There are 4 Sleeps Until Christmas

It’s that time of year again when I remind everyone what the greatest gift of all is: love. And love is free. I would rather have your love all year long than an expensive present. I love the thought behind gifts, but what I love most is being with the people who are family, whether by blood, marriage, or friendship. That’s the most important thing this time of year. Family. It’s something we missed out on last year to keep everyone safe, but I’m actually really excited to get back into something more normal this year. And it’s going to be a great Christmas.

With that in mind, I’d like to do my annual Christmas reminders:

  • It’s easy to get caught up in spending a fortune on Christmas presents. I’ve learned a long time ago that I never go into debt for Christmas presents anymore. Your kids and family members may like the presents for the short-term, but your credit score and financial stability are far more important than being impressive. If you can afford fancy, go for it. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter. Your thoughtful gifts matter no matter how much they cost.
  • Don’t forget to give back. Find some little way to give back this year. You may not think that you’re fortunate, but I guarantee there are plenty of people out there that wish they were as “unfortunate” as you are. Buy that bag of groceries to donate to a food pantry or family in need. Buy grocery items off the list for the U.S.O to help our troops. And don’t forget the furry cuties in the shelters, who could also very much benefit from your generosity.
  • Be kind. Holidays can be extraordinarily hard for some people. Maybe they recently lost someone they loved and this is the first holiday without them. Maybe they are missing someone every year that they wish could be with them. Maybe they have no one to share the holidays with. Even if you can’t be bothered to go out of your way to be kind, do everything in your power not to be an ass.
  • It’s all about family and those who matter most to you. These are the people who are there for you for your ups and downs. Take this time to really cherish how fortunate you are this holiday season as you are surrounded by love. I know I will.

I say all of this as a self-professed Grinch who absolutely hates the holidays. There are better emotions to spend your energy on this holiday season than negativity. You may even find some glimmer of hope this year. Because we could all use some of that after the past year or 2 that we’ve had.

In the Christmas Spirit

I’ve never been one to have the Christmas spirit. I remind readers and my friends of that all of the time. I just don’t dig it. I do have some great friends that knew exactly what to get me: wine. While I haven’t been able to indulge in it as of this writing, I’m sure I will eventually. They didn’t spend a fortune on the presents that they gave me; it was the thought that counted. And I loved the gifts and very grateful for them. I have friends that didn’t give me anything except wishing me health and happiness for the holiday. I have the greatest friends in the world. Knowing that I had their friendship was equally important as the bottles of wine. I don’t need gifts. I need the things that can’t be bought.

The problem with the holiday, and part of the reason why I can’t get into the Christmas spirit, is because of the idea of materialism. It’s all about the stuff. People get mad because you didn’t spend enough on them, equating the love of the gift-giver to how much money they spent on the gift. Equating the cost of something rather than equating one’s love to the thought that was put into the gift. Sometimes I think that people who equate the monetary to the love of another is a selfish person. I feel as though they lost sight of what’s important. It doesn’t matter that my ring is smaller than some people; what matters is the love of my husband. I barely even wear my rings because it’s just stuff. Stuff doesn’t matter. Stuff can be lost or you can outgrow it. It’s harder to lose people or outgrow the person.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand the importance of fancy gifts. My parents always raised me of the belief that it was the thought behind the gifts. I remember one year my parents bought me some of what would be my favorite CDs to this day. They didn’t spend an exceedingly massive amount of money on those gifts. But they were music that I loved and that meant more to me than anything else. My parents raised me to be grateful for whatever we were given, even if it was just a simple card with well-wishes or a hug. It’s those things that matter. Not some expensive object that you may never use.

I made it my mission to not use any credit cards this Christmas. Everything that I bought was with our debit card, even those more expensive gifts the kids got. Why? My husband wants a new car and my oldest will be going to college. So I had a budget and I stuck to it because it wasn’t how much I spent on the gift; I believe that it matters more gift was something that made them smile. That was perfect for them.

There’s always the pressure of outspending people because other people value the monetary value of the gift, rather than the idea of the gift. It makes people anxious. It causes people to go into debt unnecessarily. It’s not important. The gifts aren’t the important thing. It’s the phone call from family, just talking about the holiday because you couldn’t be there with them. It was the waves through the window after they dropped off gifts. It’s the reminder that they are there for you, just to be there for you. That’s what’s important. And it’s sad that so many people forget that.

So be grateful for the gifts that you did or didn’t get, because it doesn’t matter. You won’t remember that so and so bought you this or that for the holiday. But you will remember those memories that you made while eating cinnamon rolls and bacon while watching movies and opening gifts. Or playing a game of Monopoly or playing a game on the new console, watching everyone failing. It’s the laughter and smiles. It’s the togetherness even at a time when we can’t really be together. That’s what the holidays are supposed to be about.

It’s a Time for Religion… I Mean, Holiday Cheer?

Thanksgiving has come and gone. My family had a quiet feast of delicious Korean food while in front of the television, watching the National Dog Show, then moving into a mini-marathon of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. Just in time for the next holiday: Christmas. While our Halloween stuff is still out (don’t judge, we’re busy), I know inevitably this weekend we will be putting up the Christmas tree. Because we’re not insane and wait until December to do that. (Sounds judgey, but I honestly don’t care. People should do what makes them happy. I won’t insult or even comment aside from an eye roll.)

There are 4 types of people who celebrate Christmas: the religious, the crazy Christmas cheer people, the ones who do it out of obligation, or the ones who complain while doing it. Admittedly, I’m in a category between “Celebrating Christmas out of Obligation” and “Hates Christmas and Complains While Doing it Anyways”. I don’t judge people in the other categories, but I definitely know they judge me for being a Grinch. I’m okay with that. I know what I’m about. The sounds of Christmas music makes me want to scratch my ears out. The only Christmas show/movie that I really enjoyed was “The Moodys” Christmas from last year. I may sit down with the boys to “watch” a Christmas movie, but I usually read, write, play on my phone/Switch the entire time. Christmas just isn’t my thing. In fact, I would proudly leave my Halloween stuff up, mostly because busy but because that’s the holiday that brings me joy. If people can have their Christmas stuff up before Halloween or Thanksgiving, I can celebrate Halloween all year long.

This may sound like some War on Christmas, but I promise you that there’s really no such thing. That’s just a lie that media makes up to further push an agenda and divide us. I honestly think that people need to stop caring about what other people do. It doesn’t affect you, why do you care? Why do you care that someone would rather hear “Happy Holidays”/”Merry Christmas”? Just say the thing that makes them happy and move on. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, and that’s okay. They have their own religion or honestly don’t care about the holiday. If I could get away with not celebrating it, I would. This year gets to come as close as I can get to that, allowing me a quiet holiday where I don’t have to rush around to different houses with the kids while they are upset that they don’t get to play with their new goods. I think rather than judge someone as a Grinch or a crazy Christmas lady/gentleman, we should focus on what the holiday really is about.

The day is about family. It’s about giving back to those in need, if you can. It’s not about going broke on gifts that they probably only will play with once. Half the time, I think younger kids just like opening up the wrapping paper and don’t care what’s inside. It’s about togetherness, which will look very different for most families. I’m considering doing a Zoom thing where my parents/in-laws can watch their grandchildren open their presents. It’s about spreading joy to others. Don’t let commercialism tell you that it’s about credit card debt or useless crap. Don’t let people tell you that this is only a holiday to celebrate religion. Don’t let people tell you there’s a war on the holiday. Just do you.

The Right to Mock without Judgement

I’m a Scrooge. I admit it. I have a deep-seeded hatred of most holidays aside from Halloween. I don’t believe in a War on Christmas because I believe that some people just want Christmas to stay in it’s lane. I believe that when I’m shopping for Halloween stuff in September, I shouldn’t have a Christmas tree hitting me in the face. I believe in celebrating one of the crappy holidays that society tells me I have to celebrate at that time. Christmas doesn’t come before Halloween; it comes after Thanksgiving.

I want a break between these holidays I’m forced to smile my way through. I want to worry about not overcooking my food on Thanksgiving, not whether or not my Christmas tree still lights up or my ornaments are broken. I want to take some time without worrying about affording what my kids want for Christmas when I’m trying to Trick or Treat. I want to worry about the holidays when I’m supposed to, not because people want to call me a Scrooge or grump because I think it’s ridiculous that other holidays are supposed to be celebrated during their own time.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think you should. I will mock you for it, but I won’t judge you for it. You do what makes you happy. If celebrating for Christmas in early October is your thing, than own that. I’ll make jokes about it, but I don’t mean them as an insult to you. I’ll make a joke, but I am not there to insult you for how you live your life as much as I don’t think I should be insulted for thinking holidays need to stay in their own time without encroaching upon other holidays that rightfully deserve their time. As excited as I am about Halloween, I still wait until October to decorate for it.

The point is people should do what makes them happy without society telling them that they are asses for not wanting to do it or because they are drinking peppermint mocha lattes when November hits or pumpkin spice in August. I don’t particularly like the label of Scrooge just because I hate the holidays anymore than someone likes to be called crazy for their obsession with any given holiday. The world is terrible enough without taking the joy out of other people’s lives when it doesn’t affect you.

So I will post memes about Christmas’ intrusion where I don’t think it belongs because I find it funny. I will make comments about how holidays deserve their due respect because I believe that. I’m not doing these things to target people because I honestly don’t care what other people do. There is the capacity to believe something without having to put those beliefs on other people.

The War On…

It seems that in America, we are always in a war. There’s a war on terrorism. The war on traditional marriage. Everything is a war. “War” has become the equivalent of “-gate”. In fact, I’m actually shocked that we haven’t heard of a “War on Sodagate”. We can have a “sodagate”, but we haven’t had a “War on Sodagate”. This is depressing. Get on it, America.

Every Christmas, I am told that we have a “War on Christmas” going on. (“War on Christmasgate?” Just a thought…) I hear that as I look out my window, and I see all the Christmas lights. The apartments next to me, 60% of them have a Christmas tree lit since before Thanksgiving. A War on Christmas, as Christmas stuff takes over the aisles before I can even buy my Halloween decorations. Screw the War on Christmas, what about the War on Halloween? I want to enjoy my favorite holiday before a commercialized holiday celebrating a fat man takes over 2 months early. Screw you, Christmas. I do not want to hear “Jingle Bells” when I should be hearing “Monster Mash”. Where’s the outrage?

I could argue that the outrage doesn’t exist over Halloween, since Halloween is associated with Pagans who are obviously mistaken for Satanists, who are also mistaken for actual devil worshippers that want to cause harm on people. News flash: 90% of your traditions that you follow for Christmas, comes from the Pagans. So, I ask: can Pagans openly celebrate their Yule? Wait, we already do that by pretty much every tradition we follow as “Christians”.

The only people who are attacking Christmas are really just people who either want attention (/cough National Association of Atheists) or… want attention. Some might actually have the desire to have their City Hall recognize their religion’s celebrations that occur at the same time. I can’t say that I disagree with those people. There’s no reason that their shouldn’t be a menorah near the city’s Christmas tree, or any other symbol of some other religion as needed to make everyone in the community feel a part of the holiday spirit. We were, as America, founded on the basis of freedom of religion, not just a “Freedom to Christian”. As I remember from my youthful days wasting away in CCD, Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Christ. What follows are things like, the Golden rule. You know the, “treat others as you want to be treated” clause of Christianity?

So this holiday season, just be nice to people. Don’t mock someone’s Christmas tree because it’s sparse and yours isn’t. Mine is purposely sparse. Our tree lacks too many ornaments on account of my trouble making toddler, and has no garland because we are pretty sure that our “lively lab” would tear it off the tree or take down the tree trying. Some people might not even be able to afford a tree or ornaments and shouldn’t be judged for that. It isn’t competition of who has the nicest house or the tree crammed with the most ornaments, or even which religion should have the right to celebrate. It’s a holiday season for everyone to enjoy, so be nice to your neighbor and let them celebrate how they want to this season.

Goodbye Old Friend

Before we get into the post of sappiness ahead, I’d like to take some time to wish you all a “Happy Holidays”. I’m sure our family is going to have a great one. I’ll be back on Monday in full swing of things.

Wednesday I called in sick to my posts, so my apologies. But we’ll ignore that fact and pretend that my error was on purpose to make a splendid post in honor of the first man of my life: my father. Any girl would be lying if they didn’t admit that they were in some form of being a bit of a daddy’s girl. I’m the only daughter; it would be a total lie in denying it.

Today is his first day of enjoying the rest of his life in retirement, just in time for the holidays. I’m sure it’s a bittersweet moment for him, but he deserves it. My father always worked when I was a kid, but he did it for us. He worked hard so all of us could be happy and have things we wanted or needed. I used to joke, and still joke now, that he worked so much to get away from my family. Except me, I’m awesome; my brothers are a different story entirely. He received a fitting goodbye from his co-workers of a man who was admired by them. I don’t blame them; I still admire him every day.

They don’t see him fully in his element. At work he is their supervisor that did his job well, but at home he raised a decent enough family and adores his grandchildren. I only hope now that in his retirement, he can enjoy them to the fullest. Though I bet in a week he goes crawling back, this place is an animal house sometimes. I’m kidding… maybe. But if it wasn’t so crazy, we wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.

All joking aside, I’m sure my brothers can agree that this was a long time coming and no one ever thought he’d actually retire. Now, he’s young enough to enjoy the rest of his life and I hope he has a while longer with us. I speak for all of us when I say, you rock and thanks for everything.

The Closetted Gleek

The title says it all. Embarrassingly I am a huge fan of Glee, even more than that my husband also became a huge fan of it. I wonder if he likes it more than me though, so that makes me feel a little better about having this as a guilty pleasure. Emma’s my favorite though, she rocks. So I can dream that someone important reads this and gives her some more airtime.

Now that I’m done embarrassing myself over that, I present the point of this. Last night they had a Christmas special loaded with Christmas songs and Christmas cheesiness. We all know how much I absolutely adore Christmas songs. For the record, I did cover my head wishing the voices would stop singing carols in my head. What made me completely happy in the episode was that we learned important lessons, what it means to be Christmas. I reiterate my Thanksgiving post about how you should live every day thankful, but it was something different in this episode.

There was an argument about why should the Christmas special not have any sad songs in it. One side debated that it’s Christmas and it’s supposed to be happy, while the other argued that it’s not always a joyous occasion for people and as artists they’d be lying to portray otherwise. I understand the point, it’s not always sunshiney, but sometimes people look to specials and Christmas movies to have a moment of happiness they wish they had. It’s like a role model for them, to make them maybe feel like someday it could be better. I’m torn though; I also think I would like to see someone portray what Christmas is really like for some people.

In the end after all the cheesiness and geek nod to Star Wars, everyone came together to feed people at the soup kitchen. Even the ever greedy and selfish Rachel joined in the spirit and gave to charity at the end. It’s always good to see people not caring about the gift, but caring about the giving.

It’s a turkey!

Thanksgiving is around the corner and by that I mean, it’s tomorrow. All the food and family your stomach can handle. I have my cranberry sauce made, the turkey is brined (dry brined, à la Alton) and my cold is still looming telling me I should forget this holiday. However, that’s my general feeling of most holidays but Halloween. My husband is a fan of holidays, for some odd reason he enjoys being at home with me.

I have a problem with holidays, not just because I hate them. I hate what they stand for. They tell you that you have this one day to tell your family you love them and doing good things for your fellow human. Why do you need one day for charity and love? Shouldn’t you be living by those principles on a daily basis, not just for these holidays? It annoys me. Be in the holiday spirit! If you want spirit, I’ll give you some booze.

I know that holidays give a push of charity and acknowledgement of your loved ones, but why not carry that ideal all year round? I find it hypocritical to preach it for a day, only to ignore it the rest of the year. Not saying this idea is what ruins holidays for me, but it’s an important ideal that does a lot of damage for my “holiday spirit”. That and I hate turkey. Why must you taste so awful! The same goes to ham, holidays make you eat the worst of meats.

With all that said, carry on this holiday spirit all year-long. I’m certain that local food kitchens would love at least donations or help every so often, though they would definitely appreciate the support this time of year. Keep this holiday spirit of giving and love every day of the year, and maybe next year I won’t have to write a spiteful blog about holidays. I’d also like to ask that I don’t want Christmas  in my face when I want to celebrate Halloween; you’re 2 months off stores. And to my husband? Yes, I do think decorating a week before Thanksgiving for Christmas is too soon, you’re insane. Love, me.