Yeah, It’s Christmas

OK – so I know this isn’t necessarily a “personal” blog, but Christmas and “the holidays” are kind of a big deal, so I felt compelled to share some thoughts about this time of year. Those of you that know me know that this is my least favorite time of year (I’ll elaborate on that later). Thanksgiving is my favorite – the three “F”s – Food, Football, and Family. What more could one want!? But I don’t even have time to come off my Thanksgiving “high” when Christmas is staring me right in the face.

Rather than ramble on about how Christmas sucks, let me just get into my random holiday points now:

Gifts – This is my #1 least favorite thing about Christmas, which I realize sounds odd since it’s almost synonymous with Christmas. And keep in mind, this isn’t a religious rant either so I’m not going to start with the “reason for the season” stuff. But rather than enjoy time with family and friends, sip some eggnog (preferably with a lot of brandy), and just “chill”, we all turn into crazy, mad, insane shoppers buying gifts for whomever. There’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Super Saturday, and whatever other dates in between. Plus all the last minute folks (me), which make the weekend before Christmas a zoo.

While in theory, gift buying should be “fun” – it has turned into a VERY stressful thing, in my opinion. Who do I buy for? How much do I spend? Is a gift card OK or too impersonal? If I buy for one neighbor, then I have to buy for the rest. Same rule holds for work – buying for colleagues, the boss, etc. Oh yeah, then what about the pet sitter, hairdresser, doorman, waitress/waiter on Christmas Eve, etc.   If you go to church, how much to donate when the “collection plate” comes around.   There are so many rules to keep track of and ways to inadvertently piss people off that, in my opinion, it becomes much more stress than it’s worth. As much as I like to receive a nice gift and it would crater our economy, I really think skipping the whole gift thing would be a far more healthy (mentally) option. Just something to noodle when you have some time.

Giving – Rather than buying a minivan full of gifts for the family, how about donating that money to a homeless shelter, food pantry, toys for tots, or something along those lines? I’d much rather spend the money there than deal with the family/work pressure of gifts. Think about it – there are plenty of charitable options out there. Just pick one and do it. Maybe start small next year and build from there. Make it a family tradition.

Corporate Giving – As an employer, this can be a tough time of year as well. Think about the movie Christmas Vacation and the bonus Clark Griswald was waiting for. Many employees have some to expect a bonus around this time of year. Right or wrong, it’s just how the business world has developed. Instead of an annual bonus, how about an annual corporate gift to a local food pantry, salvation army, or something along those lines? For those doubting employees that think the owners just pocketed the cash, maybe make a big deal about it and take pictures handing over a check to the charity? Or maybe, to be fair, a smaller bonus plus some charitable giving – then everyone “wins”. Just a thought.

Volunteer – Building on the charity theme, how about volunteering time at a local charity for the holidays? This can easily be a family and/or corporate thing – maybe one thing combined?   Serving meals at a local homeless shelter might work. I’ve also seen groups ringing the red salvation army bells. Again, LOTS of options here – just pick one and go with it. Make it a family/corporate tradition.

Family – Holy crap how did I forget family!? Yes, this is surely the time to see the family that you don’t see on a regular basis, get together, eat some good food, sip some eggnog, and be reminded on why you don’t see them all the time. 🙂 OK, just kidding on that last part, but family visits can be stressful for sure. I think mainly because families are trying to jam 10 pounds of family into a 5 pound bag of space. So it’s crowded, maybe hot, lots of kids running around perhaps, and likely fairly hectic. Especially if there is a sleepover involved. Then the hectic factor goes up exponentially. If you can go into the annual family function, regardless of where/when, with the right frame of mind – that helps. Expect insanity and maybe you’ll be surprised with only stress. 🙂

Funny Stuff – Unrelated to anything here, I have to admit there is a LOT of funny stuff about Christmas out on the web. Jokes, YouTube videos, images, etc. Whatever your taste in humor, there is something out there for you. I’m not going to risk anything by posting some of my favorites, but I promise it won’t take you long to find something. Go ahead and share it. Or send it to me. I love that stuff!! 🙂

So, that’s my Christmas “rant” – on Christmas Day no less. Not as long as I thought it would be – hopefully you can appreciate the perspective, or at least were entertained. I have to get back to mentally preparing for the day. Merry Christmas to all!

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