Stress-free Holidays?

I can’t sleep. I’m mentally exhausted, but my brain keeps going and I can’t sleep. I haven’t posted in a while. Partly because I’ve been busy making Christmas presents, partly because I’ve been busy learning to be a drone in society. That’s all school really is, you know? This post started out as a horribly pessimistic post, but then just writing was already making me feel better, so I’m going to talk about something else.

My mother, God bless her, is doing a loose no-spend December plan. It started out that she wasn’t going to buy anything at all. She was going to have all her Christmas shopping done, all her food stocked, everything she needed to enjoy the holiday without being bogged down by commercialism. She wanted these holidays to be fun, not stressful. Sounds good, right? Then she realized stressing out about not being able to buy anything wasn’t fun, so she decided to buy from locally-owned stores or as locally as possible. This means supporting our local restaurants, local hair and nail salons (which we seem to have a ton of and luckily our trusty hair dresser just so happens to be apart of a local place) local stores, which we don’t have a ton of, but that’s why she got her shopping done early. Her gift ideas are also noteworthy, but I can’t say until after Christmas.

We’re not a huge town, so we don’t have too many options. Most people go to a bigger city that is about an hour from here, which hurts the local economy even more. Companies decide to locate in cities based on how companies like them are being supported in that particular city. Because people always go to another city to buy stuff, our mall, (yeah, we actually had a real mall. It didn’t have very much stuff, but still, it’s something) is about to close. It’s kind of official according to my inside source. And that sucks. But anyway. Limited gas and perishable items are all she’s buying. And I gotta say, I’m proud of her. When I first started all this recycle more, waste less, consume less nonsense, she just jumped on board. No questions asked. And the way she raised me got me to the place where I could have the…I guess I would say the mental ability to comprehend such a life that doesn’t revolve around stuff. I’m a pretty lucky gal.

I am following in my mother’s footsteps with her no spend December plan. I did the last of my Christmas shopping on Monday (from a used book store, which should count even though it’s not my home economy), but it was for my angel tree people, which are a couple of senior citizens who are spending their Christmas in nursing home. I thought I could make the exception. Usually, I go way overboard because the thought of these people, who just ask for something so small and simple like socks or a book of crosswords or something, not getting anything breaks my heart. This year I curbed back and I guess I’m happy with that. So far, everyone else’s gifts are made, which I’m extremely happy about. I can’t give you the DIYs just yet because then they would know what it is and that would ruin the surprise. We’re having a small Christmas, not a lot of gifts, not a lot of waste, but we’ll be with family and that’s what matters.

I hope you all are having a stress-free holiday. Feel free to give your ideas for a waste-free holiday!


I wrote something similar to this for my other blog, but I feel writing another one again because it’s just still on my mind.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. Hopefully, I’m not the first to tell you this and I hope you had a good one. I have a good dad. A unique one, a respectable one, one to be admired. I don’t mind buying him a gift to celebrate the fact that he is my dad, in fact I like it. I like to buy people things when I know it will make them happy because it’s something they’ve been really wanting or I know they would really like it. I like people to be happy, but this Father’s Day brought some rather negative thoughts this year.

Really it all started a couple of Christmases ago. There was this sickening sight of greed and the smell of just pure ridiculousness in the air. It was sickening, all of the commercials, all of the comments that were being heard down the store aisles. Black Friday is the worst part. Seriously people, if you ever buy me a present, please don’t go through that kind of trouble or cause those kinds of problem for it. It’s just not worth it.  Christmas is supposed to be about how God sent his son to Earth so that he could later die for our sins. It was the ultimate gift. That’s the religious version of it anyway. Even if you don’t believe in that,  it is still supposed to be about giving. Ironically, it still is. It’s not like we’re carrying on like that just for our own selves those presents, but it’s just unreasonably avaricious which I think makes it even worse.

I don’t remember being particularly disturbed by the rest of the holidays the next year, but every day life, seeing everyone always off to do whatever they could to be first or hoard the most is extremely hard for me to stand. And the worst part to stomach is that some people don’t see anything wrong with what they’re doing. I don’t know how people can fix that.

The next Christmas, this last Christmas, was about ten times worse. The commercials, the news, the crowds, all of it. I’m surprised I could even make it out of bed, it was so depressing. It’s not so much the idea of Black Friday that bothers me, although thinking about it from the corporation’s point of view makes it a little more bothersome, but it’s just the way they act. Uncivilized, uncompassionate, rude. Those same people are the same people who do other ridiculous things and I think I’ve made a habit of not associating myself with them, so I’m constantly wondering what in the heck is going through their minds to make them act like a bunch of two-year olds. I also wonder if I could understand people like that would it make the situation any less sickening.

I think it’s a combination of experiences that lead me to this kind of disgust. Just by studying how much we waste and the effects it has on the environment has opened my eyes about a lot of different things. But even before I knew that kind of stuff, I always thought that it was sad that the world has lost so much compassion. I’m not the nicest person in the world. Far from it. Often my opinions are hypercritical, judgmental, a little harsh, I take my anger out on others who don’t deserve it, and people as a general rule make me kind of cranky, but I have always tried to stay compassionate. I still care about people and I want to help them because it’s not the individual people I dislike, it’s their attitudes. And if I wasn’t compassionate then I would be part of the problem and I would have to hate myself that much more.

New Year’s wasn’t that wasn’t so bad. Just the usual partying commercials. Valentine’s Day though was a little hard to stomach. I think the commercials I’ve been listening to on the radio are the difference. The one I listen to has new ones and some of them are just awful about objectifying women. And it’s not even for a strip club or something, it’s only men’s hair cutting place. Anyway, all the commercials were like: “Come and buy your girl this super expensive ring and you can probably buy her right along with it”. This isn’t exactly what they said and they may not mean to say it like that, but that’s what they’re implying. That particular jewelry store still has commercials and every few months it just gets a little worse. But I even remember seeing a more subtle version on TV. I was repulsed.

Next was Easter which had the usual candy selling extravaganza. Maybe it bothers me so much because the kid’s are getting more and more bratty. I can see the future effects of it and it’s not a pretty picture. Remember those kids are going to be taking care of us in nursing homes. Is that really what you want. People there now aren’t even being taken care of, how do you expect we’ll be treated?

Then there was Mother’s Day which seemed much more reasonable, but maybe that’s because I was still in shock by Valentine’s Day and Easter. It was more like: “Hey, give some appreciation for the woman who raised you with this nice day at the spa.” Maybe it’s because mother’s are just more reasonable and the marketing people know they won’t be swayed by the ridiculousness.

Father’s Day sure was a nice jerk back to reality though. Someone was telling me an article about how Father’s day gifts are becoming more personal. Instead of the gender oriented gifts like a tie, coffee mug or tool kit they’re getting gifts that are more tailored to the father’s personality. I was thinking that it was more along the lines that marketing campaigns are getting more aggressive and better at trying to sell us stuff. I thought this because of the radio commercials I had been hearing the day before about how I had to buy my dad I brand new $20,000 dollar car in order to tell him that I love him and I’m glad that he’s my dad. Or the thousands of other commercials I’ve heard over the last year about how  if I loved someone I would get them this or that.  The same as every other holiday.

Businesses have gotten better at convincing us that we need STUFF and telling us what STUFF we need or our loved ones NEED. I think it’s also been getting better at pinpointing our guilt. We feel guilty about the lack of time we spend with the kids so we buy them lots of toys. We feel guilty about not spending time with our wife so we buy her an expensive ring. That kind of thing. They seem to have convinced us that the more money we spend the more money we spend and it’s simply not true. I hope it gets better, but I fear it will not.



First time’s the charm

My first experience dumpster diving was the weekend before Christmas when I finally came to the notion that maybe dumpster diving would give me the means to make my crafts with.

My great-aunt, my mom and dad came with me and we went to some university apartments. My aunt, uncle, cousin and grandma did not join in our adventure and I must say that they missed out.

My mom had always said that my great-aunt was awesome, but I never spent much time with her. I had always thought she was awesome because she had a dog and I loved her dog, but other than that, I can only think of handful of occasions when we’ve spent time together. Anyways, my mom said they always had the best time when they were kids and she was always gung-ho and up for anything.  Turns out, like always, my mom was right.

During our first trip, we found a copier/printer/scanner, some wood, a broken floor lamp, some metal pipes, pop tabs/cans, a pillow and comforter that we took to the homeless shelter. In the trash we saw lots of food, boxes, one of those cushy, foam bed things, more wood and etc. We would have taken the cushy bed thing, but it was kind of dirty and we didn’t have the room in our car. We actually found more awesome stuff that we could have taken, but we didn’t have room for it in car and although we could shove some more stuff in, but we had to drive two hours and no one wants to do that with stuff piled on our laps to the ceiling.

So anyways, that was the great adventure we had on the first go round. Not to mention, the great attitudes we got from the people who saw us. Dumpster diving is not the most popular sport in America. I find it fascinating because we just waste so much money to have the latest thing when the old thing works just fine. What’s worse is that we throw it away instead of giving it to someone who could use it or recycle it. I find  when in the right time and place, dumpster diving is super fun and productive.

Of course, I have yet to find anything as valuable as the scanner/copier/printer. Mostly I find the trash that I’ll turn into crafts which is valuable to me, but not to too many other people.