Coffee Break [7/12/20]

Hi Deadsplinter friends! It’s that time of day on Monday when you’d really like to be thinking about anything but work. Let’s talk things you may do during the holiday season that not everyone else does.

We use the same gift bags each year for presents. They’re kept in a closet at my house and no matter whose house they’re being opened at – we have to haul those things out and take them with us. The bags get set up in a “wrapping room”. No one brings a wrapped present – we take turns doing it day of. You want to get there early because otherwise the big bags get taken. We’ve been doing it for about fifteen years. We have every size known to mankind. We even save the tissue and ribbons – the only thing that’s new are the name tags. After everyone opens their presents – each person is responsible for folding up their bags and putting them back in the “wrapping room”. Occasionally, someone has to use actual wrapping paper – which, yes, we save that too. Once things get too tattered, they’re taken out of rotation and actually thrown away. Although, this year is going to be interesting.

Oh, and we eat chili for Xmas dinner. 

Lymond Pack in front of presents – from top counterclockwise – Yoshi, Buddy Boo, Millicent Van Awesomedawg and Itty Bit

What holiday traditions do you and your fam adhere to year after year, Deadsplinterers? Pics of pets are welcome too. And, as always, thanks for your support of our fabulous website.



  1. My mom was a tremendous wrapping paper saver. She had wrapping paper that was decades old and had been reused repeatedly. She’d urge everyone (even little kids) to open presents carefully so we could “keep the paper.” I think my sister-in-law first led the charge to throw paper away. She’d arrive with a giant garbage bag and start wadding up paper and stuffing it in the bag. Drove my mom nuts. But kids have more fun when they can just tear into things. 
    The other tradition was that we all had to open our presents in order, from youngest to oldest. This was so everyone could see everyone else enjoy their presents. When it was just us five kids and my parents, it wasn’t that bad. When all of us got married and had kids and those kids had kids, presents turned into an hours-long ordeal. I can still remember my father complaining about being last, but my mom wasn’t having any deviation from the rules. He had to wait. 

  2. Your dogs are adorable!  This will be our first Christmas in 12 years without our dog.  I was away from home for about 4 days and came home to completely decorated house, minus tree and Jake our dog’s stocking is gone.  We always go as a family and cut down our tree but that may not happen this year since tree farms are only doing u-cut on weekends and will be out of trees by this weekend.  Our other yearly tradition is going to Seattle and walking around the insanity and going to dinner at an amazing  Italian restaurant, not on Christmas but around it.  That won’t happen this year either with restaurants closed.  We also have to have a theme for Christmas dinner clothing, this year is ugly sweaters, previously it was onesees.

    • So sorry about your dog – it’s sucks so hard that don’t live as long as we do. 
      Growing up – we used to always go to a Xmas tree farm near a river to cut our own trees – it was such a beautiful place. We had a really tall foyer – so we would get really tall trees. They were heavy as hell, but my Dad developed a pulley system to get it in the house and attached to the stairs. One year, my Dad miscalculated and the tree was so big we had to cut off five feet. We(me and the siblings) knew it was too when it took all of us and three other men to get it on the car – which it completely engulfed. I can’t believe we didn’t get pulled over – but then again it was the 80’s.

  3. Haha growing up we always reused wrapping paper and gift bags every year too! It’s traditional for us to have a Christmas Eve Wrap Party in the evening & then hide them all in a closet until morning, due to destructive pets. Lol. Someone then is elected to “play Santa” Christmas morning and go set up the presents under the tree and make the coffee. 
    We also had these Rhino Presents Christmas 2 cd set from one of those 90s infomercials that MUST be played while we open presents. I still have them and continue that tradition  🙂

  4. Four dogs…four different breeds…you must have the patience of a saint. Did you raise any or all of them from puppyhood? Do they all have different personalities or. very likely, did they form a pack and one is the leader and they take their cues from the Hound-in-Chief? Or both? This is what’s important to know!

    • They’re all rescues of a sort. They get along for the most part, it can get a little “wild kingdom” during dinner time. 
      Buddy Boo(black and tan coon hound mix) – the old-timer as we also call him – just appeared in my fenced in front yard one day, many years ago when I lived in NC. I think he might have been a failed hunting dog that someone decided I should take care of. 
      Millicent Van Awesomedawg – aka Milly – I actually got a kill shelter. She is the undisputed Queen of the pack and the only girl. No one gets on the bed unless she allows it or gets yelled at to allow it. She’s actually the youngest.
      The two smallest – Yoshi(tan chihuahua/corgi mix) and Itty Bit(Minion/chihuahua mix) – are of course, the yappiest. My really good friend and neighbor in NC passed away and willed us the pair. He had rescued both of them. Lucky for them, they’re adorable. 

  5. @Lymond, your dog photo made my day. We, too, have four small dogs – a chihuahua, two chiweenies, and a mutt. Our tree and gifts are up and encircled by a doggie fence – the chiweenie boys are not trustworthy characters.

    My side of the family is small; my son, his partner, and her son, and an elderly aunt and uncle in California. Keitel’s side is larger. Our traditions mostly involve me cooking required holiday foods for days ahead and feeding the masses. This year, we will see our son and family during the day on the 24th, and will be spending the 25th on our own. Other family members will have their gifts delivered the prior weekend in a socially distant fashion.

    I’m just doing the appetizer portion of the traditional foods for Christmas eve, and sending leftovers home with my son. None of it is heart healthy, but Keitel will have a day pass for naughty coronary delights. Bacon cheddar cheese dip, shrimp spread, chocolate strudel, county-style charcuterie (ring bologna, munster cheese, etc.), homemade barbecue, Asian slaw, fruit salad, and whatever else inspires me or that I pick from Cousin Matthew’s appetizer post coming up on Friday the 18th (mark your calendars, folks).

    Wrapping-wise, we do save the wired ribbon – it lasts for years.

    • All of your dishes sound yummy! If it weren’t for Covid – I might have packed up the pack and headed to your house. 
      And, yes, dog gates are a must in any chi mix household.

  6. …I too am familiar with the reclaimed wrapping paper approach…although for me it was something I associated with my grandmother(s) & figured was to do with remembering when things were scarce/rationed

    …there’s also the fact that when I was small the family dogs didn’t think that diving into a mass of paper & shredding it was the best fun ever…more recent dogs have tended to be that way…luckily not when the presents are wrapped up under the tree but loose paper is fair game as far as they’ve been concerned so it’s rare to manage to save whole pieces now…& I think we tend to use cheaper/thinner wrapping paper as a result…I remember less rolls of wrapping paper & more sheets when I was little but the two may not be connected

  7. Those look like four very good dogs.
    We don’t really have much in the way of traditions anymore.  I live across the country from my family so it’s impractical to see them regularly on the holidays–plus, Mrs. Butcher works in retail.  Her side of the family is…complicated.  The girls have both gotten married with in the past few years so they are trying to navigate the brave new world of how to allocate holiday time.  Of course, this year, everyone is staying the hell home.
    We don’t even decorate much.  When I was a kid I loved hauling all of the holiday decorations out of the attic.  We had decorations for everything from Halloween through Easter and I put up most of them because I thought it was so much fun.  I must have burned myself out at an early age because I simply have no desire to decorate anymore.
    The only thing that I do each year is a full-day of cookie baking.  I will turn on my specially curated Pandora Christmas playlist, and bake cookies for the better part of 12 hours.  Then I put them all in tins and give them to neighbors and coworkers.  But, not this year.  If I made the cookies, I’d have to scale it way down because I work from home and I’m not entirely confident the neighbors would be too keen on accepting baked goods that weren’t hermetically sealed.  Oh well, there’s always next year–and knowing that there will be actual competent humans in the Executive Branch, next year will likely be closer to normal than it is now.

  8. The only tradition I have is making fudge, mamie eisenhower’s fudge, that I give out to my favorite people. Since distributing the fudge looks problematic this year I’m expecting to eat alot of it myself. OTW, meh, I’m over it and not engaged, it’s a nice day off from work. For those of you making cookies and stuff I made a super easy peanut butter candy yesterday that I’m happy with.
    1/2 cup peanut butter
    1/2 cup corn syrup
    2/3 cup powdered sugar
    powdered milk
    mix the first 3 ingredients together then knead in powdered milk until you can roll it out. Make 1/2 inch diameter ropes and cut into pieces with scissors. Store in the fridge. Stupidly easy and fast.

  9. Squee! Your dogs are so cute, I haven’t seen them in a while. I always loved when they’d make a FFF appearance. 

    When my daughter was younger I used to sew a lot – Halloween costumes, dress up play stuff, as well as regular clothing and toys. So I have lots of scrap fabric around. I wrap what I can in the fabric using Japanese Furoshiki methods. I hate wastefulness. And I’m cheap. Some gifts don’t get wrapped at all, I use leftover ribbon or even yarn to make bows.  I will use gift bags because they are reusable.

    We used to travel for the holiday. We’d meet a large group of relatives at a hotel on the 23rd. We’d use their courtyard for our party, they usually didn’t mind since they didn’t have many guests. We’d bring food, let the dogs play, and drink insane amounts of alcohol. That portion of the family had a falling out and that stopped. So we’d drive to the ‘burgh on Christmas Eve. And there was never anywhere to eat. One year we got dinner from Sheetz, lol. Another year a couple of Burger King employees stayed open to make us food which I appreciated. We gave them BIG tips. Then Christmas day went to one of my sisters. Where I’d spend the entire day helping her cook a huge meal for everyone else and cleaning up afterwards. Nobody else helped, except my daughter. So I didn’t really visit with my other siblings. I forgot to mention that before the trip I’d bake hundreds of dozens of cookies, elaborate Italian cookies. The same sister who hosted Christmas and I made all the cookies for the entire family. And after the Christmas meal was cleaned up we’d set the cookies out on the dining room table. My siblings, their children and grandchildren would go around the table and box up cookies to take home. Every year I grew more and more resentful and last year I said ENOUGH and we stayed home. I felt bad for my sister because she’d be stuck doing it all alone but I had to stop. This year I’m not even baking cookies, I’m ordering them from Ferrara. 



    • …for some years I used to feel guilty at christmas because we’d all gather as a family & it wouldn’t be long before some relative or other would accost me along the lines of “why aren’t you helping do [thing you didn’t know was being done because nobody mentioned it]?” & somehow I lacked my youngest sibling’s supernatural ability to have left the room a minute or two before they appeared (I swear they’re like a ninja that way) so for the longest time I thought I was just somehow awful at being helpful

      …then one year it was decided that “the kids” ( I think the youngest was maybe mid-teens by then) should do all the work…so that year those relatives were simply told to relax & put their feet up while we got everything done…which we did…absent meltdowns, fallings out or other traditional flare-ups of stress…I & my siblings were all for making it the new tradition since it all seemed much better that way & there weren’t so many of us that it was the kind of herculean labor you describe

      …turns out that didn’t go for the older generation…apparently without being able to gripe about us not being helpful enough christmas wasn’t any fun for them so at their insistence we had to revert to the previous routine in subsequent years…oddly enough I tend not to feel guilty about not knowing I should have been doing X or helping with Y now that I know they prefer it that way?

      …so I applaud you managing to get out from under that tradition almost as much as I feel sympathy for your sister

      • Back when the kids were little we would fly up to see my MIL and she would always ask what she could do to help. We would always say we’ll do a super simple Christmas dinner, like ham, rolls and salad, and she could hang out with the kids while we took a nap. Sure, she’d say, I don’t get enough time with the grandkids.
        We’d hand her a stack of books, coloring books, games and stumble to bed for a nap after being up since 5 am.
        Tens minutes later there would be commotion from bored kids all alone, we’d get up, and MIL would be in the kitchen peeling, say, 10 pounds of beets.
        Um, I thought we were having a simple dinner? Oh, yes, well I had all of these beets and I thought maybe someone wanted beets too? (Nobody wants beets.)
        Get the kids back with MIL, go lie down again,5 minutes later there is crashing, kids are alone and bored, MIL is digging up the blender from the basement hoping to make creamed spinach. (Nobody wanted creamed spinach.)
        And on and on it would go until we gave up and entertained the kids ourselves while MIL apparently decided rather than spend time with the kids she would flip through cookbooks looking for dip recipes, sort through placemats, cook noodles just in case….  She just could not give up being overworked and stressed and denying herself the thing she wanted most while also being as unhelpful as possible.

    • That sucks that no one would help  y’all clean up and stuff. The rule at our house was always those that don’t physically cook have to clean. There is one sister who doesn’t cook or clean because she would usually break something – but she probably did that on purpose. 

  10. You ruined their passive aggressive fun, lol! I would have welcomed a chance to put my feet up and wouldn’t have complained about the lack of complaining. My siblings all live in around around Pittsburgh. I on the other hand drove 7 hours to toil in the kitchen and not really see anyone. Of course once they all left my sister and I would get rip roaring drunk together so I will miss that. 

    • …pretty sure that’s exactly the wrong way around…travelling the furthest makes you the nearest thing to a guest so you shouldn’t have been on hosting duty

      …unless the locals can’t cook…it’s a long drive to have to then be disappointed by the food, after all

  11. My mom always had me wrap gifts growing up (except for mine) because I was good at it and liked doing it. I also always wrapped the 3ft rawhide bone for my German Shepherd/Malamute mix in tissue paper so she could unwrap it easily. All xmas morning she would drag it around the house by one end looking for a spot to stash it. Then we weren’t allowed to look at it or she would have to re-stash it.
    I still like wrapping gifts, but everyone else just uses gift bags because easy/lazy. And I get a ton of free paper from animal charities so I haven’t bought paper for years. 

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