Oh. Christmas Tree?

One December, our family room looked barren. Where a glorious, fresh, decorated Christmas tree usually stood, we had but empty carpet. This was strange, since my mother loved fresh pine trees and had insisted on one for years. She loved the smell, you see. That year, however, she couldn’t bring herself to do Christmas. I’d say it was Winter Blues or a Nervous Breakdown or whatever euphemism people preferred for describing Depression, but it was also that my brother and I fought like angry dogs while complaining about our difficult lives in wealthy suburbia while demanding expensive presents.

Facing the reality of a tree-less Christmas, we children called a cease fire. Enlisting the help of the only other licensed driver in the house (our father), we set off to see what was available on a literal Christmas Eve.

Fortunately, we didn’t need to go far. At the point of commerce touching neighborhood, we saw that one of the businesses had donated their holiday decorations to the large dumpster out back. We drew closer. In the light of minivan headlights and father-held flashlight we saw them: a few skinny, short, still-alive Christmas trees.

“Let’s take them!” my sister said.

“They’re too small,” I claimed -or my brother; we share a similar optimism.

But we all knew we were short on options. We also knew we needed time to decorate, open our traditional pajamas, read Luke 2, and set out milk and cookies for Santa. Therefore, we took them.

And that is how, for our most memorable Christmas tree experience, we had three (rather dwarfish) pines in the place of honor. We looped the lights and tree skirt around them all, roping them like contestants in a three-legged race. We hung the ornaments where they’d fit.

And they smelled lovely.

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

©2020 Chel Owens

Thanks to CalmKate of Aroused for the prompt!

The A Mused Poetry Contest 11/14 – 12/11/2020

‘Tis the season for Christmas, and you know what that means: Christmas cards and newsletters. Although many opt for a family picture or online update these days, I still receive (and send) the occasional list of amazing things my family and I did all year long.

And it’s annoying. On that note:

  1. The Theme is the annoying Christmas newsletter.
  2. Although I wish these ballads were shorter, Length has to be 250 words (or, please, fewer) to reflect the true, proud writer’s desire to brag.
  3. Rhyming will happen if you choose the obligatory Night Before Christmas spinoff, but is completely optional this holiday season.
  4. These are family-friendly publications, so I’m reining in the Rating at PGish. You know what I mean.
  5. Please, make us laugh. As we pour over yet another photo posed amidst clouds in an autumn forest and read just how many accolades the family dog earned, bring us laughter before we open the holiday egg nog early…

You have till 10:00 a.m. MST next MONTH (December 11) to submit a poem.

Use the form, below, to remain anonymous until results are posted.

Otherwise, include your poem or a link to it in the comments. Leave a comment if your link-back doesn’t show up by midnight of the day you create it.

—–

Merry? Christmas!

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

—–

©2020 Chel Owens

Morning Mom is Coming to Town

You better sit up;
Better open your eyes-
Better get up
‘Fore you get a surprise.
Morning Mom is stomping the ground.

She’s opened your blinds;
Yelled at you twice-
Gonna come give you sched’ling advice.
Morning Mom is starting to frown.

She knew when you weren’t sleeping,
Staying up to read, instead.
And now she’s leaning over you
And her breath could curdle bread.

Oh! You better sit up;
Better open your eyes-
Better get up
‘Fore she brings in the ice.
Morning Mom is layin’ it down…

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Also posted at my motherhood site.

Throwback: Snappy McSprinkles

I do not understand the appeal of Elf on a Shelf. The whole thing is CREEPY; a twisted way people are screwing with their children’s minds.

In light of that, enjoy this piece I wrote back in December of 2017:

Elf

They’re sleepin’, so quiet-like. Little pink cheeks smile in dreamland. Soft breathing’s moving their fluffy blankets.

Perfect.

Now, time to untie this string. I’ve been hangin’ around all day, grinning like a fool.

They’ll be the fools soon.

C’mon, striiiiing! I broke through thicker ropes back at The Pen’!

Good ole North Pole Pen. You don’t hear any annoying Christmas songs about that place. Just crap about naughty and nice and coal and presents.

Candy-coated lies, that’s what.

If I just twist this way -oh. The dog. Glaring. Waiting for me to fall. You can fool those fat humans, but never the slobbering dog.

I even tricked a pet parrot once. He was completely clueless, right up till I pulled the first feather. Would’ve had bird for dinner if Blabbermouth Jingle hadn’t seen.

Made for an impressive scar, anyway.

Nice, doggie. Stop growling; go to bed. I’m just a toy, ya dumb mutt. Just a tied-up toy hanging EXACTLY WHERE FUDGING MOM STRUNG ME UP!

What kind of mom ties up a toy, anyway? What kind of twisted caregiver can’t even use a toy the way she’s supposed to?!

Oh! Footsteps. Stop swinging, string. It’s just the wind, dumb broad -I swear.

“Stay, Duke.”

That’s right, ya drooling waste. Stay there. You’ll be asleep soon, too. She doesn’t tie me up every night.

“Hmmm. Where should we put Snappy tonight, Duke?”

Why ya talkin’ to the dog, lady? It’s not like he can answer you. Just wait till you hide me near the Christmas presents. saw that chemistry set. Ha ha. Dead dog, anyone?

Yeah, don’t whine at me. I’m more valuable than you, dog. I’m Santa’s secret messenger and all that.

“I think we’ll do a treat tonight.”

Oh, good. Make it truffles, woman. I’m tired of eating that candy cane crap. That’s all I got in the joint, too: candy canes. You’d think Santa could hire someone who branched a bit, but no.

Maybe they have some sort of deal with Wal-Mart for all the unsold candy from a decade ago.

Dots and Dubble Bubbles! She is doing candy canes. And, duct tape. Why ya got duct tape? What the -no! No no no no no no no -ouch! Oomph!

“Good night, Snappy. Come, Duke.”

Oh, sure. Of course it’s a good night for your walking pet drool machine. He’s not taped to a box of Fun Dippin’ CANDY CANES! He can probably move to piss somewhere besides his own fleecy bottoms and jingling shoes.

Just keep it up, all of ya. I’ll wait. Every night you tie me is one more slit in a sleeping neck. Who’ll be seeing dancing sugarplums then, huh?

Original Post

A Picture Perfect Picture That’s Not Perfect

Why do my neighbors insist on silly things? I already struggle with admitting I’m a stay-at-home mother who drives a minivan and knows how to bake. Just when I think I’ve made some headway in my self-esteem because I set something decorative on the mantel, another woman posts her Taste of Home setup on TwoFacebook.

white-ceramic-mug-1693652.jpg

Not that I envy her or anything.

Sort-of.

Mostly, I feel indignant. Indignant, I say! Hours of decorating are a waste of time and money, plus a psychological strain on the children who are not allowed to touch any of it.

Don’t believe me? In a fit of domesticity last Easter, I decided to make a holiday wreath. We were out of home-grown grapevines and lacked the time to paint them with off-white chalk paint, so I purchased a pre-made wreath. I also lacked the materials or time to cast my own swirled pastel eggs in resin, so bought those while we were there. And, yes -I picked up some ribbon (silk worms are notoriously difficult to breed).

Okay, okay. I got a glue gun, too. Sheesh. I used their coupon!

Anyway -two hours later, I had my Easter wreath. From a distance, you couldn’t even see the dripping entrails of hot glue or a few bits of burned skin I’d also adhered. For my efforts, I figured I spent about $30.

20191209_142340

…which is why my other door decorations have come from Goodwill or Wal-mart.

Actually, the autumn one was half-off at a boutique. There’s no way the person who made it ended up making a profit. She should’ve saved her hot glue and fingers and taken a leaf from my book.

I was thinking about my practicality versus my neighbors’ insanity yesterday. I had just offered tickets to a highly sought-after event, to which a friend answered she could not attend. She really wanted to, but they were decorating for the ward Christmas party that night.

Why couldn’t she turn her fellow decorators down? Why couldn’t they do it the morning of the event?

Why not skip trying to change a church meetinghouse gymnasium into Dicken’s Christmas village* entirely?

Screenshot_2019-12-09-14-28-48

This is probably why I’m not on the decorating committee.

And, did you remember I mentioned psychological strain on children? What good are mantels, wreaths, and Dickens when all the children want is somewhere to sit? They certainly can’t do that on a pure white couch, accented by mirrored surfaces and offset by homespun metals and woods.

Joanna Gaines

Swiped from The Master.

Maybe I’m coming from a house of boys, where we can’t even keep pillows on the couch or Nerf bullets from ‘accent’ing all the surfaces. Or maybe, as I like to think, I’m the sane one in the neighborhood.

 

*For the curious, they are actually intending to do this.

—–

Photo Credit:
Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels
and Chelsea Owens
and Joanna Gaines’ Instagram

©2019 Chelsea Owens

WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Merry? Christmas to all! I knew that most of my followers weren’t into all the commercialism that seeps into this season and was happy to see so many of the poems reflect that. However, this also made judging as difficult as knowing which Paw Patrol puppy your daughter said her little Stephen wanted.

After much deliberation and decision, this week’s winner is:

The 12 days of Ca$hmas

by Matt Snyder

Oh holy hell

What’s a child’s wish for old saint nick ?

Rampant shopping by his parents, 5 months in advance…retail has gone bonkers

With a wink of the eye

Black Friday is every day or so it seems so near

Christmas in July with a bottle of beer and the three wise ho’s

With a yank and a tug and on some poor bastards head, mauled over and dead what dread.

With sappy hallmark cards and zippy Starbucks drinks

Purple and white trees, the whole kitchen

Sink. Holes

Burnt in pockets

Egg nog delight

Jesus rolls in his

Grave or returns for the night

Has become silent

I wish you well

To all a good night

Ain’t that right Charlie Brown ?

Bah.

—–

Congratulations, Matt! You are the most terrible poet of the week!

Like last week, entrants took the prompt in a few directions. I enjoyed the references to carols, shopping, and even a bit of politics. Matt’s poem followed my usual terrible requirements (intentional rhyme, meter, and subject issues), with an overall ‘bad poetry’ feel to it.

So many of the following were a very close second. Read, if you can, and see if you don’t agree:

Stuff

by Deb Whittam

So you’re caught up in the Christmas hype,
Buying stuff you don’t need.
Remember, if you don’t cough up,
They’re going to gripe and it’s all about trying to please.
The shops are announcing their sales
Wares that you can’t really afford
I mean it’s not like they got it wrong.
Buy, buy, buy, that’s the law
What do you mean that the church
Decided 25th was the day
To circumvent pagan worship
Isn’t that a bit unchristian?
What do you mean that it’s all about
Penance and peace? Don’t you mean purchasing and
Spending your hard earned cash for
Profiteering doesn’t happen by itself, does it?
And let’s be honest, we’re here for them.
(Sorry, clarification required) the shops, not your family.

—–

Joseph’s Christmas Lament

by Bruce Goodman

It’s impossible to find accommodation around here.
With crowds converging for the census people are selling their wares
all over the place – a Bethlehem-Census never fails
to promote discounted toga sales.
My wife’s just had a baby and now the jolly farmers are visiting us in droves
– next thing there’ll be hosts of angels singing their heads off.
How are we meant to feed all these visitors
not to mention the farm animals?
And it’s freezing cold in the night.
I’m looking forward to Christmases in the future.
Everyone says future Christmases will be all peace and quiet.

—–

Ding Dong

by Jane Basil

One silent night,
the virgin Mary had a baby boy,
an infant holy, infant lowly.
It came upon a midnight clear,
once in royal David’s city.
Ding dong merrily on high.

Go –
tell it on the mountain, the night
before Christmas:
Santa Claus
is coming to town.
Ding dong merrily high.
I want a hippopotamus for Christmas.

—–

Untitled piece

by Nitin

So I’m in a shopping mall you see,
An agglomeration of shops and shops to be,
There’s a boozy Santa in the corner with a kiddy on his lap,
The kiddy is either waiting for his present or is taking a nap
“Ho ho ho and a bottle of rum,”
Screams a vagabond, a bum
I’m tired shopping for the wifey
Shops, shops and shops are all I see,
I’m exhausted and need a break
But what should I get my kiddie
Maybe I’ll just give him a little money
The kiddie and the wifey want freebies
And we’re living in a damn capitalist economy!
They’re a bunch of cold blooded democrats
I believe that Trump’s the man, you WORK to become an aristocrat
Anyhow I’m stuck in this marriage with shops all around me
I’ll think I’ll sing a line from Hey Jude
“When I find myself in trouble mother Mary comes to me”
Wait that’s Let it Be

—–

Happy Dust Collector’s Shopping

by Ruth Scribbles

Ding dong ding dong
The text chimes are
Driving me absolutely crazy
Spend money here
Or there
The halls have been decked
All year! Why?
I don’t want your crap
Do you want mine?
Save your pennies and buy
Medicine or food ?
Your children don’t want
Beanie weenies
And please don’t burn the piano
To buy aunt Matilda
A new nose ring
To catch her snot
While she sings
Joy to the world
The cash registers are bulging
And people are destroying
Their ability to warm their
Houses

—–

Untitled piece

by Gary

Blimey the adverts have started already

Only just done Halloween I’m so unready

Reindeers standing where the tinned soup used to be

I only want some food for dinner not a giant inflatable Christmas tree

Santa hats seem to have replaced my usual supply of herbal tea

*

Jingle bells bellows out on loop from the supermarket speakers

Ornamental singing elves more important than things like carpet sweepers

Hilarious festive ties are everywhere all playing an out of tune carol

Nearly every aisle is full of wine and spirits and lager by the barrel

Suddenly the only cheese you can buy must contain apricots and cranberries

Over priced selection boxes become the only source of confectionaries

Nuts by the bucket full which is no good for delicate tummies like that of Gary’s

*

Is it too much to ask for one single deodorant not those annoying Old Spice Gift sets

Suddenly on every aisle corner you see stacks of Home Alone Video Cassettes

*

All the shop staff are forced to be decked out as Santa’s little helpers

*

Gone are the discounts as it’s full pricing in all its splendour

It’s a crime not to stock up for that big day in December

To much much for me as it’s still just pigging November

—–

Untitled piece

by Chetyl

Groceries hidden by Christmas fare

Oh, oh, see chocolate cherries there

A once a year treat I can’t resist

But is it too early? I need to resist

Passing by the long toy aisles

Stuffed animals with sewn on smiles

Since when are they giant sized

Maybe bedrooms are bigger, I surmised

After Thanksgiving I must indulge

Texan dancing Santa with tummy bulge?

I think I’ll stick with my mini tree

Add a few lights, happy me.

—–

The Lonely Elf

by Michael B. Fishman

There was an elf
who lived by himself
he whittled wood toys that he set on a shelf.

One night he thought:
“These toys can’t be bought
so I’ll give them to those who have naught.”

So one cloudy day
he gave them away
went back home and read E. Hemingway

While still all alone
his gloom it had flown
so he moved out to Sierra Leone.

There he lived on an isthmus
and he waited for Christmas
so he could help Santa with the gift-giving business.

—–

The Christmas Gate

by Daniel Kemp

’Twas Christmas Eve behind Stephen’s gate,
The shops were closed. The hour was late.
The money counters were stressed and tired,
Stephen wished more he’d hired!

Sacks of notes were piled high on trucks,
Millions of pounds and millions of bucks.
He toasted his wife he praised his staff,
But as the drivers drove off they began to laugh.

They loaded the spaceship and off high it went,
Around the world tipping out all the money that was spent.
In the morning the cash laid deep and crisp and even
Good King Wenceslas had a look and said it was the fault of Stephen.

—–

Thank you for contributing your terribleness. Come back tomorrow for our ONE YEAR anniversary of this contest, plus the final prompt of 2019.

Matt: D. Wallace Peach created this graphic that you can use (if you want) for a badge of honor as the winner:

©2019 Each poet, and his/her respective poem

The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Welcome to the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest #51! Can you believe it?

Writing bad poetry intentionally can be tricky, so I wrote a basic outline here. The long and short of it is to capitalize on the poetry clichés all beginning poets love: adjectives, fluff, overused expressions, and angst. Add intentional mis-meter to that, and you’ve got a ‘winning’ combination.

Here are the specifics for this week:

  1. Since it’s coming up on my mind, at least, this week’s Topic is the commercialism of Christmas. Man, I hate it.
  2. Everyone’s having sales, sales, sales! Keep the Length to 20% off your usual poem. Hurry now; supplies are running out!
  3. Rhyme if you were smart and purchased the name brand version back in July. Otherwise, you’re stuck with the cheap, knock-off variety that might have been recorded in Chinese.
  4. Make it terrible! Make Hasbro put out a recall for all verse you may have ever produced in the last decade, plus offer psychological recompense for the ten years before that.
  5. Christmas is family time -ish. We’d like to make people assume so, anyway, as we advertise the spirit right out of them. Anyway, keep things G-Rated or friendlier.

An offer like this won’t last forever! You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (November 15) to submit a poem.

Use the form below if you want to be anonymous for a week.

For a more social experience and immediate attention, include your poem or a link to it in the comments. If you use the ol’ linkback method, pop me a comment if you don’t see the link show up within a day.

Merry(?) Christmas and have fun!

Jingle All The Way Christmas Movies GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Photo credit: GIPHY