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Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays...Or Not, Your Call

Okay, here's the thing.  The whole Christmas thing lost most of its charm for me many, many years ago.  It's just so overdone and so commercialized and so centered on spend, spend, spend and get, get, get.  Even when the kids were small it didn't take long before we wised up and we scaled back the gift giving and the decorating and all the excessive nonsense.

Kitchen remodel complete with new paint, countertop and dishwasher.
Christmas decorating done too, I keep it simple and keep my sanity.

There is so much pressure for most folks to do the right thing, buy the right thing, give the right thing.  And for what?  From what I see everyone just makes a list or flat out tells you what they want and they expect to get it.  To what purpose?  Or give cash or gift cards so they can just get what they want.  Why?  If you want it, get it yourself, that's what we do around here.  What does spending money (mostly money people don't really have to spend) have to do with having a happy holiday?

I wanted the kitchen redone before winter set it, Wayne wanted a new place to put all his stuff
maybe not done by Christmas...but close enough that all the stuff has found its way inside

Such a fuss is made about gift exchanges (luckily we are not in a social or familial situation where we have to participate in any of those) and from the sound of it everyone gets something impersonal that they don't want and plan to re-gift.  Why can't people get together without spending unnecessary money?  What happened to cocoa, cookies and carols?

yearly gingerbread house competition at the Grand Geneva 

I got a small box of Harry & David pears for my "new girl" and our neighborhood friends some locally made goodies from River Valley Kitchens.  I'm not Scrooge...yet.

my favorite for 2014

These are the things that are on my mind when I'm out there hiking and this is sometimes the place those thoughts get dumped.  Feel free to skip ahead to the end where I talk about cookies if it's too deep for you.

I like ribbons and bows

What I really meant to get into was the whole "Merry Christmas" issue.  I'm always taken aback this time of year when perfect strangers ask me if all my shopping is done or tell me to have a Merry Christmas.  Am I the only one who finds this a bit overfamiliar and presumptive?  While over 70% of Americans identify themselves as Christian, 5% are Jewish and up to 20% have no religious identity at all.

No snow here after our "warm" spell and even a few geese still hanging around at the Grand Geneva

Even presuming the stranger you are addressing theoretically celebrates Christmas, what if they have circumstances in their life where assuming they have a happy family gathering just around the corner is painful for them?  What if your offhand enthusiasm to strangers is nothing but a reminder that they just lost a loved one or some other personal tragedy is interfering with their "merry" Christmas?  (I swear I'm not projecting....much.)  Katrina tells me I take this whole issue too seriously, but she gets the same way when a man makes the mistake of calling her a "girl" instead of a woman.  We all have our  issues, don't we?

Goofy's  issue is probably thinking "I just know they're going to drag out those
silly holiday hats and try to make us put them on again this year"

"I knew it!  Bah, Humbug!"
Just wanted to make the argument that it might not be that a person's aversion to "spreading holiday cheer" is about being politically correct.  For me it's about not assuming I have intimate knowledge about strangers' holiday plans, or lack of plans.  I'm perfectly happy to return the greeting to those who extend it, I just don't understand the need/compulsion that others feel to shout it out to every person they chance upon as they go about their day.  You do what you want, it's American after all and we have the right to free speech!

I do enjoy the light displays and the gingerbread houses and the ribbons festooning the gifts.  And let's not forget the only tradition we really have here in the Leonard household which is the annual viewing of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation".

Whatever your plans, I hope all my followers do something they enjoy this holiday season with people they like to spend time with.  Wayne's working double shifts from now until the New Year, he thinks he might be able to dart home long enough to enjoy a meal with us and open gifts the day after Christmas so that is our plan written in jello.

My tree is full of woodland creatures to remind me of things more pleasant
than holiday madness like hiking and breathing fresh air

A much more pleasant post about cookies tomorrow.  I'll even give you my date bar recipe!  I used to do the big cookie thing but now all I do is date bars for my mother, they remind her of her Newfoundland childhood and they taste yummy.  And Katrina talked me into doing some sugar cookie decorating experimenting too.  I haven't made sugar cookies in years...I'll post the results, good or bad.


  1. I could re-post this on my blog as my own personal thoughts, but that would be plagiarism, so I will just say "Hear! Hear!" right down to the Griswolds tradition! I was driving through the madness yesterday to pick up some groceries, and I just marveled at how this time of year has become so far out of balance from the original holiday intent. The only thing I would add is "Decorate with natural ornaments" (like your woodland creatures!) and try to consider the planet when buying all that plastic to hang on a tree, only to dump it in a landfill for a lifetime! Thanks for a very honest, insightful post!

    Mele Kalikimaka!

  2. Me too!! Hear hear! I was actually thrilled when the "politically correct" HAPPY HOLIDAY came into vogue. I was not happy to hear all the blow back from the Merry Christmas folks and I could rant a lot about that but it's your blog. Our decorations are mostly lights inside because I like them and for me this is the season of Light. Decorating tree and all takes 15 minutes. I don't do cookies, only a Solstice Cake and we exchange loving gifts on whatever day we cannot be outside which is what we love the most. Love your honest post! Thanks for it!! This is the second one I've read in the past two days and I'm really thrilled to find I'm not alone in feeling it's all too much and too artificial.

  3. Well I'm mostly with you too, and could skip the normal Christmas happily. But I do believe that generosity is a good virtue to practice, both to family members and for charity. There are lots of people in the world who could use a little help. I like the idea of giving a goat to a family somewhere, via one of the trustworthy charities. But for the commercial side, or the decorations, keep it simple. However, my family enjoys Christmas (to a reasonable extent), so I moderate my own feelings to support the group.

  4. I agree with Katrina that you're taking this too seriously. I think people just want to share goodwill. But I'm sooo with you on the over commercialization and the gift giving. In fact I simply don't give Christmas gifts. Makes for a less stressful time.

  5. Sounds like a bit of a Ba Humbug post to me. Just to rub it in I finish work for Christmas Today. Only tradition I have is to go out shopping Christmas eve with my lads and have Breakfast with them. Done all my shopping we just go out for a laugh

  6. Things I like about this time of year? Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker and all holiday music; good food, inc cookies, and coffee; colorful lights on trees, inc our own, with nostalgic ornaments placed on branches; hearing from friends and family far away; being close to and spending time with my son and his pretty new wife and buying them a present that they can't afford to buy themselves; warm fire in the fireplace on chilly days like today, and I could go on.

    Things I don't like? The same ones you mention. I just have to turn all the negatives into positives for me. And it works. Christmas used to be an unhappy time for me -- no more, as long as I focus on what's good ... and skip the rest. :- )