Christmas Photo a Day, December 9, 2017


Christmas is about giving of yourself to those around you…..Small business Saturday doesn’t mean You MUST battle Main St. USA; you can find many wonderful, unique, handmade gifts at small businesses online… My art is available as prints, totes and other gifts at Fine Art America.  My entire portfolio is here, at The View From the Passenger Window.  Or, look for an artist whose work you already admire. Or find a new “favorite artist,” like Maria D’angelo.

But if you really want to be out in the crowds, look for art galleries in the town that you find yourself today! Buy small, buy local and support the arts, and support ARTISTS…. (my only “ad” this month!)

Christmas Present

We want more STUFF!!


Somewhere on Staten Island, NY, post Sandy. ©DESIREE ARROYO

Every day, we go out and buy STUFF. It’s how we entertain ourselves— strolling the malls, poking around in clothing stores and home repair stores and home décor stores and grocery stores and book stores and craft stores and –well, I was going to say record stores, but that isn’t quite what they are anymore—and when push comes to shove, the dollar store or the corner market.

We shop. We acquire, we accumulate.

The stuff we own possesses us after a time.

We buy bigger houses with bonus rooms, or at least go rent a storage unit so we can keep all of our stuff. The stuff we buy attempts to announce our worth to the people who ring us out at the cash register, to the people who see us with it, and to the person we stare at in the mirror each morning while brushing our teeth.

We want MORE! Bigger, better, faster, cheaper. Stuff. THINGS.

I’ve written before about things. Actually for a while there I was writing about things, and getting rid of things ….but I digress. (because I have not succeeded; although I am more aware, I am not cured)

  • Look around you.
  • Take a look at that photo, above.
  • How are you doing?
  • Do you NEED anything more than the people you love surrounding you and laughter and memories made?

Remember, there are MANY who would be thrilled to have a home in which to have dinner this year.

Happy Thanksgiving.  (And here, a smallish little rant-y kind of blog about shopping on this weekend from a few years back. Add to it Thanksgiving DAY shopping and those in food service. Remember, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  Rolling on the floor laughingNyah-Nyah)

Ready, Set, FEAST!

I know this week is a short one at work for most. There are turkeys and stuffing and pies to think about, and the thought of 3 or 4 or 5 days away from your job; the myriad things you can do…shop, decorate, visit with friends and family. Laugh, relax. EAT.

So, I offer here just two things.


A Public Service Announcement; offered with the gentlest of smiles, and the sincerity of years on the other side. (At a job I ENJOY, and believe I am good at, thank you. Despite my little rants, I am a professional and expect the same from my staff at all times.)

Be KIND to the people you meet on Black Friday: The throngs of likeminded holiday shoppers who are determined in any way possible to make Christmas dreams come true. Think back to Thursday, when you sat, stuffed at the Thanksgiving table, and remember this….

It’s your day off. As was Thursday, as will be Saturday and Sunday. While you are scurrying about, trying to locate the best and brightest (and the cheapest) don’t take it out on the unfortunate other shopper who got to the parking space first. Park in “Outer Siberia” (the ring road around any mall) and walk, breath deeply, enjoy the briskness of the season, and worry not over getting the spot closest to the door. You will be liberated by this small lack of stress.

Recall this, as well. Chant it as a mantra if you must. “I do NOT need to buy everything TODAY.” You have 26 more days to find the perfect gift. (If you can’t find it in 26 days, is it possible you have over-thought or over-bought in years gone by? Let go, and go for less than perfect.)

And please, be aware that the poor harried cashier, stock boy, sales person, or even store manager is NOT personally out to get you, to ruin your day or you child’s holiday.

Generally speaking, it’s not their fault if the advertised item is out of stock by the time you got there. (They don’t hoard things, waiting for the saddest story, the most forlorn face, before they whip the item out from behind a curtain with a flourish. They want it sold. They had it, they sold it. Sorry.)

That there aren’t any more shopping carts is really not something they can control.  If all the registers are running, the lines can’t really be blamed on the cashiers. (Possibly it’s the person she is with, who INSISTS that every item is on sale, and needs price checks?)

If all the registers are not up, it may be someone came down with the flu, or is helping someone in aisle 12, or is stuck trying to get into the parking lot (or possibly just needed a pee break.)

That a salesperson can not answer to your satisfaction questions (simplex or complex) that you pose about an item is more the product of Corporate not allowing enough and early hiring, or training to the level that the store management might prefer, and that the customer would prefer.

Your salesperson was likely hired a few weeks ago, at something close to minimum wage (currently $7.25 an hour… not enough to be thinking about buying most of what you have in your cart) and has no guarantee that her job will last more than the next thirty days. It may be her first job ever, it may be a second job so that she can buy Christmas gifts for her kids.

But, yes, she is happy for the job. (For that $7.25, how much rudeness and carrying on of shoppers could you put up with, still with an almost smile on your face?)

She arrived at work at 4:30 AM or is looking at the disaster of the sweater department with the sinking realization that she will not be leaving work until long after midnight.

Speak to a Corporate entity on Monday about the fact there weren’t more cashiers or sales people the floor, if you must. But know this. The store manager was given very stringent payroll that he or she MUST come in on. And to do that, they likely have worked and will work 6 or 7 day weeks till the new year.

Remember too, that these people gave up time with their family and friends on this holiday weekend so that on YOUR day off, you could shop.


I wish you the blessing of loved ones surrounding you, happy times, and many opportunities for you to look about you and realize all that you have to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Now, go EAT!

The gift of art…

(What do you mean you haven’t STARTED your Christmas shopping yet??)

You do realize that this time next week, the stores will be crawling with holiday shoppers, that you are NO LONGER AHEAD of the game, that you can’t say, “Ah, yes, well, I’m finished already,” with that superior little smile of yours…

Its getting close now… the little ticker says 34 days.

You realize that you don’t have to spend lots of money to give personal gifts to friends and family alike. You know that special is better than expensive. Carefully thought out is better than load the shopping cart, one in every size for every name on you list.

What will you do with that knowledge? Are you making intelligent decisions, or will you find yourself trolling the hallways of the mall last minute, like last year?

I have a solution! And a reward for your sensible shopping! (It’s still BEFORE  Black Friday, and you can keep crossing off those names!!)

A FREE GIVEAWAY! The TENTH (10th) person to order photographic prints from my website after this post is posted will receive a free 11×14 print from my site. Any image that you want; you can gift it or give it to yourself as a reward for finishing up that Christmas list!!

By the way, this IS a win/win situation, because whether you are #10 or not, you will have made some Christmas purchases!

Rules will be:

  • Go to The View From the Passenger Window.
  • Order something. Anything. (Everything, lol)
  • I receive an email confirmation of your order.
  • Based on the date/time stamp of the message, I will identify lucky #10!!!

Pass this message on!

Happy Shopping!


It’s Downhill from here….

The little ticker on my home page doesn’t lie, folks. THIRTY-NINE days till Christmas. That’s like, a month, dude, give or take a few days!

Are you ready for the holidays? Do you have the food planned for your Thanksgiving feast? (Nope, the list hasn’t come ‘round yet.)

Do you know where you are going? (The other Green House, if dinner is early enough. Otherwise I am getting a plate of leftovers to enjoy after dealing with the masses of the well fed and football challenged who will feel the need to descend upon the store at 5 pm, Thursday.) Who you are going with? (Timmy, I hope! (see above)…)

Have you plotted out your pre-strategy for Black Friday? (My preferred strategy is to to sleep in, and stay home, but my second choice is to be at the store at 5:30 AM—the only chance of getting home at a decent hour is if I open…)

You do know WHAT you want to buy, don’t you?? Your Christmas list is sitting right next to the computer, isn’t it? With lots of things crossed off already because you have been SO efficient this year? So that every little hint of inspiration is duly noted before it fades off into the ether, right?

(Oh, wait. You were going to be CREATIVE this Christmas. You were going to MAKE everything. Better get on it, chickie…times a-wasting!)

Go to the post office this week, buy your stamps (what do you mean you haven’t finished making your Christmas cards??? Not bought, either?? Tssk tsk…. ) Come on… it’s time NOW, so you don’t have to stand on line LATER! If you are VERY lucky, you have one of those APS machines and you can leave the house right now, Sunday afternoon, and take care of this small, but important task! (HINT: the parking lot is empty…..)

AND!!!!! Not only am I pulling together your PHOTO A DAY for the month of December, I am putting the finishing touches on a gift for YOU, this very moment….stay tuned for a very special give-away …..

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 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?