My Twelve Days of Christmas

On the First Day of Christmas, my true love gave me a . . .
well, I’m not sure I even know who my true love is
And, well, nobody really special has given me anything,
So, let’s just assume Santa gave to me . . .
A shovel to plant a pear tree
. . . because, you see, I really don’t need a partridge at all; we do have enough pets to take care of around here . . .

On the Second Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
. . .Yeah, I’m still looking for a true love, but in the meantime it’s still Santa . . .
Two turtle shells
. . . which I’m pretty sure are illegal to import, and I’m really not sure what to do with, but they are pretty . . .
And a shovel to plant a pear tree

On the Third Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
. . . Day three and still no true love, but Santa keeps bringing me stuff, so who’s complaining . . .
Three French Hens
. . . Now, I know I said we did not need any more pets, but these hens lay eggs and, well, I think they’ll be legal in Sacramento soon – I hope so . . .
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Four Calling Friends
. . . which is really a cool gift, because a lot of my friends do not call very often and I’m thinking I’ve got a few more days of this, so I might hear from just about everybody . . .
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree
. . . did I mention that Santa did NOT bring the pear tree; so am I supposed to get my own or something . . .

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Five Golden Rings
. . . now, this is getting my hopes up that the true love might be on the way . . .
Four Calling Friends
. . . glad it was not the same four friends today; it is nice to hear from folks . . .
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree
. . . I am a bit worried about tomorrow, because I have the hens now and I certainly do not need geese – I cannot imagine them being legal in my lifetime . . .

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Six Peace Signs Praying
. . . Okay, I think it’s a psychedelic thing, but I like it – Peace out Santa! . . .
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Friends
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Seven Swans a’swimming
. . . now you just have to understand that Swan is a family name and these were actually distant relatives and, yes, it WAS nice to see them . . .
Six Peace Signs Praying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Friends
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree

On the Eighth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Eight Maids a’cleaning
. . . and, let me tell you, the house needed it; now, THAT is one nice gift . . .
Seven Swans a’swimming
. . . a whole different branch of the family today – how nice . . .
Six Peace Signs Praying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Friends
. . . and, thanks for the messages, but I’m busy entertaining relatives from out of town and could not answer; I’ll get back to you after the holiday rush . . .
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree
. . . everybody’s getting shovels for Christmas next year; I have plenty now; still no tree . . .

On the Ninth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Nine Ladies dancing
. . . great, but next time let’s go out somewhere with good music and really let loose . . .
Eight Maids a’cleaning
Seven Swans a’swimming
Six Peace Signs Praying
. . . okay, I’m starting to pray for peace, too, now. . .
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Friends
Three French Hens
. . . thank goodness for those eggs or I wouldn’t know how to feed all these relatives . . .
Two turtle shells
. . . and, boy, do these shells make great bowls, now that there is not a clean dish to be found anywhere in the house . . .
And a shovel to plant a pear tree

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Ten Lords a’Leaping
. . . so, is one of these guys supposed to be my true love; I feel like the Bachelorette on that reality show . . .
Nine Ladies dancing
Eight Maids a’cleaning
. . . I guess I need to actually ask these gals to wash the dishes . . .
Seven Swans a’swimming
Six Peace Signs Praying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Friends
. . . sorry about that ‘mailbox full’ message everyone; I’ll get around to listening to all the messages soon . . .
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Eleven Pipers piping
. . . I always thought this was a musical reference, but, with all these guests, working plumbing is critical; I hope electricians are next . . .
Ten Lords a’Leaping
Nine Ladies dancing
Eight Maids a’cleaning
Seven Swans a’swimming
Six Peace Signs Praying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Friends
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree
. . . still waiting for a tree to plant and practically holding my breath for Santa’s last chance at the true love thing tomorrow. . .

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Twelve Drummers Drumming
. . . I always enjoy a good drum circle and the dancers are loving it . . .
Eleven Pipers piping
. . . plumbing is now working fine, Thank you . . .
Ten Lords a’Leaping
. . . apparently, they were just here to entertain the dancing ladies and my out of town guests . . .
Nine Ladies dancing
. . . tap dancers today – just a bit on the noisy side . . .
Eight Maids a’cleaning
. . . and even the dishes got done, Thank you . . .
Seven Swans a’swimming
. . . I especially appreciate the invitations to Australia and Scotland; it will be nice to see you all again soon . . .
Six Peace Signs Praying
. . . I think it is starting to work – looking forward to tomorrow . . .
Five Golden Rings
. . . I don’t know what to do with all these rings; maybe I’ll get one of the envelopes they advertise on tv . . .
Four Calling Friends
. . . since my voice mailbox is full, I really have no way of knowing if four more friends called today; I hope they call back later . . .
Three French Hens
. . . still not legal, but the eggs are great . . .
Two turtle shells
. . . turns out these make great stepping stones in the backyard, so I can gather eggs without getting muddy shoes . . .
And a shovel to plant a pear tree
. . . Santa finally left a note saying this is not a good time of year for planting and suggesting I get trees in the spring; maybe I’ll pick up a true love in the spring too . . . 

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Faith in Humanity Restored

An incredible thing happened today.  I received an envelope in the mail that contained a $2 bill.  There is nothing incredible about the $2 bill itself, but the fact that it arrived has restored my faith in humanity.

A couple weeks ago, I borrowed a neighbor’s car.  Trying to be appreciative, I took it to the neighborhood coin op car wash to clean.  I put 7 quarters in the machine and . . . nothing. 

I looked around for a phone number to call . . . nothing.

I looked around for a sign identifying the name of the business . . . nothing.  Well, not exactly.  There was a sign that said, “Car Wash.”

I got angry.  I wondered how many people on that day lost a little bit of money in the machine.  I wondered what the total gain was for the operator of the car wash. 

I went home.  I started to do some research.  I discovered the name of the business, the owner’s name and contact information.  I called. 

The owner answered the phone, seemed surprised that I had found a way to reach him, and assured me that he would reimburse me for my loss.  I doubted it. 

$1.75 is barely worth making a fuss over.  Most people would have gone away angry and, maybe, cheated the next cashier who gave them extra change thinking that made things even somehow.  I made the fuss. 

The fuss took me a couple of hours, some internet research and several phone calls to government agencies.  Clearly, my time was not worth the $1.75.  But, I had nothing better to do that day and decided to fight the fight for the many people in the neighborhood who have lost their money. 

And, today, in my mail arrived a $2 bill.  It seems much more practical to have sent a $2 bill than to send a $1 bill and 3 quarters.  And, I appreciated the extra quarter for my troubles. 

Next time I go by that car wash, I will check to see if the owner has posted a phone number to call for others who lose their change.  Having fought the fight for the greater good, I hope to see the greater good served.  In the meantime, my faith in humanity has been restored by the gesture of sending an extra quarter when I expected nothing.

Walmart’s Values – rated “L” for “Lacking”

Wow, Walmart, bringing families together, way to go.  Oh, excuse me, my tongue got stuck in my cheek there for a minute.  What I meant to say was, “Could Walmart be any less family oriented?” 

 

Several times lately (obviously, I am watching too much television), I have seen a commercial for Walmart and Guitar Hero® that absolutely blows my mind.  (You can see it here:  http://commercial-archive.com/node/146624.)  At first, it all seems so incredibly nice – a whole family, gathered in the living room, playing Guitar Hero® together.  Music, dancing and smiling faces – what could possibly be wrong with this picture. 

 

The baby in the high chair is swinging his/her feet in time to the music, with head bobbing.  The preschool daughter jumps up and down in her purple patent shoes while her blonde ringlet curls bounce along with her.  The son, probably 7-8 years old plays drums, with his head bobbing to the beat.  Dad sets the rhythm at the beginning of the clip and then is seen in the background jamming on a guitar.  Mom is the star, up front playing guitar and thanking Walmart for making the Xbox and Guitar Hero® affordable so, “now this family is always together.”  The whole family. 

 

Are you wondering yet why I think this is not a “family-oriented” commercial and Walmart really blew it?  The answer comes at the very end of the commercial when the voiceover informs us that Guitar Hero® and, indeed, maybe this entire vignette, is “rated T for teens.” 

 

Now, I don’t proclaim to be any kind of an expert on rating systems, but I assume that “T for teens” means there is something about Guitar Hero® that is inappropriate for younger children.  The Guitar Hero® website identifies “mild suggestive themes” as the reason for the rating.  I have no idea and will probably not bother to find out exactly what “mild” or “suggestive” mean in this context.    

 

Walmart, on the other hand, should find out.  Walmart is sending this not-quite-Currier-and-Ives scene into our homes for the holidays.  Why, I wonder, could they not have used a family with teenage children.  Don’t families with teenagers need togetherness?  I suspect they have already saturated the teen market and are looking for a new demographic to target. 

 

Is anybody else offended by Walmart and their “togetherness” family beaming with joy (and greed) while the baby in the highchair participates in an activity rated “T for teen?”   I really can’t blame the mom – I know she is only an actress and those are, likely, not her children.  And, besides that, she is barely out of the teen years herself. 

 

My friends know that I am not against my daughter watching television or playing video games in moderation.  They also know that I try to keep my daughter away from television commercials.  She is way too easily influenced by them in extremely subtle ways that she cannot comprehend and guard against.  She knows that Walmart wants her money, but she does not understand the extent to which Walmart is willing to portray life unrealistically to get it.  She has no idea that Walmart is willing to ignore family values and common sense, sacrificing the greater good of children and families in the process, in their quest for the last Christmas dollar of the season.  Unless prompted, she would not even question the underlying message that we should all just ignore the rating system and let even the baby play the game rated “T for teens.” 

 

My daughter does not know these things.  The adults watching should. 

 

When the teen market has been saturated, Walmart needs to go after a younger market, so Walmart does.  That is capitalism.   Maybe the target of my outrage should be Activision Publishing.  According to its Guitar Hero® website, the game ratings range from “Everyone 10+ to  Teen.”  Is this really necessary?  It seems simple enough to create a version of Guitar Hero® that is appropriate for all ages.  There are plenty of good songs with family-appropriate lyrics and no suggestive themes, mild or otherwise.  I think it could be done.   

 

Even at E-10+, Walmart’s happy family need not apply.