I’m partially stealing this from my very talented friend and colleague Sarah Shemkus who keeps this blog over at the Cape Cod Times Web site. Sarah points out her Top 10 Worst Commercials of 2009, and does so in very snarky, wonderful fashion.
But the ad I want to hit on is this one from Target:
Basically, I want to take a flame thrower to this bitch.
First of all, we’re in a recession. Times are tough everywhere, and because of that it’s more important than ever that couples talk about their finances and make joint decisions that take into account their family’s best financial interests. Yet in this commercial, the wife buys herself a big screen TV without consulting her husband. Then, when he rightfully takes offense and gently tries to remind her that spending should be kept to a minimum, she gives him all kinds of attitude.
But then, just to push her bitchiness over the top, she says, “Maybe Santa doesn’t need any help doing Santa’s job.”
This is where the ad goes from being shitty television, to a shitty commentary on the readily accepted roles played by men and women. First of all, the guy was just trying to stick to their previously established plan of spending less during difficult times. Sounds pretty reasonable right? But then she goes out and submarines him by spending hundreds (possibly thousands) on a new TV. Then, when he sticks up for himself, she basically tells him gift-giving and how they spend money is none of his damn business.
Or, in other words, it’s a woman’s job and he should just shut the hell up and not question her infinite wisdom.
I know women such as this one, and they make me want to tear what’s left of my hair completely out. It’s funny, because a lot of women I know complain their husbands aren’t involved enough. Yet this guy is just trying to save a few bucks, but she gets angry even though she’s the one who deviated from the plan. She should be happy he’s taking an interest in his family’s well-being.
But what really gets me is the double standard.
Think for one minute about what would happen if the roles in this TV commercial were reversed. What if a man was telling a woman to mind her own business because men don’t need any help deciding how the family’s money is spent? Because maybe men don’t need any help leading the family and making all the decisions. That’d go over as well as a fart in church and you know it.
And what’s with her creepy, passive-aggressive smile at the end? She looks like an inmate at the asylum who mixed up her medication and is on the verge of going on a 6-state killing spree.
I think my main point here is that some multi-national advertising agency needs to come to their senses and hire me to write these commercials. Sure each product would be pitched by either fighting mascots or monkeys dressed in people’s clothes, but at least we wouldn’t have to watch this crap.
Granted, this is my first time riding the parental roller coaster, but so far this has been the best time to be Will’s dad.
He’s almost 21 months and the kid literally learns something new everyday. Like a sponge. He’s talking a lot now and he can really parrot things back to us. It’s sentences now, not just random words. He knows almost all of his body parts (especially pee-pee) and his animal sounds are spot on. He says “Mama, no!” and I swear to God when he says “I don’t know” it’s the cutest damn thing in the world because he tilts his head and shrugs both his shoulders when he says it.
But more than that, he’s just such a little person now.
He knows exactly what we’re saying even if he doesn’t always understand the words. When I ask him to do something, nine times out of 10 he does it. And lately he’s been tugging at his diaper and saying “poop” or “pee-pee” when he answers nature’s call.
I know none of this sounds like a big deal to anyone else, but it is. I have the privilege of seeing this beautiful kid on a daily basis and watching his day-to-day progress. And so far it’s been the best thing I’ve ever experienced. There is NOTHING on this Earth that even comes close to coming home to him at the end of the day. Or falling asleep with his head on my shoulder. Or how he puckers up every time he wants to give me a kiss.
Maybe I’m reflecting on all of this now because he’s staying with my parents until Friday due to our daycare provider being on vacation. It’s only been a day but I miss the shit out of him.
Last week Will was following me especially closely as I went to feed the dog. He always watches me, but this time he was intensely honing in on what I was doing. When I feed the dog I put her food down, make her sit and wait, and then I say “free” which is her release word so she knows she’s allowed to eat.
So I put the food down, told her to sit, and then I began my usual 5-second wait before I give her the command. But before I can do anything, Will runs right up next to me, points at Haley and shouts “FREE!” at the top of his lungs.
Haley listened to him and began eating. I just stared at my beautiful, intelligent and wonderful son in disbelief. The smile on his face was something I won’t ever forget for as long as I live.
It is never too late to begin a family Christmas tradition.
My grandmother died this year so this Christmas was a little tough because it was the first one without her. But when she was alive, we liked to tease her mercilessly about her John Wayne obsession. She adored the man and had all of his movies. Not only that, she had likenesses of him that adorned the walls of her apartment. And whenever we’d get fresh with her, she’d say “You just wait. When I kick the bucket I’m leaving all of my John Wayne pictures to you.”
So yesterday, as we finished our Christmas dinner and silently expressed our lingering sadness over her absence, my uncle pulled out something that’s going to affect our lives forever. It’s a painting of John Wayne. Not only that, it’s an awful picture with his mug and horses pulling wagons. And it’s painted on a piece of wood and the sides are tree bark.
It is truly hideous.
My family is big on board games of all kinds, and we routinely play them after we’re done with holiday feasts and present-opening. But this year, we decided the winner of our games would be entitled to more than just bragging rights. From now on, whichever household wins the game will also get to pick one of the losers, and that loser will have to hang the ugly John Wayne picture somewhere in their house for an entire year until the following Christmas.
My grandmother would’ve appreciated the thought of any one of us grudgingly hanging a picture of her favorite actor in our homes.
This year my Aunt Val, Uncle Arthur and cousin Bradley won. And despite my incessant lobbying for them to send the picture home with my brother to Baltimore where he would have to explain the “art” to his girlfriend, they did not choose my brother. I think you can see where this is headed.
The Duke is currently hanging in my living room for the next 363 days. And somewhere, my grandmother is laughing her sick, twisted ass off at me. She always told me I’d end up with John Wayne in my house. But I guess it’s fitting, because none of us could ever say no to her anyway.
However, getting saddled with John Wayne was not my favorite part of Christmas. In fact, my favorite part of Christmas wasn’t even on Christmas Day itself.
On Christmas Eve I ended up spending time at my parent’s house while Will and MJ were visiting with her dad (Papa) and his girlfriend Donna (Grammy). Little did I know, that meant I had unwittingly volunteered myself to help assemble the present my brother bought Will. What was the present you ask?
That’s right, a 125-piece wooden train table set. And that’s in addition to the dozens of Thomas the Train Engine gifts that Will received for Christmas this year. But Nate’s present was easily the largest in both size and generosity. And while I appreciate the obvious amount of thought that went into the gift, I soon realized actually giving it to him was going to be easier said than done.
You see, Gouveia men are a lot of things. Witty, intelligent, handsome and humble to name a few. However, the one thing we are not, is handy. In a nutshell, we’re mechanically deficient and putting things together or assembling anything even remotely complicated is not our strong suit. Not only that, but we’re also all extremely argumentative, short-tempered and sarcastic.
Not exactly a winning combination.
Things started off…well…poorly, to say the least. The instructions had no words, just pictures. And not all the parts were labeled correctly. And did I mention this thing had 125 FRIGGIN PIECES?!!?!? Not only did we have to assemble the table, but once that was done we also had to build the multi-level train track. The first half hour left me convinced the night would end in bloodshed.
But then a funny thing happened.
We connected a few of the pieces and started working together, knowing it was all for Will. Then we kept on working, but we also were talking and kidding around. The next two hours featured some testiness, but mostly laughter and good-natured ribbing while my mom cooked delicious smelling Christmas food and the speakers played some Christmas tunes. It may have taken awhile, but in the end we got it done and Will absolutely loved it.
And, strangely enough, it ended up being the best part of Christmas.
A few weeks ago I read a post by my friend and fellow dad blogger Joeprah, dealing with “Santa Guilt,” and asking the question: Why do we lie to our kids about Santa?
He brings up a few good points. In essence, we’re telling our kids that a big, fat man in a red suit watches them 24/7 to determine their naughtiness/niceness. And yes, it’s slightly weird that he lives in the Arctic Circle and surrounds himself with midgets. But moving on. If boys and girls are good, they will receive a visit from the fat man when he stuffs himself down a chimney and drops off presents, all during a whirlwind tour in which he somehow manages to defy the space/time continuum and deliver presents to each and every house in the world all in one night. But the bad kids don’t get anything, or worse, a lump of coal.
Apparently Santa didn’t get the memo about reducing his carbon footprint.
And even if our kids buy this lie, eventually they’ll figure it out. And as Joeprah pointed out, sometimes they get pissed. And rightfully so I guess. They want to know why they get punished when they lie, but their parents can lie to them for years and then tell them it was all for their own good.
I get it, it’s contradictory. And I hate the superficial consumerism and materialistic nature of Christmas as much as the next guy. I understand that paying $19.99 just to plop your kid down on a fat stranger’s lap and take a picture is a little warped.
That’s why I’m vowing — here and now in front of all 13 of my loyal readers — not to lie to my son anymore. That’s right, no more Santa. Instead, I need to tell my son the truth about what Christmas is all about. After all, the truth will set you free. So without further ado, this is the “truth” I will bestow upon my son instead of that garbage Santa nonsense.
I will tell Will that Christmas is about God and God’s son Jesus. He needs to know that an omnipotent being no one has ever seen or heard, lives up in the sky on the clouds with angels. And this God is always watching us, and judging us. He’s keeping tabs on all of us because if we’re “good” we’ll go to heaven where we can frolic with the angels among the white, puffy clouds. But if we’re “bad” (and let’s face it, “bad” can be anything from masturbating to being a homosexual) we will burn for all eternity in a fiery pit called hell, watched over by a red-skinned horned beast.
And it’s totally true that God was bored one day and just decided to create heaven and earth. And he did it all in six days, taking time to nap on the seventh. But one of his best creations was man, a man named Adam to be specific. And even though Genesis says God created Adam and Eve at the same time, Chapter 2 says it was just Adam. And then, in the first known game of “Operation,” God decided to take one of Adam’s ribs out and create a woman. Eve. But the two of them fucked it up for everyone because they listened to a talking snake and ate an apple they weren’t supposed to. No seriously, this is the truth.
But let’s get back to Christmas. You see, a woman named Mary was dating this guy named Joseph. And Joseph couldn’t have been too happy because Mary was a virgin. Yet despite never having sex with Joseph, she somehow became pregnant. And, since the proposition that Mary was a cheating whore is apparently out of the question, it became glaringly obvious that this was Immaculate Conception (or Annunciation, I can never keep them straight). Yup, that’s right. God raped impregnated an innocent woman with his seed, aka Jesus. This is the truth, I’m not making this up.
And we celebrate Christmas because that’s Jesus’ birthday (even though it’s widely speculated he was actually born April 17, 6 BC). Jesus was born in a manger and three strange men came to give him gold, frankincense and myrrh. Just what every baby needs right?
And this man went on to do great things. He could walk on water. I’m talking right on the surface without going under. And when he was done walking on the water — POOF — he turned it into wine. And my son needs to know the truth, that the only way to get to heaven is to go to church every Sunday and eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood. No, really. That’s the truth and those are the rules.
And speaking of the rules, don’t worry about remembering them all because they’re all listed in a book called the bible. And that book is TOTALLY truthful. It actually tells you exactly how to live your life as a morally upright citizen. For instance, it says a man shall not lay with another man or else it is considered an abomination and you will immediately be put to death. So take that you homos out there! But it’s not just the gays. Oh no no no. The bible actually calls for parents of disobedient and rebellious children to have their kids stoned to death by all the older men in town. How’s that for truth, mofo?!
For you girls out there, you should also know the bible says it’s OK for parents to sell their daughters into slavery. Furthermore, anyone working on the Sabbath should be put to death and any man with long hair is shameful. This, despite…well…
And even when they tried to kill Jesus, he wasn’t having it. Oh sure they thought they killed him, but three days later he ascended into Heaven and then reappeared to his followers. Totally true, he came back from the dead!
So there you have it. Screw that Santa crap. It is downright dangerous to lie to your kids about the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent, supernatural being like Santa. We need to tell kids the truth. We need to tell children that an all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent, supernatural being called God knocked up a virgin on Earth and put his seed in her belly. And that seed turned into a magical little baby called Jesus who did so many great things, that even to this day millions of people feel the need to symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood. We need to tell our kids that historical inaccuracies and impossibilities like the parting of seas, talking burning bushes and gigantic boats that carried pairs of the world’s 10 million species during a huge flood are just minor stumbling blocks that can be overcome by saying “Hey, it’s in the bible.”
Frankly, I’d rather make up good-natured stories about a jolly fat man dispensing joy around the world for one night a year than spin yarns about Creationism, severed ribs, people rising from the dead and nuking a whole city just because a few gay people lived there.
But in the end, I don’t see how perpetuating the Santa myth is any worse than spreading the absolute fairytale that is organized religion. At least with Santa there are presents and cookies involved. That beats eating human flesh blood and having to fork over 10 percent of my salary to God any day.
So Merry Christmas. And here’s to the “the truth.”
I’m too tired to write anything coherent, so I’ll take you through a pictorial day in the life of a snowed in Massachusetts resident.
When I woke up, this is what I saw when I attempted to go outside:
After spending 5 minutes shoving on the door and making an opening wide enough to squeeze my fat ass out the door, I spent the next hour shoveling because my condo association takes so damn long to get things done:
Here’s the view off our back deck:
When the shoveling was done, it was time to play. And right now I’d like to take time to thank our godsend Kimberly who just this week found us a hand me down LL Bean snowsuit that fits Will perfectly. See?
What can I say? When you live in the northeast you have to teach them shoveling skills early. But it wasn’t all work, we did have some fun. Here’s my throne fit for a king:
Not to mention Haley the Dumbest Golden Retriever in the World was quite happy with the white stuff. Even if it was over her head:
And how about one more unbelievably cute picture of Cape Cod’s next greatest show snoveler?
Before I leave you with an annoying video of me bragging about my shoveling job and pointing out high snow drifts, I just want to say that I LOVE SNOW! It is one of my favorite things and one of the big reasons I could never live anywhere else but here. Big snowstorms are just great. I wish it was Snowman Snow but alas, it’s the fluffy powder. Oh well. Still very fun.