Dec. 31: Non-emotional scars

I was two years old and walking on the high cement wall around the Jacksonville museum when I slipped off it and got a teeny-tiny owie. Mom says I screamed and cried forever, and "bled like a stuck pig." I have one memory of it, and that is of the doctor putting two little bandages in an x-shape on the side of my face. For all the drama, that was all he had to do to protect my gaping wound? What a quack. But for all that drama, I do have a lasting token: a scar near my left eye that looks like a dimple when I smile. Also, when we drove past the museum last year I was surprised to see that the "wall" at its highest was only a few inches above the sidewalk. Hm.

A few years after that, I was riding my bike around our cul-de-sac. Mom had told me, as always, to stay on the sidewalk. At the very end of the cul-de-sac I rode out of one driveway into the street and immediately turned into another one to get back to the sidewalk. That was my intention, anyway. In the adrenaline surge of my first taste of street racing, I fell off my bike. Blood began to run from my knee down my light blue sock. I don't remember if I ran or rode home and I don't remember if I ever admitted what really happened, but besides ruining my sock, there was a gruesome scar afterward that always reminded me of the one time (ha!) I disobeyed my mother.

Fast forward 20 years to a sunny afternoon outside my apartment building in Johns Landing. I had just picked up my mail and was reading it as I walked through the parking lot. I stepped in a pothole and fell, breaking a metatarsal in my right foot and impaling my left knee on a large rock. This was my first broken bone. Memorable, yes, but oh-so-painful. The good news? The hole in my knee was exactly where the scar was from falling off my bike in the street. Now there's no proof I ever rebelled against Mom. (I've broken my feet eleventy times since then. I'm more than just a klutz, though. I think I'm also a little bit tender-boned. I don't know if that's actually possible, to be tender-boned, but I'm gonna say it is. Most of the time my feet have broken it's because I run into a chair leg or door frame, stuff that everybody does occasionally. But I always seem to break a bone when I do it. I'm special.)

On February 9, 2000 I got another scar, but I was given a gorgeous baby girl in exchange. Someone slashed me in the same place 21 months later, and I got a goofy looking baby boy that time. As proud I am of the reasons I have these scars, unlike Britney Spears, I'm not real eager to show them off every time I step out of a car. Besides, I'd have to move my droopy belly out of the way first, and I just don't have that kind of energy.

I read recently, "your scars indicate what type of life you've lived." My scars say I'm clumsier than hell, but they also say that I'm a mom. Not a bad thing at all.


Dec. 30: What's in your wallet?

The things I seem to need with me at all times:

  1. Oregon driver license, expires on my birthday in 2012. According to the state, I wear corrective lenses and am an organ donor. I don't wear corrective lenses. The state also says I weigh 135 pounds. Silly Oregon.
  2. Clackamas County library card
  3. Hollywood Video rental card
  4. Blockbuster Video rental card, issued 5/8/03. I haven't been there in years, but it has nothing to do with owing them, like, $12 in late fees for "The Wedding Singer."
  5. Bi-Mart membership card (issued 6/16/88, it still says "Jennifer Saltmarsh")
  6. list of my physicians and the medications I take, last updated in March 2006
  7. old medical insurance card
  8. new medical insurance card
  9. 2 39-cent postage stamps, snowflake design
  10. 1 63-cent postage stamp, Bryce Canyon design (used for sending out the Christmas cards that contained CDs)
  11. Albertsons Preferred Savings card
  12. Costco membership card, issued 6/97
  13. AAA membership card, issued 1997
  14. Hallmark Gold Crown card
  15. Safeway Club card (a new one, since those $%@#-ers got my phone number wrong when I first signed up and I finally decided to stop trying to get it corrected). I despise Safeway for oh-so-many reasons.
  16. Visa
  17. MasterCard
  18. debit card
  19. Great Harvest bread card ("buy 12 loaves, get the 13th free!"). #1-7 are checked. I was supposed to get a free cookie with #6 but I forgot.
  20. 2 Disney Store coupons for 15% off next purchase, good 11/1/06-11/13/06
  21. Eddie Bauer outlet store preferred shopper card ("Get 5 stamps. Get 10% off!"). I've got one stamp. Card valid 1/1/05 through 12/31/05.
  22. $1 bill
  23. $5 bill
  24. $10 bill
  25. 2 nickels
  26. 1 quarter
  27. 5 pennies (one is of questionable value, as Lincoln is completely obscured by some gooey unidentifiable substance ... where's my blacklight?)

OK, your turn.

Dec. 28: Carla Duncan, Carla Duncan

Carla Duncan, where are you? I've been trying to send a reply to your message from months ago but it keeps bouncing back. Send me your new e-mail address!

Dec. 27: My Christmas review

  • The work my mom started doing in my house the minute she arrived: 1 meelion stars
  • Friends and family we spent our Christmas with: 5 stars
  • Lucy, Erin & Kevin's pug puppy, not christening anything in our house: 5 stars
  • Airline dependability: 2 stars
  • Adorability of Presley: 5 stars
  • Sonya's new massage chair: 4 stars
  • Sonya sharing her new massage chair: 5 stars
  • Mail service in Colorado: negative 15 stars
  • Jack's new GeoTrax Rail & Road system: 5 stars
  • Toys that require weird size batteries no normal person would ever have in their home on Christmas morning: 0 stars
  • Stepping on parts of the GeoTrax Rail & Road system: 0 @$#&% stars
  • The Christmas dinner that Darlene & Sonya prepared: 5 stars
  • Katie & Jack's embarrassingly picky eating at Christmas dinner: 0 stars
  • The Tickle-Me-Erin, our newly invented beverage of Shasta Tiki Punch and Midori: 5 stars
  • Our Christmas CD this year: 5 stars (if I do say so myself)
  • Number of cards we received vs. number we sent: 4 stars
  • Hilarity of people wondering, after reading our Christmas letter, if I really did get a boob job in 2006: 5 stars
  • Rain, not snow, on Christmas: 0 stars
  • John's awesome gift to Lori: 5 stars
  • Sharing my seester: 1 star
  • What Santa brought me: 5 stars
  • Santa bringing gifts even though I was probably on the naughty list: 5 stars
  • Santa using "stocking too small" as an excuse not to get me a pony: 0 stars
  • My embarrassment at receiving the new Justin Timberlake CD for Christmas (which I asked for): 3 stars
  • Finding out that Daryl also received the CD (which he also asked for): 5 stars!
  • Christmas trees that dry out way too soon: 0 stars
  • Ending the Christmas holiday with a hacking cough and stuffy head: 0 stars

Dec. 27: The Pro Plan Diet

Funny story making the rounds on the 'net:

I was in Petsmart buying a large bag of Pro Plan today and was in line to check out. A woman behind me asked if I had a dog... Duh!

I was feeling a bit crabby so on impulse, I told her no, I was starting the Pro Plan Diet again, although I probably shouldn't because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care unit with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms. Her eyes about bugged out of her head.

I went on and on with the bogus diet story and she was totally buying it.

I told her that it was an easy, inexpensive diet and that the way it works is to load your pockets or purse with Pro Plan nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The package said the food is nutritionally complete so I was going to try it again.

I have to mention here that practically everyone in the line was by now enthralled with my story, particularly a tall guy behind her.

Horrified, she asked if something in the dog food had poisoned me and was that why I ended up in the hospital.

I said no, I'd been sitting in the street licking my butt when a car hit me.

I thought the tall guy was going to have to be carried out the door.

Dec. 24: The Santa Land Diaries

If you've never heard David Sedaris tell of his experiences as "Crumpet," a Macy's Department Store elf at Christmastime, listen to the audio here, courtesy of NPR. It's about nine minutes long and totally worth it.

A bit of trivia: In the movie "Elf" (one of the best Christmas movies ever, IMO), when Buddy approaches Jovie she asks, "Did Crumpet put you up to this?" Coincidence? I think not.

We're getting ready for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Chinese food. Nummers. This year we've got 16 people around the table. Yikes. Come on by, and we'll serenade you with an exuberant "Fa ra ra ra ra..."

Happy Christmas Eve Day and many lovies!


Dec. 21: Christmas crap?

Found at this morning:

Pooping Peasant Popular in Spain

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- The Virgin Mary. The three kings. A few wayward sheep. These are the figures one expects to find in a traditional Christmas nativity scene. Not a smartly dressed peasant squatting behind a rock with his rear-end exposed.

Yet statuettes of "El Caganer," or the great defecator in the Catalan language, can be found in nativity scenes, and increasingly on the mantelpieces of collectors, throughout Spain's northeastern Catalonia region, where for centuries symbols of defecation have played an important role in Christmas festivities.

During the holiday season, pastry shops around Catalonia sell sweets shaped like feces, and on Christmas Eve Catalan children beat a hollow log, called the tio, packed with holiday gifts, singing a song that urges it to defecate presents out the other end.

These traditions, in the case of the caganer dating back as far as the 17th century, come from an agricultural society where defecation was associated with fertility and health.

While the traditional caganer is a red-capped peasant, more modern renditions have gained popularity in recent years.

Um, this might just be the weirdest Christmas tradition I've ever heard.

Dec. 21: Modern maladies

(from today's Yahoo! News)

PARIS (AFP) - The Internet has given birth to a quirky range of modern addictions and maladies, the British weekly New Scientist says in its Christmas issue published this Saturday.

They include these:

- EGO-SURFING: When you frequently check your name and reputation on the Internet.

- BLOG STREAKING: "Revealing secrets or personal information online which for everybody's sake would be best kept private."

- CRACKBERRY: "The curse of the modern executive: not being able to stop checking your BlackBerry, even at your grandmother's funeral." (A BlackBerry is a popular handheld device that can be used for phoning, emailing and web-browsing).

- GOOGLE-STALKING: Defined as "snooping online on old friends, colleagues or first dates."

- CYBERCHONDRIA: "A headache and a particular rash at the same time? Extensive online research tells you it must be cancer."

- PHOTOLURKING: Flicking through a photo album of someone you've never met.

- WIKIPEDIHOLISM: Excess devotion to contributing to the online collaborative encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. (Wikipedia even has a page where you can test whether you're an addict).

- CHEESEPODDING: Downloading of a song "so cheesy that you could cover it in plastic wrap and sell it at the deli counter." Cheesepodders are especially vulnerable to soft-rock favourites from the 1970s.

Of the afflictions on this list, I admittedly suffer from cyberchondria, photolurking, and wikipediholism. And I want to work on becoming a cheesepodder, so I'm off in search of the "True" mp3 by Spandau Ballet. I think that's a good place to start, don't you?


Dec. 18: My brush with greatness

If I have not already sung the praises of Amy Krouse Rosenthal to you, then listen to me now and believe me later. She is an amazing writer, one of my new favorites and currently my #1 superhero. Reading her stuff makes me laugh, think, and want to be a writer just like her.

The best way to get a good idea of what AKR is like is to peek at the web site for her most recent book, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. I love this book, and I love the style in which it was written--very clever and creative, and easy to read because it's all "tidbits." Other books she's written in a similar style, and I also highly recommend, are The Book of Eleven: An Itemized Collection of Brain Lint and The Same Phrase Describes My Marriage and My Breasts : Before the Kids, They Used to Be Such a Cute Couple. If the titles of those books aren't enough to make you want to read them, I give up on you.

One of the things I appreciate about AKR is that she doesn't claim to be anything more or better than anyone else, and yet somehow that comes across as an inspiration to strive for more. She also loves hearing that something she has done/written makes a difference. On her web site there's a big section about what happened when she intentionally left 150 copies of her book around three cities. She's tickled to hear people's reactions to finding the book, the circumstances in which they found it, etc. There's another area on her site where she'll thank anyone who asks to be thanked. And this is where my brush with greatness comes in...

I wrote a quick note in her "thank you" section a couple months ago: "I love, love, LOVE your books!" (is that the dorkiest fan letter ever, or what?). Of course, I never expected a personal reply from her or I would put forth a bit more eloquent effort. So, yeah, I'm a big dork, but the other day I got a response from her! It said, "Dear Jennifer, Thank you for the sweet note. I hope all finds you well in Portland (my favorite American city at the moment). And officially...thank you for reading E.O.A.O.L. All my best, amy kr"

And so now I'm even more impressed by her, even though she put two spaces between her sentences (as you know, I'm a bit of a spacing cop). If you go to this page on her site you can even see my name in her list of thanked people. Look now, because soon it'll be on one of the previous pages of the list. So far I've checked about eleventy times every day to make sure I'm still on that first page.

Read Amy Krouse Rosenthal. If nothing else, ooh and aah over the fact that she thanked me on her web site.


Dec. 12: They're just born that way

This is a transcript of an actual encounter I had with my son this evening. I wish I was making it up, but alas, this very Peter Griffin moment needs no exaggeration.

Jack comes running into the kitchen, where I am, and looks at the fireplace in the family room.

Jack: "Mommy, you need to put our stockings up on the thing!"
Me: "I will. Now go to bed, Dad's waiting for you."
Jack: "K!"

Jack runs away, but I call after him. He stops at the front door and turns around to look at me.

Me: "Good night, honey. I love you!"

Jack just stares.

Me: "I love you, Jack."

Jack stares and starts to smile.

Me: "Do you love me?"
Vic (upstairs): "Tell Mom good night and tell her you love her." (We encourage total sincerity in our home, as you can clearly tell.)

Jack smiles bigger.

I wait. A few seconds later, I hear something.

Jack's butt: "Vrrrrrrrrrrrrr."
Jack laughs and runs upstairs, where his father undoubtedly (but quietly) praises him for such well-timed punctuation.


Dec. 12: I KNEW it!

Dec. 12: How to Become Internet-Famous 101

I've got some new pictures at My friend Sheila sent the most adorable shot of her little monkey (that is NOT a euphemism for anything) and a new-ish family photo, so I updated her page. I also created a new page for my niece Erin, in which to showcase her lovely wedding photos and she-devil puppy.

The moral of the story? If you want your picture on the Internet, e-mail it to me. It's pretty much that simple.

Oh, and if you inadvertently send me nekkid pictures it will take a nice bribe to un-publish them. Ye be warned.

Another way you can get mentioned here is to tell me you don't like something (say, an annoying animated GIF image) because then I will publish, say, every annoying animated GIF image I ever find. Like so:

There's only one way to get me to stop posting annoying animated GIF images and that is to invite me on your annual San Francisco trip with you and your BFF instead of calling me from there saying, "Guess where we are!" and "Please read us a list of every San Francisco hotel because we're too drunk to remember where we stayed last year," and "What should we order at this fabulous restaurant you recommended?" and "Guess how many oranges I rolled down the sidewalk to homeless and/or toothless people today?" and "I saw Jackie Mason and he boob-grazed me!"

Get it? Enough already!

I forgot my point. Oh yeah. It pays to know me. I think that was what I was trying to say. I feel dizzy.


Dec. 11: Christmas CD 2006

We sent out CDs in our Christmas cards. If you didn't get one and want one, let me know. I know we forgot to put them in a few. Here's the playlist for this year's masterpiece, Holly & Jolly:

  2. SANTA BABY - Eartha Kitt
  4. THE CHRISTMAS SONG - Mel Torme. He actually wrote the song, even though Nat King Cole made it famous. I like this version by the Velvet Fog.
  5. SLEIGH RIDE - Johnny Mathis
  6. BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE - Leon Redbone And Zooey Deschanel. From the "Elf" soundtrack.
  8. MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY - Otis Redding
  9. LET IT SNOW - Ella Fitzgerald
  10. CHRISTMASTIME IS HERE - Vince Guaraldi. From "Charlie Brown Christmas."
  11. COOL YULE - Louis Armstrong
  13. MISTLETOE AND HOLLY - Frank Sinatra
  14. I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS - The Jackson Five. A cute song such as this simply must be performed by a cute little boy (in this case, when he was cute and when he was male).
  15. GREEN CHRISTMAS - Barenaked Ladies. Listen to the words and you'll find this isn't exactly the cheeriest of Christmas songs, but the melody is one of those that sticks in your head for days. I like it anyway.
  16. WHAT ARE YOU DOIN’ NEW YEARS’ EVE - Donny Osmond. Duh... just for Kath.
  17. HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS - The Carpenters. What would a Christmas album be without a contribution from the Carpenters?
  18. JINGLE BELLS - Jim Reeves
  19. SANTA BRING MY BABY BACK (TO ME) - Elvis Presley
  20. I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS - Bing Crosby
  21. LITTLE SAINT NICK - The Beach Boys
  22. WHITE CHRISTMAS - The Drifters. This is the version used in "Home Alone." It's the only non-Bing version I can tolerate.
  23. MERRY CHRISTMAS - Bette Midler

Previous years' playlists can be read here.

Dec. 11: Christmas letter 2006

Seasons greetings to our friends and family! The letter we sent in our Christmas cards this year was very brief and, in some places, a teensy bit fabricated. Here is the non-sweetened, non-condensed version.

A few highlights of 2006 from the House of Manullang:

Darlene and Wellington joined us for an adventurous week in Disneyland last February, where we celebrated Katie’s sixth birthday. One of my favorite memories is attending the Princess luncheon with Katie; watching Katie meet each of the Disney princesses in person was absolutely magical. One of my least favorite memories is driving (yes, DRIVING!) from Portland to Anaheim and back. I must’ve been totally drunk when I agreed to that. I was awake for much more of the trip than I had hoped to be, and the kids wouldn’t share their DVD players with me. The good news is that we survived and Victor did not file for divorce the minute we got home. In fact, there was really only one disappointing thing about the trip, and that was not being able to see our southern California friends and family—there was so little time, it seemed, for us to travel out of Anaheim.

Later in February we attended my 20th high school reunion at PAA. It’s hard to believe 20 years has gone by! I know everyone always says that, but it’s just so strange that in some ways it feels like yesterday, and yet life has changed so much for all of us that it seems like ages ago at the same time. It’s funny to look back to those angst-filled high school years and remember how seriously we all took ourselves. Ba-ruther! Oh, and it was also pretty cool to see how many of us still live in the Portland area. I’ve gotten together with classmates a few times since then, and we hope to plan some semi-regular get-togethers in the next year.

Jack went to Medford with Grandma Mary on a bit of a house-hunting trip last spring. She’ll be moving there after her retirement from WWC in June. I doubt he was much help with the house-hunting, but he did have a great time learning to ride a horse.

I had LASIK surgery in March. Results were amazing—I could actually see quite clearly for a few weeks. For any of you that know about vision stuff, I was almost a -10 going into surgery, so this was a huge change. After a month or so, my vision began to deteriorate and I got glasses with a -1.5 prescription. Eventually I needed a -3, and after about six months my vision stabilized. It took a while to get used to the “halo” effect but it really doesn’t bother me at all anymore.

I went to Boise in April to meet Gwen Nelson, my friend Debi’s first baby. I also met her cousin Dorothy Frances, who was born almost three months earlier. Both girls are beautiful and such sweethearts!

In May, my nephew’s high school graduation took us to Colorado. He graduated with all sorts of honors (I’m still trying to find a way to take credit for his smartitude). Sean and Stephen’s band performed, and Jack got to sit in a little. It was a really fun week of family stuff—my aunt (Curt’s sister) and favorite cousin came, as well as Mom and her brother Paul. Kathy’s best friend Lori and her family were there too. Big crowd = big fun + lots of memories. We had family portraits done with a very creative photographer.

The Lassens

Stephen’s school’s FFA Clean Barn Award + cowboy hat rack = many laughs for me and Lori.

We spent a few days at Sunriver with Sonya’s family in June. Although it rained a lot of the time, we didn’t mind the excuse to stay indoors and relax (gotta love the vacation rentals with wireless Internet!). When it wasn’t raining, the kids had a great time playing on their scooters and bikes. Each visit to the resort pool was cut short by evacuations due to gross bodily functions (for which no one in our party was responsible, I might add). Of course, not having gone to the pool myself, I found the experiences hilarious!

Daryl, Sally and Presley were here for the summer. Sonya and her family were here briefly, between their move from France to China. Katie and Jack loved having their cousins around so much.

Katie started first grade in September. She adores her teacher and classmates and loves to read. While her soccer skills had improved since last year, she decided the games aren’t fun because she can’t play around with her friends like at practice. She got up to Level 3 in swimming lessons over the summer. Her piano repertoire is finally getting beyond “Hot Cross Buns,” for which we are very thankful. And if you come near our house this holiday season, expect to hear “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth”—Katie’s got quite a gap.

Katie's first day of school

Jack is in his second year of preschool. He didn’t take swimming lessons this year because he refuses to get his face wet. And when I threatened that all his teeth would fall out if he didn’t brush them, he decided that would look awesome, just like a pirate. Even though he likes the new pirate decor in his bedroom, he will sleep in Scout’s crate if we let him. Needless to say, he’s our special boy! Truthfully, he’s revealing quite a sense of humor, and we have to try to suppress our laughter as we threaten to wash his mouth out with soap.

My niece Erin got married in September. She was gorgeous. I can take absolutely no credit for it, no matter how hard I try. (At least Stephen and I are related by blood!)

Mary and Erin

In October I had a LASIK “enhancement,” which is essentially a do-over. Again, I had great vision immediately after. Again, it has already begun to deteriorate. I’m not sure I want to go in for a third surgery, but stay tuned to next year’s letter for the (hopefully happy) ending to this saga.

Disneyland was our destination once again in November (we flew!), where we partied like it’s 2006 for Jack’s fifth birthday. Mary came along on the trip—she hadn’t been there since 1980, when our family went for the first time—and she was as enchanted by the Disney magic as the kids were. Also, I think she appreciated that my behavior had marginally improved. We got to ride the new and improved Pirates of the Caribbean (A+) and loved seeing the attractions decorated for Christmas. One of my favorite memories of this trip is the snow on Main Street—fake, yes, but a beautiful sight nonetheless. It really did look real, but when it landed on my tongue it tasted a lot soapier than the snow at home does. Hmmmm…

Victor and I subscribed to the current “Broadway in Portland” season and are enjoying an excuse to have a date night every few months. This past year we saw Hairspray, Wicked and Sweet Charity, and there are four more musicals scheduled for the first half of 2007.

How are we celebrating our tenth anniversary in February? How nice of you to ask! We’re going on a Western Caribbean Disney cruise—kid-less!—and hope to spend a few days at Disney World before or after. I know what you’re thinking: two trips to Disneyland + a Disney cruise + Disney World = TOO MUCH DISNEY! But you’re wrong. You’re very, very wrong.

Two years ago I wrote in our Christmas letter about my little friend, Olivia Medici, who was about to undergo treatment for a rare disease. I know many of you followed her progress, which is why it breaks my heart to tell you, if you haven’t already heard, that she passed away November 12. You can read her story at, as well as her parents’ plan for The Olivia School. They are nothing less than AMAZING.

Sonya, Ted and Daryl, along with their families, will be in the Portland area for Christmas this year. It’s the first time we’ve all been together for the holidays; with everyone spread over the world, this is quite a feat. You can be sure there will be much taking of pictures and covert counting of gifts under the tree.

Best wishes for a very happy holiday season—

(and Casey and the fish, Flush1 and Flush2)

Our family photo, taken in front of the Disneyland Christmas tree:

Dec. 5: Gift Giving Guide

Exchanging gifts, while fun in theory, offers endless potential for aggravation: Thronging crowds, ransacked stores, confusion, indecision, cash depletion and, finally, the belated knowledge that you bought the wrong thing.

And even worse, perhaps, is receiving a spousal gift that you wouldn't buy for your worst enemy. Well, maybe for your worst enemy, but only if it's on sale.

But there is a cure for the holiday gift blues. Just substitute this agreement for those subtle hints -- the ones that are always either missed or misconstrued. Then kiss that Returns Counter good-bye. This year's gifts are for keeps.

AGREEMENT entered into this ___________ (Date) by Husband and Wife, hereafter called "Couple."

WHEREAS, Couple often argues over ill-chosen gifts; and

WHEREAS, a gift giving agreement may save Couple's marriage and/or reduce return trips to the mall.

NOW, THEREFORE, Couple hereby agrees to these provisions:


Self-serving gifts shall be avoided. For example, Husband shall not buy Wife the following:

  1. Chocolate when Wife is on a diet.
  2. Tight clothing meant to encourage Wife to diet.
  3. Anything transparent.

Husband shall not give Wife practical gifts such as an iron, a dish washer, or a vacuum cleaner... unless husband plans to use them.

Husband shall keep track of Wife's clothing sizes, except those Wife refuses to divulge.

Husband shall not give Wife anything that can be bought at an airport.

Husband shall not buy Wife earrings that weigh more than her head.

Husband shall remember that gifts should be personal. Gift certificates, checks, and wads of cash are not personal... unless large enough to buy a diamond watch.

Husband shall avoid all of the following:

  1. His former girl-friend's favorite fragrance.
  2. His mother's favorite fragrance.
  3. Anything Wife admires on someone else, unless Husband confirms candor of compliment.

Husband is encouraged to buy Wife gifts in the following categories:

  1. Anything Wife specifically requests.
  2. Catalogue items discreetly circled by Wife.
  3. Any object containing silver, platinum, and/or gold.


Wife shall not give Husband anything that smells like perfume... no matter how macho its name or spokesman.

Wife shall not buy Husband home repair manuals.

Wife shall not give Husband anything "cute" or containing the word "organizer."

Wife shall not get Husband anything used in a gym.

Wife shall not buy Husband silk boxers, unless she agrees to wear a matching pair.

Wife shall not give Husband anything that's for Husband's own good.

Wife is encouraged to buy husband items in the following categories:

  1. Anything Couple's twelve year old son would like.
  2. Sporting equipment, provided Husband can exchange it for something with a better feel.
  3. Stereo and electronic equipment, provided Husband can exchange it for something with more oomph.


Husband won't buy their son a toy gun, provided Wife doesn't buy him a doll. Puppets, however, are permissible.

Wife won't buy anything that requires assembly.

Husband won't buy children toys he plans to play with.

Whoever picks the gift must make the emergency trip for batteries.

Couple shall try to buy the children educational toys. The following shall not be deemed educational:

  1. A toy stove for their daughter.
  2. Anything bearing the name "Barney."
  3. Anything involving a drum.

Couple shall not succumb to hunting for elusive fad gifts. But if they do, they'll take turns waiting in line.


Husband concedes that writing thank you notes for the entire household and buying gifts for Husband's business associates are not the Wife's job.

Husband acknowledges that reminding Husband about his parents', uncles, aunts, and siblings' birthdays is not the Wife's job. However, in light of Husband's actual or feigned absentmindedness, Wife will make reasonable efforts to do so. But if Wife screws up, Husband has to deal with his mother.

Husband concedes that there is no connection between gender and gift wrapping.

Couple agrees that the phrase "Someday I'd really like to get...," if uttered by Husband or Wife, shall trigger Pavlovian note taking and an appropriate gift. If uttered by one of Couple's children, however, the proper response is "We'll see."

If despite all precautions, one spouse buys the other something he/she hates, Couple shall behave in a diplomatic fashion. Saying the following shall not be deemed diplomatic:

  1. "Are you insane? How could you get me something so ugly, stupid, and out of style?"
  2. "Give me the receipt you cheapskate. And while you're at it, give me your gift back."
  3. "But you said you wanted this. I have you on tape."

Couple shall cherish the loving thought behind every single gift... even the ones they exchange.


Husband _______________________

Wife __________________________


Dec. 5: Yule shoot your eye out

Sally e-mailed me yesterday about Presley's very unusual Christmas list and her subsequent visit with Santa:

Yesterday we went on the Santa Express train ride. Presley was really "brave" she said because she actually talked to Santa & told him what she wanted... "a beard" (as you know). Santa said "What?" Then asked if she liked Dora, blah, blah. It was like A Christmas Story when Santa asked Ralphie if he wanted a football & he just said yeah. I'm sure after she wanted to shout in his ear "I WANT A BEARD!!!!"

Presley is not just the most adorable girl I've ever seen, she's also the funniest. I bet you're really jealous she's not YOUR niece, hm?


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