EST. May 2000 (AD)


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The Twelve Minutes of Christmas

By Elizabeth Hanes

Who has time for holidays anymore? And even if you did have time, would you really want to spend it with your surly children? Your alcoholic in-laws? Your toad of a husband?

Unfortunately, social mores still dictate that we do "something" for the holidays. But this needn't mean you must spend weeks, or even days, performing the traditional rituals of the season. In fact, in just twelve minutes, quicker than you can say "Merry Christmas!", you can have the whole season wrapped up and be on a plane for Barbados to pamper yourself throughout the remaining six days, eleven hours and 48 minutes of your Christmas vacation. (Note, this method can be easily adapted for the eight minutes of Chanukah or the seven minutes of Kwanzaa.) MORE


Spencer Family Christmas Letter

By Sharon Grehan Howes

Hello Everyone! Merry Christmas! We hope you are all hale and hearty! This year we will be heading up to Timmins as usual to visit Tom's Aunt Gertie! I'm certain it will be so much nicer than the ski trip to Aspen Tom promised me! Much better. Aunt Gertie holds a special place in my husband Tom's heart as his family has gathered in her home every Christmas for over thirty years. He says the minute he walks over the threshold he feels like it's Xmas. I agree, nothing says Christmas to me like wood panelling, shag carpeting and the smell of foot-familiar slippers and crabby old people. It's so cosy with Tom, Kaitlin, Johnny and me all sharing the same room/bed! (We are also grateful Johnny's bedwetting is almost 75% cured.) Tom's relatives from Seabridge will be able to join us at Aunt Gertie's for the full week because none of them have found work since 1979, so...yay!

We haven't seen Tom's Seabridge folks (eleven people! isn't that something!) since last week when they came for Thanksgiving. Weren't we lucky that they arrived early (November 10th 7:27 p.m!) and that they were able to stay for 18 days! (and 7 hours! and 12 minutes! ) I don't know how we get so lucky sometimes. It was long sorry lovely to spend so much time together,you learn so much about people. Virginia's feminist views were particulary fascinating. I learned so much as she sat on the kitchen counter with a cocktail and told me about oppression as I prepared the meals for her family and mine. READ MORE


Stalked by Santa, a Cautionary Tale about Dating Celebrities

By Elizabeth Hanes

Nick C. (not his real name) and I had only dated three times, so I was surprised when his obsession with me became apparent. I really go for older men, so Nick's warmth and grandfatherly nature had initially attracted me, but ultimately his significant weight problem and insistence on being accompanied everywhere by his midget entourage became turn-offs too large to overcome. It also hadn't helped when I'd discovered he was married.

I'd been a fan and admirer of Nick's since I was a little girl. I wrote him my first fan letter when I was, gosh, just five or six years old and wrote to him about once a year after that. Although he never wrote back, he'd always send me little presents on Christmas Day, which I thought was very considerate of him. Even though he showed me this attention, I believed in my heart-of-hearts that a big celebrity like Nick would never be seriously interested in a young girl like me from Truth-or-Consequences, New Mexico.

That's why it was like a fairytale come true when Nick asked me out. I'd moved to Los Angeles to pursue and acting and modeling career, but I hadn't expected to meet any big celebrities right away. I was positively shocked when I saw Nick standing in the middle of the mall with children milling around him. I found myself staring open-mouthed and even dropped my Macy's shopping bags (you know, the kind with the little paper handles) to the floor in awe. I guess you could say I was a little star-struck! READ MORE


Diary of Mrs. Claus

By Sharon Grehan-Howes


December 1

Same thing every year. I don't know why he insists on leaving everything until the last minute. It's certainly not as if they change the date each year. I get so sick of him running around in a panic. Perhaps if he spent a little less time golfing and a little more time working he wouldn't be in this predicament but he doesn't listen. Sometimes I feel invisible. I understand his career means everything to him but I think our marriage is starting to suffer.

My yoga classes at the YMCA are going very well. They also are offering a Zumba class that I might join.

December 3

I've been following that diet I clipped out of Good Housekeeping "Slim Down for the Season" and so far so good! I've lost two pounds this week!

For dinner tonight I prepared a chef salad with a vinegar and lemon dressing, a side of skinless broiled chicken and two tomato slices.

Nick finished it without a word of complaint and I was delighted!

I should have known better. READ MORE


Office Holiday Party Do's and Don'ts

By Elizabeth Hanes

Each year the dilemma arrives wrapped as a colorful flyer adorned with crappy clip art, created by an overworked fellow employee who long ago ceased to care. It's the invitation to your company's holiday party.

All the office advice gurus say attendance at the office holiday party is mandatory, not optional. After all, you've invested too much time and effort climbing the corporate ladder to risk looking tacky for snubbing the pathetic, grudging attempt your company makes once a year to look as if they appreciate you.

So how should you behave once you get there? This simple list of dos and don'ts will help you maximize your office party experience this holiday season.

Fun Ways to Recycle Those Unwanted Holiday Gifts!

By Kate Heidel

>God bless her, your Aunt Betty is nothing if not consistent. Every year without fail she gives you a million-piece puzzle rated more difficult than the last, although we're not sure what can top one entitled "Sand."

Help! What do you do with all of your taste-challenged, unrequested holiday gifts? You leave them to Happy Woman, because we've got a stocking full of smart recycling ideas that will remake all those duds into treasures!

Holiday Snow

Have you just about had it with apparel gifts from hell? That ghastly sweater with the duck appliques? Those grandma pants with the elastic waist stretchy enough to hold you and a vending machine? Now please don't donate these monstrosities to Goodwill, unless you're prepared to have your conscience tormented by visions of a stranger with used ducks waddling across her unfortunate chest. What did she ever do to you??

Instead, just load everything into the washing machine, add three bottles of liquid bleach, and voila! --you have snow! Wrap it under the tree or swag it over doorways for a festive touch. It won't have that "pure as driven snow" appearance of course, because of the variety of garments and the sheer volume of doodads so often attached to clothing of poor taste. You'll have more like "plowed snow" or "snow disturbed by hyperactive children who created forts and then tore them down with no regard for neatness or the neighbor's lawn." READ MORE


Exposing the Jolly Red Lie

>By Elizabeth Davis

>A week before Christmas, you drive your precious ten-year old daughter, Betty, to the shopping mall to pose for her annual pic with Santa Claus. Betty's usual "Santa Rocks" smile has been replaced by a reluctant grin. Minutes after leaving Santa's Winter Wonderland in the food court, Betty stares at you with burgeoning skepticism. A barrage of questions soon follow. If we give Santa soy milk because he's lactose intolerant, then how can he drink whole milk at Brian's house? Is it a mere coincidence that you and Santa wrap gifts using the same holiday wrapping paper? If Santa's elves make toys in Santa's work-shop, why does my Barbie doll say 'Made in Taiwan?' Is that an Asian word for 'North Pole?' As Betty's mother, you must decide whether or not to debunk the Santa Claus myth once and for all.

According to a gaggle of anonymous child psychologists, believing in Santa Claus and his nonsensical jingle bell world, also known as the Jolly Red Lie, is emotionally and socially damaging to youngsters around the globe. A sustained belief in Santa Claus hinders a child from maintaining a firm grasp on reality. READ MORE


The Single Girl's Holiday Survival Guide

By Kristin Dreyer Kramer

Single girls everywhere agree that there's no worse time to be single than during the holiday season. Every year, you - and millions of single women like you - are womanforced to sit by and watch as happy couples enjoy the festive season of togetherness and holiday cheer. Out of pity, friends invite you along on their happy-couple outings, and you get to go sledding alone - or with your friend's two-year-old daughter - as your married friends giggle and share mugs of hot chocolate.

And every year, you attend Christmas parties where family and friends alike repeatedly ask the age-old question: "Why don't you have a boyfriend?" Do they really think that will make you feel better about your life of loneliness, you wonder, or are they purposely causing you to spend the holidays drinking yourself into oblivion, gorging on Christmas cookies, and having long, meaningful conversations with your cat?

This year, it's time to take charge of your life! Stop letting your nosy friends and family drop-kick you into the throes of depression! Instead, follow these five easy steps and earn the respect and admiration that you deserve!

1) If, at any time, you're approached by an acquaintance who asks you about your current relationship status, tell him or her that you've been seeing a wonderful man who's so madly in love with you that he'd kill for you. Sadly, though, he'll be forced to spend the holidays in the state penitentiary. READ MORE


The Happy Woman Guide to Wine and Spirits

By Savannah Lawless

If you normally leave the choice of wines to your snootier friends, fret no more! Just drinksin time for holiday libations, here's our guide to wines and spirits for all occasions.

You don't have to be rich to serve wine. You only have to be rich to serve good wine. And you certainly don't have to be rich to serve cocktails. If Everclear and Kool-Aid is good enough for the HW staff, it's good enough for you. That said, here's our guide to choosing wines for any occasion without breaking the bank.


Rating Scale:

100 = as perfect as you can get for under $5.95

90 = tasty and cheap, a best buy

80 = perfect to give as a gift for that boss or co-worker you despise

("abv" = "alcohol by volume," which you'd know if you weren't so pathetically uncultured)

99 - Swann's "Easy Nights," abv 13%, vint. 12/15/05, $2.75. Fresh nose with appealing tones of apple, pear and mobile home paneling. Entry on the palate is smooth and sweet. Finishes nicely, with faint aftertaste of Sprite left in open can for three days. Suggested food pairings: spray cheese, Hot Chee-Tos, M&Ms. Highly recommended.READ MORE


>Random Acts of Malice

By Sharon Grehan-Howes

Holidays are a stressful time. In order to keep that happy smile pasted to your mug you need an outlet!

Try one or two of these tips throughout the holidays and you are guaranteed to feel a whole lot better!

Make it your business to not only tell children there isn't a Santa Claus but to express doubt as to whether there was even a Virginia.

As your family digs into the Christmas feast tell them there's a prize for anyone who finds your partial plate.

Ask the greeters at Walmart where they know you from.

Put a five dollar bill in the Salvation Army collection box and ask for $4.90 in change. Be specific. (i.e. 25 dimes, three nickels....)

If you are having vegetarians over to dinner add meat to the Ratatouille.READ MORE


Lose 57 Pounds by Christmas!

By Elizabeth Hanes

Feeling blue because you need to shed some weight fast or face attending the office holiday party in that tan polyester jumpsuit AGAIN because you can't fit into the slinky black slip dress you bought several sizes too small as an inducement to lose weight? Well fret no more! Don't let your chubby cheeks be immortalized in this year's Christmas pictures when you still have time to drop 10, 15 or even 50 pounds! With this amazing new weightloss plan, you can be as bony as a cocaine fiend within weeks - and do it without going hungry (or even using cocaine).

The secret to successful dieting lies in two things, says diet psychotherapist Juliet Lundgren: not depriving yourself and proper food combining. It's that simple! "Eat all you want, with foods combined from my three patented food groups, and you'll lose all the weight you want to," Dr. Lundgren says in her new book "The Sector Diet."READ MORE


Reaching Holiday Perfection: What Part of "Yes" Don't You Understand?

>by Kate Heidel

We are striving for perfection here, ladies, not balance. Remember, "stress" is one of the 21 Happy Woman words for "joyous holiday" and is therefore to be sought, not avoided! Please review our glossary for other useful synonyms, among them "guilt," "exhaustion," and "acid reflux."

Always remember: At holiday time, coffee is your best friend. Also make it your basic nutrient for December: Coffee drinks, coffee candy, coffee covered coffee beans. You know the bit about "sugar plums dancing in their heads"? You will have them dancing all over the house if you're doing coffee correctly. Think of them as your little encouraging spirits, offering up such holiday preparation nuggets as, "Hurry, hurry!" and "What are you sitting down for when there are cookies to be cut and lights to be hung and popcorn garlands to be strung and wreaths to be woven and trees to be baked and presents to be frosted and bells to be hollied and holly to be bollied . . . !!!"

Once properly jacked up, feel free to follow our pre-tested pathways to flawlessness. Each comes complete with its own Perfection Score as calibrated by our infallible Happy Woman Holiday Perfect-o-meter. Remember: a score of 100 means you can sit down!! READ MORE



A Happy Woman's Guide to Dealing with Unfortunates

By Marni Rebecca Malarkey

As the holidays near, it behooves a Happy Woman to think of those less fortunate. Yesterday, approaching the front door of my apartment building with an armload of liquor and carbs, I noticed a dishevelled, dirty and passed-out-drunk homeless man stretched across the steps leading indoors. I stared down at him as I stepped over his unconscious body (carefully, so as not to harm him) and I wondered, "what can I do about this?"

The answer came to me as I closed my apartment door and shook up a dry vodka martooni. I called the police and made a complaint. They arrived, God bless them, in under fifteen minutes (so much for Toronto's finest being useless) and hauled the drunken bum off to a church basement or a homeless shelter or something like that somewhere. I don't know. As long as he wasn't in my way cardanymore. It also occurred to me to start up a petition-democracy in action! -- to keep these people both off of the streets and off of my radar! Why, it's barely been 24 hours and I've already got hundreds of signatures. As a Happy Woman struggling with the disadvantaged, you will surely find you are not alone in your concerns. READ MORE




How to Roast a Perfect Turkey

By Elizabeth Hanes

What You'll Need:

A large roasting pan Toothpicks Kitchen twine OR old shoelaces Bulb baster Stuffing mix Butter Wine

1. Rinse the turkey with cool water and pat dry. Make sure it is, in fact, a turkey and not, say, a pheasant or the next-door neighbor's poodle. READ MORE