I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I see a Slurpee in your future

I recently had the opportunity to have a reading by a tarot card reader -slash- clairvoyant. Now normally I wouldn't engage in that kind of crap, but it was free and the Jew in me couldn't pass up a bargain. Before I tell you what she said, it's best if I say what my feeling is on these things to begin with. Basically I think there are people who, for whatever reason, have a sixth sense about things. I don't think they SEE the future, per se, but I think that for whatever reason some people are more in tune with these kinds of things. I also think that for every one of these, there are thousands and thousands of shonky fakes whose most marketable skill is being able to make general shit sound specific, and to read people's personalities within a very short time. So that being said, I headed into my free for today only reading.

I walked out of my reading suitably confused. Some of the things she said I couldn't really 'place' into my life - but she was pretty adamant that I would be able to fairly soon. Other things she said were suitably detailed and creepy - she knew I had 3 kids, knew their sexes, knew my individual concerns for them, knew I had a birthday in the very near future, and some other bits and pieces. I don't know that I really had any major "a-HA" moments in there. I didn't even ask her any questions, nor did I tell her anything about myself. Perhaps I should have asked specific questions, but the whole thing kinda spun me out so for once I found myself speechless.

I suppose that clairvoyants, and mystics, and psychics, and whatever else is out there really only serve one purpose: they provide comfort to the person seeking their guidance. No difference to religion really - and my MIL would say that mystics, etc are basically a type of religion anyway. I think she's right - really anything that provides a person with guidance, support, insight - heck, some sort of purpose for living each day - can be considered a religion. Some people would say it's just their non-belief in anything (other than, perhaps, themselves) which is their religion (although I'm guessing they wouldn't use that word).

So - am I any better or different or enlightened after meeting with the clarvoyant slash tarot card lady? In short, no.

But I did find it supremely annoying that she used North American Indian cards with all North American animals in it. Who ever heard of a Brown Bear (new beginnings) or a Bald Eagle (starting something new) or a door mouse (introspection) wandering around Melbourne, anyway? *grin* (You knew I'd find something to bitch about, didn't you?)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Oh The Pressure

Note: edited below.

So as we all now know, having my birthday on Xmas Day sucks. For a number of reasons, but we won't list all of those here. I have recently come to the conclusion that there is yet another reason why an Xmas birthday sucks. It's the pressure of others always want to know what you are doing for your birthday. Bear with me as I explain this - it makes sense in my mind but it might not translate onto (virtual) paper.

I have a high profile birthday - and it's ONLY because of the date, and the fact that I share it with ol' Hey-soos himself. People KNOW about my birthday even if I don't tell them. It's a HUGE DAY in the calendar, regardless of ME (much as it pains me to admit it, a vast majority of the world doesn't even know I exist.) Of that small cache of people who do know me, and know of my sucky birthday, they all want to know what I am doing on the day. There is an enormous amount of interest generated from, about, and by my birthday. People just have this desperate NEED to know what is going to happen on that day for me. In part because everyone has the day off - so if I'm having a "do" they can be there, or if I'm alone they can come visit, or whatever. It's like my birthday gives them something to do on that day (assuming they are not with their own family that day.) On the one hand, it's NICE that I can have my friends and family there. On the other hand, it sucks. I CAN'T just say - you know, this year, I want to stay in my smelly pajamas and dirty undies and lay in my stale-smelling bed while reading back issues of trashy celebrity magazines and eating white bread toast slathered with peanut butter and drinking milk with ice in it. Oh yeah, and I want to be LEFT ALONE.

I just can't do that - the social pressure of having to DO something on my birthday means that I have to get up. I have to get out of bed. I don't have to go to work, but I probably DO have to make small talk. I don't want to host an event because then I have to worry, cook, and probably do some cleaning. I don't want to go out because it will involve pork, and we all know that's a no-go zone. See what I mean? I can't hide behind the "let's just go out to dinner after work" plan. I have to have PLANS, with a capital P-L-A-N-S.

This year is an example of this conundrum. I had my birthday event planned 12 months ago. We (me, DH, kids) were going to repeat last year and have a picnic on the banks of the Yarra River. Anyone who wanted to come, could come and if not, not. I was going to sit on my big behind, with loads of yummy food, my kids and my hubs, and just NOT think *all day*. ....and then those arseholes at the Weather Bureau fucked it all up, by announcing it was going to be the coldest Xmas Day in Melbourne's recorded history. So now I have friends, family, and extended persons all wanting to know, SO NOW WHAT?

I'm thinking those smelly pajamas seem like a good idea.

Pajama party at emzee's house - all invited! (You may not all fit into our bed, though, so could you please ask the bouncer at the door which seating you are booked into. Thank you.)

Editorial Addition: There is one MASSIVE positive to a high profile birthday: people don't forget the date! I had a fabulous day full of phone calls (both Skpe and normal), text messages on my mobile, and e-cards. Thank you all for making my 31st a fabulous day. (And I spent most of it in my PJ's...)

Sometimes Technology is NOT a good thing

Last week my Dad casually mentioned to me that we should set up a web cam. To be fair, he's been saying this for a few years, it's just that this time I listened. So less than 48 hours later, and with some help from Poppet's Mom (and Skype), we were web "camming" with my family. For the first time in 18 months I got to see my sister and her family. As in LIVE - waving to me. My neice, Baby E, probably now thinks her Auntie emzee has a square box around her head - but that didn't stop her from singing, talking, and making faces at me. So far this web cam thing is loads of fun - and I've since gotten to see my brother, parents and various crapola which is lying around my sister's house. I have also learned a few major disadvantages to being doing the ol' web cam thing:

- They can see just how fat you have become

- They can COMMENT on just how fat you have become

- You can't pee, do the dishes, or otherwise multi-task, while you're talking to someone on a web cam.

- It's harder to come up with a bullshit reason why you "gotta go," if they can see that you have jack all happening

- Other than the whole fat thing, your family can see if you have a bad hair day, are wearing nothing but a towel, or some crap stuck in your teeth

- Normal pauses in conversation just sorta feel weird when you're staring the other person in the eye. You feel kinda obligated to say something - anything - so you're not both sitting there like dorks

- 2 adults and 3 children do NOT fit on our office chair, but they DO fit in the screen of the web cam so my family can see us all at once before the chair collapses

- Adults seem to think small children are performing seals and web cams are the best platform on which to show off their children's tricks

- The stress you feel when your kid doesn't perform is not helped by the fact that you can't tell your kid off, poke them in the ribs to perform, or otherwise hiss, "COME ON! Sing, dammnt!" -- because you have loads of people watching you abuse your poor seal (kid.)

Overall the whole thing is a lot of fun, and I think it will really make a difference to how my family and I communicate. One of the suckiest things about them being so far away is that I don't get to see the things they do, I don't get to watch my nieces and nephew grow up, and I just feel like I miss out on that sort of stuff. Now, thanks to a camera and wireless technology, my parents table will always be set with one more space - for a small member of the family named "Logitech."

By the way, you can find me on Skype via the SkypeName 'emzeegee' if you want to say hello. I'm am left wondering one thing, though: when will the novelty of sticking my tongue out and wiggling my fingers with my thumbs stuck in my ears wear off?

I'm hoping for never.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Bored in Melbourne

Okay, summer is here and emzee is getting bored. In the comments, I want you to give me something to do this summer. So, pick one or all of these and:

1. Name a book you think I should read. No historical novels, bodice-rippers or hard core sci-fi, thanks. All other genres are fair game.

2. Name a blog you think I should start reading. My regulars are still witty but some of them are getting like day-old bread. Still edible, but fresh is best.

3. Name a food you think I should cook or bake. Either include the recipe or just tell me about it and I'll figure it out. I promise that if you do this one, I will not only make/review the item in question, but I'll take a pic of it and post it here. Some little birdies listened when I loudly announced "I WANT A NEW DIGITAL CAMERA FOR MY BIRTHDAY" so after Dec 25 I'll be posting loads more pics here. Give me something to photograph, would ya?

Okay, I'm leaving this blog challenge up here as the top post for a little while. Go on, people, get me outta my boredom funk (because when I am bored, I eat, and I'd rather not eat any more than I already do!)

...and only 7 more shopping days left! :)

A who me? Meme

I read this on someone else's blog and I'm in a typing mood, so suffer this meme.

(Some) Things I want to do before I die (in random order):

1. Career-wise, do something in the food/media/education arena - be that writing, television, teaching, food styling ...whatever. I'd like there to be another facet to my skill and love of food other than being in the kitchen.
2. Bungee jump in New Zealand. Seriously.
3. Meet Colette Peters and spend some time learning from her.
4. Compete in some sort of culinary competition
5. Run the Melbourne half marathon (planning on doing this in Sept 2007.)

Things I cannot do:

1. Stop eating at one cashew nut. Seriously, can ANYONE do that?
2. Spatial things - I often can't tell if one thing will fit into another, or fit several things into a small space, or 'eyeball' clothing sizes.
3. Play any sort of instrument at all, unless we are counting the tambourine, in which case I can't play that either.
4. Convince my sister to come and visit me in Australia

Things I can do:

1. Make all my children laugh, even when they don't want to.
2. Bake the best freakin' chocolate cake you ever ate. Seriously. Dense and chocolatey and gorgeous without being 'muddy.'
3. Use a piping bag filled with buttercream icing to pipe my kids' names on their outstretched index fingers, and have it be neat and readable.
4. Cross-stitch
5. Paint realistic theatre scenery - a skill I've not needed to use since I learned it.

Things I love about my Husband:

1. He seems blind to the fact that I am fat and tired and spotty at the moment - if anything, he just cuddles me more.
2. He reads my blog religiously, and he's quite proud of the fact that I write it in the first place.
3. He's got a cute butt.
4. He is currently growing the "Birthday Beard" - I think DH is soooo sexy with a goatee, but everyone else hates it. So for December/the summer, he grows one just for me. :)

Things I say most often:

1. Seriously? (or) Are you SER-ious?
2. No-fucking-way! (I don't use this one around the kiddo...or at least I try not to.)
3. Ummm, heeelllooooooo!
4. *SO* not, as in "SO not cool" "SO not nice" "SO not true"

For this one I'm tagging....well, anyone who wants to really. Heck, I stole it from someone else, feel free to steal it from me (but post a link here so I know you did it.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

*falls over*

It's been a long week, people. I had a jillion cakes to do - which was great but tiring as I was worried they would not all work out (they did! YAY!), plus it was the start of my most favourite holiday of all (Hannukah), which meant cooking and shmoozing and cooking and shmoozing and in general I'm just feeling beat. So this short blog post is to say, as far as I am concerned, this is one of the coolest things I've seen in ages (well, from a chocolate point of view, anyway!) Seriously, it's ALL chocolate. Not a fish in sight. Gotta love that - pure chocolate genius!
And I'm kinda peeved that my request for a shout out (see below post) went unanswered except by one totally cool chick in Las Vegas. What's up with the rest of you?!?!?! Should I be insulted?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pump Up The Volume

I am loud.

Very loud.

My normal speaking voice is loud, my talking-on-the-phone voice is even louder, and in general the words "quiet" and "me" are never found in the same sentence. Part of this I blame on my Israeli heritage, where everyone shouts and needs to speak ever louder in order to be heard about the din of 10 other people also trying to be heard. Part of this I blame on my height, because I need to shout so those shorter than I am can hear me from way up here. One more part of this I blame on the fact that it's just, well, very ME-like to be loud - who ever heard of a big, jewish, 6 foot tall, intelligent-bordering-on-perfection woman being quiet? Poor DH has suffered the effects of my volume on many an occasion, saying, "No need to shout, emzee, I'm ---->right here<----!!" (A comment which annoys the shit out of me.) Of course I blame his hearing loss on his advanced age, but let's be kind for now and blame it on my volume. I don't have an internal volume sensor, which means that even when I think I'm being quiet, I'm still being loud. Sometimes this is useful (crowded rooms) and sometimes this is very NOT useful (stupid comment made in crowded rooms). However I have discovered that while I never go down to quiet mode, I do go from loud, to louder, to freakin' deafening. Whispering? *snort* Yeah, right. As I said earlier, I'm not always aware of just how loud I am - until either someone comments on it, or I just kinda suddenly realise that I am shouting. This afternoon I was chatting (yelling quietly) on the phone to my Dad. I didn't realise how loud I was being until I hung up and suddenly was enveloped by silence. There was practically an echo. So clearly, with my Dad, my volume level is on Very Loud. I also have a special mode - VeryLoudAndVeryFast, which I reserve for when I am super mega excited about something (YYEEEEAAAHHH My cakes rock!) or super mega annoyed about something (Damn that woman's kid is ANNOYING) or in general feeling like nobody is listening to me (Are you listening? Are you? Because I'm talking and I'm thinking nobody is listening. Do I need to repeat myself?)

So you get the idea. I'm never quiet. I talk incessantly, and I talk loudly. No wonder some people find me so annoying. (They, of course, have yet to realise that talking a lot, loudly is The New Black.) Recently I have come to realise that DD2 has inherited the internal Loud button. Lord, but that child is LOUD. And she doesn't SHUT UP ... and I find myself saying things like, "Sweetheart, I can HEAR you. I'm --->right here<---! There is no need to shout!"

...and I'm sure my nearly deaf DH is thinking, "Payback is a bitch."

In honour of my volume, can I get some of you to shout back at me? According to my site meter thingie-whatsit (there, on the bottom right corner), I've got readers from the US, Australia, Malaysia, France, Taiwan, Israel, Brazil, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Japan, Iran, Unknown Country (!) and Canada. Now given that I can identify some readers from Japan, the US, and Australia: who the heck are the rest of you? Shout back - press the comment button below and introduce yourself. (But then cover your ears as I reply.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


My kids are obsessed with surprises. Everything has to be a surprise: from the mundane to the important, as in:

Surprise! We came home from pre-school!

Surprise! I'm getting out of the bath!

Surprise! I'm hiding around the corner breathing really hard but you can't see me so it's still a surprise!

Surprise! I'm supposed to be getting ready for bed but instead I'm hiding under my bed, ignoring your requests to please brush my teeth!

Surprise! I broke yet another one of the things you told me to be really, really careful with!

This whole surprise! business is really, really annoying. Firstly my anal-retentive-don't-like-spontaneity Capricornian self hates surprises in the first place. I want to know stuff NOW, before it happens. I don't want to be surprised, okay? (This also applies, of course, if you are trying to cheat by giving me gifts before the event the gift is meant for, in which case that's not ruining a surprise, that's breaking the rules. The rules are holy. I know, I made them.) Secondly, if I god forbid somehow ruin the surprise - then an all out crying hissy fit then ensues, filled with indignant "you *ruined* the surprise mummy!" and frowning, annoyed faces. Now by ruining the surprise I mean something like ...oh, maybe opening the front door when I hear the car come in? Major crime, that one! Or - walking around the corner behind which lie 1 or more annoying surprise! people. Or - asking what's for breakfast. This is how I, on a daily basis, ruin my kids' lives. I ruin their surprises. A lot. Not on purpose, but that doesn't matter to them. They care only that I've ruined it all and they say, with all sincerity "I'll NEVER EVER give you a surprise again!"

If only they meant it.

Random "Kids say funny shit" Mention: DD just got out of the bath and on her way to get dressed for bed, yelled back to DH, "DAD! When you're dead I'll always remember you!" *grin*

Monday, December 11, 2006

To Lighten The Mood

'What will your obituary say?' at QuizGalaxy.com

This obituary came from here and was inspired by the one I saw here. Okay, so the grammar is atrocious, but hey, they mentioned baking *and* they recognized the royal we of "me myself and I"! Clearly all three of us shared a lover - in a hot tub, no less! Guess I'm not as daggy as I once thought. (Then again, I finally get to do something cool and I die. How uncool is that?!)

The Sad Reality

The above is a photo of my face two days after I fell down at work (yes, I know, flattering, right?). In this picture the bruising is pretty bad but the swelling has gone down - it started out as a big golf ball right under my eye. (Note to my family: I am *fine*, it just looks horrible, please don't panic.) The sad thing is, it looks like I have been beaten - and everyone I've met has made the assumption that I'm a battered wife. The truth is, it really was a work accident - but that explanation doesn't satisfy most people, who feel the need to joke that it must have been my DH, or that I *wink* *nudge* "ran into a door." Now to be honest, at first I made those jokes, too - saying that DH "didn't like dinner last night." I suppose after years of hearing about spousal abuse and seeing various video and media representations of what happens to battered women, we're sort of 'conditioned' to look at females with bruises and to think the worst. In my stupidity and desire to cover up my embarrassment about it all, I joined in the joking.

It's a few days later now, and several things have happened. Firstly, I've been out and about in public with people who don't know what happened to me. These are strangers to whom I cannot explain what happened. I've gotten a lot of strange looks, a lot of "gee, that looks like it must've hurt" comments, and plenty of people who you can tell are dying to ask me what happened. Secondly, I have been totally surprised by how I feel about all this attention. I am embarrassed. I feel humiliated. I feel ashamed. I feel self-conscious. I feel hurt. I feel depressed. I feel helpless because I can't make it heal any faster. I feel like I want to crawl into a hole and hide my face, because I feel all those feelings I just listed. I try not to look in the mirror to be reminded of how ugly it is, and I desperately wish my workmates would not stare at it, or ask to see it up close, or say silly things like, "Ooh, that looks NASTY!" I can't crawl into that hole, though. I still have a job to go to, children to pick up at pre-school, and a life to lead. I have no choice but to try and hold my head up high as I go through my daily activities.

Now imagine if this injury really HAD been the result of being battered by my husband. Dear god, just imagine. The pain, embarrassment, humiliation, self-consciousness ... all of that would be a million fold what I am feeling right now. In addition to my face injury I have a big bruise on my arm...and every morning I'm thankful that my sleeve covers it so I don't have to explain that, too. Add all of that to the terror of having to go back home to a partner who might do it again, and again and - just typing this is taking my breath away. How many women are out there, suffering like this? How many feel helpless to stop it? How many have survived this, only to fall into it the trap again? How many hide it well enough so that we don't even know it's happening to them?

Here you can find some statistical information about domestic violence in Australia - and these are only those people who speak up about it. Here is where you can find some help if you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence.

I am so very, very lucky. My injury was the result of clumsiness on my part, and nothing and nobody else. I have a loving, gentle DH who wouldn't dream of lifting a finger on me - no matter how much I annoy him. This experience - of walking around looking abused, even though I have not been - has been a humbling one. I've been given new insight into just how horrible abuse must really be - and I've only really experienced a tiny, tiny bit of what it must be like. This post is just to wish strength and hope to the people out there who are suffering this for real.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

What I Didn't Know About Cheffing

It's a contact sport.

I learned this the hard way, as myself and 10 dozen eggs went ass over tit on our way out of the cool room. This normally wouldn't be an issue, except that my head connected with Very Sharp Thing (not sure what it was exactly) on the way to the floor. I now have an enormous black eye which is not only puffy and purple and scary looking, but has 3 of those sticker stitch things on it. It required a speedy doctor visit, several pieces of work-related-injury paperwork, and rotating ice packs for the last several hours.

So it looks like my modelling career will need to wait a few weeks, and as DH pointed out, I now officially should only be photographed on "my good side."

Top Five Things To Say When People Ask What Happened:
(and I don't want to admit my ass fell down)

1. Heck, this little thing? You should've seen the other 3 guys!
2. Yeah, rugby can be a mean sport sometimes!
3. Ummmm, I ran into a door/fell down the stairs
4. Purple is the new black
5. At least I can still play the piano!

This blogger might need a day or so to recover (and be able to see out of my puffy eye). Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Pool Politics

We live right near the local outdoor pool (yes, I know, pools are cess pits of other people's pee and fluids, but when it's a billion degrees out and my kids are whining, heck, I'll swim in ANIMAL pee if that's what is required to calm everyone.) So. We live about 5 or so minutes walking distance from an outdoor pool 'complex' which looks pretty much like all the ones you've seen at the movies. You know, gajillions of kids wandering around half-naked, followed by gajillions of adults wandering around half-naked (and most of those really should be covered up). Teenagers flirting, lifeguards guarding nothing but the view of the ass of the other lifeguard, and so on and so forth including the overpriced Coke and Popsicles. You get the idea.

Because it's close and it's cheap entertainment and it exhausts the children to the point of delirium, we go there fairly often. As in, more than once a week. During the course of several summers, it's occurred to me that there is a bit of an unwritten code of pool conduct which can be summed up as follows:

1. There will always, ALWAYS be a random kid whose parents are ignoring him, so this kid will latch onto DH or I like a freakin' LEECH and we won't be able to get rid of them. NO, KID, I DON'T want to play with you and I DON'T want your mangy, pee-wetted arms around my neck choking me to death. My own kids do that just fine, thanks.

2. There will be several mothers (myself included) who have yet to realise that no matter how loud you yell, "KID! I *SAID* GET OUT OF THE POOL RIGHT *NOW*!!" your kid will still either not hear you or pretend not to hear you. In any case, you'll feel the need to yell progressively louder and louder. It won't help, but you'll keep yelling. You won't learn. See #7.

3. There will be several fathers who really should not wear see-through Speedos.

4. The number of minutes the kids spend in the pool is directly related to the number of times you will say, "No, sorry, no Popsicles today." (and you'll feel like the Grinch parent - but what am I? Made of money?) Whoever sets the prices for snacks at rock concerts or movie theaters does it for the pool as well.

5. No matter how many drinks and snacks you bring, it'll never be enough. This means you'll have to deal with #4.

6. There will always be some kid whose behaviour warrants evil laser eyes pointed in the direction of his mother, who is blissfully ignorant of him because she is too busy complaining about how her butt looks big in her bikini. We hate her (and her terrorist of a kid.)

7. It will take forever and a day to get everyone ready to go to the pool - there are bathing suits to be found, sunscreen to be applied, complaining to do, towels lost and so on. Once they are in, it will take forever and a day to get them out. Children are programmed to move at whatever speed you don't want them to: fast when you have all day, and slow when you are in a rush to get somewhere.

8. The pool will always be better than the beach: a) no sand in various body cracks, b) no sand in food and c) no sand anywhere. Plus no need to take furniture with you! However, the beach has fewer evil children per square metre of actual water, so you'll need to think which way to go before you leave the house.

Needless to say it looks like it is shaping up to be a long, hot, glorious Melbourne summer. Strawberries, stone fruit, sunscreen, slippery bodies - hooray! Expect lots of yay-its-summer posts along with other-kids-suck posts. Oh wait, I do both of those already! Okay, expect not much to change.

(Public Service Announcement: Now only 19 shopping days left.)

Monday, December 4, 2006

Only 21 Shopping Days!

(until my birthday.)

So here is the thing. I adore Xmas. I love the lights, the whole leaving-cookies-for-Santa thing, the carols thing, the people fighting in malls, the holly wound around the majestic staircase, the cinnamon-flavoured everything, the tree and the twinkles, the decorating of the houses, the whole damn Goyish kit and caboodle. Truly. However. One small problem-o. I am a Jew. (Born on Xmas, which is what I blame my Xmas interest in. That, and in the 6th grade play I was chosen to play Mrs. Clause. Santa himself was a 6 foot high total hottie black kid. So who says we were not progressive in the 80's?) So no Ex-Maas for moi. No tree. No lights. No decorating. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nary a fah-lah-lah.

As previously noted, I am what one might call...cheesy. I love all that corny stuff. If I was a Christian, I would so be incessantly singing carols from November onwards. I'd be wearing cheap earrings which look like Christmas baubles and I'd be sporting a flashing reindeer pin, WITH the matching reindeer sweater, while I baked star cookies and tied fat red velvet ribbon everywhere. I would make people kiss under the mistletoe. Hell, I'd even spray that fake snow stuff around my window sills. That would be ME. But it's not me, because it can't be me, because there is this small matter of being one of the Chosen People.

In the US, Channukah is an event. Newscasters in large cities wish "their Jewish friends" a happy "festival of Channukah" on TV. In stores you can often find Channukah stuff one shelf over from the Christmas stuff. My BIL (and other people in desperate need some fun in their lives) say that the gamut of Christmas-like Channukah stuff (plates, towels, lights, decorations, gift giving, etc etc) is just "an American reaction to the commercialisation of Christmas." When I moved to Australia, I was kinda surprised that none of this happened here. I *love* Channukah, in the absence of the Jolly Fat Man in my life (excluding DH - sorry DH! *grin*) So I grew up DOING the whole house decorating thing (in blue and silver, natch). We gave presents. We played dreidel, ate the latkes, sang the songs and in general made a big whoop-dee-dee about Channukah. In Australia it's not the done thing...until now, that is. Over the years I've kinda pushed the family into gift giving (on a small scale), I decorate my house (although not with lights), and I give presents. The BIL I mentioned above thinks this is ridiculous. He puts a supremely irritated face on when he encounters it and thinks it's all a bit American and ridiculous of me. He tries, very hard, to take a long thin pine needle of grumpiness and pop my balloon of Channukah Happiness.

Know what? I DON'T GIVE A FLYING DREIDEL. Or a flying reindeer, for that matter. As far as I am concerned, Channukah and Christmas and Kwanzaa and whatever the hell holiday it might be in December (did I mention my birthday?) - it's all about having FUN. I love to give presents. I love to get presents. I like lights, I like food, I like good cheer, I like being with my friends and family, and I just LIKE the whole idea that most of the world, during December, is HAPPY. Happy and surrounded by love and lights and latkes and other L words like LAUGHTER. That's it. I don't care about the religion bit. I don't care about the "American response to blah blah bullshit" bit. I don't care about the commercialization aspect of it. I just care that it's fun, and it's an excuse to have a good time. What can be so terrible about that?

AS for my grumpy pine-needle wielding BIL: Last year I drew his name out of the hat for the family Channukah Chaim (for you non-Jews: Kris Kringle). What gift do you get for the person who is anti-gifts (and at under $20)? So I did the right thing. I made a donation to an charitable organisation he supports, and wrapped up the receipt so he could claim it as a tax deduction. I strongly doubt he would admit it, but he was none too impressed with having nothing to open. This year, when we were drawing the names, he was overheard saying, "Well I know what *I* would like..." Funnily enough this year we also got his name out of the hat. Sadly, he's not getting what he wants. After all, why would I support the commercialisation of my BIL? He's getting a garden set. But not ANY garden set. One from here.

I say BAH HUMBUG and ROTTEN LATKES to *anyone* who dares tell me that I am "celebrating" for the wrong reasons. Celebrations NEED NO REASON. Now, go out and sing a few "fah-la-las" and throw in a couple of "oh channukahs" for me. (Birthday wishes don't go astray either, people.)