All righty then. The silly season beginneth.

Technically, it began about twenty days ago, but go figure. For me, it doesn't really begin until I first scent the Grand Marnier and the pine and the oversweet scent of liqueur chocolate. And of course, when the presents start popping up under the good old fake tree.

Every year, my father buys a present for the 'house', ie something the house needs. We always have the option of opening it before Christmas, too.

I can't remember a whole heap of them, as they get subsumed in the mad joy of opening other presents, specifically my own. Two years ago though, it was definitely a new fish tank: one with a built in filter and just looked pretty. I knew what it was that year because I helped dad choose it on one of our Saturday morning shopping trips.

This year, dad acted all mysterious about it, and we decided to open it before Christmas just to shut him up.

It was a wireless modem.

This may not be a big deal to some, but for us, it's huge. We no longer have to put up with the CAT-5 cables trailing into my brother's room, or being unable to shut doors because of said cables.

Plus, I can now use my Gameboy DS over the internet. So if anyone has an Animal Crossing for DS Friend code, please /msg me!

Anyways. I've started something new this year too. I bought Christmas presents for everyone on my own, with my own money.

Helps that I've got a steady, well-paying after school job, I guess.

Previous years have seen my parents buying all the presents, and me just selecting them and wrapping them.

I can't tell you what I bought because certain members of my family use E2.

Thus endeth my seasonal daylog rant. Happy holidays, everyone, and sucks to those in the northern hemisphere that get shorter holidays than me.

Merry Christmas, and see you next year!

Working in advertising, you get used to the twisted logic that permeates the business. This logic generally follows the lines of, "You know you want to buy (product x), because (product x) will make you happier / sexier / loved / successful, and (product y) doesn't do that as well." There is legitimately good advertising out there (or if not good then at least not condescending) but 90% of it, once you get passed the shininess of it, is a rehash of that.

This time of year though, it's delivered with spin - "You know you want to buy (product x), because (product x) will make you happier / sexier / loved / successful as well as being firmly associated with Christmas, and (product y) doesn't do that as well." That connection with a holiday where people are expected to spend money is golden.

What happens, though, is that sometimes things get thrown entirely out of whack.

Picture this:
Standard Christmas scene, warm colors. A mother and her son. Mother pulls a casserole out of the oven and puts it on the kitchen counter in front of a window. Outside, a decorated Christmas tree comes alive, reaches in under the sash and steals a, um, branchfull I guess, of the casserole, while the son looks on in wonder before an appropriately meaningless graphic drives the association home. ("The spirit of the holidays" or some such.)

The product? Campbell's cream of mushroom soup.

I don't know about you, but green bean casserole to me is the epitome of an unChristmas Meal. I'd think it was a joke if the thing wasn't so tenderly produced. Somebody out there actually believes, in their heart of hearts, that condensed soup = Christmas, and I truly hope that that person is happy in whatever their new career is.

This is a form of public service announcement for those of you with dogs.

### Do not let your dogs eat sugar-free gum under any circumstances.

You see, one of the main artificial sweeteners used in sugar-free gums is Xylitol, a sugar alcohol with a noted cooling effect. You'll find it in Orbit, Koolerz, and IceBreakers, among others. It's also the chief sweetener in almost all European and Asian gum. And Xylitol happens to be toxic to dogs. It gives them hypoglycemia for one thing, and can also cause liver failure if not properly treated. Proper treatment consists of:

• Making your dog vomit as soon as possible after ingesting Xylitol. You can feed a dog ipecac or hydrogen peroxide, or in a pinch take a tablespoon of salt and stuff it down the back of their throat all at once.
• Giving your dog a charcoal tablet to absorb the Xylitol before his system does.
• Taking them to the vet ASAP to get fluids and glucose/dextrose to address the hypoglycemia.

Other sources of Xylitol can include diet pills, toothpastes, and almost any other "sugar-free" edible. Check your packaging for more info.

And (as if you have to ask) the reason I know this is because our dog recently swallowed about 6 pieces of Koolerz gum and had to be treated for Xylitol poisoning. It looks like everything's going to be fine (his blood values never showed any signs of liver damage, but we still have to take him back in a couple of weeks to check), but if we hadn't known about him eating the gum or if we hadn't known how dangerous it was (thank you, Internet!) Captain Jack wouldn't be with us today.

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