Friday, December 25, 2009

Wrap This Up

Friday, December 25, 2009 - Christmas. Hanukkah. Kwanzaa. Festivus. Whether you celebrate or not, it's hard to not feel that the air is different at this time of year. People are harried, frustrated, and feeling a tad guilty about not feeling the warm giving spirit that shouldn't be reserved for merely one day a year. Yet, year after year, we let what we haven't done or that which we have not finished dictate how prepared we are to celebrate friends and family.

I propose that this year, the only things you are allowed to think about are all the things you accomplished. This list might include the thanks you gave someone for a job well done - that was deserved, timely and genuine, or the bag of chocolate balls you pulled out of a red bag for your colleagues at the end of their shift after having to work Christmas eve. That might not seem like a big deal - but those chocolates were from the heart. Those little things that are from the heart is the source of that warm spirit to which we are meant to be striving. So how come the things we remember are the cards we didn't write and mail, the gifts I didn't find/buy/fight over, and the flowers I didn't get for friends? You know that saying - don't sweat the small stuff - I think it could be re-written for this season.... don't sweat the sMALL stuff. Get out of the mall, and get in to your loved one's lives. Find out what really makes them remember the holidays. Odds are, it won't be the gifts but the time spent together. It won't be the card they didn't receive, it will be the phone call (takes more time and effort than writing your name).

This year - I did find a perfect gift for a few people that are important to me. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all related to spending time together. It is a gift that doesn't require ribbons, wrap and bows. I won't get tape stuck to everything (and it's self... geez I hate that). I won't worry about the size and I'm not concerned about the colours it comes in this season. I won't torture myself worrying that mum already has one - doesn't use one, want one or otherwise not like. My gift this year to everyone is about spending a little time together, engaged in what is going on in their lives. This is a gift I don't need to pre-order... just schedule and be present. That is a present. No stress, no muss, no fuss.

So if I could just get past the fact that I haven't mailed out my cards.....

Ok... maybe a little guilt. Merry ho ho ho to everyone, whatever your holiday might be. If the cards didn't get out this year, they just didn't get out. Pick up the phone. Trust me - they will remember it longer and with warmer thoughts than a bit of dead tree and some mashed up vegetables for colour.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wrap That Up

Thursday, December 17, 2009 - What would the holidays be without those gifts you open and ooh and ahh over publicly, while inside your brain is going a hundred miles an hour with questions. Those questions go something like this:
"What is it?"
"What were they thinking?"
"Who can I give this to?"
"How often am I going to have to put this out on display?"
"Oh crap, now I have to invite them over to see it"
"What the heck am I supposed to do with this?"
"I wonder what store it's from? Do they need receipts?"
"I hope I have a box to put this in."
Today you can go ahead and re-wrap that fabulous gift. It is Re-Gifting Day. The one day in the year where giving away the gifts you just couldn't understand. What this does mean is that it is NOT ok the rest of the year. Have you been storing those gifts for just such a day as today all year? Get out the cellophane tape and bows and get those gifts in to the hands of someone else who may not understand the gift. And if that same gift ends up in the hands of another by late tonight - that is one hell of a way to celebrate. If you are one of the lucky few who has not ever received a gift you couldn't explain, than perhaps you can help someone else celebrate the day. Go ahead and buy a special someone one of those kitchen gadgets with which Julia Child herself wouldn't know what to do. How about a sweater covered in Reindeer and decorated trees? Better yet, a blue sweater covered in Dreidels and Menorahs is the perfect gift - especially for your Muslim and Buddhist friends.

The malls are really out there to support you at this time of year. Every mall is full of Kiosk vendors selling everything from walking tripod speakers and lambskin g-strings to age defying hand creams sure to grow your nails and increase your grip strength. There has got to be a gift to re-gift available for you there. There is this kiosk in a mall near where I work. Just inside the mall there is a kiosk past the lotto centre (probably the busiest vendor in the mall) that seems to be selling that miracle hand cream of which I speak. I'm terrified to try one of their free samples. The woman who works the kiosk has black eyeliner, black eyeshadow, and very black lashes - at least I hope it's makeup - but you can see her very very black eyes from across the mall. If it is make-up, it is a shame that she hadn't re-gifted it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chocolate Covered Misery

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 - Writing, it appears, is something that I have lost the desire to continue. I made a promise to keep writing, both to myself and to the four people who read this drivel, and failed. So yesterday, a colleague commented that they had read my blog. Honestly? I didn't think anyone was still reading this, and so I stopped writing. The fallout of that conversation is this post. I make no promises that this will be the first of many. I will also not promise this is my swan song. This is instead, a commitment to myself to do something I enjoy again.

I believe that is an admission that I enjoy writing. When it got to be too much it was really around the time that I was also spending large parts of my working life writing. I suspect that if this blog became a paid column, I would bet it would no longer hold interest for me. Of course, that's a little like sugar coating the obvious. When you put a price on something, the intrinsic value drops.

This festive season - Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus (for the rest of us) - is really weeks of sugar coating. We spend time with family we will only spend time with because of the holidays. We buy gifts we wouldn't normally buy. We spend money we have not yet earned (love that credit), and we spend the next few months juggling our other responsibilities to pay for it all. But, we do it for the love of the season.

Hell, this season really seems to be about stress, frustration, crowds and excess pressure. Parties are supposed to be fun times, but often we go to the holiday gatherings because we are expected to attend. We bring hostess gifts, and a bottle of something to dull the pain - or dull the stress. Just be glad it isn't socially acceptable to bring what people are often really feeling at this time of year. Chocolate covered loneliness is hard to put in a box. Dark Chocolate Exhaustion is especially hard to wrap. I'm fond of yogurt covered raisins, but these too are only junk food in disguise. Sugar coated fruit so to speak. Oh hell, it's in theme. Today is Chocolate Coated Everything Day.

I know this isn't the most festive of prose, but it is my right to write. Yesterday was the Bill of Rights Day which really gives us all the ok to say whatever it is we want to say - and you can say it any way you want. That being said, we also have the right to bear arms, so if I really don't like what you're saying... your right to life, liberty and freedom is not yours. I don't know how you coat that in Chocolate.

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