Thursday, December 17, 2020

My introduction paragraph yesterday was a smidge on the dreary side, even for 2020. I felt spent and winded from this project, and even though yesterday I was busy enough at work to not allow me to look at publishing anything until nearly 8:00pm, I felt more energized, more eager to document my celebrations. Unfortunately, the calendar betrayed me. This time of year there aren’t nearly as many National Whatever Days, as people are already distracted from the trudgery of their lives by the upcoming year-end festivities. So we are picking the bones here, but with enthusiasm. Here’s what we tackled yesterday:

National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

On January 3 it was chocolate covered cherries. Chocolate covered nuts got their day on February 25. Chocolate covered raisins? Not a big fan, but we ate some delicious ones on March 24. April 21 gave us chocolate covered cashews. Then we got a big pause on the trend until October 7th’s chocolate covered pretzels. Now we get the thrill of enjoying anything we want, covered in chocolate.

Oh, and fondue day… can’t forget that one. Chocolate fondue day was February 5. This has been a truly memorable year.

Pictured above is one of my favourite memories from the Christmases of my childhood. Our massive family gatherings always included a few essentials: shrimp cocktail before the meal, rum & cokes dispensed by my generously indulgent uncles, and these chocolate covered cherries. They also contain peanut butter, chopped dates, and possibly other things I don’t want to know about because goddammit it’s magic and it requires no further explanation. I have enjoyed chocolate covered cherries since those magnificent treats, but never this exact recipe.

Our team baker (hi, Mom!) created the magic this year. She followed my aunt’s recipe and concocted these glorious little encapsulations of my youthful love of holiday desserts. She made them just a couple days ago, so we haven’t tried them yet. Our daughter arrived on Sunday, and our team baker is keeping her distance until Christmas in order to stay safe in this weird time. But we can wait – it’s enough to know the magic is coming.

That said, she promptly told me she won’t ever make these again. Too much hassle, too much mess. That’s okay – sometimes the greatest magic is the messiest.

Stupid Toy Day

Apparently this is a day for us to reflect on the stupid toys we received as a child. The site that boasted this particular celebration also featured a few examples, not all of which I’m completely on board with calling ‘stupid’.

Mr. Potato Head is silly, but is it a stupid toy? I doubt Don Rickles would lend his voice to a stupid toy. Kids seem to be able to play with this, and they’ve been popular for decades, so no – it’s not stupid. Tamagotchis are on the list too, but our kids loved keeping those little electronic critters alive. At least, until they forgot about it for long enough to kill it. Tickle Me Elmo was kind of a stupid toy, I guess. But it was, at its heart, a stuffed Elmo toy, and kids love stuffed versions of their favourite characters, right?

Then they mention the Slinky. I had to pause on that one. My first reaction was to protest – we all had Slinkies, right? And we loved plopping them down the stairs, and… well, that was really all the fun, wasn’t it? It’s a spring. You can pop it back and forth in your hands, but the only real dynamics to the toy was watching it descend the stairs. Alone or in pairs. That’s not much of a toy, really. The Slinky may be the stupidest toy that most kids have, at one time, owned.

But my focus is on the laser pointer. This is a business device, used for corporate presentations. But it didn’t take long for people to start using them as toys, primarily for messing with their pets. While it seems our dogs are disappointingly astute at realizing the source of the magic red dot, we have had dogs in the past who fell for it every time. In fact, that’s how our bulldog, Bethany, was able to perform in a local high school production of Legally Blonde: The Musical – by her handler deploying a laser pointer to guide her through her marks.

This week a man was arrested for shining a laser pointer into Police 1, our local police helicopter. The guy could have caused a deeply disturbing accident, and I fully support his prosecution. People use these things at concerts, at sporting events, and if kids get hold of one they’ll get up to all kinds of shenanigans with it. These are stupid toys, and should only be legal to sell to corporate customers. Or people with pets, I guess. Damn.

Barbie & Barney Backlash Day

I get the backlash. I feel no rage toward either of these toy icons, but clearly Thomas and Ruth Roy did when they concocted this celebration of rage. Let’s dig a little deeper and figure out why.

We’ll start with Barbie. She was launched in March of 1959 – in fact, we even commemorated her 61st birthday with a celebration on this page. But as sweet and unassuming and dream-home-dwelling as this icon appears to be, she has not been without controversy. Her body measurements were initially 36-18-33, a look that most women could not achieve without a corset, an eating disorder, plastic surgery, or some combination of those three. Mattel has attempted to address this by introducing new body types, like ‘Curvy Barbie,’ who would be a size 4. So, you know, huge.

Barbie also suffers from a diversity problem. Her first black friend, “Colored Francie”, showed up in 1967. Apart from the problematic name, this was also simply a white Barbie’s head, sprayed darker. There was nothing else to differentiate her from regular Barbie, apart from her skin tone. Again, Mattel has tried to rectify this, and even introduced a character in a wheelchair in 1997. That was great, until a kid pointed out that her wheelchair wouldn’t fit in the elevator in Barbie’s Dream House. Oh well – all the fun’s on the first floor, right?

I never had an issue with Barbie because Abbey didn’t really play with Barbies. I think she had one that someone had given to her, but she wasn’t interested in it. Kids undoubtedly annoy their parents by pleading for all the new accessories and add-ons, but it wasn’t really an issue for me.

Then there’s the fucking dinosaur. We watched plenty of Barney when Abbey was small, though thankfully he was never her favourite. It was simplistic and repetitive, to the point where my 3 year old was bored easily by it. Some people find Barney to be the epitome of repugnant schlock, and would happily celebrate this day by burning a full-size purple dinosaur effigy on their front lawns. I guess I’m lucky once again. I’m not a fan, but his presence was a mere blip in my life as a stay-at-home parent.

Now if Thomas and Ruth Roy wish to create an anti-Caillou celebration, I will purchase a fucking flame-thrower to participate in that one. I still hear that bald prick’s shrill whine in my nightmares.

Will I face the day with the same verve and enthusiasm? Odds are I won’t, but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Here’s what’s awaiting us on this Thursday:

  • National Maple Syrup Day. We had pancakes and bacon for dinner on Tuesday night, but I forgot to take a picture. Looks like I’m doing a shot of maple syrup today.
  • Wright Brothers Day. Air travel turns 117 today. Do I get it a cake? Take it out drinking?
  • Pan American Aviation Day. I have no earthly idea how I’d celebrate this, but these are literally the only three options for today.

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