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Friday, December 25, 2015

Mustard for Christmas?!?

Merry Christmas, everybody!

While I'm sure that today will be a happy day for most of you able to read this blog post today, it also marks the final day of A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR for another year. 

And because I'm sure most of you have plans today (I know I certainly do), I'll keep Day #25 on the short side.  Consider that my Christmas gift to you.

(NOTE:  I'm postponing the New Archies Reviewed post that would normally be posted today to Saturday, December 26.  All the other episode reviews will be posted on the next few Fridays after that.)

So, to conclude this advent calendar, I thought that I would share one final personal story about the holidays, and how sometimes the weirdest gifts are generally the ones that you remember the most.

I still remember the year.  It was Christmas 1996, and it was the first time that I attempted to wrap my own gifts by myself.  I have always been more of a fan of giving rather than receiving anyway, and I really love giving gifts to the people I care about the most in this world.  But prior to 1996, I always either had someone else wrap the gifts for me (be it a family member, a department store, or those teenagers who wrap gifts at the mall for charity), or I would cheat and use gift bags because let's face's very hard to screw up a gift bag.

That year, I made it an effort to wrap my own gifts...and, ended up being a complete disaster.  I used wrapping paper that hadn't been used in years and it basically disintegrated when people picked up the gifts.  I even had gifts sliding right out of the packages because I didn't put enough tape on them!  I'm telling you, the only saving grace during the Christmas season of 1996 was that I didn't buy anything breakable!

But that said, I do think everybody loved their presents, and I certainly loved the gifts that I got.  I don't quite remember what all of them were, but I know that my big gift that year was "Super Mario RPG:  Legend of the Seven Stars", which I played a lot more than I probably should admit to!  I couldn't help it!  The game was so addictive.

The only other gift that I remember that I got that year came from my eldest sister, and I remember having to wait to open it up.  You see, by the time Christmas 1996 rolled around, both of my sibs had moved out of the house and I was essentially an only child at home from the age of eleven onward.  And at that time, my sister worked as a registered nurse, meaning that it wasn't uncommon for her to have to go into work on Christmas morning.

That particular year, she didn't get off work until something like four o'clock in the afternoon, so I had to wait until she dropped by the house to open up the gift that she had got me.  Naturally, being 15, I was quite curious and tried to guess what was inside.  I knew that it felt very heavy, and I had a hard time picking it up.  For all I knew, she could have wrapped up a couple of cinder blocks. 

I'll tell you, I was quite naughty back in the day when it came to trying to guess what I got for Christmas.  I tried to look in hiding spots, I would shake the gifts underneath the tree...I would even go so far as to actually try biting off corners of the wrapped gifts and trying to cover the holes with bows and stickers!  No dice, though.  Mom and Dad ALWAYS caught me.

By 15, I had grown out of those childish ways, though I still wanted my sister's shift to end so I could tear apart that paper and see what was inside.  When she got home, I literally ran to the Christmas tree and opened up the gift thinking that it was something really special...

...and it was a gigantic jar of mustard.

You know the ones I mean, right?  Fast food places, restaurants, and food trucks would buy the economy sized Costco jar to keep the mini bottles of mustard filled up?  Yeah, I got one of those.  And let me tell you, I was so confused about it.

Of course, that confusion quickly turned into understanding, and later on laughter. 

You my family, I easily use the most mustard.  Like that little old lady puts Frank's Red Hot on everything, I used to put mustard on everything.

(Well, okay, almost everything.  To this day, I can't see mustard being an acceptable topping for a banana split or a hot fudge sundae.)

But I did eat it on most cuts of meat.  I did eat it on sandwiches and pitas.  Heck, I used to dip mashed potatoes in mustard (which some of you might find disgusting, but I liked it).  So, in a sense, it was the perfect gift to get a mustard lover like me.  And, I think that gift lasted me well into the Spring of 1997 anyway, so it was economical too!

After all, that gift showed me one thing that family did understand me as a person...even if they didn't always show it all the time.

But you know, it's memories like Mustardgate 1996 that make me feel so loved during the holiday season.  Cherished memories that I will never forget.  And I hope that this Christmas allows you all to make some new memories to add to your own personal holiday collections.

Have yourselves a merry little Christmas now.

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