A Piece of My Mind
By Jeff Salter
Our topic this week gives me a lot of wiggle room. I’ll start with a wrap-up of Thanksgiving Day and the days around it.
We had 16 for dinner that day — way more people than I actually feel comfortable with. [As I mentioned on one of the Foxes’ blogs this week: I much prefer spending one-on-one time with people I care about. The sustained noise and movement of MANY individuals – no matter how much I like them – tends to rattle me.]
Ten of those were in-laws … the families of two of my wife’s 26 first cousins. Good folks, all … but in-laws are in-laws, if you know what I mean. Those ten in-laws stayed with us for three nights. The first six left at mid-day on Saturday and we had the remaining four for a fourth night. Great folks and I was sorry to see them go … but we were exhausted!
We filled our 13-gallon (kitchen) trash container twice each day the company was here.
House-guests are not a problem, per se — as I said, I like these folks. But that’s a lot of bodies to stumble over, each with their own unique schedules. Some went to bed early and several stayed up ‘til the wee hours. Some rose from slumber around 10 a.m., requiring the rest of us to try to be quiet during the hours most people are up and about.
Did I mention that one family had an infant and a 3-year-old?
I don’t do it.
At least, I don’t do much anymore. I used to go whole-hog … trying to get ‘X’ dollars worth of gifts for each child and be sure my wife had several different types of gifts.
Heck, I even bought gifts for friends and neighbors at one point! Office co-workers, etc. I was a regular Santa. I’d take vacation time on two or three December afternoons … just for shopping!
But one season, after a full day of dragging myself up and down the mall, I came down with a case of pleurisy which (the Dr. told me later) would have landed me in the hospital if they’d gotten back the lab results that same day. Don’t think it was directly connected – in a true medical sense – to my shopping efforts, but I’ve never forgotten that the last thing I did before falling so incredibly ill … was spend an entire day shopping at the mall.
These days, I mostly shop on-line. Saves gasoline … and a bit of sanity. Better selection than I’d find at any particular mall. The physical exertion is minimal … and I have no fear of contracting pleurisy! I hate paying shipping costs, but it’s an acceptable trade-off.
Even if I did still DO traditional shopping, I certainly would NOT get myself out on so-called Black Friday. [By the way, I really dislike that term. I understand it’s a financial reference to profit vs. loss, but it sounds awful. Just call it ‘Debt Friday’ or something more to the point.]
Those extreme price cuts won’t get my business on Black Friday. If a retailer wants my attention, give me free shipping (with no minimum order required), plus at least 30% off the true regular pricing (for my total order), and a few coupons I can use in addition to those other two discounts.
Some people start the Christmas – and/or other ‘seasonal’ – decorations immediately after Halloween blows over. That’s WAY too soon. So the more traditional ‘norm’ is immediately after you run away all the Thanksgiving visitors.
As a kid growing up, our routine was much later. The Christmas stuff didn’t go up until after my birthday. You see, I was an early December baby, and my Mom wanted to be sure my birthday didn’t get completely sloshed over by the Christmas frenzy. So, nary an ornament was put out until Dec. 10th each year. I appreciated that consideration.
My daughter, bless her heart, was born on Dec. 23rd, so her birthday is totally subsumed by Christmas activity. To counter that, my wife often held my daughter’s birthday party in January … AFTER the holidays, so it could get the attention and participation (i.e., party guests) it deserved. I think that was a good solution.
In holiday decorations, I like simplicity, elegance, and understatement. Unfortunately, I see a lot which are complicated, garish, and grossly overdone. There … I’ve said it. Lock me up in Christmas Jail.