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Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Really?  I’m taking a survey. Vote for one or more.

  1. How many of you are done with your holiday shopping? You planned it out and spread the expense over the course of the year so it would not hit your budget ridiculously in February when all those credit card bills need to be faced. This actually happens rarely, although many of us have good intentions. For example, I had half my shopping done by October….but THEN received lists of needful things from my family. 
  2. You set aside money each month and stash it somewhere you hope you forget when an emergency comes up (new tires, dog is sick, etc). This was the budget to spread over 12 months and the shopping can get serious at this time of year, permitting you to catch the sales. Some stores market “BEST PRICES ALL YEAR”  but do you know that? Have you been checking prices earlier?
  3. You’ve told your family that there will be only one present per person from you.  And then you see something perfect for someone…..and get it..and soon you are breaking the rule you set up.  But they’ll stick to it and only get one for you. You will work on not feeling disappointed.  
  4. This year will be different. All gifts will be useful and sustainable.  The family will do a service project for the community to feel that your good deed has been taken care of.  Getting up at 6am to help cook breakfast for the hungry on Christmas morning is NOT a favorite choice. 
  5. This year you need to get serious to protect your family when the SHTF. Everyone needs a new semi-automatic weapon (I think there is a pink one that your  6-year-old daughter will love.) You will not tell the Christmas story to your children. Who needs all that “Peace on earth, good will to all” nancypants liberal garbage?  Oops, the 3-year-old grabbed the 6-year-old’s loaded weapon? Well, your aunt was always a bit odd, so not too big a deal. 
  6. You saw some snowflake on Facebook posted a list of stores that were starting their Black Friday sales on Thursday. Their corporate greed is not your concern, but you can make fun and find fault at the person’s post anyway.  After all, your cousin Bubba earns minimum wage (not a living wage) working at Wally World so he can use the money and no one likes him at the Thanksgiving table anyway. More pumpkin pie for you. 
  7. You really don’t buy much for anyone so this is no big deal. You might go out Christmas Even to the local drug store and pick up some toilet water. Then again, why bother. It’s not as if that person loves you. 

In my family, growing up, we celebrated Hanuka, but on Christmas morning, at the bottom of the stairs as we headed down to breakfast, my sisters and I would find a book, not wrapped, because the appearance of being a gift needed to be hidden. It was usually about a history of the Jewish people or a book about Israel. The only time we discussed this annual habit of my parents was when I was in college and dared to have a non-Jewish boyfriend. We had a loud discussion about mixed messages which, of course, was not resolved.

But what concerns me most of all is all the other hyped up messages that people receive this time of year.

  • Our Biggest Sale of the Year starts now! 30% OFF our entire selection of figure flattering, easy care dresses when you use the code GIVETHANKS at checkout. Proudly made in USA. Is giving thanks for getting a discount a bit self-serving?
  • Our Green Friday sale is here! Get 20% off everything plus a mystery gift*! 🌲ten trees planted for every item sold🌲 *while supplies last! Going GREEN makes you feel good…grab those bargains, keep the mystery gift for yourself, everyone wins! Do you live a sustainable lifestyle 364 other days a year?
  • Get in line early to capture the best! Don’t consider what you look like.  Don’t put any thought into this…just laugh…yup, you’ve been co-opted.pet smart

We know why the advertisements hit us nonstop starting  before Halloween. Retail earns over 50% of their annual income at this time of year.   Ever recognize the puppet strings attached to you?

You have taught your children to ask for toys they see in commercials and to eat foods they see advertised on tv. Your kids have behaviors that show they know only how to express the “wants” as “needs”. You have not been teaching them how to plan for a big purchase, how to defer gratification.  You criticize other people’s children while they are looking at yours with a stink-eye because of their fussing, their whining.

Even in the midst of the recession I was amazed at the people I would see eating out.  It is easier for people to wrack up credit card debt than to learn to cook. And bankruptcies are on the rise, so that explains why people who support Trump did not blink an eye at his multiple bankruptcies. The dream of being rich like him is not reality, but you can wrack up debt like Trump and blow it off like him. You admire him for showing you the way to not be responsible. That has become normalcy.

And meanwhile, we have numerous crafters and artisans who offer their efforts at affordable prices. and small local businesses that are owned by your neighbors.  They offer unique gifts that mean your loved ones will NOT be getting the same things as everyone else. This means that the artists earns pennies for all the hours s/he has spent to create, to share their talent. And most people scoff at what is shown, saying “I can do it” (but never do anything like it) and walk on.

I truly hope people find purpose and joy in their holiday celebrations. I just wonder if the message your children are learning is the one you are hoping to teach.

This video opens the door to fixing this need to buy more get more to feel worthy. My only addition would be, that if you don;t feel yourself as “perfect” as he wants you to feel, get to work! You can achieve a better place, but it starts inside.

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Celebrate Without Going Broke

When I went into the doctor with a raging sinus infection seven Januarys ago we came to the conclusion that I was allergic to the mold that naturally forms on real Christmas trees once they are cut. The doctor was a bit surprised that I was just discovering this at my advanced age. He laughed heartily when I explained I had married Graham and was only now celebrating Christmas. We switched to an artificial tree and breathing remains undisturbed.

I wanted all the sights and smells I had heard about, read about, seen on tv and in movies. I wanted the plaid dresses with black velvet. I wanted the aroma of real pine, not some sprayed chemicals. I wanted candlelight and fire in the fireplace and all the bells and smells. I was ready to be a full fledged Christmas consumer.

By making decorations or bringing home natural items from a walk in the park to decorate the tree, you can save lots of money

By making decorations or bringing home natural items from a walk in the park to decorate the tree, you can save lots of money

When you add Christmas to 8 nights of Hanuka you end up with a lot of gift giving. Graham felt challenged. I quickly explained I had always done gift giving much as many families do-one large and several small. So this year, for example, he will buy me 8 pairs of socks and we bought a meal saver for safely freezing food.  As for me, most of the gifts I will give are items I have personally made, including the canned items I put up all growing season, baked yummies, and some useful sewn items. While all have costs associated with them, by preparing all year the cost is spread and does not hit the budget all at one time.2014-06-22 18.45.32

The whole concept of gift giving has really gotten extreme, as you yourself know. I am managing a Holiday Bazaar at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds December 13 and 14. By limiting the vendors to people who hand craft their items, we will have a vast array of jewelry, soft goods, food items, furntiture, toys and more with an array of prices from 50 cents to $500. By reminding consumers to get out of the mass produced buying frenzy at the local mall and keep their spending in the local economy, I am also suggesting they buy unique items for their loved ones.??????????wreath3??????????IMAG0309
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Even so, this may stress some budgets. I have been seeing more and more suggestions on how to make this season special with your family but not break the budget. I’d like to share some.wine and cheese traya

Can’t spend any money? Hand write (yeah, remember how to do that?) a letter to each member of your family. It doesn’t need to be long, maybe one page. Recount a memory or tell them something you look forward to doing with them. Share the love.The-Power-of-the-Handwritten-Note-in-Marketing

Check out these other suggestions by the MadHouseAdvent-activty-

Now, go and sin no more racking up credit card debt! ENJOY the season!

 


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Special Gifts

In Perrault’s version of Sleeping Beauty, there are seven fairy godmothers. The youngest one grants the baby princess the gift of being the most beautiful girl on the world; the second, being as spiritual as an angel; the third, to do everything with admirable grace; the fourth, to execute every dance with perfection; the fifth, to have the singing voice of a nightingale; the sixth, to strum marvelously any musical instrument. Then a fairy who wasn’t invited curses the princess and the seventh fairy (who was hidden beneath the curtains) steps in and saves the princess.Sleeping Beauty movie image Walt Disney

The concept of being given a special gift at birth may seem to belong in fairy tales but I have become more and more sure that I was gifted also. Certainly not by a fairy godmother, as no one has re-entered my life to continue bestowing similar gifts, but something in my being received this ability.

No, not beauty, not grace (I laugh that klutz must be my middle name), and certainly not dance, but I have a sense of direction.

Okay, big deal you retort. Well, call it spatial awareness, but I usually am not lost even if I don’t know where I am. Let me explain.

This is Lisa in the same spot many years later...she was not even a figment of imagination at the time of the tale!

This is my daughter Lisa in the same spot many years later…she was not even a figment of imagination at the time of the tale!

When I was four years old my family went on a camping trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. There we took a ranger hike up Cadillac Mountain. The ranger was adamant about staying together when it was time to hike back from the summit, as people could easily stray off the path and get stuck on a cliff, needing to be rescued at great expense. Well, sure enough, we scattered when we got to the bald summit to gather wild blueberries and after a while it became apparent that our family and a few others had been left behind. Well, there I was 4 years old, but I read some trail signs and said, this way and lead them down. Sure enough, the ranger came running back for us when we were near the bottom, but from that point on I was nicknamed the “Trail Finder” in my family. My usual assignment after that was to find the car in the huge shopping center parking lot.

As I am still very much exploring this new place we live, I can say, okay, let’s take that road, and then turn and turn again as we meander among the vineyards and farms, and we will end up where we need to be. Sure, I have the GPS as a back-up but rarely need it.  My inner compass keeps me moving in the right direction.compass

Only two places have ever confused me. One was easily rectified. When I climbed out of the subway in Manhattan I sometimes turned the wrong way to walk to my destination. No big deal; a short block later with the numbered streets I could easily turn around if need be.  lost

The other place was more of a problem. It seemed that something geological under Huntington, West Virginia threw off my inborn compass 180 degrees. Oh sure, I could intellectualize the direction analysis, doing something like….”okay, the park is that way…oops, I’m usually exactly opposite so it is this other way.”  And that could make it right.

The irritation there was I have I NEVER have to intellectualize it outside of Huntington…I just KNOW. Sitting here in my office I know the window to my right is facing south-southwest. Yes, I have seen the sun sweep across the sky, but I also saw that at my house in West Virginia and could not just “know.”gifted

So, I feel gifted. Yeah me!  How about you? Do you have a special talent that just comes naturally with no real effort?