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Holiday shopping gone bad: My worst holiday gifts from A-Z

What are the worst holiday gifts you have ever received? I’ve gotten some doozies! Bet you have too.

Sure, it’s the thought that counts.

I’m touched that people actually remember me during the holiday season. I’m truly grateful to be loved, especially at Christmastime. And I truly appreciate the thought, effort, and even expense that go behind every gift.

Having said that, here are the worst gifts I ever received, from A to Z. I hope this will prevent others from purchasing or receiving similar items. (Please consider the spirit in which this is intended, just for fun.)

Anything from Hot Topic. What am I, Goth Mom?

Bird claw. My brother hunts. He dried the claw, drilled a hole through the stump and made me a key ring. Eek!

Cupid socks. Gee, which holiday is it, again?

Dishwashing soap. Seriously! Where is the Grinch when we need him?

Electric shaver. Is there a message here?

Glitter art kit: Ever tried to vacuum up glitter?

Halloween decorations. Has someone been shopping a post-holiday closeout sale?

Ice cream maker. Who’s gonna churn it?

Jump rope. I have enough bouncing parts without this!

Kite. What am I, 12?

Lava lamp. Are you trying to give me 60’s flashbacks?

Musical duck. As if last year’s singing bass wasn’t bad enough!

Nose-hair trimmers. Even Grandpa wouldn’t take ‘em.

Owl (plastic). What a hoot. Who knew?

Pink polka dot leggings (for a grown woman). Who do they think I am, Miss Piggy?

Quilted potholders. Get real. By Christmas, my baking days are over for at least a month. Besides, we’re still recycling last year’s fruitcake.

Recipes. What am I, taking orders? This was not a recipe file or book, just certain recipes the giver wanted me to make. (Aha!)

Spider. OK, it was rubber, but it still creeped me out!

ThighMaster. Was this a not-so-subtle hint, or what?

Underwear. We’re not talking lovely lingerie here, but basic tidy whitey undies. Even long-johns would go over better.

Vacuum cleaner. Sure, that’s romantic!

Wicked widgets. A chocolate fountain, s’mores maker, pasta-puller and fajita machine are simply space-takers after the first use. And would someone please explain why the same person gave me toasters, five years in a row?

eXtravagant regifting. Certain family members tend to overfill gift bags with oddly assorted items that clearly came from their students or staffers. We’re talking "A+ Teacher" apple ornaments, dollar-store bath items, hokey notepapers, cutesy socks and more.

Yachting magazine. Pretty pictures, but I don’t think a schooner and sailing lessons were included in the gift.

Zilch. Yep, believe it or not, some people never remember. Not even a card. Gee, did I forget them this year too?

That about sums it up for my worst holiday gifts from A to Z.

Please don’t tell my family or friends, just in case they have already wrapped some of these items and placed them under my tree! When I tell them I love their gifts, I don’t wanna be  busted!

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Sometimes kids’ mistaken words make more sense than the real ones.

Let’s call it practically portmanteau. What is it?

OK, portmanteau combines two real words to make a new one. The word portmanteau actually means “suitcase” in French. It occurs when a couple of words are packed together.

Additional examples include bionic (biological + electronic), brunch (breakfast + lunch), simulcast (simultaneous + broadcast), smog (smoke + fog), and televangelist (television + evangelist).

Often, catching cultural buzzwords arise as portmanteau words. Chillaxing (chilling + relaxing), emoticon (emotion + icon), and ginormous (gigantic + enormous) demonstrate this phenomena.

Still, the most spot-on versions of portmanteau often seem to pop up in kids’ mistaken words.

Maybe you know some children who have unwittingly created their own long-lasting verbages (at least in family usage), simply by mixing up words they think they have heard adults say.

In our family, we have a few of these intriguing terms, which have lasted for generations.

  1. Funderworks – These are the explosive displays the older members of the family set off on the Fourth of July.
  2. Kneel socks – This term relates to any stretch stockings that extend all the way up to the knee.
  3. Meat love – This tried-and-true family recipe features ground beef and certain secret ingredients, fashioned into a loaf and topped with ketchup – tons of ketchup.
  4. Place maps – This word started with the use of those handy laminated world and USA maps for individual place settings at the family dinner table. The term caught on and has since referred to any sort of place mat, whether it features a map or not.

What wonderful mistaken words has your family added to its own vernacular? And what stories or memories do such terms recall?

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How do you want that flu shot?

Flu shots don’t hurt much – hardly at all. Or so they say. But this makes me wonder a bit.

What’s up with Walgreens and flu shots this time?

Who uses a hammer to administer flu shots? I thought the standard practice was a fine-gauge needle.

Seriously, I’d rather have the standard injection, rather than the Arm & Hammer variety to fend off the flu. Wouldn’t you?

And why would anyone want to BOGO with flu shots? Is it some sort of influenza prevention date night deal?

“Hey, baby. Let’s go get flu shots. Sure beats a movie.”


I got my flu shot at Target, as I have for the past few years. It didn’t even sting.

And don’t get us started on “Natures Bounty” – with or without an apostrophe.

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Wringing my hands, as the university hangs us all out to dry

Maybe I’m a concerned parent sometimes. But this time, I’m just finding the situation a little funny and weird at the same time.

Last weekend, during Parents’ Weekend at the university, I stepped out of my kid’s dorm room to use the facilities (so to speak).

That’s where the trouble began – if you can even call it that.

I’m a habitual hand washer. (Shouldn’t everyone be a hand washer?) As I scrubbed my soapy palms together, I looked up and saw this sign.

Naturally, I began looking around for the paper towel dispenser. But this was all I found.


Looks like a little false advertising to me …

I’m not even complaining that the college couldn’t spring for real paper towels – now that they hold most of my money.

Just thinkin’ something’s a little amiss here.
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These two guys hit the golf ball jackpot every week

What’s in the water at the golf course?

That little rivulet is a veritable treasure trove. At dusk, just as the mosquito population emerges, unknown hobbyists don their rubber waders and venture into the water.

Are they angling for trout? Panning for gold? Collecting decorative rocks? Not at all! These surreptitious scavengers are hunting for errant golf balls.

When I used to play golf (or at least, try to play golf), my delinquent tee shots alone probably gave these folks reason to plunge into the water each evening.

Of course, that’s exactly why I carried an esoteric assortment of logo-imprinted golf balls, mostly left over from my days in corporate advertising. These golf balls bore such names as Abbott Laboratories, Allen-Bradley, Briggs & Stratton, Caterpillar, Engineering Daily, Industry Week, Johnson Controls, Navistar, and Wells Fargo. Others sported emblems for everything from apple cider to zoo fund-raisers.

Friends and family members used to present me with pristine packages of fresh white golf balls bearing perfect dimples and unmarred printing. But where’s the sport in that?

Here’s a game that’s even more fun than golf.

Meet Myron and Ralph. These two men retired several years ago from prominent corporate executive positions and moved with their wives to an exclusive gated Florida golf community, where they met one another.

On weekdays, you can find these two comrades, pulling a little red wagon along the outside of the fence that lines the 13th and 16th fairways and picking up stray golf balls. On Saturdays, Myron and Ralph set up shop in a rented booth at the local flea market and sell their findings. They advertise their spherical surprises as No-Water Balls, claiming they have stayed out of the drink.

I guess old entrepreneurs never die. Perhaps they just begin selling stray golf balls.

Myron and Ralph think they’re pretty smart fellows.

But I know something Myron and Ralph do not know. Two other retirees, Tom and Carl, visit the used golf ball stand at the flea market each week and purchase a big bag of balls from Myron and Ralph. While the flea market is still open, before Myron and Ralph return home, Tom and Carl work their magic with the golf balls.

Tom and Carl take the used balls and drop them in the grass, all the way down the outside fence-line by the 13th and 16th fairway.

See those two guys sitting on the patio, just this side of the 16th tee and chuckling at the two guys picking up lost balls? You guessed it! That’s Tom and Carl.

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