31 December 2016

How I (inadvertently) ruined our family Christmas photos

It's New Year's Eve, a.k.a. Amateur Night and I'm doing what I do every year... staying home where it's safe and quiet. It's as good a time as any to relate a 2016 Christmas story.

Christmas Eve night, Honey wants to open Christmas gifts, so we do.

Although I was never a huge fan of Christmas, it's different when you have a kid. I think I was 14 or 15 when I announced to my family that I was opting out of Christmas and its blatant commercialization. In the almost 50 years since, I've given in exactly twice during previous unhealthy relationships and exhibited a dead decorated tree in the house. That won't happen again, though I do smile when I remember that the cats loved the trees so much I had to wire them to the wall to keep them upright.

Vietnam is NOT a place where you'll find a large percentage of native Christians despite the Catholics giving it their best shot, BUT the Vietnamese people LOVE a good party, especially where there are gifts, AND the young children I know (including Honey) fervently believe in the large bearded red elf who brings presents. So much so that he did manage to find my house this year so Honey also got to open presents on Christmas Day.

Back to Christmas Eve...

After opening the gifts (oh boy, more cologne!) and in keeping with the photo-happy culture of Vietnam, we pose for photos both with and without the gifts. First Honey takes a couple photos of ViLa and me, and then ViLa takes a few of Honey and me. Why I didn't take photos of ViLa and Honey, I don't remember, but I'm guessing my leg was hurting (still on crutches) and I didn't offer.

When I am home, I wear t-shirts. I stocked up on t-shirts before I moved here because I knew that finding any shirt in Vietnam that would fit my 48" chest would be very difficult. My collection of 40+ includes t-shirts from a couple of my bungee jumps, the temples at Angkor Wat and other places I've visited on three continents, the Salish Sea Mini Cooper Club (that I helped found), various motorcycle brands and events, a few left over from my firefighter days, and even a few unadorned. At least 8 of them have sayings that are, most who know me will tell you, fitting to my outlook, temperament, thought process, and/or attitude... i.e. "smart ass".

For example:

As you can see from the condition of the lettering, I wear them a lot, though I try to avoid wearing the last one if I'm going to see a doctor... in the west.

The photos from Christmas Eve were all on ViLa's phone, so I didn't bother to look at them until a bit later—as she was getting ready to post them on Facebook. I had to stop her.

Take a look at this cropped, anonymized, and enlarged photo and see if you can guess why I stopped ViLa from posting it unedited:

How's that for an inappropriate Christmas message?


Though some of you who've known me for a long time might doubt it, this was NOT intentional! Really!!!

Here's the full Christmas photo inappropriate saying:

Perfectly harmless, clever, true, usually worth a smile, and completely inappropriate for family Christmas photos. It wasn't intentional, it was just the t-shirt of the day and it ruined the photos (for me and for unedited publication, even on FB).

If you're wondering why it's anonymized (yes, that is a word), I don't trust the Internet to leave the photo just on this blog and can only imagine what the trolls might do with it. Now, I don't care. It's "notme" wearing both the shirt and the festive headwear.

Next year I promise to wear a shirt with a collar for the family Christmas photos.


ViLa, Honey, and I all wish you a Very Happy and Healthy New Year!


  1. Bears. Bears will definitely kill you.

  2. After thinking about this a bit, I could've Photoshopped out the lettering... but then I wouldn't have had this story :-)