Monday, December 21, 2015

10 Free Gifts for Everyone on Santa's "Nice" List

Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! Season's greetings and other exclamatory messages of cheer!

I don't know about you, but for me and the denizens of Hendrickson house, 2015 is a year that I will be more than happy to see in my rear-view mirror. (Case in point: as if two brain surgeries and subsequent radiation weren't enough for WunderGuy, we spent this weekend in the ER to discover that his poor grey matter has some unexplained inflammation that is not only causing some issues with his right side, but is also going to bear some close watching in the near future. Fa-la-la-la-la...)

So, to send the year off with a bang, I figured I'd fill this final post with presents for everyone. Because I might not be the only person happy to smack 2015 on the butt as it slouches out the door. And because, no matter what kind of year you've had, there is no such thing as too many presents.

In the spirit of the season, here are 10 gifts for you, including a fabulous, original Celtic horse adult coloring mandala I had specially made for you by the fearsomely talented Karina Dale. To quote Douglas Adams' infamous Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Complaints Division (the only part of the Corporation to show a consistent profit): "Share and Enjoy."

1. The Best Knock-Knock Joke Ever:
Who's there?
Moonlight Sonata.
Moonlight sonata who?
Moonlight sonata lotta light to read by.

2. (Gag gift) The Best Literary Christmas Joke Ever:
Q: How did Ebeneezer Scrooge's team win the football game?
A: The Ghost of Christmas... Past.
(Say it out loud. Yeah. ::groan::)

3. Best Shopping-with-a-Toddler Life Hack:
Doesn't matter whether or not you're a parent. At some point in your life, you're going to have to go shopping with a kid who's not yet in school. Not yet potty trained. Not yet ready for prime time. And you will discover that this kid is all mouth and fast feet and grabby hands and is amped up like you can only hope to be after two double espressos (see Gift #9). Here's a tried-and-true way to get your shopping done without losing your mind or being escorted out of the store by a grumpy security guard.

Give the little imp cherub two pennies: one for each hand.

Say: "Hold these tight for me. If you don't lose them by the time I'm done in here, I'll put them with some others and use them to buy you a [insert cheap toy or non-sugar-loading treat here].

Works like a charm. Especially when combined with Gift #4...

4. Best Basic Math Experience:
If you're with a kid, and that kid misbehaves, and you feel compelled to issue the "I'm going to count to three" ultimatum, by all that's holy, COUNT TO FRIGGING THREE!!

Here's how, for those who are a bit iffy:

1... 2... 3! (Immediate threatened consequences ensue. No excuses. Period.)

Far too many kids think that the way to count to three is something like:

1... 2... 2 and a half... 2 and three-quarters... I mean it. You're not going to get any ice cream. Is that what you want?

No wonder our kids have difficulties in mathematics. For the love of God, and for the good of society, count to three. You know you want to. Do it!

5. Instant IQ Boost:
If you find yourself surrounded by a bunch of brainy egghead types and you need a quick 20-digit prime number, here's a gift that will help you hold your head up high(er). Just say:
"1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1"

If they ask you to repeat the stunt, hit them with:
"1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1"

Bask in the glow...

6. Fast, Painless Headache and Stress Relief:
If holiday stress triggers a headache, this may be as good as popping two aspirin:

Place your two index fingers in line with your pupils at your hairline. Trace small inward circles for a full minute.

Move your fingers down your forehead, halfway between your eyebrows and your hairline, remaining in line with your pupils. Again, trace small inward circles for a full minute or more.

Press hard enough to feel it, but not so hard that you hurt yourself. Breathe deeply while rubbing your fingers in circles. Drink a full glass of water when you are finished. Aaaaahhhhh....

7. Best Extended Pun Ever:
Read "The Death of a Foy," From Isaac Asimov, the master of so many ways of putting words together. Originally published in 1986, as one of 28 short stories in "The Best Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov," this has got to rank as the most wickedly groan-worthy sci-fi pun of all time.

8. Read a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Adventure:
Before Doyle wrote about Sherlock Holmes, he was a medical student who signed on as a surgeon aboard an Arctic whaler. The University of Chicago Press has published his diary: Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure. During the month of December, it's available as a free download. Riveting stuff -- and, best of all, it's a Doyle you've never read!

9.  DIY Spiced Mocha Better-Than-Coffeehouse Coffee:
I love to give decadently good gifts and -- OMG -- this one is so addicting. If you like those overpriced coffeehouse mochas, you'll love this. It's ridiculously easy:

MuseInks Mocha

Whisk together 3/4 C hot water and 3/4 C sugar (or do what I do and use one of those big, plastic shakers for making protein shakes... or gravy). When well blended, add 1 heaping 1/2 tsp. allspice or cloves and 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa. Whisk or shake until syrupy smooth. Taste, adding small amounts of maple syrup until mixture reaches desired sweetness.

Put 2 tablespoons of the mocha syrup into a cup (or just glop it in till it fills the bottom), pull a double espresso into the cup and mix thoroughly. Steam milk for a latte and add to coffee mocha. (Cheat: Milk, schmilk... Pour regularly brewed strong coffee over 2 Tbsp. of the mocha syrup, stir, and mmmmmm.)

10. Celtic Knot Horse Coloring Mandala:
Thank you for following this blog. Click to print.
Finally, dear reader, the piece de resistance -- akin to that big gift with your name on it crammed under the tree. Please accept this original adult coloring mandala, including all those gorgeous horses and all that intricate knotwork, with my blessing. I asked Karina Dale to make something awesome: something worthy of my clients and my readers, and she came through in spades (as always). I love it. I trust you will, too.

Here's hoping you have the time, soon, to grab your pens or pencils, curl up someplace comfortable (maybe with a delish' mocha--? Or in front of a fire? Or with a favorite 4-footed furry critter nearby), and color your way to relaxation. If you like this coloring page, there's another nifty Karina Dale mandala creation on Thanks Giving.

Wishing you every good thing this holiday season. And here's hoping that 2016 is your best year yet!