Saturday, December 26, 2009

101. Vic's Quirky Response to the "White Elephant Christmas Game" / Christmas 2008 / Christmas 2009

This Christmas (a la Mama)... Next Halloween.... Vic the Confused Deranged Transgender Granny Pirate Coffee Addict! In Color!
This Christmas (a la Mama)... Next Halloween.... Vic the Confused Deranged Transgender Granny Pirate Coffee Addict! In Black and White!

When the family came together in Christmas of 2007, Jennifer had an idea to play a guessing game so that we could get to know each other better. We had to answer four questions, and slowly but surely, people had to guess who was the person who answered the questions. I think it came out that (1) I gave people the most bizarre presents, and (2) I had the most bizarre responses. So I'll share my self-absurdity.

(1). Favorite holiday carol/song: WWJB, What Would Jesus Buy? (It's a documentary, not sure if it's a song. It should be. Mama thought I made that up, and she demanded that I sing it on the spot, which I didn't)

(2). Favorite holiday tradition: Sleeping. (Most people answered: spending time with family and eating good food. Jery Lyn guessed me right away)

(3). Favorite food: Homemade pie and homemade strawberry ice scream. (This was my boring response, but nevertheless true. Jim and Melanie and Alicia spoil us with homemade ice scream and pie)

(4). Strangest holiday present ever received: Toilet paper. (Mama saw the question and she yelped at me: "Ohhh! I know what YOU'RE going to write! Oh no!" And I exclaimed, "I'm going to have to bring this issue out in the open from under the table!" We both laughed until our faces went red)

I made the top list for giving people the strangest presents. I gave Mama a sweeper and dust pan. She got mad and didn't want it. She wanted me to return it, but Jenny decided to take it to Northridge. Whew. It was 99 cents anyway. She asked me, "What were you thinking? Are you going to give me a trash can like Baba too?" I think this family is a little bit too practical for its own good.

Jennifer put me on the top for weirdest present. I believe I gave her frog-shaped soap. That was a long time ago. Oh well. Bub said "none" for favorite holiday song. That almost beats "What Would Jesus Buy." Bub's weirdest present was a "plastic roll," but unfortunately I did not give it to him. If you do not know, my father lives off of bread. It's his addiction. Better than cigarettes and pot, I guess. The strangest present my grandfather Ray ever received was a Venus Fly Trap, and that, of course, was from me--just this Christmas. This is a special honor for me, simply because Ray is 94 or 95 years old! Surely he must have received a stranger present than a Venus Fly Trap! Jenny's favorite holiday tradition is "Saying Thanks at Thanksgiving," a bit redundant, but I also topped her list of weirdest presents--just this year--"oozing animal-shaped sticky window figurines." Pretty elaborate and scientific! One was an orange deformed frog. One was a rat. And another was a starfish.

I think the "recent memory effect" has taken effect in people's decisions for weirdest presents, and I guess it's all toward my favor in the recent emergence of my weirdness (it was more suppressed before). It is the same effect that occurs when people decide who should receive an academy award. I think we should account for this phenomenon, and make the decision-making process more objective.

I think we were all sad that Colleen didn't come. She had been cut off from the family since moving out from Uncle Dwight. She called once when the fires were occurring near Corona. I just hope she's okay.

Jennifer must have known who was who just based on the hand-writing of the people. Jennifer was announcing the answers to everyone... all for us to go wild guessing.

What can I say? I am so thankful for all my family for keeping me calibrated and in check. And I am thankful they welcome the development of my humor. Being comical is a necessity, otherwise life gets to be pretty boring if you rely on others for humor. I apply the "expect the worst, and hope for the best" tactic when it comes to comedy. Sometimes other people really crack me up!

Christmas 2009
All right, all right, now it's December of 2009... about a year since last Christmas.... What have I been doing differently? Well, before I did the Christmas Eve present splurge... I was on this meditative train of thought of adding everyone I could think of on Facebook. I promised myself last September to finally start using Facebook and adding all my past friends and acquaintances, and acknowledge their existence and influence in my life, whether subtley or profoundly.... I got to the point in which I finished writing a blog on the NASA Sherettes Conference, and I was about to add Dr. Caron to Facebook when I realized it was PAST NOON, and that it was CHRISTMAS EVE and that I better just get my act together. I had been meditating on what to purchase people this year. The last couple of years have ventured into the domain of "absurd silliness" and "Saturday Night Live Material." My strategy was "quantity" over "quality," especially since I was strolling through the isles of the 99 cents store. I have established the familial claim to fame for purchasing my grandfather of 96 years the most memorable present of a "venus fly trap" and in certain ways, I'm trying to maintain my new status of Holiday Sharing. But this year, I decided to resort to "thoughtfulness" and "quality over quantity." I meditated long and hard on what to purchase for each close family member: (1) my father: a very, very nice fancy +20 oz Starbucks metallic coffee mug, so that he will NEVER have to use a paper cup at Starbucks ever again (though I'm still guilty) (2) my mother: Trader Joes Baklava (she requested it), and I was thinking of getting her a cook book, but I abandoned any cookbook ideas all together; also a $5 gift certificate to the Dollar Tree Store (3) Jen Jen, my sister: an autographed book by Dr. Barbara Kingsolver "The Poisonwood Bible" (a couple of years ago Jenny got me a Daftpunk Homework CD for Christmas, and it was one of the coolest presents I had received the last ten years, so I wanted to reciprocate in the same way). I also made a few Dollar Tree Store Nick Nack presents, but overall I calmed down my own Saturday Night Live Prankster Gift Habits (though I guess American Consumerist Lifestyle is overall insane; it doesn't really even matter). I wanted to also buy everyone in the family some cloth-based, portable grocery store baggies from Whole Foods, but I never made it to the store because I anticipated horrible traffic on Christmas Eve. On the evening before Christmas, I felt overall tired and was not in the mood of purchasing and wrapping, so my sister Jenny helped me out, took me out to the Dollar Tree Store in her new Green Toyota Limo (she's getting higher up in the ranks than I am; she's about to have a nice job in a few months... my parents only have to worry about me :-), and she let me borrow her wrapping paper for wrapping. I was still lazy and didn't label any of the presents. It was a little bit of guess work in terms of whether people received the right presents. My mother noticed how tired I was and said, "Awww, you don't have to wrap the presents!" And I exclaimed, "No! I have to! Last year I wrapped everything in grocery store plastic bags and Jenny was pissed off!" So... I have learned and adjusted my behavior.... (Oh ya, I did get my father a funny present, a Luna Bar, or an energy bar for women... ha ha... for my daddy's feminine side... I didn't even realize it was a bar for women, who would know the difference?)

So, that was my game plan. It was Christmas Eve, 9pm, and everything was all set for the next day. I wanted to go out and work at a coffeeshop but everything was closed. I was cold and just slept on the living room floor wrapped in blankets by the tree. I didn't hear Santa Claus that night, just my dad waking up 3am in the morning to go to the pot. Right before I went to sleep, I talked with my father. I was trying to figure out the HISTORY of this ASBURD GIFT EXCHANGE, especially between ME and MY MOTHER. Well, last year was getting really crazy. And then I purchased a bowl that was shaped as a half-broken chicken egg shell with two chicken feet sticking out. My mother frowned, my father laughed, and my mom asked if my dad could donate this piece of existentialist Goodwill art to his work.... I kept tracing back and back and back... and then I realized that the Whacko Funky Gift Exchange Operation started back in November of 2003, when I was at UCLA, frazzled as can be as a first-year graduate student, and for some reason, our apartment was out of toilet paper for a week and I was so crunched with time I forgot to purchase toilet paper at the grocery store. Oopsy. My mother emphasized this random drama of "toilet paper absence" by wrapping up a packet of four-ply toilet paper and giving it to me for Christmas. I whined when I opened it up, "Ma-maaaa!!!" And SHE calls me the Greek "skatoula" [little shxt!] huh! So much for that... the terms of endearment shoot right back at her!

After that Christmas present, my mother and I subliminally formulated a Christmas/Birthday present FaceOff Competition of who could get the most absurd, silly, and most useless present during whatever holiday occassion. But it's December 2009 and I was about ready to taper off in my efforts... except for my mother... she decided to vamp up her efforts.

On the morning of December 25, 2009, my mother tossed me a soft-feeling present. I opened it up, only to find a green kitchen pirate hat with white pokadots. My mom busted laughing. My father and sister started to cringe. The next present: a white-yarn oversized painter's beanie hat. My mom laughed again. I took off the pokadot hat in order to place the white painter's hat underneath, and the pokadot hat was on the top. And then an undersized light brown and blue vest. Wow, this was getting good. My mother was having way too much fun. Then my sister opened a couple of white elephant presents: a neon pink hippi purse, which she grimaced and I exclaimed, "I want it! I want it!" which she threw across the room to me. And to top it off, a weird cloth light brown belt with strange crochet patterns on it. I forgot the colors. Reminded me of Arizonian and New Mexico designs. My sister frowned. My mom moped, "Well, I thought you needed a belt." Jenny whined again, "Mama! I'm not going to wear it!" And of course I perked up, "I want it! I want it!" And hence, my wardrobe for next Halloween was completed (maybe some pants or shorts to top it off). Jenny stared at me and playfully, "Victoria! Take it off! Take it all off! You look like a confused transgender granny pirate!" Wow! My new identity! Well, the identity became more elaborate when Jenny gave me a $10 Starbucks gift certificate. My official title for Next Halloween is "Confused Deranged Transgender Granny Pirate Coffee Addict!" CDTGPCA. At one point my sister retrieved a present for my father from her car, and my dad was like, "I hope it's a screen... so I can stop looking at Victoria!" Aya!

Though I wasn't all that competitive in the annual Silly Useless Gift Exchange Game... I am so happy my mother still played... and she came back stronger than ever! A fisherman said, it's all about making memories, in the end, that's all you have left. Memories. And that indeed was what my mother did. Sometimes I feel like my family has humorous enough moments to be on Saturday Night Live. Christmas Time the last five years have made it in my mind....

My mother also had a "flashlight fetish." She gave everyone a bunch of 99-cent weirdly shaped lights.... I found out that it was because of some family struggles in Greece with a cousin of mine who is literally going insane and being threatening in a way that is criminal... which is obviously affecting the whole family. My mom perceives "lights" as some form of "clairvoyance" in a time of familial turbulence... so she dumped all these lights on us, which is fine, because I have a fetish for plasma and lava lamps... so she's adding to my collection. I stopped paying full price for lava lamps. They end up being popular, cheap yard sale items. The first thing that goes when everyone moves....

Noon. Marquis arrives. That was fun. Drive in Green Limo to Corona. Say hi to everyone. Chuck. Jean. Jennifer. Colleen (back from Harvard!). Uncle Dwight ($10 gift certificate TJs!). Jeri Lyn. Steve. Mumsy. Bubsy. Jen Jen. Marquis. Me. Great Catching Up! White Elephant Toss Game was a bit of a dud. No one was interested in trading or stealing this year. I think everyone has gotten too good at this game. Jennifer gave me to-do-list tattoos because I write all over my hands. Ha ha. Received a tool kit and a cool "Mudd" purse with a huge number of pockets. Jeri Lyn didn't want! Wa?! Oh well. Lots of great food. Turkey. Potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Beans. Veggie chips. Guacamole and Tortilla Chips. Cookies. Pumpkin bread. Caramel pop corn. A suite of other evil little goodies that will compell me to jogging a bazillion miles to who knows where. Good thing I didn't eat anything the night before! Came back after a ride to Riverside. Played Buzz game. The host was abnoxious. I apparently am an idiot and don't know anything useful, like the names of musicians and famous athletes. I played a WWII Wii game and crashed an airplane in the ocean. Cool! Fell asleep with the doggies. I was so happy to see Jeri Lyn and Steve and Katie from up North! Steve showed me how to use Garageband.... He's motivating me to get on to purchasing Logic Pro or Logic Lite... get over the hump.... and become musically competent! Garageband has some built in tools like PITCH CORRECTION! ARPEGGIATOR! Autotunes equivalent! That is GOOD TO KNOW!!!

Another memorable Christmas goes by! I love our new family gig. Merging Christmas with Ray Minnich's side of the family and Dwight Minnich's side of the family. The hub of the free-thinking scientists and artists. I wish we started doing this a lot earlier, but now... I'm glad we're doing it now! Better now than never!


Victoria "Stokastika" said...

I have to add... my parents gave me and my sister some money to help out with paying tuition.... I'm a lucky girl, so is Jenny. Given the devastating circumstance of the University of California, I am able to stay above water with minimal debt... for one more quarter....

Victoria "Stokastika" said...

Vic forgot to add the "hot pink hippi purse" to the cartoon.... That would have totally topped it all off!!!