Phil: Well, Steve, it’s been a month or so since Halloween, that means we’re about seven months into “The Holidays,” as we so joyfully refer to them. Do you have your Christmas shopping done? If so, what did you get me?
Steve: Excuse me, but the last time I checked, I was a guy. As such, I will do my Christmas shopping the way I do it every year — at the last possible minute before the malls lock all the doors. I hate shopping. I hate shopping for myself (try to find size XXLT sometime). I hate shopping for others. I hate malls. The only thing I hate worse than Muzak is Christmas Muzak. If there’s a convenience store on the way to your house, I’ll probably pick up your gift there. People always need batteries.
Phil: And the latest issue of “Bodacious Ta-Tas On Parade” would be nice. Pick yourself up an Egg Nog & Rum Slurpee while you’re at it. Get you in that festive mood.
Steve: Yeah, I’m filled with the Christmas spirit.
Phil: Uh-huh, that’s what you’re filled with. Christmas spirit…yeeeaaahh. I told my family a long time ago that as a practicing member of the Church of Barely Religious Science Fiction that I “don’t do Christmas.” Unless there’s a copy of “BTTOP” in the ol’ stocking… and batteries, then I can be talked into participating. Especially if the joyous occasion includes lots of giblets and gravy.
Steve: Since our sons are grown and we don’t have grandkids yet (and that situation is fine with us for now, thank you very much), Christmas has become a little routine. Bunch of adults sitting around opening gifts is a different sort of event. Why go to a lot of trouble to create the magical Christmas morn? I keep all decorating, etc., to the very minimum my wife will allow.
Phil: Our kids are grown, too, but there’s still magic on Christmas morning. I get to watch six months’ income disappear in a voracious thrashing of sparkly paper in about 11 minutes. That’s pretty amazing. Decorating? That falls outside my realm. Except for the outdoor lights. One reason I’m very envious of you pituitary cases is when it comes to this time of year and one has to put those little twinklers high up on the roof, it seems additional height, even as unnatural as yours, would be handy. I hate getting up on ladders. I get a nosebleed stepping on the bathroom scale (I won’t tell you what happens to the poor scale). This year I’m thinking of standing in the front yard with a couple of flashlights and blinking them off and on for a few hours every evening. Ho, ho, freaking ho.
Steve: As long as you’re fully dressed, that’ll probably be okay. We string up a few lights and stuff, mostly so our neighbors will think we’ve made some sort of effort. We’ve got an artificial tree that already has lights attached. It practically puts itself up. I can erect that tree and get it decorated during halftime.
Phil: See, you’re always adding these unreasonable caveats to my holiday plans. Clothing. What if I compromise and stand out in the yard in swaddling clothes? That’s Christmas-centric, right? I’m sure I have some around here. I have a whole closet full of “waddling” clothes… there can’t be much of a stylistic leap.
Steve: Be sure to wrap them very tightly around your head. You might want to put a plastic bag over them, too, to keep ’em fresh. Just a suggestion. Speaking of breathing, I find that the holiday season is the time of year when I most often have trouble drawing a deep breath because I am full up to my ears with giblets. For me, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day are all pretty much the same: Lots of turkey, dressing, giblets, etc., then flop in front of droning televised football with pants undone and eyelids closed. Snoring is permitted; groaning is practically required.
Phil: I get teary-eyed thinking of all that stuffing, gravy and big toasty bird. I also get teary-eyed when I have to double the dose of my cholesterol medicine and can still feel lumps of sludge gathering in important arteries. But, it’s The Holidays! Nothing says “Nearer My Lord to Thee” than a triple bypass.
Steve: Seeing as how you’re a Buddhist lacto-veterinarian or whatever, what’s your favorite holiday dish? I’m all about the dressing myself. Cornbread dressing with lots of sage. Thanksgiving, Christmas, leftovers, dressing all the damned time. By the time February rolls around, I look like I’m wearing dressing on my hips.
Phil: Oh, and here I thought your hula skirt was getting moldy. But, as for holiday eats, I’m the kind of Buddhist that likes a cheeseburger now and again. And again. I don’t rationalize away my omnivorism to fit into some spiritual “rules” box. Heck, I’ll eat the box too if it makes you happy. Just put some gravy on it.
Steve: I understand that they now sell Deep-Fried Cardboard at state fairs in the Midwest.
Phil: Yeah, it comes on a stick. You can’t tell where to stop eating, so I don’t.
Steve: I might’ve mentioned my dislike for shopping, but I really hate wrapping gifts. Every gift I wrap looks as if a roll of shiny paper was wadded into a ball by a retarded baboon. Kelly wraps presents beautifully, naturally, so half the packages under the tree are splendid and half appear to have been in some sort of industrial accident. When the kids were little, we had to explain that one of the elves in Santa’s Wrapping Department suffered from a drinking problem.
Phil: Hey! We must’ve had the same elf! Chris wraps gifts and puts cute stuff on the card; I just throw junk into garbage bags and staple them shut. I love the whole, “This one must be from Dad” routine.
Steve: In these tough economic times, one has to think about down-sizing the whole Christmas gift-giving extravaganza. Here’s a simple solution: Socks. We all wear ’em, one size fits all, etc., but they’re buggers to wrap.
Phil: Not if you have a garbage bag and a stapler! Happy Holidays!