Through the Christmas Window

The one thing that I love about the long, dark evenings of winter, might seem strange to some.

“You’re doing it again aren’t you?” Himself will say to me in the car as we drive along, if I’ve gone quiet beside him.

“Yup”.

I’ve been doing it since I was a little girl, sitting behind Mum and Dad in our seatbelt-free VW Golf,  as we drove through the winding Donegal roads at night.

Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I love looking through the windows of people’s homes.

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I don’t mean that I walk around playing “Peeping Tomette”.

NO, of course not.

But when you’re sitting in the passenger seat of a car and it’s dark or getting dark, and people have yet to close their curtains, it’s amazing the little glimpses you can get into the worlds of strangers.

I look.

And for a split second, I see a tableaux; a freezeframe – a photograph if you like, of the home and sometimes the people in it.

I imagine who they are; what they’re saying and what it’s like to be there, among them.  Who has just walked into the room to make the child jump up like that?  Where is he going? What are they talking about? My imagination creates full scenarios for the “characters” of these snapshots.

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Christmas is my favourite time to do this, and with Christmas trees in windows, it’s the perfect time to catch beautiful moments.

These are where the real Christmas-Card-worthy moments happen;  A Granny laughing by the fireplace.  An uncle arriving home.  Windows being cleaned.  A dog being scolded for jumping on a sofa.  A child being lifted up high.

Snapshots, if you will.

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Obviously, on Christmas Day, I don’t do this…  because I’m not in the car much.

And so, I thought I’d get glimpses into the homes of others in a different way.  I asked some of the top Parenting writers in the country what I would see if I happened to look through their windows over Christmas?

Each of them has kindly sent me a description of their very own perfect freezeframe; what they hope you’d see and what they hope to be doing while the world drives by on Tuesday.

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Sandra from – Prosecco Powered Mum

A snapshot into my Christmas day is a ridiculously early start, and pure carnage from the off…by 7am the stove is lighting and we are surrounded by discarded wrapping paper (yes, Santa wraps here, he has even been known to wrap the door!) We have had visitors in our house as early as 7:30 and that’s the start of what our day looks like – grand central station springs to mind. The husbag cooks a big dirty fry and while we’re cleaning up after breakfast we are also preparing for dinner (Christmas = food yes?) We have 9 for dinner this year, (has been up to 15) and it’s a combined effort. After stuffing ourselves stupid, we have copious amounts of alcohol and play games, the favourites have been pie-face, headbands, and speak-out! Generally if you look through my window on Christmas day you’ll see a manic but very happy family enjoying mum’s favourite day of the year

Ross from  –  The Stented Papa

If you were to take a peek through my window on Christmas morning, you’d see a busy, excited household. 
The funny thing is it depends on what time you’d be taking a peek! We’ve actually had to wake Nip #1 up for the last two Christmas mornings!! Even knowing Santa was coming, she was happy to sleep in! But I’ve a feeling this year will be a bit different. 
So once everyone is awake, it’s a busy & excited place. Wrapping paper everywhere, the nips playing with their new toys, showing & telling us all about them. Christmas tunes in the background, dressing gowns on, fresh coffee brewing. 
Then we get dressed & head over to Granny’s house for a big breakfast & more presents. Then around 1pm we head for Great Grandad Shay’s house with about 30 family (my in-law’s side) for some fun & yep, you’ve guessed it – more presents!!! 
Finally back to ours this year for Christmas dinner with all the usual trimming & the odd glass of vino – sure it is Christmas ya know!! Cheers to the perfect day!”

Kellie from –  My Little Babóg

“I would love to say all happy and merry but in reality you will probably see absolute carnage.  One parent night be swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels by midday. Christmas morning with a 2, 3, 4 and 8 year old is gonna be like any other day except with a skip full of new toys, wrapping paper and boxes upon boxes of selection boxes like the old days. It will be messy but hopefully full of fun and laughter.”

Jolene from –  One Yummy Mummy

“Daddy of the house running down the stairs in his PJs to check and see if Santa came; He lets us know with an excited roar up if he has. 

Bursts of excitement from my 5 year old running down and crashing thru the living room door to see all the presents.  Then you’ll catch a glimpse of few tears  as I get caught up in the emotion of it all. Then to the kitchen were you,ll spy a few of my dance moves with a bucks fizz in hand, basting the turkey, with Christmas FM in full swing.”

 

Jen from –  Mama-tude loves Christmas Eve most.

If you were to look through our window on Christmas Eve, you’d see a house fit to burst with excitement. We are very early risers in the hope that tired children will fall asleep more easily on Christmas Eve night – I’m sure one year that plan will actually work!
Having so many younger siblings has kept the magic of Christmas alive for my older children and it’s the older ones who will gather the littles and log online to track Santa’s journey across the world via Norad. It is they who’ll ensure the site is checked again several times during the day just so they keep up with Santa’s progress.
After an outing that morning for a special Christmas Eve hot chocolate and muffin my daughter, in the afternoon, will make cookies with her brothers ahead of Santa’s visit that night. It can be a painstakingly slow process because every child will want to be involved and do their bit! After that it’s Christmas music on while the children open their presents from their Nana and Grandad.
Himself cooks the Christmas meats on Christmas Eve – it’s one less thing to do on Christmas morning and the smell of the turkey and ham cooking just adds to the Christmassy mood! My daughter and I used always go to mass on Christmas Eve and join the choir singing Christmas carols but we’re not going to this year because it put pressure on us time-wise. Instead we’ll all battle the crowds at Christmas morning mass.
There is never as much excitement and anticipation of bath-time as there is on Christmas Eve.
Afterwards the kids are bundled into their new Christmas Eve pjs, we check the Norad Santa tracker one last time and all of us clamber onto the couch together to watch “the snowman and the snowdog”. It seems much more poignant since our beloved 17 year old pooch Rodney died last year.
He’ll no doubt get a mention as will the absence of his sock which no longer hangs beside the children’s.
Then it’s milk, one of Santa’s cookies (for testing purposes) and the setting out of carrots, water, milk and cookies for Santa and his reindeer before the littles head to bed.
The teens go up shortly afterwards as mum and dad need the time to rearrange the sitting room so that Santa can easily lay out the gifts he’ll bring for the children. That organising takes a lot of time and it’s usually well into the small hours before mum and dad finally get to bed – exhausted but also so excited for the next day.  

 

Becky from   –  Cuddle Fairy 

“Christmas morning if you looked through our window you would see all of the Christmas lights on. Three kids happily tearing off wrapping paper and parents assembling toys. We are all in our pajamas with sleepy heads and unwashed faces. It’s straight downstairs when the kids wake up. There’s nothing as magical as Christmas morning.”

Benny from Daddy Poppins  

“What would you see if you looked through out window on Christmas morning?  In a word, Mayhem. We’ve two hyperactive children at the best of times but the magic of Christmas will send them over the edge. Think Santa’s elves high on sherbet and candy canes (but in child form, obviously). There’ll be wrapping paper everywhere and our little terrors will be flitting from toy to toy, unsure which to settle on for their first proper play. Mammy and Daddy will be trying to coax them into posing for pictures with their new acquisitions but it will all be in vein. Nothing will hold those little magpies attention for long as they dart from one shiny new thing to the next. Mayhem, but the good kind.”

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There’s so much to see, if you only look closer…

And as for THIS Donegal Mammy?


Well, the carpet shall be clattered and camouflaged by wrapping paper and toys. Michael Buble will be crooning from the tellybox in the kitchen, with the fake fire on the screen.  The Daddy shall be building stuff and Mammy shall be in her Christmas PJs, eating, starting the day with the obligatory Football Special and Terry’s chocolate orange! 

The girls will be hyped up on life, excited to the brink by cousins and presents and Grandparents and fun.  Mammy and Daddy shall be screenfree, intent on not scolding for the day and stealing kisses every time we pass under mistletoe… And yet, there still shall be tears and jobs to do and maybe the odd tantrum, and probably a few spills and stinky poos, but in the midst of it all, there shall be glitter and sparkle and love. 

And even the jobs and poos and fights and tears shall be dealt with with extra smiles and magic; with that special, inexplicable feeling that comes only with Christmas Day.

Whatever is happening in your window frame this Christmas, I do hope it is wonderful and joyful and as stress free as possible.  I’d love you to share your snapshot in the comments.
Sending much love and Christmas wishes to all,

The S-Mum  xxxxxxx

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J

Great Expectations Vs Greater Reality

Christmas.

I LOVE it! I love everything about it.  I love the sparkle, the sounds, the smells, the smiles.  I love the kindness. I love how it brings out the best in so many people.

But what I don’t love, is the pressure placed on us by the interweb to create magical, Christmas card worthy Hallmark moments. It’s started already; Instagranny and Bookface are full of pictures of beautiful trees and perfect living rooms.  None of us posted the mess of them being put up though did we!? Myself included.  Of course not.  We want to show the world our best smile don’t we? We want to give the general idea that we’ve gont our sh*t together.

MY Christmas Eve shall be fablis. Here’s how it shall look if I post it online.

Some last minute, calm and fun shopping in town, a family breakfast with my siblings and all of our minions, a quick visit to the grandparents’ homes and then home, where Mammy will wear her apron and help the girls make homemade cookies for Santa, create perfect Belgian hot chocolate for them before snuggling up to watch a movie.  Then, I prep all of the veg etc for Christmas dinner.  Then, as Daddy bathes the girls and gets them ready for bedtime, Mammy shall pour a little drop of mulled wine and begin creating the turkey. We shall have some hearty homemade soup for tea and mammy shall double check her lists to ensure that all is done.  In a whirlwind of excitement, the girls shall leave out their fablis homemade cookies, a carrot and some milk for Santa. They’ll sprinkle reindeer food on the steps and go to bed, happy and excited.

Then, Daddy shall pop a bottle of bubbles, we’ll finish wrapping presents and then we’ll cozy up on the sofa and wait for Santa.

REALITY CHECK

The last minute shopping will not be calm and fun, unless you have someone to sit in the car with minions while you pop in and out of shops.

Family breakfast WILL be fun, but it will most likely also be filled with nyaming and crying, with things like “She’s sitting on meeee”, “He got more berries” and “Stop that nonsense now!”.  The adults will eat breakfast, pretending to have jovial conversation, but really just throwing random and disconnected statements at each other between bouncing the kids.

Visiting – Yes, but the over excited and wound up kiddies will be needing a sleep by then and there is a high chance of tantrums forecast once a loving and caring  Grandparent enters the room.  Add sugar before wrestling kids into car.  Perfect!

Bake cookies:  Buy a box of cookie mix. Add an egg and there you go.  Mary Poppins indeed.

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Hot chocolate: Not Belgian.  Not fancy.  Straight from the coffee machine pods. Plop in the marshmallows and she’s happy out..

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Movie:  In my head it’s Miracle on 34th Street, in reality it’ll be ELF again for 38 minutes before Ben and Holly return.  And it’ll be grand, because Mammy will realistically be watching it from the kitchen.

Homemade soup: HAHAHAHAHA! I’m not that organised.  I go to Mum’s on Christmas Eve and steal a lunchbox full of hers.  No point in both of us making it, is there?

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Mulled wine:  Buy a jar or packet. Slosh in some cheap wine and orange juice.  Done.  (Oh, and if you don’t like mulled wine, why the heck are you making it?)

Prepping dinner:  This I DO do.  Not because I’m Mary Poppins, but because the only thing any Mammy needs to be peeling on Christmas Day is the paper off presents (or the foil of my Chocolate Orange!)  PS.  Did you know you can buy PRE-PEELED SPUDS!?  Go for it Mammy.  It’s Christmas after all!

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Lists:  Once you’re home, scrap the lists. Whatever you haven’t bought by then, doesn’t need bought.  I will do a last To Do list, just to remind me of what needs done before I can sit on my backside for a few glasses of grapes later.  TIP: Write some stuff you’ve already done so you’ll feel better that there are a few lines through it already.

Bedtime: Yes it will be exciting, but it will also be frantic with two children who can’t control their highly stimulated and sugar induced emotion, and full of threats of “If you’re not sleeping, Santa won’t come”.  Eventually, Mini-Me will succumb to sleep, but them going straight to bed and nodding off instantly is as possible as me getting a Chanel coat. Then you get to start to tidy and clean and do all the other stuff that needs doing, just like every other day.  And who will notice or care if your sitting room looks perfect?

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Presents: If you don’t like wrapping stuff, don’t.  Keep it simple. You don’t need fancy curled ribbons.  They do not need to be Pinterest worthy.  Tell people the kids wrapped them, or better still, buy Christmas gift bags.  Sorted.  Santa doesn’t have time to wrap presents in my mind. Santa has better things to do.

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Waiting for Santa?  Yeah.  After 2 hours of tiptoeing about the place, forgetting where things are and trying not to wake the kids with rustling bags, as you try not to KILL each other!   Then you finally sit down to “relax” before realising that the kids will be up in, oh… approximately 4 hours!

Seriously though.

Relax.

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Christmas will come and go. It is magical and wonderful, but it is also what you make it. I just HOPE my Christmas is exactly as I have described, because cheats and realities and all, it’s MY perfect. No one else’s.

The Christmas inspector is not going to visit on Christmas morning to check if your home in Hallmark worthy.  NO ONE actually cares that you wrap EVERY SINGLE ONE of the presents.  No one cares what your kids get from Santa.  No one cares if you have your hair brushed. No one cares if you’re all in matching PJs. And the only person whose opinion matters on these things, is you.

While we like to see people we like and care about looking happy on Christmas morning, remember that you are under NO obligation to post pics  or share ANYTHING on social media.  You are also under no obligation to even look at other people’s photographs on social media.

If looking at other’s “perfect Christmas” makes you feel crappy, put down the device and look at what’s in front of you .

Chances are, your perfect Christmas is right there in front of you…in the real world. Chaos and all.

Enjoy it!

I am Santa Letter Mum

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Dear Santa…

Dear Santa,

I hope that you and Mrs. Claus are well.  I have been the bestest Mammy I could be, (most of the time), this year.

For Christmas, Mammy would like diamonds around my neck, a spa break and a big hug from a Fablis Chanel coat.  Mammy would also like:

  • an uninterrupted shower
  • to experience the joy of independent excretion on the porcelain throne…alone
  • for the children to recognise Daddy as the other perfectly capable adult who can do things for them in our home
  • for some, even only a few, sentences to start with “Daddy” rather than “Mammy”, just for one day.
  • for all of the seasonal bugs and sniffles to bugger off for a week!
  • for a laundry fairy to magic away the pile, just for a few hours

But, while all of these things would indeed be wonderful, Mammy must say Santa, that really, I need nothing.

As cliched and silly as it might sound, I have everything I want right in front of me. As much as I give out about the daily pains of being a “fulltime-everything-to-everyone”, I would’t have it any other way.

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My world 

These two little minions are mine. They are my carbon copies; a perfect little mixture of myself and my Him. For all their tantrums and chaos, they are my world.  They give their Daddy and I so much fun every day.  I’m glad I have their mucky little faces slabbering biscuits all over me, and their snottery noses to wipe. With each tantrum, I see two headstrong little girls who will change the world one smile at a time, and I know that they will be fine. Their arms around my neck are my diamonds.

And as for My Him?  Yes I might give out that he spends too much time with our Jim, but that’s OK too. He’s the hardest working man I know, just like my own Daddy. I wouldn’t have him any other way. We lead crazy busy lives, but at the end of every hectic day, we come home to each other. He’s my big bad handsome man. He’s the only person in the world who knows me better than I know myself. He’s my Him and he’s the only hug I need this Christmas.

Uninterrupted showers are overrated. Soon enough, I shall have privacy in the bathroom once more.  I will eventually find myself missing the fat little fingers against the glass. The snots and sniffles and puking, thankfully, come and go.  How blessed I am that they do.  The tears and tantrums might be plentiful, but they are outweighed by smiles and giggles that make the world chuckle in unison.

And they can “Mammy” me as much as the want.  That’s what I’m here for.  That’s what I am.

So yes Santa, “things” would of course be nice, but as for getting me what I need?  Don’t worry.  I don’t need anything. In the midst of the mess and laundry and chaos and tears and noise and stresses, it turns out that when I think about it, I have everything I could ever want right here already.

Have a wonderful Christmas Santa.

Lots of love,

Mammy xx

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I am Some Rules I Forget to Follow Mum

I do hope that we are all bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning.

Mammy’s rules (which unfortunately Mammy forgets regularly until it’s too late…)

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Notes to Mammy…

1. Mammy is not 20.

2. Mammy can NOT drink whatever is set in front of her. And Mammy CAN leave drinks untouched. Imagine…

3. Mammy + mixing drinkiepoos = bad idea…ALWAYS.

4. Mammy SHOULD know better.

5. The first time Mammy thinks that maybe she’s had way more than enough and PROBABLY should go home, she should. She is right. She is absolutely right.

6. Mammy should not jive with ANYONE, especially if they are considerably shorter than her heeled self.

7. Mammy must remember that while a good big meal is a good idea before supping beverages, supping beverages before and DURING said meal, defeats the fricken purpose.

8. Mammy is NOT a feckin Pussy Cat Doll and should therefore not “Shake it off” or “drop like it’s hot” or any other such teenage nonsense, Mammy is NOT Cheryl-of-the-squatting. Slut drops after the age of 26 are not advisable. Nor are they sexy, regardless of what lies Gin tells you…

9. Mammy should only partake in Saturday nights out IF she has all of the uniforms ready for Monday, house sorted and general shot together BEFORE she goes out.

10. Mammy should remember that just because she is dying a death, Mini-Me still talks ALL DAY and Princess still POOS frequently. Also, children have this selfish, needy thing about requiring fed, and not particularly caring that even the sight of the kitchen makes Mammy’s tummy turn. Selfish like.

11. Mammy should not watch anything more emotional than The Big Bang Theory after a night out. When Mammy finds herself sobbing at a Pampers advert, or indeed an episode of Paw Patrol, she deserves the raised “seriously” eyebrow from Him.

12. Mammy must also remember that while The Him is very kind and allows her to die a little inside, he will also take every opportunity to laugh at her, torture her and remind her of point 1…

13. Mammy should try to find this post and read it BEFORE she goes out, instead of only remembering about it AFTER she has decided that the gin must obviously have been spiked or the food in the restaurant MUST OBVIOUSLY have been poisoned.

#whylike #neverlearns

I am Sorry If My Singing Offends You Mum

I am offended…

Given that everyone is now allowed and encouraged to be offended by absolutely everything, I’ve decided to crack down on the lyrics of other Christmas songs which, let’s be honest, are incredibly offensive to offendable people who like to be offended.

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The recent uproar about the dreadfully offensive lyrics of Christmas classic croonfest “Baby It’s Cold Outside” has rightfully opened the door* for all sorts of uproar about every lyric ever written ever.

(*the door was not opened or held open by the song or for the song, but rather automatically so that basic manners might not be perceived as chauvinistic by the easily offended).

It’s only taken us 70 odd years to realise the utterly heinous and terrible connotations of dominance and kidnapping in the lyrics of this shocking song.  How were we so naive?

How could we ever have misconstrued the lyrics as a playful interaction between a man and woman, who, at the end of a date are toying with the idea of getting the leg over. How dare we see it as a coy, flirtatious exchange in which the man is trying to extend the cuddle time, and the woman, (who quite obviously wants to stay) is playing a little hard to get… by choice.  What were we THINKING?  I mean, he’s obviously an evil-demon -from-hell-Mantype.

There’s no way he’s just a man.  Or you know, that she’s just a woman, who (shock horror) doesn’t mind the idea of coitus, even though 1940s society would have frowned upon such frivolity.

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Shit Lads, what were we thinking? (Sorry,I shouldn’t say lads. Ladies? No, that too is offensive as it has the word lad in it… )

I am indeed offended by the lyrics.  I shall ignore the fact that it’s one of my favourite Christmas songs and jump onto the offended bandwagon, just because it is cool to be offended by anything and everything.

I am also joining in with the campaign to change or bleep out the word “faggot” from the classic “Fairytale of New York”.  It offends me.

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Actually, so do the the words “Cheap and lousy” as they suggest that I am not willing to spend money.  I ‘m offended by the glorification of betting and gambling in the line “Came in eighteen to one” and the OBVIOUS ageism in “An old man said to me won’t see another one”.

I’m also offended by the suggestion that I “can’t face it all alone” or that “I could’ve been someone”.  Do NOT TELL ME I can’t be ANYTHING I WANT TO BE!  You are OFFENDING MY RIGHTS!

Can we also take out the word “arse” as, you know, offended… And while we’re at it, let us change the title.  Because we should NOT be telling our daughters that Fairytales are a thing.  That is making them grow up into the type of woman who gets trapped by the evil demon from hell mantype who wants to drink with her and doesn’t want her to catch cold… Irresponsible parenting is personified in the title.  I am offended.

Other Christmas songs that we shoud just ban while we’re at it, are:

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Frosty the Snowman.  I am offended that this particular snowman is a man.  Also, the fact that he is “made of snow” offends me because it suggests that he is weak. He also tells us he’ll “be back again someday”.  This offends me as sometimes, people leave  This line therefore is giving our children a false sense of security.

“I saw Mammy kissing Santa Claus” must also go.  It reeks of adultery.  Where is poor Daddy? Mammy is conveyed as a slut here. She is EXACTLY what the woman in “Baby it’s cold outside” would have turned into, had we not saved her by being offended…

Rudolf the red nosed reindeer...WHY do we feel the need to differentiate between him and the others based on the colour of his nose? Borders on racism I tell you.  Offended.

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“Jingle Bells” obvious sexual connotations.  “All the way” is putting me under pressure.  One-horsed open sleigh is OBVIOUSLY animal cruelty.  Why aren’t there two horses? And to be politically correct, why is a horse doing the job of a reindeer? Discrimination or equinism gone too farf?  Offended.

“All I want for Christmas is you”  offends me.  It suggests that all women only want a man.  Are we not perfectly capable of being fully rounded, successful and whole beings ALONE? Offensive.

“Santa Baby”  promiscuous wench, bordering on prostitution. Offensive.

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“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” – full of threats.  Obvious threats.  “You’d better watch out.  You’d better not cry.”  Obviously abusive language. Offensive.

“Driving Home for Christmas” offends me.  What if I don’t have a car? What if I’m a stay-at-home-parent who is ALREADY at home? Do you think I want to be listening to a song which puts pressure on me to drive somewhere, JUST so I can drive home again?

I’m dreamin of a White Christmas”  –  eh racist no?

“Live Aid”  –  Tonight thank God it’s them instead of you?  Well now THAT is just offensive.

Actually, can we move away from Christmas songs?  There are many other offensive tunes on our radios each day.

“Dontchya wish your girlfriend was hot like me” offends me.  What if Nicole Sherzimeister actually means it and is going to steal my Husband who might agree that she is indeed “hotter” than his plain old boring wife?   Offended.  (And genuine cause to hate the perfect one obviously.)

Bohemian Rhapsody?   –  Violence!  Offended by Mama pulling a trigger.  I’m pretty sure the word Fandango should offend me too…

Would you like me to go on?  I could you know?  I could find offense in fucking Nursery Rhymes if I felt like it.

But do you know the thing about being easily offended? It means NOTHING!  NOBODY GETS HURT AND NOBODY ACTUALLY CARES IF YOU ARE OFFENDED.  You don’t get a rash.  You don’t get a badge.  You just get tired with all the energy it takes to be OFFENDED BY EVERYTHING ALL THE FECKING TIME!

Have I offended you?

Whatever.  You’ll survive.  Write a letter to Santa or The Grinch.  He can put you on his ever growing “offended” list.  It’s on the page after the Naughty List ends.

 

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