Friday, December 28, 2007

A New Year

Well, it is almost New Years and It sort of makes me think about things. Things I used to take for granted. There is so much in my life that I have been blessed with. A loving husband, a couple of really good kids, a home, good friends, enough healthy food, and all of us have enough money to get by on. It makes me realize that there are thousands of people who don't have those things.

I think about things like that every now and then. I try to donate to the food bank and homeless shelters when I can. I give any change I have to the Salvation Army when I see them braving the weather outside of a store. Then I got to thinking about what these folks do the rest of the year. Why should charity and goodwill only be at Christmas? Don't they need things the rest of the year too? Why should giving only be a last minute tax shelter?

I am sure they will need things all year. I do. I have to make the effort to do more the rest of the year. I may not have much by some standards, but compared to others, I have everything.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why I hate shopping

I had to take my daughter shopping last night for a Secret Santa thing they do on the Newspaper staff at her school. A small gift every day for a week with a bigger gift ($5) on Friday. The kid she was supposed to buy for has been in the hospital for 2 weeks with histoplasmosis. She doesn't know him that well, and he wasn't there to write down the stuff that he liked/wanted, so she is having to wing it.

So after I drop off my son at scouts, we go to the Mass Merchandiser to try and find something for him. We walk around looking at all of the crap on the shelves, realize that it is all crap, and wind up getting a Pez dispenser and some assorted candy. She will be giving him a can of Pepsi one day as well. We decided that for the Friday gift, I will just make up a candy/cookie tray. Lame, I know, but at least it is heartfelt. For the Monday gift from her Secret Santa, she got a tube of chapstick. Kinda makes you wonder just how seriously these kids take it.

Anyway, there is just nothing out there is in the wide world of shopping that I either want or need. I have what I need already. Looking at the shelves in the stores just depresses me. Over priced, cheaply made, over packaged, and much much over advertised crap.

If someone actually wanted to get me something I would like, get me a side of Beef. That, I could use. Granted, it wouldn't be terribly practical to wrap and put under the tree, but you could always wrap it and put it in the freezer with a note under the tree.

It just seems that merchandisers are trying so hard to get every last dime from consumers, that they over look the need for quality. And the manufacturers that do believe in quality price their stuff so far out of the range of the normal consumer as to be a joke. So again, we are just bombarded with crap and told to like it. Well, I won't do it!

No more cheap, plastic, slave labor, Chinese, mass marketed crap will be bought by me. I will be looking for small businesses that produce American goods from American materials to stock my home. I will not be supporting MegaMart in their efforts to destroy small town America, I will not be supporting the Chinese government in their efforts to infiltrate the United States through our Capitalist greed, I will not bow down to the advertising agencies and spend more than my income for a holiday that is supposed to promote Peace, Love, and the birth of a Holy Child.

This Christmas, I am going to make it about caring, not about money. The few gifts I have to buy will be meaningful instead of pricey. It isn't about how many gifts, or how much they cost, but what that gift will mean to the person who gets it.

I am done with the shopping just because it is Christmas.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

I hate Christmas

You know, Christmas really, really sucks. There is nothing quite like knowing that whatever you give someone for Christmas will be exactly what they don't want/like/need. So as a nation, we all flood into the shopping malls and MegaMarts, picking up things only to put them back, in a frantic search for the "perfect" gift.

I have decided that there is no "perfect" gift. Inevitably it will be the wrong color/style/size/ brand, break the first time it is used, or just be something that they cannot possibly use. Last year, I gave my husband a foot massager that he had been eyeballing every time we went into the store. He would rub on it, and exclaim over it, and wish they made it in bed size. I bought the last one in town. I couldn't wait for him to open it. It broke the first day. I was devastated. As a companion to the foot massage, I got him another massager that would fit his office chair that had heat and massage. Very nice for about a week until it too stopped working. It was at that point I decided that I would never buy anything that plugs into a wall as a gift again.

I gave my dad a bat house last year. As weird as it was, he liked it. He then proceeded to build himself about 5 more. It seems that the stranger the gift I give my dad, the more he likes it. At least he is kinda fun to buy for.

My kids, or at least my daughter, stress over what to give as gifts too. They never seem to have enough cash at hand to give the things they want to give. So the gifts always seem a bit lame. I remind them that Christmas isn't about the gifts, it is about the giving. They look at me like I have grown an extra head or something.

This year, my daughter, bless her pea pickin' heart, has decided to do artwork for charity. She has some talent for cartooning so she has been drawing anime' like pictures of her friends for a minimal amount of money. She said that every dime of it will be used to buy necessities for the teen shelter in our town. So far, she has collected $9 and has commissions for about $25 more. Somehow, I think I did good with that kid.

Then, of course, there is the whole Family thing to do. If you want to see just how much I am looking forward to that, see the Thanksgiving post. It will be all that and then some. At least this year we have managed to make a deal with almost all of the family members on both sides to not exchange gifts. Except for the kids. That works for me just fine. There is no reason for all of us to spend money we don't have just so we can swap crap. We had a small problem in that I had already bought a gift for my step-mom. My dad bought it from me to give to her. Problem solved. He got a gift to give her that he didn't have to shop for, and I got to give her something that I know she actually will like, even if it didn't have my name on the "from" tag on the box.

All in all, Christmas just sucks. I would much rather stay home, cook a nice meal for my husband and kids, watch a movie, and relax.

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