the time, but we watched It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.  It’s kind of a long movie, but it has some humorous parts.  It is chock full of comedians, and cute little cameos by other stars.   It would show in our house to quell any anticipation of the ball dropping.  Most times it would put my brother and my mother fast asleep.  My dad and I would stay up, though.  I would help him ready the champagne when the time ticked close to midnight.  My brother and I would get sparkling cider in a champagne flute, to feel somewhat part of the celebration.  I’d also be in charge of waking them up.   A toast, and then the phone would ring; my grandparents would call to wish us Happy New Year.  Then, we would be sent to bed, our stomachs fizzing still from the sparkling cider, lying in bed exhausted, but wishing we could still be out there as our eyes closed shut for the night.

I’ve celebrated many different New Year’s Eves through the years; with friends, at parties, at home, and even alone.  I spent one having my ex-girlfriend (we broke up about nine months before) drunk texting me to tell me she was going out.  I remained home watching When Harry Met Sally.  I’ve realized over the years it doesn’t matter if you are among friends, or strangers, drinking or not.  New Years is a celebration of life and love, we sometimes forget to do on the other 365 days of the year.  When we hold our loved ones, a stranger, or yourself at midnight and give them a kiss, remember them at that moment.  Life goes by fast.

Happy New Year to all.  And to all a safe and happy night.

Skippy, Mippy, Moo

yulelogI was sitting home alone on Christmas Eve; my girlfriend opted to spend her time with her family and her daughter (who came in from NY.)  I was on-call at the hospital, or I would have joined them.  As I was flipping through the channels I was taken with a few things.  The perennial,  A Christmas Story, with its sarcastic wit and glorious story telling about a mid-west boy and his quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun from Santa, is all ways a chuckle.  Also a perennial, It’s a Wonderful Life, the first movie Jimmy Stuart made after being in the war, was a triumph of pathos brilliance.  Who among us hasn’t tried to mimic the Jimmy Stuart drawl when he says, “Mary…Mary!” No matter how many times I watch it, I’m crying through a box of Kleenex.  I love the film so much, that when it was first released on VHS, I got a copy.  Not sure it would even work anymore.  The 1951 version of Scrooge/A Christmas Carol (with Alastair Sim), to me, the only real version of Scrooge, was a delight to watch.  Even the clips of Patrick Macnee, from the original cast, breaking in to tell us little things about the production was a pure wonder to watch (although the introductions were recorded some 22 years ago.)   Another joy was to watch the Yule Log.  For those unaware of this programing, it has a picture of a burning log in a fire place, sometimes recorded from the 1960’s era Gracie Mansion, while in the audio background songs of the season.  Watching the Yule Log takes me back to my childhood.

It wasn’t too long ago I was a child (anyway that’s what I tell everyone.)   There were two things for sure on Christmas week that would happen in the Eisman family home:  one, my Dad, after having vacation for a week would have to drive 45 minutes, one way, back to work to pick up his holiday check (the company could never seem to be able to mail it to our home), and two, my mother and father would get into an argument on Christmas Eve day, only to make up by the evening.  It was a strained evening, but the two fighting factions would sit with my brother and I, after scrambling to clean up for the next day’s guests and watch the Yule Log on WPIX channel 11, New York.   Somehow, all the yelling is discourse between these once polar opposites would be forgotten when they were sitting on either side of my brother and me.  Beyond magically, this Yule Log seemed to make everything OK.  I’m not sure why, but perhaps it was a reminder of what Christmas was about; it’s for the kids.  We weren’t religious in our household.  Yeah, we knew the holiday was about Christ’s birthday, but as a kid it was all about presents, and how you needed to behave around your grandparents.  I never asked for a Red Ryder BB Gun, because I knew what my parents thought about guns.  I looked for electronic things that I could take apart and try to understand how they work.  I guess those were my first step into computers.  And here I am.

The evening quietly passed without incident.   Good memories, bad memories.  At this age, I think I’ve moving them all into the good category, and chalk it up to life experiences.