Category Archives: Holiday Horrors Hootenanny

There’s nothing like a hootenanny for the holidays

Gentle readers, it’s been a long time.  I realize the last month or so has been pretty lame, A-Little-Help-wise.  Things have been busy and exciting around here, which means they’ve been absolutely dead around here. It’s not likely to get much better before Christmas, but things will pick up again in the New Year!

In the meantime, I want to remind everyone that it’s almost time for Carolyn Hax’s annual Holiday Horrors Hootenanny!  Each December, in the weeks before Christmas, Carolyn turns one of her live chats into a festival of Festivus fiascos.  Don’t miss the fun–and her dad’s annual “Night Before Christmas” parody.

As a bonus, this year I submitted a holiday horror story of my own (you can too!), so there’s that to look out for.  I don’t know whether it will be posted in the chat or not, but if you follow along, take a guess at which catastophe is one of the ghosts of A Little Help’s Christmases past.

Happy holidays, happy flurries, happy shopping, happy parties…happy happy.

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Out of Season

Carolyn totally re-purposed an excerpt from her December 23 Christmas chat in today’s (or really, tomorrow’s) column.  She does this pretty regularly, expanding upon questions answered on the fly in her live chat by formalizing them in her column…used to bug me (I’ve already read this!), doesn’t anymore.

But this one? This was explicitly about driving from one parents’ house to another for Christmas.  I even already blogged about it! She’s simply replaced the word “holiday” with “visiting” throughout:

Dear Carolyn:

Any tips for surviving driving my sister from one parent’s house to the other this weekend? It’s a three-hour trip and she commandeers my radio, criticizes my driving, and generally drives me nuts every time we’re in the car. Plus, she’ll be really late, and want to stop at every Starbucks we pass, which will make her have to pee. I’m anticipating the three-hour drive will take roughly 4.5 with her in the car. How do I do it so we arrive at parent No. 2’s house with me still in the visiting spirit?

Anonymous

Read this, appreciate how funny it is, and treat yourself to a foofy somethingorother-uccino at one (if not all) of the stops.

This is all fine, I suppose.  This doesn’t really have to be a holiday issue.  Though it was way funnier when it was, and mixed in with the context of everyone else’s family disasters.

I guess I just don’t see the point.  It’s one thing when a complicated proble requires a nuanced, complex answer, and truly benefits from a more intensive treatment in the column than Carolyn can spare in the live chat.  I’ve seen examples like this before.

But this one is clearly for entertainment only.  She doesn’t have much to say about it.  And it was funnier with Santa hats and eggnog in the landscape.  With the number of letters Carolyn surely receives each day, I guess I just don’t get why she bothered to revive this one, which already had its moment back in December.

Ho, Ho, Ho, Merrrry…..wait, we missed it!

After a couple of weeks of lots of holiday horror stories and “shocking” breaches of Christmas etiquette, I was a bit surprised to see that on Christmas Eve, most of the columnists didn’t even touch Christmas. (Maybe they figured any train wrecks are now far beyond stopping….).

  • Abby revisited the issue of reading or not reading collections of private letters between deceased relatives (I responded to this one after the original October column)
  • Kathy and Marcy of Annie’s Mailbox counseled a high school student who’s being buillied about her Jolie-like “duck lips”
  • Dan Savage, whom I read weekly, but rarely write about here (partly because most of his answers are a bit out of my range of expertise, and partly because when I started this blog I checked the “no adult content” box, and generally try to avoid profanity, etc.) gives a slight nod to “last minute Christmas gifts,” but mostly covers the standard Savage Love grab bag of spanking, smelliness, and electro-stimulation.
  • Miss Manners hits on foreclosure and telecommunications
  • And Carolyn wrote about HPV, of all things!

Golly gee whillikers, where can a girl get a little holiday spirit, or at least a little festive forehead slapping?

  • Amy hits the spot, featuring a woman (I’m guessing) who is obsessed with the fact that her relative cannot send Christmas gifts on time. The gifts always arrive eventually, but she’d apparently do away with gifts altogether rather than have them show up late. How old is she, 9? Unless there are kids thinking Santa’s been run over (by a reindeer?) because the presents aren’t there, what’s the big friggin’ deal? Amy conveys basically the same sentiment, though not in so many words.
  • Prudence devotes all four of her weekly featured letters (plus the video!) to Christmas conundrums (conundra? help me, Latin speakers!). Get ready for simmering sibling entitlement, multicultural mishaps, mysterious gifts from married men, and my two favorites: absurdly political Christmas cards and prank gift wrapping that would give Wile E. Coyote a run for his money.
  • Carolyn’s last pre-holiday live chat also had a few doozies: gourmet cooks griping about lame holiday food, obnoxious custody arrangements, and this, my favorite one (scroll all the way down to the bottom):

Washington, DC: Carolyn

Any tips for surviving driving my sister from one parent’s house to the other this weekend? It’s a three hour trip and she commandeers my radio, criticizes my driving, and generally drives me nuts every time we’re in the car. Plus, she’ll be ready late and want to stop at every Starbucks we pass, which will make her have to pee. I’m anticipating the three hour drive will take roughly 4.5 with her in the car. How do I do it so we arrive at parent no. 2’s house with me still in the holiday spirit?

Carolyn says: Read this, see how funny this is, and treat yourself to a foofy hot somethingorother on one if not all of the stops.

Gentle readers (to snag a phrase from Miss Manners), thanks for sticking around for year two of A Little Help Please?! Happy holidays, and see you in the new year! (unless things are boring at home, in which case I’ll see you, like, tomorrow).

My favorite Holiday Hootenanny Event

This was my favorite, non-traumatic moment from Carolyn Hax’s Holiday Hootenanny. I hope that one day I can be this kind of parent to my children:

The Breakfast Stocking: This isn’t really a holiday horror story, but just a testiment to my parents’ cleverness.
When I was a kid, my family would have big blow out parties on X-mas eve (all the family and extended family would be there). Naturally the adults would get drunk and send the kids off to bed before the raunchy caroling became too raunchy for our ears.
When we (the kids) would wake up on X-mas morning, there would always be a stocking on the pillow next to each of us — filled with breakfast pastries, cereal, fruit and a little note that basically said Santa wasn’t going to stop by the house until noon-ish, and until then, we were to watch TV VERY quietly and feed ourselves from our X-mas stockings. If we woke our parents up, then Santa wouldn’t stop by the house.
Needless to say – we were very quiet… and all of our parents and guests had time to nurse their hangover in peace.
It wasn’t until I was married, and spent my first X-mas with my husband’s family that I realized that the X-mas stocking wasn’t supposed to be filled with breakfast foods…

Carolyn Hax: Brilliant.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Kill Time, Not Family

I love, love, love, love and want to be Carolyn Hax. Her “holiday hootenanny,” as anticipated, brought me much joy and muffled snorting during at work.

Enjoy! (better with eggnog).

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

One of my family’s extra special holiday traditions is listening Kathy and Judy’s “Merry Medical Christmas” show (on WGN, radio 720, the voice of Chicago, obviously) on our drive out to the grandparents on Christmas Eve (which is a merry medical Christmas in and of itself). In this annual special, Kathy and Judy read out loud “real” (some of them are fairly dubious) Christmas letters that listeners have received and submitted, relating in horrific detail a year’s worth of medical procedures. Extra points for the use of words like “drainage,” and anything related to the gastrointestical tract.

I treasure this tradition, and so was delighted to learn today that Carolyn Hax has her very own version, the Holiday Horrors Hootenanny, which this year is scheduled on Dec. 12 ( I discovered it today when I stumbled onto today’s transcript of Carolyn’s live chat (yes, I’m slowly venturing out of the obsolete world of the daily column). I’m assuming the event will be part of her chat session? Or perhaps a digest will run in her column? Alas, I was unclear on the details.

Here’s a sample…..more holiday horrors to come!:

iPods: Man, I’d trade my sister-in-law for that one [me here…this refers to an earlier contributor who complained about his sister-in-law walking around with her ipod cord strung up her shirt, through her cleavage, to her ears. Ok, over and out]. Mine is so completely New Agey, it’s painful to watch. Last Thanksgiving, she communed with the spirit of the turkey that was sitting, cooked, on our table. She told us that the turkey was happy to have given its life for our meal; that it was satisfied that its sacrifice made our holiday more special.

More special, indeed.

Carolyn Hax: Wait wait wait–we need to save these for the Holiday Horrors Hootenanny. Which, as it happens, Elizabeth and I just scheduled for Dec. 12. Mark your Advent calendars.