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Christmas brings both anxiety, merriment
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Are you sweating red and green bullets yet?

Looking for a little something extra to put in your eggnog. Maybe just a smidge to settle the nerves?

What about the prospect of getting warmed-up while your car does the same as you equate going shopping in a mall with a root canal?

Christmas anxiety is completely normal in my book. Life experiences don’t often mirror what you see on the Hallmark Channel during December.

Memories of my late father, no stranger to a bottle of booze whether it be Christmas, Thanksgiving, a birthday, or even losing another job, handled holiday stress by tossing more than a few back then falling asleep in his favorite chair.

He let Mom handle all the shopping while he babysat us three boys. I’m pretty sure DFACS wouldn’t have appreciated his version of childcare, which involved mischief, mayhem and us concocting “cocktails” he could drink once he came to. Think syrup, soy sauce and anything else we could add to the mix. It was a chance to put our chemistry sets to good use.

Then, picture vodka in his bottle getting replaced by tap water and we knew to head for a neighbors’ house. Things always went south, and his reaction to his doctored drink was louder than any Santa’s “ho-ho-ho.”

We also made good use of those art supplies we got one year. A little red paint dabbed oh so carefully on a snoring adult was better than any cartoon we could watch on TV. Dad coming to, a mirror in his hand, while his three angels did jumping jacks and sang about their favorite red-nosed reindeer was met by a war-whoop that would have made a Comanche chief proud.

So we here at Casa Tasos have always tried to make Christmas special, making sure there was time for the story of Jesus’ birth getting more airplay than Santa. We’ll be at 6 p.m. mass on Christmas Eve, as we’ve done for many years now. I’m actually looking forward to getting immersed in the trials and tribulations of incredible traffic snarls, a packed church (and gym) and a peaceful, relaxing time for worship.

It was always a challenge to get Chris and Greg to bed. Too much excitement and anticipation.

Mom and Dad bided our time, then scrambled like mad, assembling and wrapping gifts, placing them under the tree, scattering the veggies that the boys insisted Santa’s reindeer would need. Then blessedly, we could hit the hay.

Those frantic days are long gone. Now, it’s much easier: Gift cards so they can buy what they want. A few small packages and a day filled watching the “Christmas Story” marathon and a few Three Stooges episodes will make for a marvelous day.

Not wanting Vicki to be a slave to the kitchen, I’m trying to adopt what my Jewish friends do on Christmas Day in the Northeast. I’m trying to sell the concept of having Chinese food. I’ve heard it’s nearly impossible to get a table at a Chinese restaurant up north on Christmas.

It seems like we just had turkey. And I promise I’ll put a prime rib on the Traegar for New Years. It’ll go great with those black-eyed peas.
Before we get to that point, you might be worrying about tidying up that Christmas list. If your gift idea well has dried up, fear not, I’m here to help:

-There’s a Bakersfield, California. business you should consider, especially when you read the name: My Husband’s Nuts. Get your mind out of the gutter. It’s not that kind of website.

Started by Jennifer Rogers-Etcheverry (her husband Mark is an almond farmer, thus the name) as a means of combatting fluctuations in the almond market, she has built quite a national following.

Check out the website and prepare to entertained and amazed of an entrepreneur who uncovered and captured an unfulfilled market segment. We’ve all heard about those quirky, California nuts. It doesn’t apply here.

A catchy name, an awesome product and speaking with someone as personable and enthusiastic as Jennifer inspired me to buy gift baskets for my sales team.

It was easy, pleasant and best of all, no nasty mall traffic.

-If you know a true fan of country music the way it used to (and should) be, give Shane Owens’ “Where I’m Comin’ From” CD.

For you who think George Jones, Merle Haggard, George Strait and Randy Travis are a pretty formidable Fab Four, then you will love this CD.

Check out, iTunes or Amazon and prepare to be amazed at a phenomenal story of tenacity.

Battered by Nashville adversity, Shane has emerged from what could have been a broken dream to give us something special. After speaking with him, I was amazed at how genuine he is. He had spent much of the week giving free Christmas shows to rural Alabama schools, something he has done for many years.

I told him I’d love to see one of his shows if he ever comes to Georgia.

“Make sure you say ‘hi’ so I can give you a hug and squeeze your neck,” he said.

Try getting that out of Kanye West.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

Mike Tasos’ column is published every other Sunday. He’s still avoided malls and hopes he still gets to read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” next Saturday night. And no one will get a chance to paint his nose. Comments can be sent to