Waffle Fries, Anyone?

The holidays are upon us, and you know what that means.  Deliveries!

I’m telling you, online shopping is the best thing since waffle fries.  I can sit on my couch in my jammies and work through my gift list with a cup of coffee, two dogs, and two cats beside me.  I can meander to my mailbox in my jammies – or only as far as my front door if I’m lucky, to get said packages.  Then, warm and toasty in my jammies I wrap presents while not-so-daintily slurping hot cocoa with massive amounts of whipped cream on top.  Hmmm… I sense a clothing trend in my choices. Oh well, I don’t care. Online shopping completely eliminates the worst part of the holidays for me: last-minute shopping crowds.   It’s an easy choice… stay home and avoid people – in my jammies – all while still getting my shopping done.   Success!

Whatever takes the stress off, I say. Because the holidays are stressful enough without adding to it.

The thing I love most about Christmas is finding the one thing, that one gift, that will make someone smile. I mean, it’s awesome. I love it. But… it wouldn’t hurt my feelings any if, as a societal group, we just decided to forego the holiday gifts. When you think about it, if I buy you a candle for $25 and you give me a $25 gift card to Target, we’re just recycling our money. What’s the point?

We could all just keep our money and spend the season baking, watching movies, sharing stories, playing games, volunteering, and of course, eating. 

Think about how much simpler the whole holiday season would be. You wouldn’t have to shop or make returns or think about what to get your boss, other than that “#1 Boss” mug. Nonprofits would have a larger influx of volunteers than they already have this time of year.  It would kind of be bliss, really.

I doubt this will happen any time soon, at least here in the US.  The commercialism game is just too strong. But it’s an interesting thought.

That was my doorbell – boy, that package got here fast. Gotta go!

Timely Advice

Pets are for life, not just for Christmas. All too often these “Christmas presents” end up on Craigslist after the holidays… or worse. Animals are not disposable; they are living, sentient beings who deserve better.

Bringing a pet into a home and a family is a decision that should be made with great care. If you’re not prepared for a lifetime commitment – with all that entails – get a toy instead.

Want to help the animals in your community? There are some great ideas HERE.

Just Say No – To New Year’s Resolutions

The holidays have drawn to a close and what a strange Yuletide it has been. Life, in general, has been odd since my father passed in October, there’s just no denying it. My birthday was uneventful … which right about now – especially in my family, is a good thing. A quiet ending to a chaotic year was welcome.

Now … now, it’s that time again… when good people are expected to pledge their right arm and a sizable chunk of their self-esteem on promises they either have no intention to keep, or, through the simple human experience, fail to uphold. It’s an exhausting cycle of projected self-improvement and ultimate self-loathing.

The thing with resolutions is – they are all too often made half-heartedly and therefore easily broken. Plus, who says we have to make serious commitments to life-altering changes only once a year? Wouldn’t it be better to make adjustments as the year, and life, wears on?

Deciding on foregoing resolutions will certainly help one’s self-esteem – no resolutions made, no resolutions to break and feel guilty about later in the year month week. I mean, seriously, who needs more guilt?

Be a better person. Live a better life. Take chances. Those are resolutions worth making and would hopefully be easily kept. As for that diet or exercise regimen? Sure, make those too if you want, but just remember, promises casually given, even to oneself, are easily broken. In which case, don’t beat yourself up for it … I have no doubt throughout the coming year there will be times when you will feel the need to change some aspect about yourself or your life – seize it! For all intents and purposes, those decisions, those opportunities, they are your New Year’s resolutions, even if they come in July.

Holiday Rationale

I got my annual, end-of-the-year fuck you “how ya’ doing” text from the ex today. He just wanted to let me know that everything that has ever gone wrong in the history of the entire world is still my fault. You know, in case you were wondering. Bless his heart. It’s just not the holiday season without this festive assault on my self-esteem.

I keep thinking to myself that one of these days I should write a cathartic, tell-all book, and then wouldn’t all hell break loose?  In the meantime, in a strange sort of way, I look forward to this unsolicited, if not predictable, bitchfest communiqué. It reminds me that all is right with the world.

Until recently, I had a personal trifecta, of sorts, in December … Christmas, my birthday, and my wedding anniversary, all three occurring within a week’s time.  I’m sure that the latter — or memory thereof — is in part responsible for my ex’s strict adherence to his twisted tradition.

I still have my trifecta … only it’s Christmas, my birthday, and New Year’s Eve. And I’m good with that. Great, in fact.

Only now, apparently, I’ve reached the age … or mentality … where going out to celebrate anything is overrated. It’s just not worth navigating the roads or the overcrowded parking lots of bars that are as equally overcrowded, not to mention loud.

I could claim that having attained a certain level of maturity (Remember?? I did mention my birthday right off the top… ) allows me to reflect on the fact that I don’t really need the hustle and bustle of the pub scene or a fancy dinner at a restaurant with cocktails after in order to enjoy this trifecta of holidays. I could say that the exorbitant amount of money I would no doubt throw away on libations and obligatory feast would be better spent elsewhere. I could even explain that drinking followed by the carnival ride that is the commute through my neighborhood is a dangerous and irresponsible thing to do.

There are so many valid reasons for my lack of celebratory motivation.

The fact that there is a week-long Doctor Who marathon currently airing on BBC America is completely irrelevant. Irrelevant, I tell you! Now, where the hell’s my remote!?

the words every nerd girl wants to hear …

 

 

‘Tis the Season to be Grumpy

I hate people. You guys know that. And as much as I hate people, one might also assume I am not a charitable person. I wouldn’t blame you for taking that leap. However, you would be wrong. Ha! Plot twist!  Didn’t see that coming, did you?  You probably thought I was related to Scrooge or something. Nope, nope, and nope.

While I don’t have much, I give back whenever and however I can. I donate my time to animal advocacy and other humanitarian causes, and every year I donate to Toys for Tots and the children’s mitten/hat tree at my local social services.  I do what I can when I can.

But, admittedly, for the most part all I want is to go about my day and be left alone. Like today, for instance. I had to go to the store for some last-minute Christmas odds and ends, and while there, decided to get a coffee. The Salvation Army bell-ringer, who I liken to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in so many ways, was there, as they have been since Thanksgiving.

The most I get from the nice, older woman who rings her holiday bell is Good Evening, Merry Christmas. And me, I say Thank You and Happy Holidays to you as well. Pleasantries exchanged, we go back to our respective business. It’s all very amiable if not standoffish.  I’m fine with that. Happy with that, in fact.

Today, there was a gentleman ringing the bell, and he stood inside the little vestibule where the carts are instead of on the sidewalk outside the door. As I was leaving the grocery store with my bags and latte in hand, I guess he felt the need to share his um… ardent … opinion on my egregious financial – and charitable – decisions.

To make a long rant short, apparently if I have money to buy a latte, I have money to give to the Salvation Army, and by doing otherwise, I should be ashamed of myself. Now, this last bit, if I’m honest, made me smile a little. I mean, I’ve had much better people than him lay a guilt-trip on me, so his repartee fell somewhat flat.

I will interject here to say that if you donate to the Salvation Army, great, good for you — truly. Personally, their beliefs, as an organization, are contrary to mine and because of that, I specifically will not donate to them. Even if I had cash in my pocket (which I never do – I’m a card-carrying consumer) I would rather drop it into the “save the animals” jar at the vet or the “buy coats for kids” bucket at the hardware store than give it to the Salvation Army. But again, that’s just me. To each their own with regards to charity.

Like many things in life, charitable giving is a very personal choice.

However, to be perfectly frank, even if it were an organization I do support, I’d be hard put to dig into my pockets after being confronted in such a manner.

I know the bell ringers are paid, I’ve seen the want-ads. Whether or not they work partly on commission, I have no idea. Maybe that’s what prompted this gentleman to approach me the way he did. Maybe he needed a caffeine boost of his own. Maybe he was just feeling snarky. Who knows. I do wonder, though, if he approached any men in the same way he did me. Would he have had that same desire to belittle and shame a man?

I suppose I could have been a tad more altruistic in my response. Truth be told, I’m just a little tired of greeting rudeness with complacency and a smile. My kids weren’t with me (they never let me do anything), which left my tongue free to wag and wag it did.

Hopefully the conversation went the way of the one I had with the Jehovah’s Witnesses who visited my home way-too-early Christmas morning last year. If so, I’ll either be on their list to never approach again or I will be on their prayer cards until the end of time. I guess either one is fine with me. Though I do fervently hope it is the former.

Bah, humbug.

Winter is Coming

I don’t know what possessed me — possessed probably being the key word here — but, I ventured out into the world today. You know… among people. And not just regular people either. Mall shoppers. Oh yes. In a fit of misplaced optimism, I decided to try my hand at in-person Christmas shopping. I mean, really. What the hell was I thinking? You tell me, I sure don’t know. It did teach me one thing, however. My disdain for people is nothing if not valid.

Which brings me to this recycled blog post. Oh sure, it’s not Black Friday any longer, which is what prompted the original post. In fact, we’re smack-dab in the middle of the yearly free-for-all we euphemistically call holiday shopping. However, the moral of the story, if you can call it that, is just as relevant today as it was last year. BUT, beware, my friends. Winter is not just coming. It is here. It. Is. Here.

Musings from a Tangled Mind

Friends, danger is upon us. We are approaching that time of year when brother will turn against brother, sister will deceive sister, and strangers will come to fisticuffs over dwindling supplies of cherished treasure. There’s only one thing that can bring the madness in our society to such a fever pitch. Yes, my friends, I’m talking about holiday shopping.

Get those elbows ready for pushing people out of the way (I hear a sale on elbow pads starts today!) and start brushing up on your bob-and-weave coordination, it all kicks off today, Black Friday, and soon it will be followed by an all-out Christmas merchandise assault. I don’t know what it is about good deals, but it truly unleashes the beast in some people. Maybe it’s mob mentality that comes from being in large, billowing crowds of shoppers. It overtakes rational thought about how to treat your fellow Man and…

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Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

I love Christmas. Ornaments for the tree? I have enough to fill my tree, my neighbor’s tree, your tree, and the National Tree in DC. Who cares if my tree is only 4 feet tall? Do I buy more every year? You bet. Christmas cards? Yup. I have enough to send out to people I don’t even know for the rest of my life. Do I buy more every year? You bet. Lights, snow globes, bells, wreaths, glitter … I’ve got it all. In spades. What’s even more fun is coming up with a gift list. Oh, not for myself, but everyone else. I truly enjoy gift-giving.

Well, ever since Halloween, I’ve been humming “The Little Drummer Boy” to myself and it made me wonder – is it ever too early to be thinking about Christmas? Some of you are rolling your eyes and harrumphing: “Of course, there is a too early for this crap Christmas time-frame!” I couldn’t agree with you more. We all know this. But humming to oneself like a nutcase and throwing up a tree and full-blown decorations are two entirely different things.

I’ve seen and heard so many people get straight up grumpy about Christmas making an early appearance – I’m one of those people, actually, as I gripe about Santa and decorations showing up in stores before Thanksgiving has even reared its fine-feathered head, and yet every year it keeps happening. Earlier and earlier we see the commercial side of this supposedly altruistic holiday.

Back in the day, it was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa who set the timing for the season. Then the stores got the idea to bolster their profits by having Black Friday which, in reality, starts way before Thanksgiving when you think about all of the advertising, early-bird deals, etc. Now, the stores are like: “Is it almost Halloween!? Dust off last year’s Christmas paraphernalia and throw that out there with the turkey napkin holders, pumpkins, ghosts, and skeletons … let’s get this Hallowthanksmas conglomeration started!”

Consider all the money that goes into Christmas. According to the American Research Group, the average American plans to spend roughly $929 on gifts this year. That doesn’t include holiday travel, decorations, or food, which I’m sure is some astronomical number of dollars. Given the huge investment that the Christmas season is for many people – not to mention, the profit margin for the businesses who have honed their capitalistic holiday campaign, it’s no surprise that they want to get their money’s worth. After all, if I was spending almost $1000, I’d want to have warm seasonal fuzzies for far longer than a month. “Hey, I bought that singing, blow-up snowman for my yard and I’ll be damned if I don’t get to annoy my neighbors with it for as long as possible!” Okay, fine, so annoying the neighbors is an “all year” treat that I do take advantage of, but that’s just me.

Decorating a house, depending on your commitment level, can take some serious time, with the tree alone taking a few hours. Lugging boxes from the garage and carefully putting hooks on every individual ornament isn’t something to take lightly. Getting that just-right Griswold effect on the house is also a feat that is nothing if not time-consuming. I mean, I can totally understand that if people go to all of that effort, they want it to start as early as possible and last until they’re good and ready to take it all down. Even if that means those decorations stay up until Spring.  A friend of mine used to leave her Christmas tree up long enough that it became a Mardi Gras tree around mid-March, just for the sheer fact that it was too pretty and too much work to take it down.

As much as I love Christmas, and I do love Christmas, my tree is up barely in time for the day itself and comes down the day after. Love the holiday, hate the clutter. I always dream of a decorated home worthy of a Home and Gardens cover, or at least, a photo spread on the inside pages … but alas, my anxiety won’t let me. Or rather, it does, but if you blink, you’ll miss it.

Now Christmas songs seem to be a different animal entirely. Songs don’t take much effort (for the listener, that is), but like any song, there can be too much of a good thing after a while. So, should we be listening to Christmas songs as early as we are decorating? Radio stations certainly think so. Literally the day after Halloween there are round the clock Christmas music broadcasts. Maybe that’s why I’ve had vintage pa rum pum pum pums rattling around in my head. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. Bonus, my not quite under my breath singing annoys my coworkers, so there’s that. In all fairness though, by the time Christmas is over I’m so sick of hearing “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” that I want to die. I think the secret to success with Christmas music is creating your own playlists. And earplugs when traipsing through the department stores with piped-in music. No-one wants those songs in their head all day.

When it comes right down to it, the Christmas season is whatever you want it to be. Do I hate retailers who put out their inventory before that Thanksgiving turkey even hatches? You better believe it. Am I going to be rifling through that very same inventory as excitedly as a child at um… Christmas? You better believe it.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas

Happy holidays to all, from my family to yours. I hope you have a joyful holiday filled with the people and traditions you love. And may the season shine a warm, caring light on you, your families, and the animals alike.

— artwork by Liz Goodrick-Dillon

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

The holidays are coming. And so are my relatives. It’s time to test that great annual sociology thesis: “Is it possible to compress numbers of humans who are related by blood or marriage into a confined space for several hours, fill them with carbohydrates, tryptophan, and alcohol, and not have them tear into one another over any number of disputed points of view?”  Generally, no.

At least that’s been my experience.  No matter what the intentions for a peaceful dinner are, no matter what pre-victual agreements have been signed, festive family get-togethers usually devolve into raised voices, hurt feelings, and shouts of, “Susan, grab the kids.  We’re leaving right now!”

Here’s the problem. Chances are we’re going to continue having holidays to celebrate. Moreover, and probably against good common sense, we’ll more than likely have family over to share the chaos joy of the season. Unless Prohibition should miraculously come back, alcohol will be served. And that folks, is the tinder and kindling for a family feud. That’s why I’ve developed a guide to help diffuse what I call “Holiday Hot Spots.”

I’ve found that flare-ups usually occur when one of the following topics is brought up:

  • Politics – this one is usually a “given.” I mean, there’s a reason why they say never to discuss politics in polite company. That’s because it makes people want to throttle each other. This year I’ve put “Politics” at the top of the list because of what’s going on in Washington, D.C. If I’m in the kitchen and I hear people shouting, “Drain the Swamp,” “Lock him up,” “But what about Crooked Hilary,” “El Cheeto Grande,”or “Covfefe,” I know that I have to run into the living room screaming, “Oh my god, somebody knocked over Jimmy’s terrarium full of black widow spiders! Check your legs! CHECK YOUR LEGS!” I find that this stops the arguing, dead in its tracks. As an added plus, everyone gets a little pre-dinner work-out.
  • The Media – rather than bursting into flames right from the start, these arguments usually simmer until they finally reach a flash point. If I hear the words Hannity, Fake News, Rachel Maddow, Bill O’Reilly, Lamestream Media, or Kellyanne Conway, I know that I have to spring into action, like immediately, in order to waylay any punches that might be thrown overly heated debate that might occur. I’ve found that by saying something to attract everyone’s attention while confusing them at the same time works very well, and makes them forget what was causing the argument in the first place. I’m good at this. Just this past Thanksgiving, I casually walked into the family room and cheerfully said, “I decided to change things up a little this year.  Turkey sounded sooooo boring.  I hope you all like muskrat. It was free, just lying there on the side of the road. How could I resist? They say it tastes like badger.” It got their attention, yet no-one knew how to respond. And there, with their collective mouths agape, the bickering ended.
  • The Outcast – most families have one. It’s the family member who is currently “on the outs” with the rest of the family. Their crime could be imagined, “I hear that he dates loose women.” Or, it could be real, “I’m glad she’s not here to get drunk and set the Christmas tree on fire again.” Whatever the reason…a prior engagement or perhaps a moment of mental clarity…they “weren’t able to come this year.”  Not being there to defend himself or herself, they suffer (albeit, in absentia) the majority of the verbal abuse from the family who is gathered. I mean, right? This entertainment usually keeps everyone occupied for quite a while, and all is right with the world. That is until someone decides (usually with vindictive glee) that enough is enough and points out a peccadillo of someone who is actually present and within earshot or brings up a decades old story that is best left untold. Then it’s true confessions time, and not in a good “truth or dare” kind of way. Friends tell me that I should just do the “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” speech when this happens. However, I find that I can quickly diffuse things by setting the Christmas tree on fire. Again.