A Holiday Tradition

I was introduced to Jack Benny as a kid. I guess the first time I saw him was on Saturday mornings watching cartoons. In 1959, Jack and some of the cast of his show provided voices to “themselves” as mice in a cartoon called The Mouse That Jack Built.

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My dad introduced my brother and I to many old radio shows, including the Jack Benny Show. For his birthday, I blogged a bit about Jack – you can read that here:

One of my favorite things to do as Christmas gets closer is listen to the Jack Benny Christmas shows. A running gag for some of these shows involved Jack going to the store to finish his Christmas shopping. The gag always revolved around the gift he’d buy for his announcer Don Wilson. Each year, Benny would buy a ridiculously cheap Christmas gift for Don Wilson, from a harried store clerk played by Mel Blanc (the voice of Bugs Bunny). Benny would then drive Blanc to insanity by exchanging the gift countless times throughout the episode. In the 1946 Christmas episode, for example, Benny buys shoelaces for Don, and is unable to make up his mind whether to give Wilson shoelaces with plastic tips or metal tips. After exchanging them repeatedly, Mel Blanc is heard screaming insanely, “Plastic tips! Metal tips! I can’t stand it anymore!”

A variation in 1948 was with an expensive wallet, but repeatedly changing the greeting card, prompting Blanc to shout, “I haven’t run into anyone like you in 20 years! Oh, why did the governor have to give me that pardon!?” The kicker at the end of the show comes when Jack realizes that he should have gotten Don a wallet for $1.98, whereupon the store clerk responds by committing suicide. Over the years, in the Christmas episodes, Benny bought and repeatedly exchanged cuff links (The engraving was the issue) , golf tees (wooden or celluloid), a box of dates (with nuts or without) , a paint set (water colors or oils), and a gopher trap (trap them alive or kill them). In later years, Benny would encounter Mel Blanc’s wife or the clerk’s psychiatrist at the store, and drive them crazy, as well.

The bit was so popular that when Jack moved his show to television, they adapted the “wallet” show for TV. It’s even funnier to watch, especially since Mel Blanc cracks Jack up on camera.

I can’t wait to go shopping with Jack …

Here is a link to the TV version ….

I’m Dreaming of a Stress-free Christmas

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Sometimes, all it takes is hearing things out loud for reality to set in. For example, I can probably raise your stress level by simply saying 7 little words: “Just ten more shopping days until Christmas!” Did you feel your blood pressure rise??

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Christmas shopping has always been a headache for me, but usually because of money, but this year my wife has come up with a way to relieve that stress. I had heard this before, and I think it has circulated on social media in the past. The boys will each be getting four presents this year:

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It is a polarizing idea for some, I know. Some feel that this will negatively affect kids who are “used to” getting a lot of presents. Then there are those who feel that this idea will actually help older kids understand life on a budget, and actually help them be thankful for the gifts that the do receive. As a parent on a budget, it helps to know we are not really going outside the budget we set aside for them. As far as stress, this is something that has proven to be very helpful as our shopping is done for them, and has been for a while!

At first, I wasn’t sure how they would take this, but in the end, I think it will be just fine. I say that because this is the first year that they didn’t have a long list of things on their Christmas list. As a matter of fact, when I asked them to start thinking about what they wanted for Christmas they answered with “I’m not really sure,” “I don’t know,” or “gift cards.”

We told them we had already picked picked up “what they need” and “something to wear” and told them they needed to work on the list of “what they want” and “something to read.” Simplifying this didn’t really help either. I literally dragged them to Barnes and Nobel to look for books and to a couple other places for what they wanted. I think I walked away with a few ideas, but nothing really substantial at the time. I have a few left over ideas that I need to pass along to my dad, who has to go shopping for them, too.

Non-shopping stress

While the stress of shopping has been alleviated, now we are dealing with another stress. Remember at the beginning of the blog I mentioned how hearing something out loud can make something a whole lot more real? At Sam’s OB appointment this week we learned that baby is sitting head down – an indicator that she may be here before we know it (and possibly before her due date in February)!

Now, we are aware that with most first babies, they tend to be late rather than early. This statistic was made known to us this week at our birthing class, as well. While the due date is still 64 days away, we are faced with the stress of trying to finish sanding, cleaning, painting, and decorating her room before her arrival. I am feeling the pressure and the stress that goes with it!

This is my first time dealing with drywall – I had no idea just how dusty it gets! The dust from sanding is EVERYWHERE! I end up tracking the dust from room to room as I am working. It is just a mess that I feel will NEVER get clean!

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64 days may seem like a long time, and it is, but I am still working my full time job, working both part time jobs, attending birthing classes, and squeezing in doctor and therapy appointments in there, too. The possibility of our daughter arriving ahead of schedule has my wife and I freaking out a bit, to say the least.

Once I am off the air, I am heading home to try to finish up the sanding and patching. I will probably need to go ask my neighbor for his shop vac to “attempt” to get most of the dust up – just in case I get the walls to the point where we may be able to start painting! I would LOVE to have everything done by Christmas … but I know that is NOT going to happen!!

I may need to add a stress management class to the mix of all the stuff I already have going on ….

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