Dangerous December

Welcome to the first day of December! Time rushes wildly on. I was solemnly considering a closetful of carefully stored Christmas decorations yesterday when I was startled by a sudden knock on the door.
Of course it was our local public service alarmist – Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty.

BSOR: At ease, civilian!

Me: I was at ease before you showed up. Now I’m worried. What’s wrong?

BSOR: I’m simply doing a house-by-house intervention in your neighborhood, reminding people that December is quite hazardous because it is a high gravity month. During a high gravity month, it’s best to stay away from ladders and keep your arms below your head at all times!

Me: I beg your pardon? High gravity? Isn’t gravity the same all the year through?

BSOR: Technically yes! But December combines normal amounts of gravity with high levels of friction loss, high ground hardness and high hanging decorations, inside and out. That’s a potentially lethal combination!

Me: Ah. OK, thanks. I’ll keep it in mind while I’m putting up the tree.

BSOR: Bringing a tree into your house is very, very foolish. There’s a reason trees live outside! All trees fall over eventually. Critters live in them. Trees can catch fire, and they are hit by lightning with surprising regularity! If a strange person had all these qualities, and you discovered he had been living in the forest for most of his life, you would not invite him into your house! And you certainly wouldn’t string lights around him and pile expensive things at his feet. For safety’s sake, do not open your home to a wild tree, and especially not during a high gravity month!

Me: These are cherished traditions and I don’t think we’re going to change anything to please you. Of course it’s always smart to be careful, but I’m going to go ahead practice all my usual December customs in spite of your nervous hovering.

BSOR: Hovering is inherently unstable. I never hover!

Me: Whatever you’re doing, it’s not going to work. Tree trimming, candle lighting and decoration hanging are going to continue around here, all the way down to putting up the holly and the mistletoe.

BSOR: Mistletoe? Mistletoe is one of the most dangerous seasonal health threats! Not only does it promote random, unfettered kissing among certain reckless individuals, but sensible people who are trying to avoid being caught under the mistletoe often wind up in the emergency room with sprained ankles and twisted backs! You might as well hang a loaded gun from the your door frame!

This conversation went on for far too long, and though it got a bit heated at times I felt a definite chill. It might have been the cold efficiency of the safety scolding I was getting from Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty, or it might have been the fact that we were standing there with the door wide open on a day with a high in the mid-30′s.
I think I might be coming down with something!

What holiday tradition are you ready to drop, for safety’s sake?

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83 thoughts on “Dangerous December”

  1. December Greetings! I wish everybody would stop baking sweets and treats for the holidays — I’ve never indulged in that tradition. Mainly for the safety and health of my body. Don’t get me wrong; I love those goodies as much as the next person and understand why people enjoy doing it. Then I hear women moaning about how they just don’t have time to do all that baking and how stressed out they are. Then don’t do it! All that excess sugar and carbs that we don’t need, but feel we have to indulge in is just unnecessary.

    Another reason I don’t do holiday baking is because me in the kitchen is just stressful! Just sign me as …. Baking Scrooge.

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    1. And think how dangerous the kitchen is, Joanne, with those stoves and freezers and microwaves! I think BSOR would caution against all that baking anyway.

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    2. I agree, way too much sweet stuff. I will do my best to eat as much of those goodies as I can to get rid of that unheathy stuff. BSOR will be proud of my efforts to keep others from eating too much of that stuff, although he might not approve of my method. I hope that there will be some cutting back on all of the baking because there is so much that I am having trouble making a significant dent in the supply.

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  2. The safety innovation that means most to me has already been accomplished. I refer to the demise of the Christmas Office Party. Those were not, as you might have heard, drunken revels at which people behaved badly and then had to confront each other afterward still hung over and trying desperately to remember what they had done during the party itself. No . . . the Christmas Office Party was a much wilder and more grotesque celebration that led to unwanted pregnancies, firings, law suits, auto accidents and boorish behavior on a scale that had to be seen to be believed.

    If you don’t know what a 1960s Christmas Office Party was like, you can do some fun research. Rent a copy of “The Apartment” (starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine). That movie is a perfect time capsule for presenting those times, including the office parties exactly as they happened, year after year.

    I never actually experienced one, but I was at my dad’s office the day after one of their Christmas parties.. One of my father’s partners drank enough to think he was a stand-up comedian, so he spent the evening stumbling up and down the table with a mike in his hand, telling bad jokes (none of which he remembered the next day). When I showed up the next day, the other partners were just telling Chuck how much fun he had been (while Chuck held his head and groaned). And he certainly didn’t remember the 45 minutes he’d spent telling Jewish jokes, having apparently forgotten that all six members of the supervisory board were Jewish.

    No . . . that was one Christmas tradition that is dead and deservedly so.

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    1. Rent Mad Men DVD’s. That will also clarify 60′s traditions, including a couple of Christmas party scenes similar to what you are describing.

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      1. i heard he had poeple (little old ladies) come up and hit him with their purse and call him disparaging names for being such a dispicable person from his portrayals of the bad guys and he made the decision not to do that again in his acting carreer.

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      2. The role he plays in “The Apartment” is a brilliant takeoff on his usual roles. He plays the part of a successful businessman who seems to be a pillar of the community but who is really a hypocritical cad who uses people.

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  3. Good morning to all. I agree with BSOR, there are lots of hazards associated with the holidays. I’m afraid it is almost impossible to do anything to reduce these hazards. Too many people expect us to engage in all this hazardous activity. I have stopped getting up on a ladder to put up lights on the house. I do put out some ligjhts at ground level.

    I would like to have simpler meals, reduced gift giving, and reduced tension over planning for family gatherings. Is any of this possible? Probably not. In the past one of my nieghbors put up a big wooden figure of Scrooge with the message “Bah Hum Bug” on it. I thought it was a top notch Christmas decoration, but I guess I would not put it up myself. I will try to remain calm and in good spirits, right?

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  4. st crispins day festivities stopped around here a coupleof years ago when on a cold october afternoon when the head of lettuce we were going to offer up as athe symbol of martyrdon began reciting scripture and begging for extradition to a state of compost friendly reciprosity.
    trees and stringing lights and lighting candles and such are such odd traditions that i had never really thought about them. you just celebrate them dont you? we are not goin out of twon this year gfor christams (usually florida) and my girls are very excited to have the option of a tree in the festivities. we haven;t had one for years. so if officer rafferty comes by here he willl have to do his inspection to the smell on pine boughs and the incipid implications of the missletoe.

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  5. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I’m having a foggy morning and can’t think of anything yet. I already gave up the real pine tree (allergic), the tinsel (the cat used to eat it and it was a lot of work), the Christmas party (Steve’s reasons apply), so the big dangers are addressed.

    BSOR, I find you so irritating. You remind me of an overprotective, overachieving suburban parent with no “off switch.”

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    1. i do miss the bathtub dancing that my children used to do to the little potato and dancing with bears and i feel good , day-o and bop til you drop, back in the day when officer rafferty had a radio audience to blather on to. he always reminded mu of mc gruff the crime dog. jimed poole repalys going on in my head one more time

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      1. jim ed reminds me of chicken imitations and that lead me to the muppets. did you know that chickens are the only animals onthe muppets that don’t talk. they only sing bwok bwok bwok. great movie

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  6. I suppose that we should give up making lefse. Think of all the flour that a person inhales while rolling it out. Traveling to family gatherings should also be scrapped. Think of the bad roads and bad weather you could encounter. I won’t even comment on candle light Christmas Eve services where everybody lights and holds an actual candle. I suppose I should give up playing in the handbell quartet for Christmas Eve since I have to play two bells in both hands and I could get carpal tunnel from it.

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      1. Playing one bell while the other remains mute and doing something else with the other hand is exactly what handbell ringing is about. It gets very complicated.

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      2. Ooooh, but I love handbells — it is so beautiful when done well. You are so talented, Renee! Just wear a wrist brace so BSOR won’t come by to scold you.

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  7. i picked up the judds christmas album at goodwill and it is wonderful if you need a little nudge in the right direction.
    hey mike pengra play me a little judds or how about john fayhe, does luudon wainwright have any christmas tributes ill bet his brain and bsor would be in sync.

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  8. Morning–
    As a kid I was nosy and curious enough at Christmas that a few times I peeled the paper off the end of a present to see what it was. Or snooped around in Mom and Dad’s bedroom to find the presents before they were wrapped. And then I had to lock myself in the bathroom to prove I hadn’t really done it when confronted.
    I’m glad to have given that up.

    A half-inch of snow here; drive carefully out there.

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    1. Ben, just enough here for my good buddy Rafferty to tell me not to bike outdoors.
      When it comes to the accoutrements of this season, I have long been of the opinion that is overdone from every point of view, financial, aesthetic, emotional, caloric . . .
      But I get outvoted.

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    2. Blame the snow on husband. His brand new snowblower arrived yesterday. When he had it all put together he proclaimed: “Let it snow!” This morning I asked if he was going to try out the snowblower and he responded sadly: “I prayed for snow, but He barely heard me. Apparently I need to be more specific about the amount of snow I want.”

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  9. I like the family gatherings and the decorating, and I can’t bake so I don’t get hooked by anything requiring flour. id like to dump the guilt I feel deleting people who didn’t send me a card/email seasonal greeting. I go to great lengths leaving them on “my” list for one more year. I e ensent a self- addressed reiten envelope to a long time friend to send me a card…nada, nothing.

    It’s my problem but I always give friends a second, third…yes I’m a fool, chance .

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    1. Clyde’s Rule of Christmas Cards:
      1. people whose lives I know well, send a letter full of the details I know well.
      2. people I miss and would like to hear about just sign their names.

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    2. I’m with you on dumping the guilt, Sue! I’m dumping quite a few this year and I refuse to feel bad about it.

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    3. to save the stmp or the feeling of being left out.? id be willing to bet they dont do anyone. its not jsut you. ilove hearing and cant always get my act togetehr enough to get it out. my friends laugh know im a aslug and thell me to get with it and mail it next year. i love sneding em but i am a procrastinator extriodinaire. send it .tel them to send you a note to be deleted form the list hand written

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  10. I’m glad it’s finally December. It looks like December, it feels like December – bring it on!

    We’ve given up doing the lights on the upper dormer, the roof is pretty steep… BSOR would still probably not approve of our porch roofline lights, but oh well.

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  11. I would definitely give up shopping for safety’s sake. Danger from being pushed by other shoppers, the danger of getting frostbite from walking so far to the store because there’s no parking (or frostbite while waiting for the bus), the danger of mental confusion because of all the consumer goods being displayed…and the danger to my wallet.

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  12. hi there – we’ve already given up almost everything that has to do with the holidays – certainly the shopping (but i do have fond memories of the day after TG, when there were no “black friday” early openings, spent mostly in Dayton’s and enjoying a lunch in the Skyroom and finding all kinds of fun things to give for gifts.)
    but i can’t give up the lights. have some on the Girls’ barn, on a little tree outside, and strung across the front window. love those lights.
    practically NO snow here. i worry for next year’s hay crop.
    happy day, All
    Steve, good to see you typing at length – hope that means a relatively pain-free day for you!

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  13. We really don’t have many holiday traditions right now. Actually, we just got a small fake tree and a bunch of decorations from my folks. They don’t ~appear~ to be terribly dangerous but, as BSO Rafferty would say, EVERYTHING can be dangerous. We are going to partake of my nephew’s grand tradition of the annual watching of the He-Man/She-Ra Christmas Special. Why, yes, there will be drinking involved…how did you guess?

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  14. The one truly hazardous Christmas tradition we had, we gave up years ago: Live candles on a real tree! None of these plugged in electric lights for us. Perhaps that tradition makes sense in Denmark where December is more dark, wet and gloomy than here, but not nearly as cold. Besides, in Denmark the Christmas tree is usually not set up until December 23rd (and taken down again on January 6th), so the tree doesn’t have the ample time to dry and become a very real fire hazard.

    I’ve always loved Christmas and the smell of a fresh tree, but with a new kitten in the house, I think I’ll forego the tree this year, as she’s sure to want to climb it. Husband couldn’t care less, one way or the other, so I’m not even going to consult with him on that. That’s OK, I’ve got three Amaryllis bulbs starting to grow,and two large Poinsettias to liven things up a bit.

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    1. I have a friend who does this. She lives in a very small, old cabin on the shore of Jefferson Lake. She burns wood for heat. She keeps her two trees up from Thanksgiving to the second week of January. She hates to waste the candles so she burns them down as far as she can. I’m absolutely terrified when she has her holiday dinners (her cooking is wonderful, though!)

      mn firefly: what is said on the Trail, stays on the Trail! ;)

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      1. Krista you might appreciate this. My cabin is near the town of Cornucopia, which is called “Cornie” by its inhabitants. Total town population is about 200, and that’s counting a lot of farmers and backwoods bums who aren’t in town.

        In my little town, the saying is, “What happens in Cornie . . . is ALL OVER Cornie almost immediately!”

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  15. Dale, are you going to show us the photo TGITH submitted yesterday? Or is it too dangerous?

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  16. I’ve probably mentioned this last year, but for anyone feeling overwhelmed with it all, there’s a good book called Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season by Jo Robinson and Jean C. Staeheli. Of course, if you were overwhelmed with it all, when would you have time to read this book??

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    1. read it in january when what you don’t like about your celebration is fresh in your mind…then the trick is to remember what you want to do until it’s time to implement changes.

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  17. i forgot the time-honored tradition of the “flipping of the flan” – wouldn’t give that up for anything. if my brother isn’t here, i call him to chat while i flip. his friend Beaudreau began the tradition and we are continuing it. besides, goats’ milk/cajeta flan is deee-lish. :-)

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  18. Last couple of years I have added an occasional “try to light the kitchen on fire” tradition to the annual making of the krumkake. I think it’s somehow related to my current stove as I had no such problems in prior kitchens and with the prior stove at the current house. Not sure why that is – maybe the stove is slightly off level, maybe it’s air currents in the kitchen. Frankly, given the amount of butter in krumkake (pounds) and the fact that I choose to make my krumkake on a gas stove with stove-top irons, it seems almost inevitable that some of that lovely butter fat will drip off the irons into the open gas flame. Thankfully, I keep my baking soda directly above the stove, which does a dandy job of dousing the flames (though it does make a mess). Regardless of what BSOR might say, I will continue this tradition – the possibility of fire just adds to the excitement. :)

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  19. When I read the conversation between Dale and BSO Rafferty, I can hear Dale and Jim Ed’s voices in my mind. I can hear Dale saying, “Ah. OK, thanks. I’ll keep it in mind while I’m putting up the tree.”

    Honestly, I’d give the whole thing up if it was possible. I used to love it but now I only find it stressful, fattening and depressing. I don’t have much family and we only celebrate on Christmas Eve. If I had to give up only one aspect of it though, it would have to be the consumerism. After years of begging my family to do away with our custom of buying each other hundreds of dollars worth of gifts that no one even likes, they’re finally accepting a sort of white elephant gift exchange with lots of rules, exclusions and limitations. The old practice was hazardous to my budget and my emotional well-being. The new practice is more fun and costs much less.

    My brother has a welcome mat at his front door that says, “Go away.” I hope he gives it to me. Priceless. Where do I get one of those Scrooge lawn decorations, Jim?

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      1. 3 more items, tim?
        Well, there is the classic Jacob Marley door knocker, and I can definitely picture a scrolling ribbon with Bah, Humbug in a Dickensian font (no, have no idea which one that would be, but I will know it when I see it) to hang upon your front door.-I’ve got nothing for the 3rd one, but shall let you know tomorrow if the ghosts visit me tonight and clue me in.

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    1. Krista – coming from a large family, we did away with presents 2 decades ago. Plus, we’re a bunch of cheap, German Catholics. We do an ornament exchange and a white elephant exchange. There’s a only a couple basic rules for the WE exchange. 1) You cannot buy anything. 2) It has to be something in your house. 3) Preferably something you can’t believe anybody designed or paid good money for. The WE exchange is the highlight of our Christmas gathering because it’s absolutely hysterical. All gifts are wrapped and each person participating picks a number. First one chooses a gift and opens it. Second person can either pick another gift, or steal the first person’s gift — in which case person 1 picks another gift. And so it continues. It gets wild when there’s 2-4 actual good things that people want to steal, so they try to hide it. Or you get something truly hideous and try to hawk it off on the person choosing their gift to open. If you leave your WE gift at the host’s house, they will MAIL IT TO YOU.
      We’ve even threatened family members who don’t come that they will receive ALL the WE gifts. All in good fun of course. Usually, the aunts will buys gifts for the small kids, or we hand out homemade gifts. Much more fun and it’s a way to re-gift some of those items in your house that you can easily part with.

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  20. Ice-I am willing to give up ice in all forms and in all locations over the extended holiday season. Support friction fight ice!

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  21. OT again I know some of you are following the unfolding story of the family visit that didn’t happen. My daughter just was released from the ER where she had two infected ears, a burst ear drum and other problems. It was so good she didn’t try to rise above the pain and come here!

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    1. I can imagine what landing would’ve felt like for her with the ear infection going on. I made the mistake of flying with something like that once, and it took about three days to get my normal hearing back.

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    2. oh my! I have not been following closely enough, I guess.
      I’ve been on a plane with a sinus infection and that was plenty bad-can’t imagine and ear infection (and a squirmy 2-year-old in tow to boot).

      Thank goodness she made the right choice.

      Good wishes for a speedy recovery and no one else in the family catching this nasty bug!

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  22. Hi folks… a few years ago we gave up driving to Michigan for Christmas. This decision was made after (1.)having to stay in a motel on the way due to whiteout conditions near Beloit WI and (2.)on the way back traveling I-90 between LaCrosse and Rochester at 30mph on glare ice with fog.
    All of us said NEVER AGAIN!! We’re just back from Thanksgiving/Christmas in MI and the roads were perfect.

    uh, re: my name was mentioned on the trail yesterday. The cheesecake needs to be gluten free for me.

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    1. We have done this too. We sing in choirs and prepare a Christmas buffet for after one of the Christmas Eve services at our church. We send no cards and do very few gifts. We do love our tree and lights and all of that, but after we have “done” Christmas for everyone else, we tool over to a friend’s apartment to admire her tree, eat the buffet leftovers and whatever other goodies we have laid in for ourselves and sit before the holiday yule log and treat it like a Rorschach. We are all just thrilled to bits to have one day which has no activities or expectations in it.

      We may be deprived of that if what I overheard at Thanksgiving comes to pass-seems there are people who think they need to travel in our direction for the holidays-Will no one heed the advice of BSOR?!?!?!!?

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  23. For safety’s sake, I was long ago willing to give up on fruitcake. I can’t believe no one volunteered that already. Those fluorescent pieces of what they say is “fruit” alway make me worry that they continue glowing on the inside…

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    1. Oh, the poor maligned fruitcake. The food coloring in the glacé cherries is, I will acknowledge, a little lurid, but it does look festive, and glacé cherries would be pale and ghostly without it. The cake itself can be awful if mass-produced, but in the hands of a good baker who knows how to take it easy on the citron, it is delectable. Especially when flavored with a little rum or brandy. Fruitcake and coffee for breakfast the day after Christmas. I would not let BSOR take that away from me.

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      1. All of this talk about fruitcake reminded me that I still had a little chunk of last year’s cake left. I’m savoring that as I write this. Yum. This year’s should be ready in a week or so.

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      1. Well, Clyde, you’re obviously not right about that. Sound like Linda likes fruit cake, and so do I. But I agree with Linda, it has to be well made, and when it is, it’s a marvel. I’ll admit that most store-bought fruit cake doesn’t pass muster, although Collins Street Bakery make a good one. Good fruit cake is expensive to make, but worth every penny of it.

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    2. I agree about the kind of fruitcake that can be used as a doorstop. I’m lucky my mom has a recipe for a Brazil Nutcake – very little fruit, not even that much batter, lots of Brazil nuts. Yum.

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      1. Oh, mine could definitely be used as a doorstop, it’s that heavy. But the heaviness comes from top quality fruit that has been soaked in brandy for several days before it’s incorporated into the cake. If I had enough to share, I’m sure I’d make converts out of baboons skeptical about fruitcake’s merit. But I’m smart enough to know that your disparaging remarks are just a ploy to get me to share. Nice try you guys, but no fruitcake.

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