The Watering Hole, Monday, December 23rd, 2013: Less Than 48 Hours ’til Christmas…

At this point before Christmas during most years, I’ve got everything done with just a few exceptions. This year, however, I still haven’t done any of this:
christmas-ornament-01
~ or this ~
christmas-wrapping-paper-1024x919
~ or this ~

Wrapped Presents

Wrapped Presents


~ or this ~
Baked Cookies

Baked Cookies

Good thing I don’t have to cook Christmas dinner!

This is our daily open thread–how are your Christmas preparations going?

The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 20th, 2012: The PediFix Tree

The PediFix Christmas Tree

The PediFix Christmas Tree

Yes, that IS a plastic lawn flamingo wearing a cardboard bow-tie...

Yes, that IS a plastic lawn flamingo wearing a cardboard bow-tie…

Yesterday afternoon, everyone at our company gathered ’round our traditionally-decorated Christmas tree to hear Jon, one of our bosses, give his Christmas speech, and to receive our Secret Santa gifts. Jon usually appoints one or two of the newest employees to play ‘Santa’ and hand out the gifts.

“Traditionally-decorated”, at our company (PediFix, Inc., a footcare products manufacturer), “…does not mean what you think it means…” In our case, it means an evolving and unique mix: classic glass and sparkle-encrusted ornaments compete for attention – and room – with decorations made of footcare products (a bunion guard with two ‘toe combs’ makes a great reindeer/moose!); a wide variety of trade show giveaways (lots of stress-ball-type items in the shapes of: a foot, a neon-pink brain, a computer, etc.); my collection of Audubon birds; several Beanie Babies(tm), including reindeer, a camel, and a rat; other odds and ends of toys and knick-knacks from some of our desks; and, of course, the flamingo. One Christmas, the tree was crowned by a rubber chicken, but the flamingo has reigned supreme ever since.

In the photos here, the flamingo is wearing a hand-colored cardboard bow-tie, a prop from a company party where, for some reason that I forget, we all wore these cartoonish ties. This year the flamingo sports a long strand of oversized pearls, and has a small fake bird attached to its neck via a green velvet bow-tie – much more stylish.

This year’s Christmas speech was not simply a variation on those of previous years. But I’m trying to keep this light, so that’s for another post…

This is our daily open thread — how do you decorate your Christmas tree?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, 12/12/12: The Christmas Story, as told by a 3 year-old.

Santa CamelChristmas is when Santa Claus went down the chimbley and landed on the Baby Jesus. But he didn’t hurt the Baby Jesus because Mary and Joseph already had to put him down because he got the Mange.

But three days later the Baby Jesus woke up and hid all the Easter Eggs. And so the wise guys, they showed up to give the Baby Jesus some presents, but they didn’t have a lot of money. And so this one wise guy, named Frank, he gave the Baby Jesus some in cents. Because that’s all he had and he was sad about that so the wise guys, they all told the shepherds to go out and watch their flocks of reindeer.

And so they were watching their reindeer play games when this angel, this angel came down from heaven and sat on a Christmas Tree. And that had to hurt. So that’s why we a Angels on top of our Christmas Tree to remind the Angels not to sit on the Christmas tree.

And so the Angel taught the shepherds to sing Christmas songs because shepherds, shepherds you know, they are all real good singers because if you can’t sing you won’t get to be a shepherd. You have to be a wise guy or maybe an Angel and have to sit on a Christmas Tree.

So the shepherds all sang Happy Birthday to the Baby Jesus. But then they saw Santa there at the bottom of the chimbley and they got mad because they saw that Santa had put out the fire in the fireplace and they didn’t want the Baby Jesus to get a cold. So the shepherds they made Santa give all of his toys to the Baby Jesus and then give all of his toys to all the other children in the whole world because Santa had lots and lots of toys because Santa, all year Santa made toys in his workshop at the North Pole. But now he makes them in China because the North Pole melteded.

THIS BE THE OPEN THREAD O’TH’DAY. SHARE YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS STORIES, OR ANYTHING ELSE THAT COMES TO MIND.

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY,

Spirit Kat

Spirit Kat

Watering Hole: Monday, November 21, 2011 – Shop ‘Till You Drop

The big, box, retail stores are now moving their “black Friday” sales to Thanksgiving Day.  This bargain hunting has become another “holiday” of sorts.  Personally, I want no part of this shopping insanity.

Before leaving the house, ask these questions.

  • Do we really need more of the Chinese junk that is offered in the big, box stores?
  • Will our children suffer irreparable, emotional damage if they don’t get exactly what they want for Christmas?
  • Do we really know what other people would like to receive?  If we did, there wouldn’t be huge exchange lines the day after Christmas.
  • Are we spending our money that will leave our local communities just for a “bargain”?

Just like everyone else, I enjoy receiving gifts.  It may be the thought that counts, but I don’t need more “things” around my house.  When it comes to purchasing clothes, I prefer to buy my own clothes.  Some of the best gifts that I have received where gifts that were made by the giver.  Homemade food and homemade drinks are especially enjoyable.  Other favorites are gift certificates to either a bed and breakfast or to a local restaurant.   We always appreciate items made by local artisans.  These gifts support small, local businesses and keeps the money in the community.

This Christmas, try something different.  Show that you care about your own community by supporting local businesses.  Pass up the ‘super savings’ offered by the big, box, retail stores.   Shop local or make gifts.  The time spent shopping could be spent making something special for the people you love.  The receiver will always remember the care that you took in creating the gift.  This makes the gift special and not just another big, box, retail purchase.

This is our Open Thread.  What to you think?  Speak Up!

A “Turbo” Christmas to remember..

(First posted at TheZoo December 3, 2007)

This Christmas story takes place around 11 14 years ago..

At the time, our son Sean was around 10 years old. Sean is a special kind of guy. He was born with Down Syndrome, and he is also hearing impaired. Language has always been really tough for him, and he has always been extremely difficult to understand. His use of expressive language is limited, and he was stubborn enough at that point in his life that he refused to learn more than a handful of signs (ASL).

Sean LOVES Christmas. It has always been his favorite time of the year. He gets more excited about Christmas than all of us in our family put together. We have a line of photos that we put up every year, all with his visits to Santa at the mall, for each and every year. It wouldn’t be Christmas without visiting Santa.

This particular Christmas, the movie “Jingle All The Way” (with Arnold Schwarzenegger) came out. In case you haven’t seen this movie, it is the story of a dad (Schwarzenegger) who is a workaholic and doesn’t spend enough time with his family—always seeming to let them down. His young son, Jamie, is enamored with the “red hot” action figure Turboman, and it’s all he wants for Christmas. Jamie’s mom (Rita Wilson) had asked the dad to pick the doll up for their son weeks before Christmas, but dad was too busy and forgot. She asks him again two days before Christmas if he remembered. He lies, saying he had (intending to do it the following day – Christmas Eve), and to his horror he learns that there are none to be found anywhere. It is a wild ride of a movie as this dad goes nuts trying to lay his hand on a Turboman doll for his son – along with LOTS of other frantic parents.

So.., it comes as no surprise that all Sean wanted for Christmas that year was a Turboman doll. (Sean has always LOVED movies). He wrote “Turboman” everywhere. (His writing skills have always been excellent). He pointed to the calendar, and to Christmas Day (Dec. 25th), and would then hand me pieces of paper with “Turboman” written on them. I began to find his notes in my purse. Then, he started writing SANTA and TURBOMAN together..

I started to have an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach..

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Bush creates a loophole, saves Christmas for financial execs

Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!

Thanks to George W. Bush, this Christmas will be another special one for the top executives in the financial world.

Naturally, when the $700 billion bailout was approved by Congress, taxpayers were relieved that “golden parachutes” would not be issued with taxpayer money.

The Raw Story tells of how Bush saved Christmas by the power of a single sentence…

The change stipulated that the sanction would only apply to firms that sold mortgage backed securities to the government at auction, which the Bush Treasury Department said would be the method they’d use to infuse troubled companies with bailout cash.

But to date, the Bush administration hasn’t used auctions to buy up those mortgage backed securities, and doesn’t plan to use auctions in the future.

Whew!  That was close! Now those top execs can afford to buy those personalized life-sized Lego figures or buy that spendy Christmas gift basket for Mom.

Gosh, I kind of wonder now if Bush EVER intended to buy mortgage securities via auction….

Happy Holidays, ya gosh darned “haves” and “have mores!”

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A holiday poem

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

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‘Twas the Month Before X-Box and all through the land,
the fake “War on Christmas” goes according to plan.

It’s always the same, no matter the facts.
Fake Christians pretend that they’re under attack!!!1!

Say “Merry Christmas” they shriek, or we’ll boycott your stores.
We’ll go on Fox News and call you all whores!

We’ll go on talk radio and create such a clatter,
to distract and divide you so nothing else matters.

And they conquer and divide us in all sorts of ways,
so that no one will notice how well their crime pays.

They run up our debts, with deficits galore.
While they cut their own taxes and stomp on our poor.

They preach Peace On Earth, and Good Will Towards Man.
But they dream of war profits, and invading Iran.

And with war in Iraq, and more dead every day,
their biggest concern is whether you’re gay.

But the whole War On Christmas is just this month’s ploy,
to profit from hate as Sears profits from toys.

And if Jesus was born in this day and age,
He’d die of starvation, on minimum wage.

But if He survived and grew to a man,
they’d call Him liberal and toss His Book in the can.

They’d call Him a commie, a pinko and worse,
then slap both His cheeks and send Him off with a curse.

They’d sue Him in court to trademark His name,
and sell Him on Wall Street for money and fame.

So for this “War on Christmas,” don’t shy from the fight
Tell them “talk’s cheap, just DO what is right.”

‘Cause He belongs in our hearts, not up on some wall.
Not stamped upon money, or in City Hall.

He knows us by deeds, not by prayers that we shout.
What we DO unto others, is what it’s about.

This poem was written by commenter Mia Kulper on ThinkProgress.

This Year, Why Not Try Something Different For Christmas?

I admit I have not been to a mall in over 2 1/2 years.  The closest I come to that kind of shopping environment is going to outlets once a year.  The retailers that know me best are the Benjamin Moore paint associates and the home improvement folks that have been selling me cedar shingles for my home.

In my own family, I’m in the minority.  I’m the only one that doesn’t participate in the Black Friday shopping battle.  Derrick Jackson talks about the brutality of Black Friday and making a change for Christmas this year.

It seems that it is not enough for Americans to watch football on turkey day. Obviously inspired by our beloved black-and-blue brutality, otherwise sane Americans treat Black Friday as their day in the NFL, blasting through the hole of the store opening to the 20-, the 30-, the 40-, the 50-percent-off sweater department! Then you chop-block the shopper ahead of you to advance from 53d to 52d in the checkout line.

All this sweat, tears, and occasional blood for the argyle for dear old Dad that becomes moth bait.

This year is, of course, different. Black Friday really turned tragic as a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death in New York. This and the economy stinks. President-elect Obama has said for two years the planet is in peril. That originally only referred to global warming. But Americans keep thinking we can pilfer the planet at no peril.

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The New Face of Poverty…Please

I read a New York Times article that not only infuriated me but left me wondering at the cluelessness of some people that actually are trying to say they have it rough.  The premise of the article is about “Mothers Do Without” to buy children’s gifts for Christmas.  Okay, your thinking why would that infuriate me, the answer is the very first paragraph that starts out with how a mother is not buying “designer jeans for the season.”  OMG, she is sacrificing not buying $250 to $350 designer jeans for one season, give me a friggin’ break.  Please check out the picture of all the toys she has purchased for her child, in the link above.  Note also that she is sporting last season’s designer jeans for the photo.

The article talks further about “these women are discovering that a practice they once indulged without thinking about it, shopping a bit for themselves at the holidays, has to give way to their children’s wish lists.”  The topper was”I want her to be able to look back,” Ms. Hunt declared, “and say, ‘Even though they were tough times, my mom was still able to give me stuff.‘ ”  WOW, if anyone outside this country read that article they would laugh and shake their head – if that is considered an American sacrifice.

This is what true sacrifice is to me.  A mother that wants a better life for her child than the one she has.  This from Charleston.net:

Her children’s rooms stand empty. Their toys untouched, clothes unworn.

Candace Capers has sacrificed living with her three children for the past month so that they might have a better education and, hopefully, a better life.

Capers lives downtown where the neighborhood schools rank among the worst in the county. She got permission five years ago for her daughter to attend school in Mount Pleasant, and now all of her children – ages 4, 6 and 11 – go to schools across the Cooper River.

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Christmas Shopping That Supports a Good Cause

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, comes shopping for all those special people on your Christmas list.  There are several things I do every year before I start buying, I pull out my list of American Made Suppliers and go to the Greater Good Network.  The American Made is obvious, but why the Greater Good Network you ask?

The GreaterGood Network of websites offer the public a unique opportunity to support causes they care about at no cost to them.

Each person’s daily click on the Click To GiveTM sites displays sponsor advertising. One hundred percent (100%) of sponsor advertising is paid as a royalty to charity through the non-profit, tax-exempt GreaterGood.org.

Supporters can also contribute directly to charity by purchasing Gifts that Give MoreTM, where one hundred percent (100%) of their donation is given to charity, or by purchasing one of the 4500+ products that we carry, including jewelry, apparel, and gifts. There is a charity royalty of from 5-30% paid on every item purchased from any of the GreaterGood Network’s online stores.

In fiscal year 2007, the GreaterGood Network gave over $1.7 million to charity, nearly 7 times our after-tax profit.

The presents I bought last year through them provided 58 Thanksgiving meals.  Also, the presents were Fair Trade products that benefited women in a Tsunami devastated area and in Kenya where skilled artists were trying to feed their families during a bad drought.  We can all make a big difference, once you choose to be conscientious in purchasing products.  It sends a clear message that you are shopping with a conscious effort to effect change.

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My Grownup Christmas List

(originally posted 12/14/2007)

by Wayne A. Schneider

During my time in the US Air Force, I never had the honor and privilege to defend my country in combat. As both a veteran and a citizen, I have nothing but the utmost respect, admiration, and fondness for those who have before and do so today.

It’s all too easy for us to forget the sacrifices our troops in the Middle East (and elsewhere around the world) make to ensure that we are able to celebrate the holidays in the freedom that, frankly, too many of us take for granted. The ones who haven’t given “the last full measure of devotion” and the ones who haven’t returned home maimed for life have sacrificed in many other ways. They must be away from their families and loved ones back home during the holidays, endure the physical hardships of carrying heavy equipment and backpacks through the desert heat all while trying to stay alert to the dangers all around them, and watch their friends and fellow soldiers die before their eyes.

Many of us in this country disagree with the policies that led to their being there, but we have always been proud of the way they have represented our nation. The men and women of our armed forces are, without doubt, the finest in the world, and I wouldn’t be able to write this and you read this without them. And while we all appreciate and respect the job they are doing, there can be no better way to show them we support them by ending our military involvement in the Middle East and returning them to their families as soon as possible. They have done all that our leaders have asked of them and more, and it’s time we reward them by bringing them home.

As you watch the video and enjoy the song by Michael Bublé (one of nwmuse’s favorites), remember to keep them in your thoughts and prayers through the holidays, a very tough time for any soldier overseas. You may even wish to consider a donation to the USO, a non-government organization that depends on our support to help them support the troops.

Lyrics below the fold:

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What I want for Christmas…

What I want for Christmas is an end to these wars and all our soldiers to come home. I want Congress to put protecting the Constitution of this country, and the rights and civil liberties of each and every American, before their own self-interest. I want accountability for the last 7 years – ALL 7 years. I want an end to the fear that has been shoved down our throats, and the distrust that has divided us; I want trust, hope for the future, and good will restored. Tall order.., yes, I know.

But first, could you bring some snow? Six inches would be nice..

Photo by nwmuse

We Three Kings by Mario Lanza

Another great voice that left this world too soon.

Now for the Republican Corporation version:

C.E.O.’s

C.E.O.’s – we do as we please!
Making money with our decrees!
We can do it!
Nothing to it!
Laying off employees!

Oh! Oh!

Lay-off! Lay-off! It’s our right!
Lay-off everyone in sight!
Those remaining
Will be straining,
Working through the day and night!

Unknown author

…there was no place at the Inn

While we are celebrating Christmas, tent cities spring up in southern California and all over the US you find houses with boarded up windows. The mortgage crisis forces more and more people from their homes and subsequently homelessness, crime and disease are rising.

 ONTARIO, California (Reuters) – Between railroad tracks and beneath the roar of departing planes sits “tent city,” a terminus for homeless people. It is not, as might be expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming suburbia of Southern California.

The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, growing as this region east of Los Angeles has been hit by the U.S. housing crisis.

The unraveling of the region known as the Inland Empire reads like a 21st century version of “The Grapes of Wrath,” John Steinbeck’s novel about families driven from their lands by the Great Depression.

Read the story here:

Where are you Christmas?

My extended family just left and all is finally quiet.. We had a huge dinner, desert and gifts (well, some gifts anyways..). I thought of putting up this song after just finishing watching the movie it is from (“The Grinch” with Jim Carrey). Its funny we would pick that movie, because I have been feeling this way all week – actually for weeks. ‘Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you?”

What happened to that feeling of excitement and anticipation I used to have? Looking forward to celebrating with family, and that sense of awe..

It feels so different this year for some reason.. I am not alone here. I can’t tell you how many people have said the same thing to me in conversation. It just doesn’t feel the same..

I am hoping 2008 will be different.