5 Lessons Learned from the Grinch

“The three words that describe you are as follow and I quote; stink, stank, stunk.”
-Thurl Ravenscroft, How the Grinch Stole Christmas


1. People are Forgiving. As much as the Grinch tries and is a jerk, as soon as he realizes that Christmas doesn’t come from a store, that perhaps Christmas means a little bit more, he accepts the kindness of strangers and in return they forgive and accept him.

Lesson: no matter if you are wrong or make a mistake, apologize for your error. You most likely be forgiven. Give it a try.

2. You are Stronger Than You Think. The sleigh full of presents were teetering on the brink of collapse, but when the Grinch finally understood the true meaning of Christmas he became determined to save Whos’ Christmas bounty by finding the strength of ten Grinches… plus two.

Lesson: challenge yourself, believe in yourself. If you think it, you can do it. You are stronger than you think you are.

3. Loud Noises are Bothersome. The Whos’ are a festive bunch and are not afraid to show it. They bang on their tong-tinglers, they blow their foo-flounders, they crash jang-jinglers. I think we can all relate that we would all hate this Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise

Lesson: invest in a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones.

4. Talking in Rhyme Makes You More Authoritative. Notice how those around the Grinch pay closer attention when he rhymes? Well, maybe they didn’t have a choice.

Lesson: It’s not hard to do, simply use a different word or two. Just make the words match, if you itch then scratch. Everyone will think your smart and it’s true.

5. It’s Not That Hard to Trick a Who. How does one get away with stealing the entire contents of the house without anyone noticing? Not sure. Then when Cindy Lou Who awakes the Grinch simply tells her that one side of the tree won’t light on one side. And that he is taking the tree to his workshop to fix it up there and bring it back here. I guess if I was no more than two I would agree this may be true. But I still can’t get past that not one Who in town knew he looted them blind.

Lesson: don’t steal, it’s just wrong.

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Tale of the Tape: Talking Snowmen

Another Tuesday, another Tale of the Tape. For today’s TofT we have a guest blogger, Nunu the Orange Bird loving boy who helps opine on who is the best talking snowman.

Talking snowmen is an odd sight, especially if you live south of the Mason Dixon line or bask in the glow of La La Land. However, with success of Frozen, Olaf the snowman has put this chilly cohort back on the Siberian map.

Let’s go to the tape to see who has the biggest carrot nose in this week’s Tale of the Tape: Frosty v. Olaf.

frost v olaf pic

frosty v olaf graph

I Am Not Just a Misfit

Renown Phycologist Abraham Maslow identified 5 basic human needs, called the Heirarchy of Needs, that we all need to develop into complex individuals. Belonging is the third need identified on the Heirarchy and is situated between 1) water, air, food, 2) security and 4) self-esteem and 5) self-actualization. Here at Squirrels we don’t get too caught up in the details of human psychology, but I thought it was an important point to reference as we talk about a group of our favorite holiday toys that have not yet developed the feeling of belonging.

“A toy is never truly happy until it is loved by a child.” – King Moonracer

The Island of Misfit Toys is an island sanctuary, featured in the Rankin-Bass TV special Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, where unwanted toys are sent. King Moonracer, a flying lion who rules the island, scours the earth looking for unwanted toys and bringing them back in hopes of one day having Santa find them a loving home.

Though Rudolph and Herme try to join the ranks of the misfits, they are denied by King Moonracer as they are not toys. Said Yukon Cornelius, “even among misfits you’re a misfit.” How true.

Leaving Rudolph & Herme aside, let’s take a look at who is the most misfit among the misfits.

Our Favorites
jellyWater Gun that Shoots Jelly – wait, why is this a misfit toy? What little boy wouldn’t want such as devious gift?

charlieCharlie in the Box – Charlie is on the island because all of his relatives are Jack in the boxes. I say be different, you still are a freighting toy any name you call it. Just ask Buddy the Elf.

dollyDolly – no seemingly misfit problems here. According to the show’s producer Arthur Rankin, Dolly’s problem was psychological as she was abandoned and felt unloved. Isn’t that a little too much for a holiday special? Dolly, you’re a winner in my book.

elephantSpotted Elephant – King Moonracer’s footman, he works hard and would be a great addition to any child’s plush pal collection.

scooterScooter – two wheels in front, one in back make this Island Misfit seem out of whack.

Odd But Still Lovable
misfit-cowboyCowboy that Rides an Ostrich – both horse and ostrich can get you to where you are going.

trainTrain with Square Wheels – a little difficult to play with. Not such much an issue with children loving this toy, I think it was more of a matter that adult’s didn’t want the train to scratch the floor.

Boat that Cannot Stay Afloat – yeah, I don’t see this working out too well.
airplanePlane that Doesn’t Fly – see boat that doesn’t float above.

Mr. Misfit
clownClown Nesting Dolls – clowns are creepy. Clown nesting dolls are still unwanted to this day. Very creepy indeed.

So there you have it. Several of the misfit toys are easily loved thus fulfilling their sense of belonging. But still to this day nobody loves a clown.

Tale of the Tape: Holiday Hide-N-Seek

Do you wanna hide a snowman?
Or perhaps a tiny elf?
I can’t find you anymore
Look on top the door
It’s like you hid and gone away
You used to hide in my bedroom
And then sweeping with the broom
I wish you would tell me where!
Do you wanna hide a snowman?
It doesn’t have to be a snowman. It can be an Elf of the Shelf.

Thanks to Princess Anna of Arendelle (from Frozen) for that little introduction to today’s tale of the tape.

With the success of Elf on the Shelf, the hide-and-seek game with a holiday Elf that acts as a spy for Santa Claus, there has also been a release of a similar product featuring Olaf from Frozen called Hide and Hug Olaf. At first, one can easily ascertain that the Olaf product was merely a way to catch the wave of Elf on the Shelf’s success. But after some in depth product analysis the analytics team at Squirrels got to the bottom of this hide-and-seek trend.

Let’s go to the tape to see which of these tiny plush pals you should hide.

elf v olaf picture

Elf v Olaf

Have A Very Marie Christmas

Marie

Today, I along with with many of my cousins will be missing a holiday celebration to honor my Aunt. Unfortunately my Aunt Marie will be unable to participate in Christmas Day festivities this year as she recovers from a surgery. To help spread some good cheer my extended family is having an early celebration that she will be able to enjoy.

The timing doesn’t work well for me and many of my cousins as over time our geography has stretched the country and it is too difficult to come in for the event. We all now reside in many locales far from the Northampton & Lehigh County area that we grew up in,  areas such as: Philadelphia, Northern New Jersey, Washington D.C. / Northern Virginia and San Francisco. While we may not be physically at today’s gathering we are surely all there in spirit. Christmas Spirit that is. So in honor of my Aunt, we have come together to on pass our best wishes and remember some of our fondest memories of Marie.

We wish we could all be there! Have a great day!

Kristine
My fondest memory of Marie is wedding dress shopping and having Marie help decide on the most beautiful wedding dress!

Jason
Since it’s the season for giving I actually have two fond Holiday memories of Marie and my Uncle Donny.

• My Uncle Donny started a tradition over 20 years ago that is still alive and kicking today. He started the tradition of giving instant scratch-off lottery tickets as Xmas gifts. There was such a fever over winning that everyone just had to participate. But the evening wasn’t over with just one round of scratch-offs. Nope, it was the event of going back to the store to claim winning tickets and getting more tickets and then going back to the store for more, and more and more until the exhaustion point was reached. No one ever won more than a few dollars (I believe $25 was the biggest prize) but the hysteria that ensued was always a blast. Even today at most family gatherings lottery tickets play a part of the day.

• Unfortunately no video exists for this incident. Marie took the offer of a couple of bucks to slurp a plate of lime Jell-O. Not the best sight but she cleaned that plate in a disgusting manner and came away with heavier pockets. Perhaps one of the best Xmas gifts ever.

Jill
One of my favorite memories was visiting Marie in her classroom. I was in third grade, just like her class. Her kids loved the Shel Silverstein book Where the Sidewalk Ends. Marie took the book out and hammed it up with the class. The class was as just as into and she was and they even knew parts of that book by heart.

Marc
It took me quite quite a while to come up with something; not for want of a memory, or infrequent acquaintance. It’s simply hard to summon up with a handful of words to describe your relationship with someone, especially one so present through all of your life. As I sit here, watching Apple eat his dinner–oblivious to the gravity of the situation I mull over–it’s clear that I can’t choose a single time or event, but for her love of her dogs. As time goes by I know that I’ll have been that much the more complete for having him in my life. I’m reminded of all her companions now past, and think of the smiles they’ve brought to us–much less the joy of the daily homecoming, shared only between companion and keeper. I’d like everyone to honor her commitment and love for other souls, human or otherwise.

Michael
My fondest memories are having Marie sitting at the my grandmother’s kitchen table in Northampton and watch as I played Scrabble. I also loved when she would drive me to school in the morning during the times when my parents were on vacation.

Jessie
Marie is such a loving and caring person and I have so many great memories during our family gatherings. There are simply so many memories of Marie that it is impossible to highlight just one.

Braden
I loved visiting Marie so that I could lie in her TempurPedic bed. I would move that baby up and down as I watched TV.

Have a very, merry Christmas Marie!

Marie 2

A Very Special Christmas Card From Claire

Christmas Card Etiquette

It’s the holiday season and a great time to gather with family and friends that are near to us. However, for those that are farther away or those that you just might not see during the holidays, exchanging of Xmas cards has become a popular tradition.

Receiving a card in the mail, even just for a brief moment allows us to think about friends and family.  There are some rules to oblige by when sending and receiving cards, which of course we identify below. Enjoy.

Christmas Card Etiquette

e-greetings don’t count – it’s just lazy

No personal messages longer than a paragraph – To all those that write a novella on their past 365 days, no one cares.  We simply want to hear that you are healthy, doing well and one or two points of interest like an exciting vacation or a personal achievement.  Make us read through 5 pages of how great your children are is just nauseating.

Photos of children / family only – We all enjoy seeing your children grow throughout the years, it’s part of the fun of receiving Xmas cards. But unless children or grandchildren are in the card, just send a boxed Christmas card.  It is creepy for middle aged husbands and wives to send a picture of themselves.  One exception: photos of newly weds is acceptable.

Also, Xmas cards with photos of the children at the beach have become quite popular, if doing so be sure that no bikini photos of your teenage daughters make it to the card.  This is a not a normal way to showcase your family.

What about Pets? – What about them? No, you should not include pets in your Christmas photo.  Yes, you can include their name on the signature line.  Would you like to see my fish on the card? Probably not.  So I really don’t want to see your bird, cat or rat.  I know this will offend many people as they consider pets part of the family. That’s great, I am glad you consider them your family.  However those on your Xmas list most likely do not.

Edit & Proofread your cards – everyone takes both good photos and bad photos.  Be sure to find the best photo and use the basic tools to enhance the image.  Tools such as red-eye reduction or brightness will help enhance the photo.  The last thing you want is to have your son look like the son of Satan. Also, thoroughly review the photo for anything inappropriate that might offend your family and friends.  Remember the Elaine Bennis nip slip?

Give to Get – if you would like to be part of someone’s Xmas card list then be sure to start sending them a card as well.  This is the simplest of rules to follow.

Timing: sending cards – some like to say send right after Thanksgiving, others will say any time before Christmas.  The reality is anytime before Valentine’s Day is acceptable.  Understand that there is always something going on around the holidays and you may not be the first thought on a friends mind.  Accept that fact and move on.

Timing: keeping cards – I simply use the Seinfeld rule of thumb – three days minimum  then feel free to keep longer or toss.

No Dorky Family Photos – yes it may seem fun to dress the family as reindeer with matching sweaters, but do you really want to be marked as that weird family.  I don’t think so.  If these dork shots have become a family tradition that’s fine and continue down this path but be sure not to use this photo for your Xmas card.  Remember these may live on for years.

See below photos for examples.

The execution on these homemade costumes is admirable.  Photo: Courtesy AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com / SL

You get the idea that this was Dad's dumb idea that everyone was forced to suffer through. Careful -- that fire's a little close for comfort.  Photo: Courtesy AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com / SL

Nothing says Christmas like floating heads!For more awkward fun check out AWP's latest book, Awkward Family Pet Photos, now a New York Times bestseller. Photo: Courtesy AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com / SL

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All I Want for Xmas is a Throw Down

I recently saw these Holiday videos of Mariah Carey & Jimmy Fallon singing All I want For Christmas Is You and the Dropkick Murphys The Season is Upon Us and I thought they were both great.  In today’s world of always comparing and ranking, just see Top 10 Xmas villains list, I wanted to determine which I liked best which I had a difficult time.

Mariah and Jimmy’s video is very festive and will put you in a great Xmas mood.  If Fallon wasn’t on so late I would make him my must watch.  You got to love those kids wack-a-mole style. On the other hand the Dropkick Murphys, band of the song I’m Shipping Up to Boston fame from the movie The Departed, is way applicable to everyone.

So rather than giving you my throw down today, I am putting the power in your hands.  Watch both videos below and then cast your vote for the video/song that puts you in the better Holiday Mood.

Mariah Carrey & Jimmy Fallon: All I Want For Christmas Is You

Dropkick Murphys: The Season is Upon Us

Top 10 Christmas Villains

Christmas villains are the worst kind. They are out for themselves, to steal gifts and to cancel the winter holiday. I have been known once or twice as an Xmas villain, but I didn’t make this fearsome list as I am simply too nice of a guy. But like Ben Linus from the show Lost, most of these villains were redeemed by the end of the movie/show.

Let’s take a look at these characters.

bumble

10. Bumble aka Abominable SnowmanRudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
Extremely scary for little ones as I just noticed this year. With a mouthful of teeth this Bumble was as ferocious as any beast. Without teeth, well that’s another story. The Bumble was redeemed by Yukon and helped top Santa’s tree with a glimmering star.

Bonus tidbit: The Bumble loves fresh venison but much prefers a pork dinner. “Oink, oink, oink”

9. FultonElf
The book publisher who is very perturbed at Buddy the Elf’s father Walter Hobbs. Fulton makes the team pitch a new book late on Christmas Eve. This egomaniac nearly breaks up the Hobbs family. Miles Finch was a successful children’s author who was brought in to save the day, but he was mistaken by Buddy as an elf and went ballistic.

Best Holiday Diet: “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.”

8. Harry Lyme (Joe Pesci) – Home Alone
Oh that menacing gold tooth. It did sparkle in the light but was extremely creepy. Pesci, along with Daniel Stern, played the villain the the McCauly Caulkin classic. Mac did a great job fending Harry off from looting his house. Harry should have taken heed when he heard the line from Angeles with Filthy Souls to leave the room before he was pumped with lead. One, two, ten.

Fun Fact: The Home Alone concept originated during the filming of a scene in Uncle Buck when Macaulay Culkin interrogated a would-be-babysitter through a letterbox.

7. Heat MiserThe Year Without a Santa Clause
Anyone who wants to melt Christmas snow must be an Xmas villain. The Heat Miser is way more fearful then his brother Snow Miser, who just looks like Jack Frost. Thank goodness Mother Nature stops this inbred fighting.

Best Movie Lyric: “Whatever I touch, Starts to melt in my clutch”

6. Scut FarkusA Christmas Story
This bully and his little sidekick put the fear in every kid in the school yard. His bright hair and menacing brace-face were enough to frighten the fiercest alley cat. Everyone loved when Ralphie took Farkus to down and made him bleed his own blood.

Fun Fact: A Christmas Story inspired the TV show The Wonder Years

5. Professor HinkleFrosty the Snowmanprof hinkle
That hat will never be magical for the Professor. But if that silly rabbit Hocus Pocus would have cooperated early in the show Hinkle could have been a great magician and Frosty a fun snowman. Anyway, the adventure to the North Pole was fun and we all got to learn how to do a belly whooper.

Expensive Ride: the cost for the train ticket to the North Pole was $3,000.04. Free if you’re a stowaway.

4. Scrooge A Christmas Carol
Wants to bankrupt everyone and keep it all for him and working his employees into the ground. This meanie lost the love of his life and turned his depression into rage. Scrooge was eventually redeemed by the three ghosts that could have been just as freighting.

Best TV / Movie Scrooge: Mr. Magoo and yes I love “razzleberry dressing”

3. Burgermeister MeisterburgerSanta Clause is Coming to Town
I initially wasn’t a fan of this show until I began watching it with the kids and since then it has kind of grown on me. Perhaps it was the penguins in stop motion. It’s a difficult responsibility, but the Burgermeister wanted to destroy all the toys in the king’s land and almost succeed until good ole Kris Kringle jumped in to save the day.

Bonus tidbit: an old college friend was referred to as the Burgermesiter Meisterburger because of his last name. However I always thought of him more as the Heat Miser because of his hair. “No I don’t want to debate it!”

2. The GrinchHow the Grinch Stole Christmas
“All the Whos down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot. The Grinch who lived just north of Whoville did not.” The Grinch didn’t just not like Christmas he hated. And by stealing all the presents makes him one top baddy. But the Grinch is redeemed once he finds out Christmas means more than just presents. My belief is that the Grinch was grumpy because is eat too much roast beast. Have a salad once in a while my friend.

Fun Fact: the Grinch has no color in the Dr. Seuss book but is green in the TV show.

 

1. Lucy Van PeltA Charlie Brown Christmas

I know Peanuts characters are supposed to be kind and all but did you ever really take notice to how mean Lucy is? Charlie Brown may be a little slow but it’s simply villainous to continually call him a block head. This is one holiday character that is never redeemed. Good Grief.

Best Lucy Quote: “You’ve been dumb before, Charlie Brown, but this time, you really did it.”