Who broke the Festivus Pole?

The two staggered through the subterranean apartment’s narrow entrance, heaved the grocery bags onto the kitchen counter, turned around, and gasped.

The sturdy aluminum Festivus pole lay in the middle of the living room on its side, its midsection dented, as if someone—or something—had dropkicked it.

“Did the Feats of Strength already happen without us?” Confused, Juliet tugged off her blue suede pointy stilettos, which by this point had begun to show the unfortunate stains of snow and sidewalk salt seeping into permanence. Verena, hopping on one foot to yank off her left gold wedge sneaker—its shoelace frozen by a thin veneer of ice—was equally speechless.

“What the…?!” Ryan came bounding out from the back room, hair wet, with a long list of Grievences in hand. At the top of the list: the Oxford comma. The Airing of Grievences functions as one of the lynchpin events to commemorate Festivus. It also functions as a staff retreat for The Wheelhouse Review’s writers, most of which were stuck on the 4:43 Amtrak Regional train coming from Manhattan and now delayed by three hours due to a signal failure near the Delaware border.

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Ryan Versus Baby: Round Two (Festivus Edition)

It had been almost two years since my last interaction with Baby. The toaster incident left me bruised, emotionally and physically, and even my therapist recommended I stay away from Baby until my scars had healed. I’m not normally one to talk to a therapist, but that’s what Baby had reduced me to. Plus, my therapist was a former baby, so we were able to try some role play techniques to help me through my phobia. These sessions helped a lot, even though I always forgot our safe word.

So when Juliet told me we were having a Festivus party and Stephanie would be there with Baby I was understandably reticent. Several temper tantrums and emergency role play sessions later (“fidelio?”), I grudgingly agreed to have them both at our party. It was Festivus, after all. A holiday of good tidings, joy, and unbridled enthusiasm. What’s the worst that could happen, I thought to myself. That, dear readers, is when I learned the most important lesson of Festivus: never think to yourself. When you do, the worst does happen.

It was the night before Festivus and I couldn’t sleep. I went down to TWR’s kitchen to make myself some “sleepy time tea”–a glass of warm milk and whiskey normally does the trick–and when I finished making my concoction I heard the faint sounds of snickering and general malevolence behind me. I turned around and there he was in the flesh: Baby. I was horrified, but I tried to play it cool. Baby can smell fear.

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The Real Festivus Miracle

Ahhh the holidays. A perfect time to reflect on the past year, spend time with friends and family, and bask in the warmth and glow of love and gifts.

So why, do you ask, was I at the Wheelhouse Review holiday party? I have to admit, things have been tense here in the offices for me ever since the Toaster Incident of 2012, where Tommy the Intern framed me for breaking the toaster and I had to personally buy a new one. Even though I gave my full and totally true account of what happened, I was still held responsible! So I bought a new toaster, but I never really felt comfortable in the office again. And even though I extracted my revenge on Tommy the Intern by having him transferred to our remote Stepnogorsk office in Kazakhstan, I still hold myself at a distance from the rest of the Wheelhouse staff.

So while the baby and Ryan were wrestling, and the young folk were caroling, I was getting comfortable with the spiked eggnog at the bar, counting down the minutes till I could go home.

Not pictured: the office Scrooge, nursing a drink far away from the mistletoe.

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It’s the Most Wonderful Timey Wimey of the Year

I was pretty nervous, because this was my first TWR Festivus party. I’ve always celebrated Festivus in my heart, I’ve just never been invited to a party before. Luckily, I wasn’t the only noob in the room.

I love a good Festivus as much as the next gal, and I was pretty excited to showcase the Festivus Pageant that Jojo and I had prepared. I did most of the plot work, because Jojo grew up on a commune, so he took charge of the musical numbers. It was a modern retelling, with lots of songs by T Swift, and let me tell you, Jojo and I really dazzled them. They couldn’t shake us off. We were pretty tired from the encore dance number, so I can’t say I noticed what happened to the Festivus pole. But if there’s one thing I never miss, it’s a Doctor Who reference. I will drop everything and run across the room anytime I hear keywords like TARDIS, fez, or the Doctor (incidentally, butting into a private conversation about seeing the doctor has proven at times to be both disappointing and awkward).

And while Jojo and I were in the middle of that final dance number, jazz hands in the air, I distinctly heard the words “wibbly wobbly” and “timey wimey” – an unmistakeable reference to the Doctor’s description of time.

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CSI: Festivus

Being new around here (and by “here” I mean “this world”), I’m not privy to all the inside jokes that seem to be floating through the halls of the Wheelhouse Review offices. And Mom only lets me watch the TV shows she DVRs, which lately means I’m on a steady diet of cooking shows and Christmas movies (though I can do a pretty good Kevin McCallister-after-aftershave face, thank you very much). So this whole Festivus thing is new to me, along with all the name-calling and blame-shifting that grown-ups seem to do. My big brother told me about the last scandal that erupted at the TWR offices when he was a baby and how he was blamed for the whole thing. So I’m on my toes (as much as I can be, since they’re not really weight-bearing yet) to make sure I don’t get the rap this time around. Tall people, I’m on to you.

–CRYING BREAK–

Now my schedule, as a two-month-old, renders me awake during a lot of what adults refer to as “off hours” (or as Mom calls it, EVERY EFFING HOUR. ALL OF THEM. I don’t know what “effing” means but I’m pretty sure I’ll learn since she says it all the time). So I have a unique and reliable perspective to offer you readers, and I’m sure you’ll agree when all is said and done that my version of events is valid and true.

–FEEDING BREAK–

My eyes aren’t too trained to recognize anything non-mammary in the dark, but last night (at least I think it was night–I can’t really be bothered to tell the difference. Anyway, the lights were off) while I was awake and searching for a milk fountain, I heard a tussle going on at TWR headquarters. I entered the kitchen, thinking someone there might know where my fountain had gone (and because that’s where they keep the wine, so Mom usually hangs out nearby). There was spaghetti on the stove and meatloaf in the oven, and I saw my brother next–he was loitering near the stove because he likes spaghetti this week. Ryan was next to him, talking in a really whiny voice (I should know what that sounds like). He was saying something about how my brother should “let him win” because it would “embarrass him to be beaten by a baby. AGAIN.” My brother didn’t look too impressed by Ryan’s pleading–he was actually trying to figure out a way to bring the pot of spaghetti down to his level so I don’t know if he was even listening.

–CRYING BREAK–

That’s when Ryan began to get upset–we babies refer to it as “communication” but I think adults call it “crying”–and he and Brother started really getting into it. Brother turned away from the spaghetti and pushed Ryan to the floor (he has amazing upper arm strength and pretty good gross motor skills). Ryan tried to fight back but to no avail–Brother had made his point. When Brother finally let him up, Ryan marched over to the Festivus pole and, in a fit of anger, knocked it to the floor. It hit a table on the way down and I heard a huge crack. At that point Ryan really started freaking–something about how his “editrix” was going to “really have his ass now” because of this being the final straw after a bunch of missed deadlines. (Adults and their schedules, amirite?). So he panicked, and Brother stepped in. He’s really good at puzzles, see, and I guess he found a way to make the pieces of the pole fit together long enough to put it back in place so that no one was the wiser. At least for a while, because at that point I gave up on the milk fountain and fell asleep. And that’s how it happened.*

*edited by Baby