Last week's Neff Zone offered some suggestions for nattering at holiday parties – friendly, informal conversation topics. A dive into the crate beneath my desk has yielded even more material ranging from interesting to odd. 


To begin, here's a Christmas tree fact that is a bit surprising. According to AAA: “Nearly one in five real Christmas tree buyers reported having a tree fall off or out of their vehicle when trying to get it home. If not properly secured, a tree can damage your vehicle or fly off and become a danger to other drivers.” (


Do you ever wonder what the kidlings really want to find under that Christmas tree? “In their book "Unplug the Christmas Machine," authors Jo Robinson and Jean C. Staeheli tell us that, while children may be quick to tell their parents they want designer clothes, the latest electronic gear and brand-name toys for Christmas, here's what they really want: relaxed and loving time with family. realistic expectations about gifts. an evenly paced holiday season, and reliable family traditions.” The authors conclude: “What we really want for Christmas -- kids and adults -- can't be bought in a store.” (


Okay, now on to some oddities. Lawsuits are pretty common, but one in Florida could lead to some interesting discussion. “A woman has sued Kraft Heinz Foods Company, claiming the time it takes to make its microwaveable cup of Velveeta macaroni and cheese is longer than what the claims on the label indicate. The suit is seeking at least $5 million in damages.”  (


Then there is the woman who was surprised to learn that you are not allowed to hit golf balls into the Grand Canyon. “The three charges were for tossing items into the Grand Canyon, littering and creating hazardous conditions with disorderly conduct.” The charges can carry a maximum fine of $5,000 and six months in prison.” It's unclear if the woman warned those below by yelling “fore” or “look out below.” (


When those “word of the year” announcements are made, it's always fun to see if everyone agrees with the choice. Making this more difficult is that five different dictionaries have selected different words for 2022. (


The winners are certainly diverse. Merriam-Webster chose “gaslighting” (the act of grossly misleading someone). The Cambridge Dictionary opted for “homer” (a home run in baseball). The Macquarie Dictionary went for “teal” (an independent political candidate who supports strong action regarding environmental and climate action policies). The Collins Dictionary tabbed “permacrisis” (an extended period of instability and insecurity). The latest is from Oxford Languages with “goblin mode” (unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy). Warning! If you go into goblin mode while gaslighting someone there could be a permacrisis at your party. 


Wowing the crowd with new words is fun, but spouting odd facts can be a hoot as well. An article, “52 things I learned in 2022,” provides a great supply of these tidbits. (


As a sampler, five factoids struck my fancy. “In the UK and Australia, people tend to turn left when entering a building, but in the US, they turn right. The world’s largest ‘hog hotel’ is in Hubei, China where 600,000 pigs live in a 26-story tower block, and they account for 54,000 tons of pork per year. Thirty-seven percent of the world’s population, 2.9 billion people, have never used the Internet. Applicants are 1.5 percent more likely to be granted asylum by a US judge the day after their city’s NFL team won. And using ellipsis in writing can be read as confusing, passive-aggressive or even weirdly flirtatious.” Personally, I like ellipsis because...


There are always partygoers who would rather watch something rather than chit-chat. If that's the case here's a question: “What Happens If You Crack An Egg Underwater?” The Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences demonstrated what happens to an egg cracked sixty-five feet below the surface. This is one of those see-it-to-believe-it deals at:


Finally, don't forget the Neff Zone Holidays page at : Check out the Elf Name Generator. I created my own silly name – Schmoops Tinseltoes. It's also valuable to know how you rate on the Naughty-Or-Nice-O-Meter. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and