Tag Archives: Christmas

Tangled Lights for a Tangled Brain, my review of Tangled Lights and Silent Nights: A Holiday Anthology

I’m one of those weirdos who hates Christmas.  I don’t mean in that Grinchy I’m going to steal everyone’s roast beast and presents way. No. Christmas just gives me a good case of the winter blues.  Part of it is due to messed up holiday memories from my youth, and part of it because it is SOFRIGGINGGRAY here in corn country during the holidays.  So, I’m always looking for a way to make the holidays brighter that doesn’t involve the Hallmark channel and spoonfuls of cookie dough.  I think I’ve found it with Tangled Lights and Silent Nights: A Holiday Anthology.

Usually, holiday anthologies are full of angels, and miracles, and recipes for cranberry sauce framed in stories of long dead, sweet grandmothers.  This one is so different.  It’s not all heartwarming reality.  There is something in this book for everyone.

My favorite story is “Convergence” by Stacey Roberts because it is humor, as it is labeled, but it is also relatable to anyone who felt like they didn’t fit in as a kid. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you are from a “broken home” you will really get this story.

Since my mind tends to go dark at Christmas, I also loved Yuletide Homicide: A Liz Boyle Short Mystery, by Kate Birdsall. I love a good murder mystery, especially one set in Ohio, my current home state.

Those are just my top two favorite stories.  Really, the entire book is great. Tangled Lights and Silent Nights: A Holiday Anthology is one of those books that you will want to read in one sitting with a big Yeti full of coffee, while sitting next to a fire. And given my seasonal and all year depression and anxiety, it helps that all profits go to The Life After—Visions of Hope Project.

Whether you love or hate Christmas and the entire holiday season, which now begins at 11:59pm on October 31, you will love this book.  Buy it now while it’s cheap because once Oprah catches wind of this, and she will, it will be much more expensive.


Guest Blog Post – Tangled Lights and Silent Nights: A Holiday Anthology By Stacey Roberts

My mother was in a state of high dudgeon.

“SSSSo,” she hissed. (I learned early in life that she was deadly serious when her sibilants extended). “You’re a TOKEN.”

“A what?”

“A token! You wrote a story for a Christmas whatchamacallit—anthology. What kind of word IS that? Sounds Yiddish. Anyway, nineteen Christmas stories from the goyim and one Hanukkah story from you. You’re a token!”

“Come on, Ma. That isn’t even remotely true.”

“Really, smarty pants? All these other authors in this collection – they’ve written great books! That Kristy Gamble – she’s on the USA Today Bestseller List!”

“Kelly, Ma. Kelly Gamble.” (My mother is no good with names).

“That’s what I said. Bestseller!”

“You would love her books. Her heroine whapped her husband in the head with a shovel.”

“If we’d had a shovel I would have whapped the crap out of your father, that son of a bitch.”

“I know you would, Ma.”

“There’s another writer in this book, this Justin Bog character. What kind of name is Bog? Is he from Scotland or something?”

“Actually, I think Bog is short for something unpronounceable. Possibly Eastern European.”

“He can’t be Jewish. He wrote a book of Christmas stories. Very well-received by the critics. Not like YOUR chazerai.” (‘Chazerai’ is the Yiddish word for ‘bullshit’. I didn’t even have to look it up. It was in the Amazon review my mom left about my first book).


“And I checked him out on the Tweeter—”


“That’s what I said. There’s no way he’s Jewish. He’s got German shepherds!”

“Ma, that’s ridiculous. Dog-ownership isn’t relevant to—“

“My point is that these are accomplished writers. That Kate Birdsall. I got one of her books. They’re so good. Mysteries. That’s what you should write. Or even that Claude Bouchard. Also a bestseller. Lotta violence, but ok. And Diane Byington? She’s won AWARDS, Stace. Awardssssss. What kind of awards do YOU have?”

“I got an honorable mention by the Recreational Vehicle Enthusiasts Society of Missoula, Montana.”

“Big deal. Nicole Evelina won three Book of the Year designations. Maybe she could give you some writing tips, since you’re so interested in concocting Christian stories all of a sudden.”

“Ciara Ballintyne wrote a non-denominational story about a winter festival. It’s got wizards and demons in it. Nothing Christian about THAT.”

“SSSSStace. ‘Winter festival’ is just another way to say Christmas. And goyim are all about demons. They’re everywhere in their heathen Bible. Piles and piles of demons.”

“Anyway, my reason for calling is to let you know that the book is available for pre-order—“

“Just send me a copy.”

“You should buy one. The proceeds go to benefit a great charity. It’s a really good cause—“

“These goyim. They should have asked your brother to write a story. He’s got a real way with words.”

“I’m sure he does. The charity is The LifeAfter—Visions of Hope Project. They spread awareness about suicide, substance abuse and domestic violence.”

“There would have been a lot more domestic violence in our house if I’d had me a shovel.”

“I’ll buy you one for Christmas.”

“We do NOT celebrate Christmassssssss!”

“Hanukkah then. But really, any occasion is good for a shovel.”

“Yeah, like now. You’re a lot like your father, you know.”

“So you keep telling me. Will you pre-order the book?”

“You should send me a copy. And get that Barbara Vicars to sign it.”


“That’s what I said. You could at least get it autographed by some real authors, couldn’t you? Even though you’re just their mascot or whatever you are.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“You should, Buster. I’m your mother.”


The good news is that none of you will have to go to all this trouble to get your own copy of Tangled Lights and Silent Nights: A Holiday Anthology. Some of the best writers in the business contributed holiday-themed stories based on the characters from their books. The proceeds from all sales will benefit a great cause. This will make a perfect gift to put under your own Christmas tree, if you’re into that sort of thing.

And, my mom wants you to know there’s a Hanukkah story in it.


Help Stacey show his mom his IS a real author! You can pre-order Tangled Lights and Silent Nights: A Holiday Anthology here:  https://www.amazon.com/Tangled-Lights-Silent-Nights-Anthology-ebook/dp/B07JDVSMK5

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Christmas Nazis and Thanksgiving Purists

Your average Christmas Nazi
Your average Christmas Nazi

It’s that time of year when the Christmas Nazis and the Thanksgiving Purists have a pissing contest with the rest of the world. Don’t pretend you don’t know them. They’re not opposing gangs in a Kirk Cameron film about how the liberal media grinds up Christmas trees to make Satanic Bibles. No, they are far more irritating than Kirk. You probably know a few Christmas Nazis or Thanksgiving Purists. They may be your friends or family. You might even be such a person. Hell, you could even fit into both groups.

Despite these scary folks, and the fact that I need to bundle up in 19 layers of wool just to get the mail (and that’s just email), I still love this time of year. I hate the weather with a white hot sparkly passion, though. As a native Floridian who is trapped in the Midwest, I shiver from October through May. Still, even with the ice, snow, and endless clouds, I still love the holidays.

Christmas Nazi Propaganda
Christmas Nazi Propaganda


The fact that I refer to them as “the holidays” might irritate some people, and those people are Christmas Nazis. They believe that current liberal politics and evil atheists are responsible for “Happy Holidays.” Really, Bing Crosby is more responsible for this all inclusive greeting than President Obama.  Christmas Nazis say things like, “This is MURICA!  We can’t say Happy Holidays because we are a Christian country!” They think they are defending Christmas, or keeping it pure, or some other such bullshit. In reality, they are simply showing that they don’t know how to read a calendar.

I love ALL of the holidays.
I love ALL of the holidays.

Most of us understand that Christmas is not the only holiday within the four-week period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.  There’s also Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Saturnalia. Those are just the holidays that are typically celebrated in the U.S. So, saying, “Happy Holidays” is not about excluding Christians, it’s about including everyone. Also, for me, it’s about talking less. As a work from home introvert, I’d rather just cover everything with two words than list all of the holidays with their appropriate happy or merry. I’m pretty sure Santa, Jesus, and Saturn would approve of simply being nice to everyone.

Truth: I watched this movie way before Thanksgiving.
Truth: I watched this movie way before Thanksgiving.

Some Christmas Nazis are also Thanksgiving Purists. You know, the people who get their panties in a bunch when Christmas items are displayed before the appropriate day. They might as well say, “Thou mustn’t put up thine Christmas tree before Thanksgiving.” Some Thanksgiving Purists get quite enraged about seeing Christmas decorations before turkey day. They post about this major crime on social media sites, some people blog about it, and others talk about it on TV. Some of them actually tell others when they are allowed to put up Christmas trees, lights, and other holiday decorations. It’s like they have some sort of Asshole’s Guide to the Holidays book, along with a color-coded calendar that they refer to. I would like to send people who are upset by seeing Christmas decorations in November on an all expense paid trip to a cave in the Middle East. This way they can get away from the offensive early Christmas decorations and learn about real problems.

Let me hear from you in the comment section. Are you a Christmas Nazi or a Thanksgiving Purist, or are you just someone who enjoys pretty lights and a decorated indoor tree when it’s cold and gray outside?

Christmas Wrapping with the Cat

Are we running out of ribbon?!

That says WRAPPING, not rapping. So, if you came here to see me sing a down and funky Christmas tune with Andre, you will be sadly disappointed. Andre can’t rap, and he also can’t wrap, but he at least tries to do the second. By tries to wrap, I mean that he likes to “kill” just about everything that is needed to wrap a present. Of course, I could just go into a room and close the door and wrap presents without a cat jumping on everything that moves, but WHERE would the challenge be? I’m pretty sure I burn about ten extra calories a minute just from moving the cat and redoing things. So, I have become an expert on this, and I would like to help you learn to wrap your presents and still be a loving kitty mama or papa.It’s simple, really. Here’s how you wrap presents with a kitty, in 70 short steps:

  1. Take out wrapping paper
  2. Unroll paper
  3. Grab first gift
  4. Put gift down next to paper
  5. Remove cat from on top of wrapping paper
  6. Put gift on paper
  7. Take cat off of gift
  8. Cut out chunk of wrapping paper with cat teeth marks in it.
  9. Wrap gift, taping paper as you go.
  10. Notice cat fur on tape.
  11. Try to peel tape off of paper.
  12. Push cat off of package.
  13. Try to pick cat fur out of tape
  14. End up getting nail polish on the tape, too.
  15. Remove tape, ripping paper
  16. Throw used, furry tape aside
  17. Wad up paper and throw in trash.
  18. Notice cat has tape stuck on paw.
  19. Chase the cat to remove tape from paw.
  20. Tell the dog to stop chasing the cat with you.
  21. Grab cat and remove tape from cat’s paw.
  22. Go back to wrapping room.
  23. Unroll paper.
  24. Put present on paper.
  25. Cut paper.
  26. Almost stab cat with scissors after he jumps on paper.
  27. Move cat off of paper.
  28. Wrap and tape gift.
  29. Take out ribbon
  30. Remove ribbon from cat’s mouth

    I like the skinny ribbon better! I know it’s in here!
  31. Cut bitten part of ribbon off.
  32. Get a Lysol wipe to clean cat spit off of scissors that touched ribbon.
  33. Push cat away with left foot while leaning right to tie ribbon.
  34. Wipe cat spit from ribbon.
  35. Shriek in pain after cat bites left foot.
  36. Apply alcohol and Band-aid to left foot.
  37. Hope the gift receiver is not allergic to cats
  38. Notice your foot is still bleeding.
  39. Call your husband from your cell phone even though he is downstairs.
  40. Go to the hospital to get stitches in your foot.
  41. Return from hospital with an antibiotic prescription
  42. Hobble upstairs to the wrapping room.
  43. Close the door so the cat cannot HELP.
  44. Listen to the cat beat on the door and yowl.
  45. Open the door and let the damn cat in.
  46. Call your husband on the phone again and ask for a stiff drink.
  47. Gulp down drink and grab the next present.
  48. Notice you have Christmas gift bags.
  49. Open a bag.
  50. Reach for tissue to put in bag.
  51. Notice cat is in bag.
  52. Lure cat out of bag with tissue paper.
  53. Grab wrapping paper.
  54. Grab present.
  55. Realize you never put a nametag on the first present.
  56. Unwrap first present because you forgot whom it was for.
  57. Throw first present in gift bag after removing cat again.
  58. Put tissue paper in gift bag.
  59. Remove that one wet piece of tissue.
  60. Throw wet tissue in trash.
  61. Wash hands, hoping it was only cat spit again.
  62. Get more tissue.
  63. Put tissue in bag.
  64. Call for another drink.
  65. Grab second present.
  66. Notice it is for your son.
  67. Grab roll of Santa paper.
  68. Unroll paper.
  69. Accidentally bonk cat on head with present while racing him to the paper.
  70. Move unconscious cat over and finish wrapping.
Where’s that bag?

See! It’s really not tough to get your present wrapping done and be a loving pet parent. Kitties like being involved in everything. Whoever said they just ignore you probably never had a cat. Happy Holidays from Andre and me!

Disclaimer: While this was based on a true story, Andre was never unconscious, and I never had to go to the hospital. The rest is true. Liz, there is cat spit on your present, girl.

Update: Andre passed away on January 4, 2017.  I miss him so much. 

Holiday Shopping When You Hate People

7finalWell, it’s the “most wonderful” time of the year again. By “most wonderful” I mean stressful as hell.  It’s time for shopping and decorating and cooking and baking and gaining at least ten pounds and dealing with oodles of people.  Yes, the holidays are here.  I say holidays because there are a few of them at the same time; so don’t get all political/religious on me.  I hate all of the winter holidays equally because they involve going out in public and shopping with others.  If you’re anything like me, and you probably aren’t since I am pretty weird, you hate Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanza shopping, too.  So, I have prepared a list of holiday shopping coping mechanisms.

Try like fuck to find it on Amazon and avoid the whole shopping trip.  I know. I know. There are certain things you CAN’T buy online.  With my tree trunk legs, I have to buy boots in person because most of them don’t fit my sturdy calves.

If you just can’t avoid shopping amongst other humans, eat hard-boiled eggs and Brussels sprouts for breakfast.  Once you start dropping flammable farts, everyone will steer clear.

If you loathe salespeople like I do, avoid eye contact when entering store.  Just keep your chin on your chest and stare at the floor.

Want more tips?  Head over to the Knot So Subtle Laughing section and look for me there.


Six Frugal and Fabulous Christmas Gifts

I’m already done with my holiday shopping, but I understand that some of you out there can’t read a fricking calendar and always need to do things at the last minute. So, for you, I made a list of my favorite last minute gifts. It’s kind of like Oprah’s favorite things list, but not everything costs more than the average person earns in a month. In fact, nothing on my list costs more than thirty bucks. So, as long as you have a mall in your town, you can find these items at the very last minute. I’m still not sure why you want to wait to buy presents, but that is your business.

Clinique Chubby Sticks — What woman doesn’t want a chubby stick? Get your mind out of the gutter. Women want these chubby sticks because they are purse worthy and safe for travel. Clinique makes eye shadow, lip stick, and blush chubby sticks. They have no applicators and do not require sharpeners.

Who doesn't enjoy a chubby stick?
Who doesn’t enjoy a chubby stick?


Bath and Body Works Vanilla — I love Bath and Body Works Vanilla lotions and soaps. They even have candles that will make your whole house smell like a bakery. So, stop watching that Elf marathon and get over to the Bath and Body Works store now. Be prepared for 782 salespeople to “help” you, though. If you don’t like to talk to people much, like me, you may want to pretend to speak a language other than English. Warning: do not pick Spanish or French.

So yummy you'll want to eat it.
So yummy you’ll want to eat it.


A Great Book — Almost everyone likes to read. Personally, I don’t trust people who hate books. Most of the people on your list would enjoy a book of some sort. Stephen King books usually suck me in like a black hole. My favorite Stephen King book ever is 11/22/63. I could not stop reading it. If self-driving cars were real, I would have read while driving. It’s that good.

I love time travel, JFK, and Stephen King.
I love time travel, JFK, and Stephen King.


Gift Cards — Just about any human would appreciate a gift card. If you have dogs or cats on your shopping list, DO NOT get them a gift card. They will eat it. Humans, on the other hand, will find them quite useful. There are a lot of different gift cards out there. Grocery stores and drug stores usually have a display of them, so you don’t even need to go to a particular store to buy one. You can also buy them online, but at this point, there’s a chance it won’t arrive before Christmas. So, put down that cocoa and put on some pants, and get out there. You’ve got cards to buy.

A movie gift card? Yes, please.
A movie gift card? Yes, please.


Music — Music is one of the best last minute gifts because it can be delivered instantly. You can purchase an album online and have a link emailed to the gift recipient. Then, they can download it to their iPhone or other non-Apple device. Yay for technology covering up for your procrastination!

This album rocks, and it has a festive deer on the cover.
This album rocks, and it has a festive deer on the cover.


Be Betty Crocker  — You could bake cookies, or a cake, or maybe a pie, depending on your skill level. Personally, I can make tasty cookies, but they tend to look like something the dog tracked through the house. If you enjoy baking, are low on cash, and have a few hours before gift giving time you could bake some holiday magic in your kitchen.

Mine would NOT look this good.
Mine would NOT look this good.


There you have it. I just saved your behind. You’re welcome. Aren’t you glad you waited until NOW to buy Christmas gifts? Now, put the glowing screen down and go shopping. I hope you can get a parking space.

Disclaimer: I have purchased everything listed because I love these products. I am not being paid by any of the companies above, especially the Kraft people. They would not pay me to advertise their holiday creations because my Oreo snowmen would look they stepped out of a snow zombie apocalypse.


#XmasJammies — Ten Years Later


Like most introverts, I spend a lot of time thinking, and sometimes, I come up with some weird stuff.  This morning, after breakfast, I made my husband and son watch this viral Christmas Jammie video. If you haven’t seen it yet, you probably don’t have the Internet, or cable, or eyes, because EVERYONE, like MILLIONS of people, has watched this video.  Go ahead. Click on the link if you haven’t seen it.  You will need to know the tune for what comes next.

So, after we watched the #XmasJammie video, I started to wonder what will happen to the #XmasJammie video Holderness family after the stress from all of this Internet fame gets to them.  I told my husband what crazy dysfunctional Christmas Jammie images I had going through my head, and since he is the perfect husband for me, he started to help me come up with more material.  So, friends, I bring you the lyrics to Christmas Jammies 2023.  Please note that Penn (Dad) is doing all of the “singing.”

Here I am, what a sight to see, dancing around in my jammies.

You saw me in stripes, in 2013, well things have really changed, you see.

Penn Charles fathered three babies, all at the age of thirteen.  In his Christmas Jammies, well maybe not IN Christmas Jammies.

Now he has to pay child support, or he will end up in court, where you can’t wear Christmas Jammies.  Now, he buys his baby mamas’ Christmas Jammies.

Since we told her she could sing, Lola was rejected on American Idol by Randy.

Lola got rid of the rainbows, and lives like a sloth. She wears all black and became Goth.  No more Christmas Jammies. Lola cut her Christmas jammies.
Mom gave birth to baby three even though I had a vasectomy. Now she lives with Robert Downey.  They wear silky Jammies, Hollywood style Christmas Jammies.

After a while, Mom’s Botox wore off; she gained a few and she isn’t so hot.  She’s got Christmas jammies, much bigger Christmas jammies.

Working with my wife, and her thing for Robert Downey, ruined our matrimony.  Now, I have a divorce decree, and nicer Christmas jammies, not those goofy Christmas jammies.

My apologies to the Holderness family for that bit of craziness.

Thank you for inspiring my husband and I to have a few good laughs today. 

Merry Christmas, everyone.

The MOST SOCIAL Time of a Hermit’s Year

I’m sorry it has taken me so long to post again.  I’m still recovering from last weekend when people at THREE different parties surrounded me and talked.  I had to struggle to listen because, A. I have the hearing of an 80 year-old (no offense to the elderly folks out there with good hearing), and B. I am an introvert and I am busy inventing things in my head like laser printing apps for the iPhone (I don’t know how to make this a reality; it’s just something I thought of). By recovering, I’m not referring to anything alcohol related.  I’m talking about reenergizing from talking to actual humans.  As I may have told you, we introverts lose energy from social interaction.  Still, I enjoyed getting my holiday cheer on, and I have the pictures to prove it. Here are the parties, in chronological order.

Thursday — The Husband’s Work Party

I love a good Cosmo.
I love a good Cosmo.

This party was at Park Cantina, a place I had not been to before. It’s a Mexican place, and I like Mexican food.  So, I packed my gluten and dairy digestive enzymes, and I was ready to party. The world was not going to cooperate with this, though. First, it was raining, and we had to drive on the highway through rush hour traffic. It was scary, and it took forever. I haven’t blogged about this yet, but I had a horrific accident on the highway, in the rain, during rush hour, when I was 6 months pregnant with my son.  Highway driving in general makes be nervous, and we had the trifecta on our way to the party.  My husband was driving, so I closed my eyes and did some deep breathing. I’m sure he loved this.

Needless to say, by the time we got there, and walked two blocks in the cold rain from the parking garage to the restaurant, I needed a drink.  Since my husband’s company gave us handy bracelets with three drink marks on them, I stepped up to the bar and asked if it was “only beer or wine or could I have a real drink.” I actually said that.  The bartender said I could have whatever I wanted.  I ordered a top shelf Cosmo.  I ended up having two.  I should’ve had one.  My tolerance is low, and there was not much food.  Don’t worry.  This will not turn into a puke story.  You can keep reading.

So, like I said, it was a Mexican place, so I was thinking burritos, quesadillas, you know, the usual.  Instead, there was lots of raw veggies, some sliders, and some chicken on a stick.  Oh, yeah, and a platter of cubed cheese, but I didn’t have any cheese because the woman in line in front of me brought a cube of cheese up to her nose, sniffed it, and THEN PUT IT BACK ON THE PLATTER.  WTH, Cheese-sniffing Woman?

Saturday — The Ugly Sweater party

I love this poncho-wearing man.
I love this poncho-wearing man.

Every year, my friend and her husband throw an ugly sweater party.  My husband and I just love this family, and we go to everything they invite us to, if we can.  Last year, when I was in the boot cast, I still went to the Ugly Sweater party.    While it was fun, and the food was yummy, like most parties, it was one of those people overload situations for me.  So, we left early. Apparently, there was an ugly sweater competition at this party, but I was too geriatric to stay that late to see it. This year, we ended up talking to some of the same people we chatted with last year.  They all seemed like a lot of fun, even though I know for sure I said a few inappropriate things that made people’s faces twitch.  I do that a lot.  When you don’t get out much, you tend to lose that ability to know if you are truly saying something out loud because you rarely say anything out loud.  It’s like you develop a case of Sheldon Cooperism.

Sunday — The Wine Party

Chilling with Orange
Chilling with Orange

One of my husband’s friends is a wine collector.  So, we had no idea what to bring to the party that he and his wife were hosting.  We couldn’t bring wine, like we normally do.  So, we stopped at Earth Fare, and picked up some brie, crackers, and cupcakes.   We were the first ones to arrive.  As Chris got our brie and crackers on to plates, I stood around trying not to get in the way because I’m useful like that.  Then, when the couple’s cat jumped up to sit on a bench near the dining room table, I figured I had better sit near him as he sort of eyeballed the food.  Finally, I felt useful.  That was my way of helping — keeping the food safe from feline invasion.  Also, as you may know if you have ever read this blog, I like to hang out with cats. Orange, the host cat, is an older gentleman, but new to the household.  He used to live outside, but our friends recently adopted him.  He’s got a good life now, complete with tuxedo collar.  I’m not sure if you can see this in the picture.

I loved getting out and wearing sweaters.  Oh, and of course, I really loved visiting with Orange, even if Andre was pissed when I got home.  Still, I’m looking forward to not having plans this weekend.  I may be ready for people again in a month or so.