During this holiday season, I am sure you are just pulling your hair out about proper holiday etiquette. On the other hand, maybe you don't really care, you bah-humbugger you. If you would like to know some of the basic frequently asked questions about holiday etiquette take a moment and visit Emily Post's Holiday Etiquette FAQ. There you can find out what to do if you are entertaining vegetarians at your Holiday dinner, or what to do when you realize you haven't picked out anything for your boss. It's all there, including tips for year round proper etiquette. My favorite page - Essential Manners for Men: Men's Top Five Mistakes by Peter Post. Now I have back up the next time my husband leaves the seat up in the middle of the night. No more wet fanny for me!
The Social History of Conjoined Twins
I've always been fascinated with human oddities. While most kids were reading Beverly Cleary, I was engrossed in The Guinness Book of World Records and biographies of the Elephant Man. Stories of the old circus sideshows are equally captivating. Who wouldn't want to see Otis, the Frog Man; or Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in the world? I had to content myself with pictures.
And so it is that I stumbled across a history of conjoined twins, many of whom were featured in circus sideshows. Read about Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, one of the first cases of conjoined twins ever documented. They were born about 1100 in England and are still remembered for their generosity to the church. Other twins are featured, too, some with pictures. But the pair that I find most interesting is Chang and Eng, the conjoined twins who were born in Siam in 1811, and are responsible for the phrase, "Siamese Twins." They led an adventurous life, not all of it pleasant, until they married sisters and had 21 children between them!
If you find yourself interested in learning more,read Chang and Eng, a novel by Darin Strauss (Dutton, 2000). Although it is a fictionalized account of the lives, it does offer some insights into their difficult situation in a time when most of society did not value their differences.
For you last minute shoppers - or shopping addicts who like crude and unusual gifts - take a moment and visit What On Earth - A collection of fun wear and delightful diversions. Not only do they have some of the funniest and most unique gifts on the web, they will ship whatever you order directly to the recipient as late as the 24th. Check out there shipping chart here. My very favorite section on this site is the Wit&Humor clothing section. I personally can't wait to sport an "Afraid of Clowns" t-shirt. Maybe then those red-nosed-floppy-footed freaks will leave me be.
Hand hurt from all that greeting card writing? Feel like you just can't lick another envelope. Head on over to Sugarqube Greetings and with just a few clicks you can send e-cards to your entire list. They'll even keep track of what you sent to whom (for six months). One of the nifty features of this site is they will delay delivery for the date you set. This means, if you are like me and tend to forget birthdays and anniversaries, you can sit down with address book in hand and take care of all your e-card needs for the year. Might take an hour or two, but hey - you'd be done for the entire year. Keeping in mind this only works for the computer literate in your family - those that have an Internet connection and know how to use it. Sugarqube offers a two-week free trial - after that it is only $9.99 per year. I think it is well worth it. Less than a dollar a month and all your card shopping is over.
Unless, of course you think e-cards are tacky. Have fun with that envelope licking. I hear some places have started adding flavor to the glue.
If you could care less about the holidays, and just want to look at something interesting have a gander at The NOTmilk site. While parts of this site are a bit over the top (practically rabid) they do have some very useful information about America's favorite calcium booster - milk. More than once I've called milk evil, or the mucus-maker, or many other disgusting names because, lucky me, I'm lactose intolerant. I do not recommend this site for the faint at heart, someone who loves that glass of milk in the mornings, or someone that can't read with discernment. I do recommend this site if you just want to know more, and are willing to keep in mind the authors of this site really hate milk. The articles are interesting and the site does provide a list of links for the other side of the story. While I don't hate milk or milk products (mmm cheese) as much as the authors of this site, I do treat it with more caution than I once did.
Looking for something is little less serious? Enjoy movies? Movie Poop Shoot - all the news that's shit to print - might just be the place for you. (Don't go there if you are offended by cursing, references to porn stars or basically get your panties in a twist over adult humor, okay? I warned you, so no complaining.) If you want to read all about how the site came to be before surfing go here. Mostly it came to be due to a small reference in a Kevin Smith movie.
Who's Kevin Smith you ask? Well, you-who-have-been-living-under-a-rock, Kevin Smith is the brilliant writer/director of movies like Chasing Amy and Dogma. For those of you that only read tabloid fodder you might remember the Bennifer thing, and all that hoopla over Jersey Girl. Now that you've caught up you might want to browse Mr. Smith's News Askew. If you are still unclear, about who this dude is maybe you've seen him on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - he's done a few correspondent gigs with them.
Now I'd like to leave you with this thought. Right now, as you sit at your computer, very likely in your warm home and with a full belly, wondering what to buy Uncle Bob for Christmas this year; I want you to remember that the freedom you are awash in, the freedom that gives you the luxury of being worried about the frivolities of the holidays. That freedom is being bought, this very minute, by the sacrifices of the soldiers, and those soldiers families, during this time of war. I know that many of you are being bombarded with requests to donate to this charity or that, you can't enter a store without a bell reminding you to give to the less fortunate, but I still want to ask you to think of those men and women on the front lines. More likely than not they'll be working on Christmas, away from their family and friends, separated from the ones they love.
If you are lucky enough to have a little bit extra please think about visiting Soldier's Angels, or any of the many organizations dedicated to supporting our troops abroad. If you are willing to take the time, make the effort, I know your deeds will be accepted with gratitude. Your freedom is already bought and paid for - how about saying thank you during this holiday season.