NEWS FLASH!!!

Everyone may not be aware, and so I just wanted to remind you that THIS YEAR, Christmas is on December 25th…. Yes, the 25th of December is CHRISTMAS this year, that comes directly after the 24th…

Really. It’s one of the last hold-out, non floating holidays …(Halloween having given up the gh0st in so many localities, we have New Years, the 4th of July and Christmas holding onto the outdated tradition of being celebrated ‘on the day’, so to speak.) Therefore, it will be held on a Sunday this time around.

Now, I realize it’s a sneaky  little holiday—there are, after all, no signs stating such an event is on its way, nor advertisements alerting you; heck there aren’t even any special songs to remind you or anything, so I just wanted to provide this little PSA…. Smile

Black Friday. While I Red heart what I do, pardon me if I am less than enthused to be coming to work at  O’Dark Thirty and keeping a Laughing out loud on my face all the live long day, while you hold me personally responsible for being out of the widget de jour…especially, if while you are looking down your nose at the shop “help” you can’t stop texting Mobile phoneor calling friends to complain about how utterly horrid your EXTRA DAY OFF has been because all the goodies you wanted were gone…because it isn’t my day off, and I won’t get an extra day off and I won’t open my check to find hazard pay on it, either!

See, the thing is, it isn’t even the WORKING—loads of people are working on holidays— in hospitals and airports Airplane, factories and newspapers, IT help desks  and and and… But it’s just the same as any other work day, except they get holiday pay, or time and a half or triple time, or extra time off, and more than the just over minimum that is offered to seasonal retail workers.

It’s the tone of the people you are interacting with—who any other day may be polite and gentle, who may hold the door for someone, or let someone with only a few items get to the register before them.  Who upon arrival at the parking lot begin to behave like hungry piranhas, refusing even to yield a gap in the driving lane to let a car out of a parking space Auto, so sure that someone may be trying to beat them to the deal. The season of Peace and Joy, indeed.

Be alerted also that many, many people consider the 24th of December a holiday, too. Retail does not. Those elves busy filling your stockings at the register on December 24th are not being treated to a paid (or unpaid) holiday. They are scrambling to come up with something at the last minute, to fulfill  orders not due till early January, to prove to the person you are trying to impress that you are, indeed, Santa.

The retail world thanks you.  

About Turkey Day  This links to a blog I wrote two years ago for Thanksgiving. There isn’t much I can add to it…

CHRISTMAS PHOTO A DAY…. Starting up again on DECEMBER FIRST… are you signed up to my photo blog? Do you want to receive these images daily to your email? Have you liked my Facebook page? Are you on the list and you want to be removed? (sniff  Sad smile )   (Contact me to be added or removed)

My photo website—  ALL images Camera are available for purchase, and make wonderful, unique and personal gifts.

This year, I have a selection of Christmas images for personalized Christmas cards!

My Etsy site—   This year I have a few different little gifts Gift with a bow available for sale.

What is left to say?

BE THANKFUL.

EAT WELL,

HAVE LEFTOVERS,

AND MAKE MEMORIES…!

December 3

2010 dec 3 (1 of 1)

Last year, we were all Swine Flu crazy! I made up these cute little Chinese food boxes full of  ‘Flu Fighters’ and gave them to co-workers, friends and family.

Ingredients, as listed on the tag (with a clip art image of a pig Smile)

  • Blistex
  • Chicken Cup-a-Soup
  • Cough drops
  • Tylenol
  • Emergen-C powder and those drink pouches for water bottles with either Gatorade powder or some other flavor with electrolytes
  • Anti-bacterial hand cleaner in a travel size
  • Tissues with a nice little fabric cover I made
  • and of course, MEDICINAL chocolate *(Hershey Kisses)

Hoping everyone has a HEALTHY Christmas season this year!!!

I need Novembers off…

Is there a career which would allow me to have Novembers off?? I feel the great pull of time, of the pages of the calendar turning turning turning, the pressure of all the things I planned to do this year, staring me in the face…

I want to be a part of Art Every Day month, and of NaNoWriMo but I don’t have the time, what with the escalation of pressure (Christmas music has made its way to my job) to make my Christmas lists, and then commit to the making of said gifts (which, of course could be part of Make Art Every Day…)

The great American novel may not be really floating around in my head, but I would love to challenge myself to write every day as well. (The goal of 50,000 words itself isn’t off-putting; I’ve written two fiction stories over three times that length, but the time-frame: 30 days, of which I have already lost the first 4….and the topic…)

Yet these have to compete with the new crisp visions I’ve had, the visions of quilts I would love to get back to, the desire to start new ones…

And the recipes! They come at you from everywhere– holiday cooking, holiday baking; it all looks so much more satisfying and so much less like another chore than at any other part of the year….

And of course all those things to do don’t even touch on all the time needed for pesky routine things like sleeping, and cleaning house…

So, if anyone is aware of a vocation I could take up, that would free up my NOVEMBERS, do tell!

Christmas without Wally…

(Wally-World, that is.) I can do it, can you?

I dislike– in so many ways it can’t be adequately described– Wal-Mart.

So much so that I can tell you exactly when I last set foot into my local WM. It was just over a week before Thanksgiving. So that puts it at what, 49 weeks ago?? I can’t say I’ve missed a thing not being there. Understand please, that it is SO convenient to my daily world that I can see the sign over the front entrance from the window of my job; that their parking lot is across the street from my parking lot….

I just am never HAPPY when I am there. The light is ‘off’, the air moves oddly, the hollow feeling of the place, even when over-loaded with (often cranky) people just bothers me. I have never saved enough money there to make it worth my while.

I have never found it one-stop-shopping enough to make it worth my while. It isn’t more than a lowest-common-denominator kind of place for me.

I have never stood on the check-out line without the thought running through my head, “WHY did I come in here?” (And all this without the first echo of the more overt political, environmental, labor and capitalistic  etc. issues that cause me to simply not need WM in my life!)

Oh, back when I lived on the Island, and the closest WM was over a bridge in another state, AND was a relatively new addition even there, I thought it was a fine thing.  A place I would have to make PLANS to get to. (It was before a Target became available to me, in that same out-of-state, ‘destination’ type of experience that even IKEA was.)

And when I moved here, I did on occasion shop there; before I really became comfortable with the other local grocery stores, and who carried what; before I had learned my way about the area.

It is the only place down here open 24 hours, and coming from a city where EVERYTHING seemed to be open 24 hours (even Home Depot), I felt it was the place to be. However, there is nothing I would need in the middle of the night that I can’t find at my CVS, closer to home and less of a headache.

So, with perfect honesty, I can say, I will not be doing my Christmas-ing at WM. I realize that for some, WM really IS the only ‘local’ alternative. And I feel for you. But, if you are reading this blog, you have within your reach, the entire WORLD.

Use it! Keep your UPS man in a job, and buy online! In your jammies, in the middle of the night, and think about those fools standing in WM at 3 am, cursing the 25 CLOSED cash register lines, while they stand 10 deep at the 3 lines open, waiting their turn to deal with tired, harried cashiers.

And order gifts to your hearts content; gifts far more unique, more whimsical and probably far more personal than the same red and black plaid flannel shirt that exactly 3,550,673 other tired Christmas shoppers tossed into their carts at the last minute, remembering that Uncle Jimmy would be at Christmas dinner this year!

(What? you don’t want to pay shipping and handling?? Well, how about GAS, and TIME, and all the other things that end up in the cart over and above what you NEEDED??)

Where to shop? Well, let me list a few gems:

Photography My photos, they make WONDERFUL gifts…

Collectibles My Dad’s web-site, where you will be able to find one-of-a-kind ephemera and small household collectibles; things that you will remember from your youth, and things that will make you smile…

T-shirts My babiest brudder’s T-shirt site…(he has a more unique view on the world than most, a great site for the teens and young adults you need to shop for…)

And hey, there are a gazillion OTHER sites out there, big and small, that offer just about anything!!! (But, if I were to start picking and choosing…. well, I figure I will just advertise for Us!! LOL)

(Oh, and by the way, I am NO LONGER early, folks. It is NOT too soon to be thinking about Christmas gifting. It is 53 DAYS till Christmas, otherwise known as November 1st, AKA ‘Happy Birthday Kerin and Elaine!’)

Christmas is coming…

…and I am aware that I’ve been slacking… Did you know almost 40% of your holiday prep time is GONE gone gone… and here I am, neglecting the posting of my “Christmas is coming, the sky is falling!” blogs…

My excuses, such as they are, are as follows:

  • I’ve been hanging out with friends.
  • I’ve been traveling.
  • I’ve been taking photos (Almost 600 images that I have shot over the past few weeks are grinding around in the computer waiting for processing so you can buy them!)
  • I’ve been fondling my quilting fabrics, thinking, planning, plotting….
  • I’ve been buying out the book section at Goodwill, so I have many more excuses not to do housework.
  • Oh, and housework.
  • And work-work.

Yet, time waits for no woman to prepare for the holidays. I DO have my Christmas cards already. They aren’t signed or addressed or stamped, mind you, but they are HERE!

I have the gifts for that list of ‘just a little something’ people almost completed, and I do have a ‘short-list’ of gifts for the majority of the family. Which is really a SHORT list this year (No, not the family–I haven’t off’ed anyone! Just the quantity of gift$ per person…)

The biggie is always Timmy. As I usually get one REALLY GOOD IDEA. And then, his birthday occurs on December 2 and I end up giving him the REALLY GOOD gift then, and have to hit the drawing board again….

image

Of course, since these two beauties will be joining our family on Sunday, I may just buy him stock in lint rollers—meet …well, Nameless and Nameless Jr.- (25 combined pounds of FUR)

I posted a poll last month. You responded that you feel that handmade is better. You preferred to give and receive thoughtful (and possibly handmade) gifts.

So, share with me, and the thousands (lol) of other dedicated readers…What are some of your favorite gifts you’ve received –and why?

And, one last thing…if you are looking for a bit of spiritual whimsy to add to your holiday stocking, check these out…my brother’s newest cool venture!

 

Really cool stuff…

…Well, to me, anyhow!!!  If I continue paying down my credit cards at the rate I am going now, I will be 100% free of them by October 2010. That’s exactly ONE year from now.

Possible? Yes. Probable? Not really. After all, I DO still use them, but I use them far more carefully and much more as a convenience than I did in the past, when they were actually part of my budgeting.

That’s the nasty truth of being a single parent who received little to no child support for 18 years in a city with the expenses of New York.

Nowadays, I make a bit more, live in a less expense location, and have my husband’s income as well, which obviously makes a difference in the headway of my finances.

I have always had a good credit rating, and that is mine and mine alone. Which explains how even in this day and age, I am able to still manipulate my balances and move them around to get the lowest interest rates possible. It’s a bit like a shell game, but I am finally on the right side of the overturned cardboard box!

As I DO use the cards still, I fully expect to have a balance next year at this time. And I am ok with that, really. I pay something along the lines of 5-7 times my minimum each month. I can cut back to the bare minimums on the cards and try to live entirely cash, (and some have an interest rate) or I can continue to move balances to 0% cards I already own and have $0 balances on (Somehow the CC companies haven’t noticed—Shhhh!)

I am interested in how it all falls out as the regulations supposedly change in favor of us, the consumer, over the next 6-8 months.  None of my cards have told me my rates were going up, (except one, and it was a date nine months from the receipt, and I currently owe them $270, so by next month that threat is useless to me) and none have cut my limits back. (Which totals somewhere over twice my annual salary! Craziness, indeed.)

I know there are things I could be doing differently at this very moment in order to speed up the process. I could look more seriously into Dave Ramsey, I could re-read some Tightwad Gazettes, or Your Money or Your Life. Sell more of my photographs.

Shop yard sales, or just stop shopping, quit vacations, no more dinners out (that’s on Timmy’s card, however)… there are a gazillion things we together could cut back on…. but his cards, his bills are separate. And I can not make those decisions alone.

But, once I have eliminated these beasts of burden from my back, I can begin to assist him more fully in the pursuit of his own freedom.

One step at a time. Beginning with Christmas.

Christmas is going to be spare, it’s going to be sparse, and it’s going to be about people. Not about things, but about emotion, connection, and loving thoughts. (I hope. That’s my plan. :) )

I can’t be Scrooge, however!! How do YOU plan to make Christmas a less ‘object driven’ pursuit this year? I’m interested in hearing about all sorts of ideas!! (successful ones, especially!!!)

Christmas Gifting styles….

Can I interest you in a perfectly unscientific little poll?

I am a gift giver. (Well, it should be more properly termed a reformed gift-giver, or a gift-giver in my fantasies).  I can think of few things more enjoyable than walking through stores, fairs, museums—anywhere, all year, and wanting to stop and buy YOU something.

Something that brings to mind YOUR smile, or laugh, or some time or event we’ve shared when I spot it. And I want to stop and purchase this little token, tuck it away and wait for Christmas.

Bet you didn’t know that, did ya? It’s not for lack of wishing that I don’t have a goodie basket sitting, waiting for you.

I used to have a closet, and I called it the “Yah NEVA Know” closet. Because I worked in retail, and often in the mall, I was exposed to all the things, all the year through. I knew better than to admire item X in April, and expect to go back in late December to claim it as the perfect gift. So, if the price was right, and it seemed the thing for you as a gift, into the closet it went.

This closet, by the way, was not simply for gifting. At one point, a cousin who lived with me exclaimed that one of the most fascinating things to him was that if he felt the need to have object A, which was needed as a part for something else, he simply asked me, and I would pull the object of his desire out of the Yah Neva Know closet. (It saved many a late night run to the craft store to make a school project for Arlie, too.)

I’ve had to stop this. My credit cards thank me, really they do. In real life, my gift-giving list is relatively short, and not particularly excessive. We don’t give excessive gifts (well, except to each other), and I don’t exchange with a long list of people.

I have discovered that while I love the hunt–the thought and discovery when collecting and creating a gift, and I put myself into those  expressions of love– that more often than not, the giftee doesn’t seem to appreciate the effort, to “get it”. Or we simply don’t exchange gifts with each other any more, for any number of reasons.

It takes a lot of psychic energy to defend yourself against the perceived lack of enthusiasm, so too often of late, I have become a gift card giver. And in my mind, much of the excitement and anticipation is taken from the experience of Christmas, because I LOVE to watch someone open my gifts and see their faces…I know I am usually more excited to watch them open them than to be opening my own!

There is still a small list of friends for whom buying gifts is still exciting (even IF the gifts  sit unopened for 8 months, till we see each other..hey, Christmas is a state of mind!)

But in my fantasy world, I’d be driving Little Saint Nick up and down the East Coast for weeks leading up till Christmas, dropping off all manner of goodies collected and made, just for you. (I’m sorry, let me re-phrase that_ I’d be having Timmy drive Little Saint Nick; I’d be in the passenger seat, LOL)

So, now a poll. Where do you fall in this Christmas chaos that will be descending upon us sooner than you would even believe?