Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents

This post has been shared before. 
I did not write it. 
It originated in 2005.
I read it every year to remind myself that :

All I want for Christmas is Peace, Hope, Love, and Joy.

Post written by Leo Babauta.
I love Christmas. I love the snow-themed everything, even when I was living on tropical Guam, and Santa and elves and reindeer and snowmen and candy canes. Yes, I even love the non-stop playing of Christmas music for two months.
Most of all, I love getting together with my family — eating Christmas cookies, singing Christmas carols together, gossiping and laughing at each other. It’s tremendous fun.
I don’t love Christmas shopping, or the overconsumption, frenzied malls, consumer debt, environmental waste, wasted time wrapping, and over-accumulation of needless stuff that goes with it.
Bah humbug! I love Christmas, but the shopping has got to go. Here’s why. Warning: This will be a rant of near-epic proportions

1. The focus is on buying, not on sharing. I love the idea of giving to people you love, but that idea has been twisted. Now people go out in a mad rush to shop, like ravenous vampires feasting on new blood. We shop for a month, rip apart the packaging one morning, and then forget about it the next day. Is this about giving, or buying?

2. Giving is great, but buying is not the solution. Again, I’m in love with giving … but do we need to buy to give? We seem to think that buying is the solution to any problem, but that has lead to a society that is deeply in debt and piled high with needless stuff. We can find other ways to give: bake cookies, wash someone’s car, babysit so they can go on a date night, create a photo album, be there when they need help moving.
3. The waste, oh the waste. Let’s start with packaging: the packaging for every toy is double the volume of the toy itself. From cardboard to plastic to metal twist-ties, it’s ridiculous. Then every item we buy must be brought home in bags. We often put everything in boxes. Then we buy wrapping paper and wrap it all up. All of this gets thrown away on Christmas day. Finally, there’s the gift itself — people get so much stuff they can’t possibly treasure everything. So it goes into the closet to be forgotten.

4. The sorrowful debt. Most people spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on gifts and wrapping. Not to mention all the money spent on gas, driving to different shopping places, and the money spent on fattening food at mall food courts. This goes on credit cards (and around our waistlines), and we then must pay for this — with high interest — during the year. Even if you don’t get into debt, you’re spending money earned from long hours of hard work — is this really how you want to spend your life, paying for needless stuff so corporations can get rich?

5. The horrendous, insipid, seizure-inducing advertising. I can’t stand advertising, and it only gets worse on Christmas. The ads pound on you relentlessly until you give in — and it works. That’s been proven — those ads are getting you to buy more, to want more, to lay down the credit card. I don’t watch TV, read newspapers or magazines, or allow ads in my browser (AdBlock) so that I don’t have to be subjected to this.
6. The fuel. If you drive all over the place to shop, you’re using lots of fuel. Even if you just order online, think of the fuel it takes to deliver these products (overnight!) to your home. And the fuel used to create the products, to get the raw materials to the factories, to cut down the raw materials, to ship the finished product to the stores or warehouses from around the world (most likely from China), not to mention all the fuel used to create and ship the packaging. It’s a few million metric craploads of fuel, wasted for giving some presents that will be forgotten.
7. There are still hungry people in the world. In the frenzy that is Christmas shopping, we spend ridiculous amounts of money that is pure waste. In other countries, people are struggling just to eat, or get medicine, or find shelter, or get clean drinking water. We spend so much in a show of consumerist greed, when that money could go to feed a few dozen families. If you have money to waste, consider donating it to an organization that is helping these types of families. I know this sounds preachy, but really, this kind of reminder is necessary in times like these.
8. The neverending clutter. What happens to all the gifts? They go on our shelves, in our closets, on the floor. We already have so much clutter — do we need more? We already have problems figuring out what to do with everything we own. Why do we want to clutter our homes even more? Why do we want to force clutter on our loved ones, oblige them to find a spot in their already cluttered homes for this gift we’ve given them, so they won’t offend us when we come to visit? Is this obligation really a gift?


Q: But what about the kids?

A: Kids love getting presents (I have six kids — I should know!). I sure did when I was a kid. Are we to rob them of this? It’s a difficult question, but another side of the equation to consider is what we are teaching the kids. They don’t just participate in the opening of presents — they see all the shopping too. They are being taught to shop, and to value material goods over anything else. Imagine their lives when they’re grown — a life of shopping and debt and waste, because that’s what’s important, right? So for the joy of opening a few presents for a couple hours on Christmas day, we’re imparting on them consumerist values that will last them a lifetime.

I think, instead, this can be a great opportunity to have an open discussion with kids about buying and spending and debt. Did you receive this kind of education when you were a kid? Would you have been better off if you had? This is also a great opportunity to teach kids about giving to others, about volunteering and helping the less fortunate, about finding other ways to spend time with loved ones that don’t require shopping. My kids do want presents — but I don’t want them to think that’s what Christmas is all about. We’ve been having this discussion and we will continue to this month.
Q: But what about family?

A: Family, believe it or not, will survive without a few presents from us. They can continue to shop and give presents, but you can simply tell them that you don’t want to participate this year. Send them a link to this article to explain why.
This is also a great opportunity (you see how I love turning problems into opportunities?) to create new traditions with your family — go caroling, string popcorn for the tree, make Christmas cookies, bake pies, play football outside, create Christmas scrapbooks, volunteer.
Q: But I love giving presents!
A: Sure, who doesn’t? And you might also love shopping. Shopping, for many people, is a pleasure like no other. This can be a problem, in my mind: you might be using shopping to give you temporary happiness, to fill a hole in your life, to make you happy when you’re depressed or stressed or lonely. I’m not saying you are, but many people do, and it’s good to take a look at these things. Richer happiness can be found in simpler things that don’t involve spending: being with loved ones, creating, reading, getting outside and doing something active.

Even if you aren’t addicted to shopping, you might just love giving presents. And that’s OK — but you might consider giving more meaningful presents that don’t require lots of shopping. Creating a photo album or scrapbook for someone takes time and thought, while laying down a credit card at Macy’s doesn’t.
Q: How do you convince a spouse who equates lavish gifts with love & appreciation?

A: This definitely isn’t easy. It’s an important discussion to have, however. You’ll need to do it without accusations, without resentment, without making the other person feel he’s under attack. Bring it up as an ongoing discussion about things you’re thinking about — maybe even point to this post as a starting point.

This is such an important discussion because so many couples get badly into debt for this reason — one partner has different values about material goods, shopping, debt, gifts, and so on, and the other partner hates to fight about it so doesn’t talk about it. Financial issues are also a big reason couples split up. So finding a healthy way to talk about values, about financial goals, about how you want to live your lives, is so crucial. Do it gently, with compassion, as a way to live together as a team rather than two people struggling against each other.
A good way to get started is to write a blog post or a letter to your spouse about your feelings — again, without being attacking. You might explain why you’re not into giving presents, that you still love your spouse but want to show it in non-consumerist ways, that there are other traditions the two of you could start together to share your love.

Alternatives to buying

There are so many good ideas, but a few:
  • Do other things with family, such as caroling, baking, watching It’s a Wonderful Life, playing football outside.
  • Volunteer as a family at a homeless shelter.
  • Ask people to donate to your favorite charity in lieu of gifts.
  • Make meaningful gifts.
  • Do a gift swap where you put a valued possession (that you already own) into the swap.
  • Bake gifts

  • Have an experience instead of giving material goods: do something fun together, go to the beach or a lake.
  • Find hope. Christmas has so much potential to be about so much more than buying — it can be a season of hope, renewal, loved ones, inspiration, contemplation. Talk to your family about this — how can we find ways to be hopeful, thankful, cooperative? How can we be more present instead of worried about getting presents?
  • Get stuff at Goodwill. It’s recycled, and the money helps a good cause

Monday, November 23, 2015

No apologizes...none!

I am  officially, and unapologetically, listening to holiday Christmas in NOW!
In fact, I've cleaned my CDs (ya'll youngins don't use these now, right?), got Pandora play list loaded, and I'm singing  to myself. The music gets me excited. It puts a smile on my face! I get energized.

What holiday Christmas season is complete without hearing "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer", "All I want for Christmas is You", "Oh Holy Night", "Jingle Bells" least a few times? I love the oldie goldies, the country, the traditional Christmas hymns, the big band orchestras, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Michael Buble....the list is endless.

It will always be 
Christmas music to me....Always! No apologizes! 
Christmas music, 
Christmas music, 
Christmas music!

One of the sites that I follow on-line is Scary Mommy . Check it out. It's cute, funny, and "is intended for people who have a sense of humor, an appreciation for sarcasm, and who wear panties that don't easily get in a wad". YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!

Here is War-Of-The-Christmas-Music by Kathy Radigan:
Each November, my family and I enter into the War of the Christmas Music.
Yes, it’s me against my husband and the three little darlings whom I brought into this world—I should add after a collective 36 hours of labor and three C-sections.
This year, I’m taking a proactive stand. I’m taking my case to the people. Mommy wants to listen to “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” without the groans and moans from the backseat of the minivan. I would like to enjoy all 55 versions from 55 different artists of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” without hearing my husband call me a “lame-o.”
Here are 10 reasons why my family shouldn’t give me a hard time when I listen to the holiday music that gives little old me such joy:
1. I don’t play the “I carried each of you for 9 (actually 10) extremely long months” card very often, but this year I will. Remember that without me, three of you would not be here on this earth and one of you would not be a father. I think that deserves a few fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-las for a few weeks.
2. Contrary to what some 16-year-olds claim, listening to large amounts of holiday music will not cause permanent damage to anyone’s psyche or cause anyone to turn to a life of crime.
3. Hearing “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” puts me in a much more peaceful mood and makes my head less likely to explode when a certain 8-year-old asks me 55 times if we could have mushrooms, then asks another 55 times if the mushrooms are ready, then looks at them and with a straight face tells me he doesn’t like mushrooms.
4. If I could listen to Elmo singing the alphabet, Steve from Blues Clues sing, “We Just Got a Letter!” and Dora the Explorer singing “The BackPack Song” for the rough equivalent of two full years of my life, surely you can listen to Karen Carpenter sing, “Merry Christmas, Darling,” for a few weeks without bursting into tears.
5. John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen have done Christmas songs. If it’s good enough for them, surely it’s good enough for us.
6. There comes a time every Christmas when Santa needs some extra elves to help with all the seasonal preparations. Who do you think he is going to ask for help? Yes, you are right—me! Happy elves spread holiday cheer, and nothing brings more cheer than a few choruses of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
7. What holiday season is complete without hearing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” at least a few times?
8. There really was a part in our wedding vows that said, in sickness, health and listening to holiday music every year. I’m not sure why you don’t remember that? Weren’t you paying attention on the most important day of your life? Don’t you love me enough to remember the vow you made to me 22 years ago in front of our family, friends and God? Doesn’t our marriage mean anything to you?
9. When Mom is happy, everyone is happy. When Mom is not happy, well, you know what happens.
10. Some of my most precious holiday memories are of nursing a 2-week-old, trying to decorate the Christmas tree while nine months pregnant and holding the hand of a 3-year-old, watching three of the sweetest children squeal with delight over what Santa brought them, and snuggling on the couch with the one I love, all with the sounds of the season playing in the background.
Truth be told, there is something that just warms my heart every time I hear a Christmas song. They trigger all the best memories of holidays past. And, if that doesn’t move you, remember your survival sort of depends on, well, me.

I'm turning up the volume! No apologizes....none! 
Bring on the Christmas music!

Here is an hour's worth of utube Christmas music....just click here --->Christmas Music 

More than likely....Ho Ho Ho ...I'll also be putting up a 
Christmas tree, 
Christmas Lights,  
Christmas ornaments, 
Christmas wreaths, 
wrapping a few Christmas presents, 
wearing my Christmas scarf, 
going to a Christmas parade, 
saying Merry Christmas,
and playing Christmas tunes, on my piano !

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Oh Happy, Warm, Sunny, November Days ♥

What a great day be outdoors......sunny, 70 degrees,  and November19th. 
You know, I think people are nicer when the sun is shining.  I know I am! 
Our outdoor walks are pretty much controlled by Wyatt, our 4 month old grandson. (Gotta eat, burp, change poopy diapers, etc., then dash to the car, walk, and be back home for the next feeding....phew)
He sure is cute, though, so we do what works.
Wyatt is one happy little baby!

Our usual route is The Roanoke River Greenway. It's beautiful, safe, easy walking, and stroller friendly. Due to lots of rain last night.....Oops, we couldn't go this way:
Wiley Drive

Oh well, turn around and go the other way....NOT TO BE DEFEATED!
Oops, that didn't work either:
Bridge and tunnel near Carilion Hospital

That didn't stop our walk! Over and around we went.(No we did not swim through the tunnel, with a stroller. We are good, but not that good!)
The other side of the bridge and tunnel.

It didn't seem to bother Mr. Wyatt which route we took. He took 
his nap for most of the stroll, and was ready to rock and roll by the time we got home!
Wyatt doesn't seem impressed, does he?

And.... I got my Fitbit steps done for the day!

Oh happy warm sunny November days ♥ 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A.Blast.From.The.Past ~ Virginia Heights Elementary School 1954-1959

A few weeks ago, a Facebook acquaintance posted a few pics of  a crew of urchins from Virginia Heights Elementary School. Talk about reminiscing! GOOD GRIEF! I possess one or two of the following photos (in my storage closet of unorganized photos). The person that shared these photos, however, had the entire pandora's box!) These photos opened up a lot of memories for me, from my childhood...some good, some not so good. Elementary school was, for the most part, pleasant. I found it fascinating to see faces that I remembered and faces that, well...I have no clue. I loved seeing the style of clothing. I vividly remember and will never forget my teachers, and their names! They helped to shape who I am today! I remember learning the states, and capitals and their placement on the map!(need to refresh my memory on that one). I remember getting an orange for successfully printing my ABC's...and oh I remember learning how to square dance....hahaha. I remember biting my nails, and YIKES, I remember where I hid my report cards. And yes, I really did walk to school every day, in the rain, and snow.......and wearing a dress EVERY...SINGLE...DAY... 
First Grade, 1954

Second Grade 1955

another Second Grade 1955

Oh my....third grade. I think everyone was terrified to have Ms. Maines for a teacher. Rumors had it, that she had a ruler for slapping you on the hand, for the least little thing. I think that is when I started biting my nails. I've since learned that FEAR is, for the most part, a waste of time! She was a no-nonsense educator, and by golly, we LEARNED!

Third Grade 1956

Fourth Grade 1957

Fifth Grade 1958

Sixth Grade 1959

In the sixth grade, the girls were priviledged to be hostesses.....
(nope, can't remember what we did, but we had a laminated name tag, so it must have been really important.)
Sixth Grade Hostesses 

And the boys were honored to be patrols.......
Sixth Grade Patrols

I'm still searching for the photograph of our 7th grade class. Virginia Heights Elementary School was one of the few schools that added a 7th grade class to the school that year....1960. 
My goodness, some of these urchins graduated with me from Patrick Henry High School in 1966. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I'm help needed!

I love everything about the fall season.

I love the leaves.....the warm colors, the cool, crisp air.

I love watching the leaves, in motion, falling to the ground.....and boy do they fall.
It's kinda like watching snow flakes...... until you have to shovel rake. 

 maybe a few more leaves must FALL. But waking up to the sun's rays in the yard, makes it worth the rake.

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns~~~ George Eliot

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air~~~ Nathaniel Hawthorne


Sunday, November 1, 2015

You makin' me hungry :)

I'm love these playful fashion illustrations by artist Gretchen Röehrs.