Found poetry from The Toy Insider Holiday Guide Top 20

Snow Glow, Elsa!
Singalong, Boom Box!
Princess Palace Pets:
It’s My Biz

Skylanders Trap Team
Paw Patrol Lookout
Let’s Imagine Elmo

Go! Go! Smart Animals!
Laugh & Learn, Talking Turtles!
Magic Dance
Ever After

Star Wars Rebels
Get Better Talking Mobile
Air Storm! Infinity!

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I left my fudge in church

fudgeDear stewards of Centenary United Church,

Last Sunday morning, it’s possible a member of your congregation may have found a small piece of fudge wrapped in a napkin in the back of one of the pews. If that’s the case, then you probably already know about it. I know if I found someone’s discarded dessert in a hymnbook holder, I would be all, “Hey, stewards! Some schmuck left sugar in the sanctuary.” And the stewards would be like, “Say it, don’t spray it,” because stewards are funny – in a good way, of course.

There is the slim chance that more than one piece of fudge was found Sunday morning. These things happen. One person finds a piece of fudge. Then another person finds another piece of fudge. Next thing you know people are talking about the Miracle of the Fudge, and everyone and his step-grandmother is undertaking a pilgrimage – or a “fudge-grimage” – to see the sweetly sacred place. By the way, asking someone “Would you like to see my sweetly sacred place?” can be highly misconstrued.

(Also: My Bible studies are a bit rusty but I don’t recall desserts figuring heavily in the New Testament. I suspect, though, that immediately after the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, there were more than a few people hankering for a Miracle of the Pies and Brownies. Just imagine: if that had happened, then today we’d all be singing, “What a Flan We Have in Jesus.”)

So just in case there was a sudden surfeit of abandoned fudge products in church, I would like to identify my specific fudge. It was beige, measuring about 8 cubic centimetres and had bits of butterscotch in it, kind of like Skor Bar but you could tell they weren’t the real deal. More like faux-Skor. It’s possible too they were more than a bit old, like Gettysburg old – faux-Skor from seven years ago.

Come to think of it, I’m not even sure it was fudge. It might technically have been a square. It was definitely sweet, I can assure you that, having already eaten two during supper in the school cafeteria across the street and having picked this third piece off a tray that had been returned to the kitchen along with the other uneaten food. This is not at all the same as picking something out of the garbage, merely en route to the garbage.

I immediately realized I didn’t want said fudge/square right then, having preceded the two previous fudges/squares with a cookie. There is probably an appropriate Bible reference at this point: “Suffer the chubby children to come unto me…” I think it goes.

Instead, I wrapped the sweet in a napkin and stuck it in my blazer pocket and walked across the street to the church with the rest of the students, teachers and parents.

Normally, there’s not a lot of snacking in church, outside of communion. There’s coffee and dessert after a service, of course, because sermons can sure build up an appetite. But mid-preach, nothing. It’s just a thought, but don’t you think opening a concession stand would tempt people back to church? Here’s a suggestion: marshmallows and melted chocolate between two holy wafers – ’Psalmores. You’re welcome.

So I don’t think I ever truly intended to eat my fudge during the carol service. But I didn’t rule it out entirely. I was going to see where the service took me. Sometimes “The Little Drummer Boy” makes my blood sugar plummet, so it’s good to be prepared. But I knew for certain I didn’t want my sweet crumbling in my pocket, so I took it out and slid it into the hymnbook holder for safekeeping/later snacking.

And then I forgot it.

I apologize for abandoning my dessert in your church, but I’m guessing it’s probably not the weirdest thing you’ve found. How does the verse go? “For where two or three have gathered together in my name, someone’s going to leave behind a denture.”

But I like to think that perhaps my forsaken fudge serves as some kind of metaphor. Perhaps we all are the fudge, created out of love and then lost, waiting to be found. And eaten.

Maybe the fudge is a metaphor for careless waste that, at Christmastime more than any other, we may be forgiven for, especially by stewards.

Maybe it’s the promise of the sweet hereafter.

Whatever it is, I’m writing to you to tell you that, about the fudge? You can keep it.

Merry Christmas.

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We three kings go shopping

The problem with stereotypes is that sometimes they’re true. Men and shopping is a good example. When I go shopping, I cease to see individual items. Instead, everything blurs into a wall of stuff, the white noise of consumerism. And I become overwhelmed.

Christmas, then, when I have to shop, is a bit of a nightmare. And I often wonder, how did we get to this point?

I think we can blame the magi. But did those three wise guys go through the same thing? That thinking led me to this audio piece, which originally aired on CBC Radio’s “Breakaway” out of Quebec City last week.

And here’s the companion piece from last Christmas. “And the angel of the lord shone down upon them, and they were like, ‘Lo-o-o-o…!'”

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Read and repeat

Regular readers who would like to see what I sound like when I pretend to be smart should head over to Reading Interrupted today. At the kind invitation of Letizia, I’m writing over there about re-reading books. Originally this post referenced chicken wrangling, but saner heads prevailed, and I can assure you no poultry were harmed in either the writing or the editing process.

While you’re over there, check out Letizia’s regular posts about reading and all its wonderful associations and accessories. Always a treat.

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The Christmas parcel

“Parcel went to the post office before 5 p.m. today,” my mother emailed me from Nova Scotia Monday. That puts me on high alert to get to our post office on Thursday or so. Mom will want to know when it arrives.

That should about do it.

That should about do it.

The parcel, I know, will be a box wrapped in brown paper and taped up like a hostage. We’ll have a team of Navy SEALs on standby to breach the packing tape if need be. Our address will be clearly marked on the paper. When we penetrate the paper and packing tape, the address will also be written on the box itself.

“Please note all the tape,” Mom wrote, as if it could be otherwise. “I always hope that the paper does not get ripped, and that is why I put an address on the box as well.”

I wrote back: “The writing on the box is the best part. And the tape!”

Mom replied: “Remember, I had a good teacher in mailing parcels” – her own mom, whose hyper-parcelling was likewise legendary – “those big parcels sent to England during WWII and knowing they would be on a ship for who knew how long.”

How Mom’s parcels might be subject to U-boat attack en route from the Maritimes, I’m not quite sure, but they are coming to Quebec, and that’s essentially foreign territory.

Never in all the years we’ve lived in Quebec has the box arrived anything less than pristine. And good thing. Because inside are our presents for Christmas Day. Very nice. But that’s not all. There are also treats. Treats for right now.

Every year, Mom sends Christmas goodies. The content has varied over the years. For some time, there was homemade peanut brittle and something called “yule log.” This was semi-sweet chocolate, coconut, walnuts and – pièce de resistance – coloured marshmallows, log-shaped and wrapped in wax paper. It was a recipe that recalled those Kraft commercials, the ones with the hands that I will ever associate with “The Carol Burnett Show.”

We haven’t seen the yule log in years. Marshmallows went out of style, maybe. (As if!) They were replaced by truffles – mocha balls rolled in cocoa that my son James can eat his weight in, given the chance. My mom likes sticking notes on things almost as much as she likes taping, and she will remind James that they are to share, with three exclamation marks!!!

But the one constant has been Scotch cakes, what the rest of the world outside Nova Scotia calls “shortbread.” In fact, do an online search for “Scotch cakes” and Google kind of looks at you funny.

But Scotch cakes they were growing up and Scotch cakes they remain, unchanged since my youth. They will arrive perfectly round and flat on top, likely punched out with an old condensed milk tin that Mom has used for years exclusively for this purpose. There will be a button of pink icing on top of each. They will arrive in an old greeting card box, and the layers of cookies will be separated, again, by wax paper.

Like eating a bunch of dimes... (

Like eating a bunch of dimes… (

There has been one change over the years: no more silver balls. I’m glad. I’m convinced those silver balls we ate as children were fabricated from spent plutonium rods.

So we know what’s coming in the parcel. And our family will devour it all.

We’ve sent parcels through the mail ourselves. We’ve sent my parents Quebec maple syrup and cheese and ice wine – er, I mean, “flavoured vinegar,” Canada Post. When our eldest daughter was in Malaysia for Christmas, we sent her a box filled with treats and Canadian goodies, and I’m not even going to hint at the things we shouldn’t have mailed, Canada Post. Besides, the postage we paid to mail the thing could have covered a good chunk of a plane ticket home, so you’re welcome.

Christmas parcels are as close as you can get to a loved one if you can’t be there yourself. They take effort. They involve shopping, wrapping, baking, packing, taping, more taping and just a bit more taping.

My mother is 84. Even last year, when Dad wasn’t well, she went ahead and sent her parcel, even though she shouldn’t have. And I think I know why. Sending the box of goodies is like retrieving that ancient Christmas garland out of storage year after year. It pulls a line through the years, from this troubled time with its worries and stress and aging, all the way back to childhood when Christmas and everything about it was wonderful. And we remember the hope we had back then, a hope that good things will get passed along.

And, of course, eaten.

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The meatloaf, and the ruination thereof

And we must ask ourselves, what is the meatloaf? Be it meat or loaf? The French declare it to be pain de viande, which translates as “meat bread.” Does this settle the question or confound, for how can bread – cherished conveyor of coldcuts – also be the meat? Should we not instead call it bûche de viande? Should we perhaps not have translated the French at all, especially now that we know that bûche de viande means “meat log”? C’est possible, mon cher lait de poule.

Next, if we are to truly ruin the meatloaf, we must raise the meatloaf in our esteem and in the esteem of our kinfolk. As you pore over back issues of Canadian Living in search of something to feast upon, something to wrench your household out of its gastronomical rut, you turn a page and, like an oven light dawning, declare, “What about meatloaf?” And your loved ones reply, “Meatloaf? Ugh!” Continue reading

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How I stopped being a jerk and learned to like my birthday

The Internet doesn’t make people crazy. It simply draws out the crazy that’s already there.

So I can’t say social media made birthdays weird for me, because I think I’ve been weird about them for some time. When my birthday comes along, I’m torn between wanting it to be ignored entirely and hoping for a surprise party of Kim-Kanyesque proportions. Everything in between makes me feel squirmy. This probably makes me a covert narcissist, a label I slap on myself after a quick, inexpert Google search, which is exactly the kind of behaviour you’d expect from a covert narcissist. Continue reading

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