Not surprisingly, I didn’t want to do Christmas this year. I mentioned to the wife that maybe we wouldn’t make it a big deal. I was thinking one or two gifts each, and maybe I’d even bother to dig out the three-foot plastic tree that I used to set up on an end table in my apartment. It’s so cheap that it doesn’t even stand on its own without using the wall for support. Maybe I’d even splurge on dollar store tinsel for extra sadness. Fortunately, she didn’t humor me for even a second. “We’re doing it the same as always,” she said, and that was that.

So I jumped to the next logical conclusion: PRESENTS APOCALYPSE. “Fine, let’s get each other like ten gifts each,” I said. Even the dog gets ten gifts. I was suddenly picturing a massive Christmas morning fallout with 30+ presents under the tree, complete with fully loaded stockings.

“Fine,” the wife agreed, with the resolve as though she were signing a blood oath.

Sometimes in order to be happy, you have to be dramatic. You have to tie on the tourniquet and administer a speedball of joy and mistletoe directly into the vein.

So we did it up like usual, and it has been therapeutic:



In the past, we’ve made getting the tree an evening affair, going out on a Friday night and staying up late to decorate it. This year I had the compulsion to get it on a Sunday morning, right before a snowstorm hit. The flakes were just starting to stick to the road as we power-walked around the lot looking for that elusive perfectly-shaped tree. It felt like a timebomb race to pick a tree, and it felt good.

We spent the afternoon watching football, eating snacks, making dinner, and decorating the tree while it snowed outside. It was a perfect day.



You gotta get the Playmobil Nativity set. It rules. I’ve had it for about three or four years now, and setting it up every year is still as exciting as ever. I love the janky little cardboard backdrop most of all.





I like my Christmas snacks cheap and nostalgic. That’s how I ended up with cheese balls, kettle corn, Ritz crackers, and dollar store cherry cordials.



Why? Why/how did I drop fifty bucks on crap from Swiss Colony? Maybe I had a misplaced nostalgia for weird mailorder food. Maybe I had a secret death wish to end up on their mailing list FOR LIFE. Maybe I was depressed and just wanted to FEEL SOMETHING, even if it was buttercream-spackled regret.

So let me show you what fifty bucks will buy you.



Yes, weird cheese that come with a disconcerting sticker that says PERISHABLE REFRIGERATE IMMEDIATELY even though you know they’ve somewhere in transit for the last 10 days on the back on a mail van. The secret is they’re not really cheese so much that they’re cheese-colored saltlicks for humans.




Mailorder food has that strange dual-nature, where it’s equal parts plastic-looking, disgusting, and yet seductively appetizing.

From the Swiss Colony website (which is poetry), it is “swirls of cake and vanilla butter creme filling, covered with a milk chocolate blanket.”

Which means it’s a gigantic swiss roll. I have no problems with this.


Moral of the story: buttercream-spackled regret is worth it.



I tried to take a happy Christmas picture of the dog, but instead she revealed her true evil nature while barking at me and demanding food.

So yeah, this is how my Christmas season is going. It’s going pretty good.

13 thoughts on “Speedball

  1. Christmas at your house sounds fun! You would think I’d no longer have an appetite for mass produced pre-packaged holiday foods like that Forest Friends cake, but I still want it. And this is having made/eaten multiple yule log cakes from scratch.

  2. Ahhh, the cherry cordials that always manage to end up in my bag from CVS, Walgreens, etc. Probably from last year’s stock. Oh well, they are for me and me alone. So happy you are getting into the swing of things. Love the nativity! Pizza, you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!

  3. Merry Christmas to you, your wife and your dog, and of course to your whole collection of TMNTs. Blessings to all of you for the new year!

  4. I love that Playmobil nativity! I had no idea that Playmobil made such a thing, but then again, they make really cool Stone Age, Roman and Viking sets.

  5. I got a tingle of excitement in my chest when I saw this pop up on my reader. I’m so glad you are having a nice holiday. We give Queen Anne cordials to my brother as a gag gift. He thinks they’re disgusting. Then my kid asks if he can have them and eats the entire box.
    So nice to read your words, your stories, Pizza.

  6. Fantastic looking tree! Enjoy your Christmas, PIzza, and thanks for the article. That mail-order cheese box looks like insta-death, but I want to rub my face all over that super-size Swiss Roll. NOM NOM NOM

  7. “You have to tie on the tourniquet and administer a speedball of joy and mistletoe directly into the vein.” – BRILLIANT.

    Christmas at your place seems pretty entertaining and your writing style reminds me of JD from Scrubs talking and I like that a lot.

    Merry Christmas!

  8. I’m glad you are still keeping up the Christmas spirit. I remember from an old post (very old) that you liked to dance surf moves. Recently I found this Christmas album by the Ventures, check it out and groove down-

    Happy Holidays!

  9. You sound cheery and happy..so merry christmas to you and wife and pet! I’m afraid we do not really celebrate christmas where we are(india) as much as we celebrate the indian festivals so have only sent a few greetings via sms. But enjoy and good wishes for 2014!!!

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