A few days ago, I was asked why I haven’t posted in a while. Like many Bloggers, the demands of life have taken over. I’m in finish-my-degree-and-get-ready-for-the-holidays mode, so everything else seems to be taking a backseat. Also, I’ve just been kind of been on autopilot, sleepwalking through theses last few days of November – doing, not noticing.
Yesterday, though, I had my eye opener.
Every year, each branch of my company adopts a family for the holidays. The children provide Santa (aka my company) a wish list; we buy them the goodies and sneak them under the tree. We also take it upon ourselves to stock the family’s bare pantry with lots of good staples to get them through the holiday season and beyond.
When I first joined the company, I was put in charge of the program. Because the program requires aggressive coupon cutting (donations, while appreciated, are not always generous) and after-hours work, it was a burden my predecessors were pleased to free themselves from. So, I (somewhat reluctantly) took the mantle.
As much as I enjoy helping others, I’ve always looked down on the idea of seasonal giving. Why is it that so many people only feel compelled to give during the holiday season? (Example: Do all the homeless people suddenly move into plush condos the rest of the year? I simply don’t think so.) Generosity and kindness are important and should be cultivated January – November as well.
Beyond that rewarding moment of sending off the gifts to their final destination – under the Christmas tree (or Chanukkah bush, or Kwanzaa candles, etc.) of deserving and underprivileged children, I find the whole process decidedly tedious. In the interest of saving money on costly delivery fees, Internet shopping is out. So, instead I venture out to the stores – at all hours -- during the busiest part of the season. I hate the traffic. I’m endlessly annoyed with long lines and rude “Customer Service” professionals. I tire of braving the madness of the local Toys R Us, while wrestling toys from feral mothers who treat shopping like some kind of extreme sport.
During these God-awful excursions, I try to remember why I’m doing this. During most of his youth, my grandfather’s family was terribly poor. I was told that, were it not for the generosity of a local, non-profit organization, he may not have had a meal on Christmas day. So, I do this for him and those nice folks who generously offered their time and opened their hearts many years ago.
Alas, these good thoughts in my heart do little to stop my blood from boiling in the Macys parking lot.
This year, though, things may be different.
Yesterday we were assigned our family. (A non-profit organization helps to match us up with a family in need and keeps the identity of our company secret, as not to spoil the magic.) The e-mail they sent contained a list of the children’s names, their ages, and their lists. I was shocked and terribly saddened by what I saw, as it was a stark comparison to what I’ve seen in years past.
Each child asked for one, small toy. The rest of their lists were comprised of polite requests for basic necessities – a winter coat, gloves, warm sweaters and corduroy slacks. It’s heartbreaking to think that these children are in so much need.
This is not the place for me to talk about theology, God and the universe. On one hand, I don’t wish to inflict my opinions on others. On the other hand, the jury is still out for me, as I still debate these things in my own head. However, I can’t help shaking the feeling that I was put in charge of this program for a reason. Someone or something out there is gently reminding me that the world doesn’t end at the tip of my freckled nose.
Alas, I’m feeling uncreative, so I thought I would take a shot at the Friday Five.
Using one adjective, describe your current living space.
Some rooms are immaculate (thanks to a recent closet purge); some look like a bomb went off. Alas, exhaustion and homework take priority.
Using two adjectives, describe your current employer.
I plead the 5th, as the answer may involve some expletives.
Using three adjectives, describe your favorite hobby/pasttime.
I have a number of hobbies, but singing and cooking come to mind, so…
I love trying new dishes from around the world. Also, over the past 2-3 years, I’ve been trying to cook little by little without recipes.
This pertains to both food and singing. I like to make people feel good and watch them enjoy themselves. I love when people chow down on the things I make. I also love to watch their faces light up if I sing a song that makes them happy or transports them. (I just re-read my answer. Forgive me for sounding like sap.)
Sigh…both are a nice end to a busy day.
Using four adjectives, describe your typical day.
Well, I can do it in one:
I love to sleep, so I have a heck of a time getting up. When I usually do, I run out of bed, hose myself off and dash out the door. After work, I throw myself in the family sedan, shovel some dinner down my face, and drive like a bat out of hell (Eee! Unintentional Meatloaf reference!) to school.
Using five adjectives, describe your ideal life.
Yeah, I made up this word, but it works. To be surrounded by people you love and people who love you is the best thing in the world. I consider myself lucky because I have that right now.
I would love to have at least one, big belly laugh every day.
Wouldn’t it be great to leave a legacy? I would love to be remembered for something special. I would love to help significantly improve the lives of others before I leave these mortal coils. However, even if people remember me as the person who helped them out when they were down or the gal who made the best apple pie in town, I would be happy.
I am most definitely a worrier. I would really like to learn to control that impulse. Oh wait, the sky is falling. AAAAAAAA!
I would love to open the window at night to hear the ocean instead of flipping on my Homedics sound machine.
I always figured the shopping gene skipped me over, as every other gal in my family has to wipe off the drool when driving past a mall. Granted, I would rather spend an afternoon at the store than, say, at the gynecologist. (If clothes shopping is involved, the good doctor would win hands down.) However, by and large, shopping isn’t for me.
You see, I come from a family where shopping is considered an art form and coupon cutting and discount management, a science. Back in the day, I used to go school clothes shopping each year with my mother and aunt, Evelyn. On the way to the counter to pay for the purchase, mom and Aunt Eve would do dueling coupons.
Eve: I found a 20% off coupon in the Sunday paper.
Mom: Remember. They also gave us that 10% off coupon at the door.
Eve: Hey, do you have your Macy*s charge card with you?
Eve: Combine all three. This $75 pair of slacks will only cost 80 cents.
My cousins, Eve’s daughters, have the gift too. Every so often, they would volunteer to drag me out (er…take me out) shopping. My junior prom dress – originally priced at close to $300 – cost us about $30 bucks. Everyone won that day: I looked dazzling in the cute little black and white number and they were the envy of bargain shoppers everywhere.
Devoid of their amazing shopping acumen, I thought I would be destined to pay retail forever – that is, until I discovered the wonders of online shopping.
As of late, retailers are offering crazy good discounts, specials and freebies for Web shoppers. I’m making out like a bandit. I think I finally caught the shopping fe-vah!
So, I decided to add a new section to the site as a public service dedicated to bargain hunters everywhere. From now until mid-December, I’m putting up a section with fabulous holiday bargains. (See left bar.) If you have any other good ones, drop a Comment, I’ll add your suggestions to the list. Thanks!
I’ve had “Obsession” by Animotion in my head for a week.
You are the obsession
You’re my obsession
Who do you want me to be
To make you sleep with me?
I remembered that my friend told me it’s actually a popular wedding (i.e. first dance) song.
So, for the heck of it, I did a quick search on the Web for the most popular wedding songs. I was kind of surprised to see some of the wildly inappropriate selections people are making.
A complete list of top wedding songs can be found here.
Thought I would share a few with you…
7. Wonderful Tonight ..... Eric Clapton
From what I’ve heard, Eric Clapton wrote this song while he was waiting for his wife to get ready for a party. It’s all about impatience. The theme of the song is basically, “Hey lady, when the hell are you getting out of the bathroom?” Romantic? I think not.
9. I Don't Want To Miss A Thing ..... Aerosmith
This was the theme song to the movie Armageddon, you know the one with Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler that centers on the end of the earth. Oh yeah, real uplifting.
16. I Swear ..... All-4-One
19. I'll Always Love You ..... Taylor Dane
OK. There’s nothing wrong with these. They’re just stinky songs.
21. Endless Love ..... Diana Ross/Lionel Richie
Yes, it’s a beautiful song. Yes, it’s about love. However, if memory serves me correctly, this is the theme song for that Brooke Shield’s movie (of the same name) where her stalker ex-first-love burns her house down to the ground. And, oh yeah, didn’t her mother watch them have sex or something? Eew!
22. I Will Always Love You ..... Whitney Houston
This is actually a gorgeous song written by – surprise! – Dolly Parton. Now, here’s the thing: This is actually a very sad break-up song.
Don’t believe me? Here are some sample lyrics:
If I should stay, I would only be in your way. So I’ll go…
Bittersweet. Memories. That is all I'm taking with me. So good-bye…
We both know I’m not what you need…
Click here to read the oh-so-sad lyrics for the whole song.
29. The Way You Look Tonight ..... Frank Sinatra
I love Frank. What an amazing artist! Also, this happens to be a really lovely song. Granted, I’m being nitpicky here, but isn’t this song all about how some girl looks?
I can just imagine...
Scene: 50 years from now, a long-married couple sits in front of the television set.
Wife: (Turning to Husband) Honey, do you still think I’m attractive?
Husband: Nah. You looked good on the wedding day but it was all down hill from there.
31. Thank You For Loving Me ..... Bon Jovi
This song basically says, “Thanks for loving me, ‘cause I know I’m a schlub.”
45. More Than Words ..... Extreme
This happens to be a favorite song of mine. However, it is by no means a love song. It’s about a man whose frosty girlfriend who won’t tell him, “I love you.” Perfect for a wedding!
Conveniently located next to our local gun shop, is the local taxidermist.
I’m not much of a hunting person. (To coin a phrase from my Dad, “I’d prefer not to disaccommodate the animals.”) Not surprisingly, I’m really not much of a stuff-the-dead-animals-and-display-them person.
Yeah, yeah. You may be saying, “You eat meat, right? You got a problem with dead animals?” Well, yes and no. While I do eat meat (and fish too), I like to think it magically appears on my plate. Frankly, if I thought too much about where meat and fish come from, I would probably eat nothing but rice and ketchup.
But I digress. Back to the story…
Our taxidermist has a little, unassuming storefront on main street. The only indication of the nature of the business is “(Owner’s Last Name)’s Taxidermy” painted in elegant, black letters on the sides of the narrow building. The window, devoid of all things dead, bears a small Uncle Sam statue and two write-on/wipe-off boards.
A few times a month, I walk by the store. The owner always writes friendly, little messages and posts them in the window. We’re invited to join in on the town’s July 4th Celebration or, perhaps, encouraged to have a good holiday season. Today, I walked past the store window after I dropped off my car at the mechanic.
In case you’re curious, here’s what the signs say today:
Happy Thanksgiving! (This has a little picture of a turkey on the front.)
A quote about taxidermy:
“No bones about it. – 10/17/03”
At first glance it appears like a dusty, little main street store that time forgot.
However, here’s the clincher: The store’s proprietors are famous!
Apparently, this store is home to a family of several generations of taxidermists. There work can be seen all over the world. Most notably, though, they do a great deal of work for the Museum of Natural History.
These folks must have some very interesting stories. Maybe I’ll invite them over for a nice turkey dinner?
On second thought, maybe I’ll serve them some ravioli instead.