Secondly, thank you for all your thoughts, opinions and suggestions regarding the little boy who rides home from school completely unrestrained and in the front seat. I did call the police via their non-emergency number and spoke to an officer. I was told that they cannot do anything unless I am reporting this occurring as it is happening. She said I'd have to see it happen, call 911 and have them send an officer. I explained that if I did that, the family would be well inside their house before an officer would be able to arrive. Not to mention I'm not entirely comfortable with the whole prospect of reporting it via 911 like that. So, I went to plan B - I spoke with the principal at the elementary school today. She is going to speak with the school's social worker and said she will also send home with every student a reminder about car riding safety, especially now given the start of our bad, winter weather season. (Considering that I skidded a slight bit going about 3 miles an hour around the bend up the road from my house in the snow-on-ice conditions we have right now, she's not kidding about the "bad" weather!) So, hopefully this situation will be adequately addressed and the little boy's parents will take better precautions in buckling him in safely in the back seat from now on. If the principal or any other school personnel witness it, they'd have to report it to CPS. I hope it doesn't come to that, but that the child is kept safe. Isn't that one of the greatest parental responsibilities we have? To keep our children safe?
In other child-related news, tonight is the night of the big Chuck E Cheese birthday party. All the kids were bouncing around the classroom this morning and the room was buzzing with excitement about the upcoming event. I think I may take a nap beforehand, so I am fully charged up before we head over there... I'll let you know how it all goes either later tonight or tomorrow!
Now, on to the first part of the title of this post. The Worst. Christmas. Song. EVER. While there certainly are a number of worthy contenders for this most dubious honor, in my humble opinion the worst of the worst is The Christmas Shoes. According to Wikipedia,
"In Tom Reynolds 2006 book I Hate Myself and Want to Die: The 52 Most Depressing Songs You've Ever Heard, he names "The Christmas Shoes" as the most depressing song in modern recorded music history."I can most certainly agree with that assessment! Seriously, have you ever actually listened to the lyrics of this song?
I want to buy these shoes
for my Mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight
Oh my goodness gracious. I mean, not every Christmas song needs to be an upbeat and festive ditty about hauling out the holly, sleigh riding with jingle bells through a winter wonderland and rocking around the Christmas tree, nor does it need to be solely religiously based, like the coming of either all ye faithful or Emmanuel upon a midnight clear to a little town of Bethlehem away in a manger on a silent and holy night. But really? A little boy wearing clothes that "were worn and old" who was "dirty from head to toe" and who was counting "out pennies for what seemed like years" only to not come up with enough to buy his dying mother a pair of fancy shoes on Christmas Eve? Shoot me now, that is just too, too depressing. Depressing, treacly and manipulative. It's such a downer and so over the top that by the time the children's choir chimes in towards the end, I am ready to simultaneously weep, retch and throw myself under a bus. Oy.
To me, The Christmas Shoes goes far beyond the mere annoyance levels of songs like Feliz Navidad or novelty ditties which only are bearable when they are, in fact, "novel" (and the dictionary's definition of novelty is: "whose value is chiefly decorative, comic, or the like and whose appeal is often transitory"). So, yeah, I'll grant you that hearing Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer or the Chipmunks' Christmas Song too many times in a limited time frame can be too much, but The Christmas Shoes is just way too much. It is an immediate "turn the radio knob" thing for me, and I cringe if I'm somewhere where I don't have the power to block it out or switch it off, like a store or elevator (or is it the tenth circle of Hell?). When I hopped in the car at school this morning, I switched on the radio and heard just enough of that dreaded song to make me dig out my iPod posthaste for a little dreck-free holiday music instead. *shudder*
So what do you think, dear readers? Am I wrong? Does anyone care to defend the wretched Christmas Shoes? What is the worst Christmas song ever in your opinion? While we're at it, what's your favorite holiday song (or songs, if you can't narrow it down to just one)?
Speaking of you, dear blog readers o' mine, there's been a bit of discussion on the interwebz about comment etiquette. Preston and Andy have both touched on the topic recently on their respective blogs, and now I'm worrying that you all find me a rude blogger for not responding to you in my comments section... I know I don't always respond to every comment left on my blog via email either (though I try not to feel too bummed if the reason I can't respond is because the comment is left with a "noreply@blogger" instead of an actual email address), but please know that I'm not not responding because I don't love or appreciate your comments, I swear! I am a comment junkie up there with the best of them, and I do *heart* each and every one of you who responds to my posts!!
I am going to leave you with a recipe that I made last night. It is total comfort food and there's nothing better on a blustery, snowy night. This recipe is originally my mother's and I have been making it ever since I was old enough to have my own kitchen. I made it for my roommates in college - they loved it. I first made it for Hubby back when he was just Boyfriend and he loves it too. It is so yummy, although admittedly so not health food. (If you're one of those people who thinks healthy food, like celery sticks with a spritz of lemon juice, makes good comfort food, then just stop reading now. You won't like a thing to do with this recipe.)
Now, my mother's recipe is actually a variation on Shepherd's Pie. Growing up, we referred to this dish as Hamburger Pot Pie, and I've continued that tradition. Over the years, I've occasionally tried to "health" it up a bit, with various substitutions or even just to make it more "grown-up" than it is. It never comes out as good as the original recipe, so I've given up and now I make it just like my mom did thirty years ago. It is easy, not too time consuming, and a total one-dish meal. The leftovers (if there are any) honestly do taste even better the second night. (Holla, Kiki!) Here it is:
Hamburger Pot Pie
ready-made pie crust
1 lb ground beef (I do buy the leanest ground beef I can find...)
1 can Campbell's condensed Vegetarian Vegetable Alphabet soup
instant mashed potatoes
your favorite cheese, grated
Prepare pie shell according to package instructions (you know, poke full of holes with a fork and bake, let cool). Brown the ground beef and drain. (I toss a little garlic powder and some Italian herb seasoning in with it if I'm feeling really wild and crazy.) Add the can of soup, straight - DO NOT add any water to it - to the ground beef, then add a few generous squirts of ketchup (maybe 4 or 5 tablespoons - I just give the bottle two or three generous squiiiiiiiiirts) and mix. Cover skillet and let stand while you mix up the instant mashed potatoes (I usually make up the largest amount - the one that calls for two cups of water and two cups of potato flakes). Pour the hamburger mixture into the pie shell. Cover with the mashed potatoes. Generously sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of the mashed potatoes and stick pie in the oven until the cheese is melted. Enjoy!!!
Now, if you are the kind of person who doesn't normally have instant mashed potatoes in your pantry because you only mash your own from organic sweet potatoes with perhaps a dash of ginger, this is not your kind of recipe. If your thoughts when I said "favorite kind of cheese" ran more to Gruyere or Jarlsburg or perhaps Vacherin Fribourgeois than to Cheddar or American, this is probably not your kind of recipe either. (My mom used to make this with extra-sharp Cheddar taken from a brick of cheese and sliced or grated by hand, I am a far lazier chef and buy the pre-shredded bags of cheese, and tend to use the Cheddar-Monterey Jack blend myself.) If you don't eat ground beef, do not, I repeat DO NOT attempt this recipe with any sort of substitution. It does not taste the same with ground turkey or any vegetarian meat substitute, sorry. Like I said, I've tried making a more adult version of this - substituting the ABC soup and ketchup for tomato paste, mixed veggies and orzo and swapping the cheddar cheese blend for mozzarella, but it just isn't as good. Nope, this is a tried-and-true, classic comfort food kind of a meal. Also exactly what I'll be having for dinner in leftover form tonight. Mmmmmm. (Have to have the leftovers tonight as I bought a pot roast at the butcher shop yesterday and I want to make that tomorrow.)
Oh, and speaking of the pot roast, I need to pick up some red wine for the recipe, so I thought I'd be all efficient and swing by the liquor store on my way home from Kiddo's school this morning, as there is a liquor store between there and here. Turns out that liquor stores aren't open before nine in the morning - who knew? Not me! Clearly I don't drink nearly enough to have this information! We only buy wine if we are having company over and/or if someone gives us a bottle, so whenever I have a recipe that requires wine (usually either pot roast or chicken French), I have to hit a liquor store for one of those teeny-tiny bottles that are only good if you're cooking or the sort of person who drinks in public out of a brown paper bag. So anyhow, now I have to head back out in the increasingly nasty weather on the increasingly slippery, messy roads and get my tiny paper bag of wine. Woot. Hopefully the store isn't playing The Christmas Shoes or I may be inspired to switch from Category A of tiny wine bottle purchaser to Category B!