Nick of Time

I’ve made it to tibbs eve, the shopping is done, it’s snowing outside and I just poured a drink-Merry Christmas everybody.  People were hustling and bustling at the malls,traffic created some white knuckled moments, and there’s a turkey keeping my fridge door from shutting all the way, all sure signs that Santa is soon coming to town.  Everyone I saw tonight looked relatively happy as they buzzed around putting final touches on the last of their holiday lists.  Sales at every turn, “excuse me” was the phrase of choice and I even passed a lineup of cheerful kids waiting for a photo op with the man in red himself all just in the “nick”of time.

There’s so much that needs to be done before the big day and it’s only now that I got the opportunity to make a blog post and ironically also in the nick of time.  I had to make some sort of post for the conditions are all there.   There’s a blizzard outside, the tree is beautiful with all those lights, gifts are being wrapped and christmas music has created the perfect atmosphere for me to write.  An atmosphere that makes me think back on old times trying to recall some of the things that I did as a kid to celebrate the day before the eve of Christmas.  Memories of happy times and how for that one time of year family was first, food was plentiful and the world seems to stop, even if for a few short days.

People are winding down their workloads, shutting off their lights and punching out for some well deserved quality time with family and friends.  Gathering together and enjoying each other as much as possible, eating, drinking and just creating special moments with the people we love, I love this time of year.  Life throws so much at us, it allows us to become distracted from what matters the most.  To get time like this to forget all that and just focus on our closest bff’s and the kinfolk are times to be celebrated-embrace it.  My grandmother loved Christmas, she loved people and with her, there was no such thing as too many, everybody was welcomed no matter what.  She was in her glee when there was a constant roar in of conversation in the kitchen and drink of whiskey in her hand, that smirk on her face when you questioned what was in her glass would guarantee to make your heart smile.

Miss somebody? Christmas is famous for that as well unfortunately, this time of year can remind us of that void in our lives but that’s ok  because we need that too.  Sure it sucks reminiscing about a time that no longer includes a certain someone, but for the time that they were around I bet there are some unforgettable Christmases that were spent together.  I miss my grandparents, my uncles and friends a lot at Christmas time but thinking about them also makes me feel at peace with the fact that are gone but am reassured that they will never be forgotten.  They will be forever a part of me and this time of the year brings that out the most.

Like I said, it’s the day before Christmas eve and I’m sure there are traditions that you’re recreating right now with the people you love and spend time with.  Card games, marathon gift wrapping, and shed parties are only examples of all that tends to happen on a day like today.  One example I guess is the last minute shopping tradition, the one that I was a part of earlier, well, at least I know that I am not the only one, it’s not on purpose I promise.  Any traditions you keep? Anything that has to happen for you or Christmas just don’t seem the same?

The weather is horrible too, Santa’s sleigh would have come in handy on night like tonight.  That said, now that I’m inside looking at the snowfall, it does give me a very festive feeling inside.  I have always wanted to have snow on Christmas, it just doesn’t have that same feel to it without a slight dusting of the white stuff.  I went for a walk a few nights ago and the snow had just fallen and  you know, with the Christmas lights it  completely made me feel all nostalgic.  I couldn’t help but think about what it was like for me as a kid when I too was going to bed early and hoping I was good enough to make the nice list and Santa was going to bring me that GT Snowracer I wanted so badly this one year.  Last week my little nephew was visiting us (he’s three) and I got the chance to see  a glimpse of what Christmas means to a kid whose enchanted by the spirit of the holidays and it showed me once again that is truly all about the kids.

So I leave you with a wish of a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, I thank you all for reading my blog, I appreciate every view, like and follow.  I started this blog not knowing if I would be this far invested but I am starting to realize that I enjoy sharing with you my thoughts and feelings about the world around me.  Have a safe holiday and all the best in the 2017.

Merry Christmas

Ash

 

Because Your Gift, Your Gift is on My List

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and I would imagine that panic has started to set in for some, while for others, maybe not so much.  No matter where you look there are trees beautifully decorated, extravagant displays fill store windows and Santa’s waving his way through street parades.  All constant reminders that we need to start to think about crossing people off that list of ours because time is getting short.  Each day that goes by the bargains start to dwindle and merchandise will be soon become scarce, I urge you to get out there now and start shopping, no seriously go.

One tool in any disciplined shopper’s arsenal to beat the holiday anxiety would be to create a Christmas shopping list.  A Christmas list can reduce a lot of stress this time of year because once complete you can then start a strategic plan of attack, just getting it down on paper would definitely make you feel a little better at least.  These lists help us prioritize the given with the maybe, the easy to shop for with the not so easy to shop for.  Your list will grow and so will the anxiety, those names with blanks spaces by them will probably make you stress out but keep moving forward because each year your gift creativity might be challenged, but it’s Christmas so challenge accepted, right?

I’m sure you have made little notes of subtle hints and clues left by friends and family over the past few weeks and months.  These hints I hope have not fell on deaf ears with you around, the best gift-giver in the world as you rush to the list and scratch down as many ideas as you can hoping to find that perfect something and lock it in.  It’s no easy task playing Santa every holiday season, well, Santa’s helper that is, there’s a lot of thought that goes into creating a Christmas of ooo’s and ah’s.  Finding that perfect gift brings a huge sense of satisfaction, it’s a huge weight off your shoulders especially when it’s a rare find or that item that everybody seems to want this year, you even rush to wrap it right away.  Nothing like leaving the store beaming knowing that all your hard work had paid off, you did it, you found that perfect something and it only took you three hours standing in line and a few elbows to the face to do it.

Christmas lists are ever-changing with people getting added, some not making the cut this year and those who will never leave your list no matter what and is starting to become too difficult to shop for by the way.  BIG gifts, small gifts, joke gifts and the special gifts, they all started with some sort of list, a collective inventory of who gets what and why.  Whether it was a mental note you made or you went elf level and Microsoft Excel’d that sh*t, either way they likely started with a “list”.  When do you make your list?  When do you start to write down names alongside the ideas, some ideas with circles around them, some might have underlines and some may go as far as having a circle with an underline. We constantly jot down and scratch out little notes to ourselves as the holidays draw near,  all of us moving toward the same goal, surviving Christmas.  We scramble to get stuff done with our crumpled paper in hand and after losing two pens already we trudge along thumbing our lists.   So many list categories of which include fundraiser gifts, the boss gift, and of course the “Secret Santa” gift, all with their own micro budgets and all with their own degree of difficulty.  One thing to remember though, is no matter what, the lists are all scared, no peeking or you will ruin the surprise.  There’s a code of silence and an agreed upon mystique about what is asked for and what is given.

It would be sacrilege to make a post about lists and not include children.  Let’s face it, if it weren’t for the children and their handwritten pleas to Santa to reward a year of being good there would be no need for lists.  There is nothing better for the soul then reading a letter from a child caught up in the wonders of the holiday season.  The happiness of seeing your kids opening their gifts on Christmas morning is what captures the essence of gift giving and the smiles on their faces is what makes Christmas all worth it. 

There are a lot of emotions surrounding the holidays and some of those emotions might be of sadness, we may have lost loved ones or moved away to another part of the world.  Christmas can and will bring some of that, but why not use Christmas to help others in need, take a second and maybe add someone new to your list that are struggling or going through a real tough time.  Make them a part of your own holiday tradition, they might need a little joy to turn everything all around.  It’s easy to get all caught up in what we need or want but remember there are those who are less fortunate, those who struggle everyday let alone Christmas.  If you do have the ability to pay it forward then write that on the top of your things to do.

It’s December 7th, 2016 and it’s full on Christmas, people are freaking out and some are thinking about doing some baking this weekend because their done, all their lists are behind them (insert bitterness here).  If you are like me you might be somewhere in the middle, knocked out a few but there is still a way to go.  The count downs have begun but it’s still no need to go full on panic attack that you left everything to the last minute, there’s still time.  I have had the occasion where on one Christmas Eve I passed a man with no more that 20 minutes left to shop say to a friend of his in passing that he had nothing done, crazy…or in my opinion selfish.  Leaving your shopping to the last-minute will only bring on bad appliances, way too expensive jewelry and another bad sweater that dad seems to never wear, a gift should come from the heart and with a lot more thought.

Questions like “how’s your shopping going? or “Are you all done?” are usually the second or third thing that is mentioned when I talk to people these days and with that comes that internal dialog of what’s left on my lists.  No doubt that Christmas has a way of creeping up on us, we sometimes show shades of our inner Grinch and resent the holidays but if you think about it, it only comes once a year so we should embrace it.  Enjoy the time with your family, have that drink with your colleague because we only get one day a year to “Christmas and chill”.  There’s bound to be some obstacles and moments of stress but that’s where we need to help each other make it the best Christmas yet both giving and receiving.  So if you have a list or need to make one then go ahead because your gift, your gift is on my list, of the best things in life.

I know, bad Hall & Oates tie-in with the closing…

😉

 

 

Merely Christmas Everybody

Remembrance Day is here and….if you haven’t already noticed, Christmas is also making its way from our subconscious to the conscious pretty quickly. It was not but the first of November when I started to see little glimpses of the holidays pop up all around me. The TV was full of toy commercials, stores all in a mad frenzy getting their Christmas displays front and center and in plain view.  Just the other day I even saw a neighbor down the street inflating a snowman on his front lawn, OK…the snowman is a bit much in my opinion but no matter what I think the holidays are out in full force.

Like most, I don’t really like to think about Christmas until after Remembrance Day but I know there are many people out there that can’t wait to start preparing their lists for another marathon of gift giving and the chaos that it brings with it.  I think we all should take the time to remember those that have given their lives and continue to give their lives for our freedom instead of allowing the thoughts of Christmas to overshadow their sacrifices.  If it were not for those sacrifices we wouldn’t have the freedoms we have today, it would be whole different world that we would be living in and that’s something that we should never forget.  Once the 11th of November gets the attention that it deserves we can all then focus on the upcoming festive season but let’s just ease into it shall we?

Not sure you feel the same but no matter where I turn these days I see Christmas already becoming mainstream with the commercials, the tv specials and my inbox at work slowly filling with invites and save the dates.  Office chatter begins to sound like to-do lists, water cooler talk fills with “started your shopping yet?”and tickets and fundraisers finally give my pocket change a purpose.  There’s no turning back now, if you have a inner Grinch then prepare to release the Kraken.

I have to admit that the holidays do bring a certain feel of anxiety for me, an anxiety that may not be warranted because no matter what, Christmas will show up and like each year before, I get through it.  That said, the thought of lists and budgets still start to dance around my head, and the radio countdown on the morning commute telling me there’s only seven more weeks to shop is very stress inducing, not going to lie.  As in years past, the promise was always to get an early jump, that seemed very practical in theory but here I am once again wishing my time back.  No matter how many times I tell myself that next year will be different, I end up in the exact same state of mind year after year, creature of habit indeed.  How can we really avoid not thinking about it anyway when it’s been thrown in your face earlier and earlier each year.  It’s hard enough to slow down in our crazy lives we don’t need to start thinking about how poor January will be the last week in October.

I don’t mean to convey that Christmas should come at a huge cost but we have to admit it does comes with some costs and we do need to be creative with balancing the books for December.  It must be really difficult for parents who find this time of the year hard to be able to get through a day without feeling the stress of affording to pull off Christmas.  This day in age there are so many things that kids want that come with a huge price tag, parents must really feel the pinch, I really don’t know how they do it.  I’m thankful for being able to provide the things required to make a happy christmas for my family, I can’t imagine what some people must be going through right now facing the same challenge.  It must be hard with all the constant reminders that I wrote about throughout this blog and if I ever have the opportunity to give back to someone in need, I do so as much as I can to hopefully help them achieve their own special holiday.  For the last two years I have helped with a huge community dinner and seeing the looks on those kids faces as they were given a gift directly from Santa with their names on it was all the reward I needed.  It was very humbling and I was happy that I had the chance to give back in a way like providing a hot meal and gifts at Christmas time.  Witnessing the reactions of the kids and seeing the parents with joy on their faces is really what the season is all about.  If you have the chance to give back I encourage you do so, you’ll get to meet some good people and be a part of something full of “feel good”.

The holidays have a different effect on all of us, we all have our own memories and feel a certain way when this time of year rolls around.  It’s a fact that Christmas, unfortunately is driven commercially and that’s why we see it so  much and so early each year.  Big corporations beating each other to the punch and tiptoeing the fine lines of what’s too soon to run their holiday campaigns.  One of the common things that I hear regarding the early jump on Christmas is the response of “not before Remembrance Day” I completely agree we that, some seem to agree as well, some say they don’t care and some say “why not both?”.  So like everything, we all can agree to disagree but individually we can make that choice for ourselves.

Time flies for sure, I just wrote in my post before this one that October was here and gone, I’m posting this today November 11th, 2016 and Christmas is like my car radio says, seven weeks away.  Everybody take a moment and realize why today is a holiday, take a moment and google some of the reasons we have the freedom to blog, post, and instagram.  Our world exist because they fought for what was right, they fought for a free world and they fought for our future and still continue to do so.  Let’s not forget and do so in your own little way, there is plenty time to put elf on the shelf and plenty time to talk gift cards.

When tomorrow comes we can all start to embrace the oncoming season of greetings, so go break out the boxes marked front porch lights and tree stand(new one), determine who makes the Christmas card list this year and who doesn’t.  Go ahead and start that holiday wish list, make sure to dig out some old recipes you keep promising to make each year and don’t, why you’re at it click some of those Christmas party responses you’ve been avoiding for a week now-it’s time.  My friends tomorrow we can all go to our respective corners and come out to take on the holidays as best we can but remember it’s “Merely Christmas Everybody” so play fair and let’s have a good season.