Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ugly Christmas Ornament Contest

After a pleasant Thanksgiving and some quality family time, I'm all in on the Christmas Spirit thing. Every first Thursday of December I kick things off with a romp downtown for the day with these people. We call it Christmaspolooza.

These beautiful humans made up my former team at ATT. Back in the day, I declared a Thursday in the latter half of December as "Team Meeting Day." Everyone put an out-of-office message on email and voicemail, all meetings were cancelled or moved to another day, and we strategized as a team for the upcoming year.

That's code for day-drinking ourselves silly. We'd meet in OakBrook to start out with a nice lunch and some cocktails, then when the server started giving us the stink-eye we'd close out the tab and move to a different bar.  Eventually our lunch would wear off, so we'd order appetizers and maybe even move to a third bar in order to avoid judgy glares from those around us. In all fairness, we would spend the final three hours sobering up on water and coffee for the drive home. And through it all? We talked. We talked and talked and talked. We caught up on current workplace strife, family and friend drama, life events, politics, religion, sex - you know, all the inappropriate topics one should avoid in social situations.

And now it's even better, because Tim hosts at his house so we don't have to wear nice clothes. Or shoes. We all agree - it's one of our most favorite days of the year. And that's saying something, because we all really like our families. When friends can come in a close second like that? It's golden.
Tim lives in the city and bought his place a few years ago. The first year he hosted, he requested we bring the ugliest Christmas ornaments we could find to help him decorate his tree. What started as a twisted, humorous way to decorate Tim's tree in his new home quickly became something we all look forward to with great anticipation. And since we possess backgrounds in sales, there's a bit of a competitive streak that may border on an unhealthy obsession to win.

Last year a few nights before the gathering, Heidi texted us a cryptic pic of her entry for the competition.
It looked...hairy. And round. You can imagine the adult humor guessing game that ensued.

"Mine beats that," I replied over text, despite the fact that I didn't even have my ornament yet, Heidi's   image motivated my imagination. Inspired by an ornament that graces my own tree every year...
...I decided to make Rudolph even more realistic by replacing the green body with one more true to his real colors.

The day before our party was Mr. Musky's birthday. I had a full day ahead of me, as he requested a special dinner which would take some time to make, and Mission Create Ugly Ornament would absorb a fair amount of effort. I still managed to squeeze in a quick walk in Naperville though.

I'd been on a bit of a walking kick, and I was always so surprised at how many people don't clean up after their pets in our local parks. It's rather disturbing and annoying; I mean, if you can go to the trouble of buying a dog, take him to a walking path for exercise, presumably buy him quality dog food and pay vet bills and pat his head, then can't you bend over at the waist with a baggie around your hand and pick up his shit?

Apparently not. Because I saw so much dog poop that week, it was the first thing that entered my mind when conjuring "ugly Christmas ornament."

I have issues. Very deeply seeded, disturbing issues, people. Acknowlegement is the first step, yes?

Anyway, with a couple of ziplock baggies in tow, I set off along the path. Knowing I'd walk at least two miles on a five mile plus loop, I'd be retracing my steps and could mentally mark out the best contestants.

I wanted something slightly fresh, but with minimal smell. Not too dried out, because of hook and pipe cleaner insertion and all. Something shaped appropriately - it needed to resemble a reindeer's head, after all. I giggled to myself all the while scoping out the piles of dogshit along my walk.

On the way back, I furtively glanced around before bending over and selecting several pieces of prime poo in a double lined ziplock baggie.

With Jack Johnson radio crooning in my ears, I ambled along, my left pocket bulging a bit, four contenders zippered safely in place. I threw them on the floor of the car and continued on with my errands.

Upon arriving home I quickly got to work. I engaged the sealant power of Modge Podge - I knew that magical stuff would petrify the poop to a desirable state. What I didn't account for is the difficulty using glue to attach a shiny red nose and a couple googley eyes. Day old poop + glue does not a simple craft make, for all you wondering out there.

**FOR THE RECORD!** I did not handle the poop with my bare hands. Mr. Musky (aka clean freakazoid) bought a box of plastic gloves to wear when he rubs meat before grilling it. So I donned a pair for my surgical procedures to transform the poop to the ugliest Christmas tree ornament you've ever seen.

Jake arrived home first. By then, the first iteration of Poopdolph was drying outside, despite the chilly, damp air. I told him I had the winning ornament, and did he want to see it? 

"Oh yeah. Mom, if you really did it...if you have a penis for an ornament, you're my personal hero."

"Nope. It's better."

One look at that sucker, and he engaged his gag reflux. 

"Why? WHY, Mom? What is WRONG with you? Wait. Who's poop is that?"
"Well not mine, naturally. It's a dog's poop."
"Which dog's?"
"I don't know."
He gawked, convinced I was certifiable. Hasn't anyone ever heard of WINNING before?

Anyway, at this point time was crunching down. Poopdolph's eyes were sliding off to the side, his hook kept popping out and one of his antlers fell forward. He needed help.

Our new oven has a lot of nifty settings on it to distribute the heat perfectly for certain cooking operations. The proof setting creates a perfect environment for rising homemade dough. The pizza setting renders a crispy crust while slightly browning the cheese. Convection roast results in ideal vegetables - caramelized on the outside yet fully cooked with just the right amount of "bite" on the inside.

And as it turns out, the dehydration setting will dry out the most stubborn piece of shit to perfection.

Now hang on a tic, and give me some credit. I'll have you know that:
1. The poop didn't smell. Truly. One of the pieces did, but it's not the one I used. The winning piece came from a clean, healthy dogger.
2. The ornament rested on a piece of aluminum foil so no components ever came into contact with any part of our food, and 
3. I wanted to win, dammit. I so wanted to win.

So imagine my beloved's surprise, on his birthday, when he wondered what was baking in the oven and he opened the door to take a peek at...his birthday cake?


Some french bread to accompany his seafood pasta alfredo that night?


An ornament. An ornament constructed out of a piece of dog's poo.


I just giggled. "But I'm going to win. I guaran freaking tee it."

Let's first review the inaugural ugly ornaments:
Winner? My scary Jesus-looking wooden cross. It's just all over wrong, and while I tried to initiate a bit of the real meaning of Christmas on Tim's tree, it's frightfully phallic insinuations won top prize in 2014.

Last year he first revealed the true identity of Heidi's hairy, black, schweddy balls. As it turns out, the abhorrent pink poodle from the previous year needed a companion, so her black friend now joins her on Tim's tree.
Second up - Ann's ornament.
An oil rig. Which is fairly ugly. Who decides to put an oil rig on a Christmas tree? Love you, Texas, but I just can't.

Clearly, neither of these are in the same league as Poopdolfph. Ever the compassionate and thoughtful friend, I handed Tim a pair of gloves before opening my gift.
 He was terrified.
I mean, the dude was downright petrified to open the tissue paper.
I encouraged him... no avail. In the end, I handled Poopdolph myself and hung him on Tim's tree. Near the back. By himself. All alone.
I won in a landslide of votes on Facebook and Instagram. But it turns out that the joke was on me. Because per the host, the winner had to don a very unfortunate contribution to the world of fashion.
The Genie Slimjeggings. And no - you will NOT see a picture of me stuffed into that sorry excuse for pants because it would burn your eyes right out of their sockets.

This is so much fun. I can't wait to see what this year brings. I know it will be outrageous and hysterical. Tune in to Facebook and Instagram to vote for your favorite ugly ornament later today. I can guarantee mine won't include feces this year based on the chastisement I still receive. Days ago the host incorporated a restriction into this year's festivities. He calls it The Czupek Rule: "Organic (both human and animal) compounds are not eligible to participate moving forward."

What a party pooper. Heh Heh. Sadly, Poopdolph won't be gracing Tim's tree this year - he didn't make the cut when it came to putting ornaments away in storage.

That's ok. I've got one that I'm convinced will win again.

Cheers, people. I'm hopeful you won't think less of me after hearing my truth, but let's face it. Poop is funny in any form, to both toddlers and mature adults.  


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