View Full Version : Christmas 2012
11-20-2012, 10:04 PM
This year has been a challenge. I might post more on that sometime in the next couple days. Suffice to say, as of last Monday we had yet to buy a single Christmas gift this year. As someone who, at one point in the past, was known to get virtually all his Christmas shopping done by the end of October, the realization that I was halfway through November without a single gift purchased was a bit disheartening to say the least. The past 4-5 days that followed weren't much better, although we did manage to buy one actual gift and a couple stocking stuffers. I looked at our schedule for the next month, then talked to my wife on Sunday and suggested we try to get every last bit of our shopping done by the end of the day on Tuesday (which was today for me as recently as an hour ago). We realized it would be difficult, but after a planning session we figured we had a decent shot at it.
I ran out early Monday morning and bought a huge stack of gift cards. I thought I had budgeted everything fairly well and wanted to get the fuel points. I then ran home and we did the bulk of our online shopping. It took far longer than expected, mainly because Toys 'R Us has the worst website on the planet which is so criminally inept in every aspect, someone should be boiled in oil for concocting such a travesty. We then picked the girls up from school and tried to get as much done as possible that evening, but one mishap after another kept us from making much progress. By Monday night, with only one additional present in our possession, I had little hope of finishing by Tuesday evening. I tried to remain positive, but I wasn't succeeding.
I woke up this morning with a fresh outlook, however, and after dropping the girls at school and having a decent breakfast at Subway, I started feeling we still might succeed. The next six hours were a mad dash from one store to another. Each one took longer and cost more than expected, but the free space in the trunk kept shrinking while my optimism kept growing. We rushed home and I had just enough time to drop everything off and check a couple important emails before rushing back out to get the girls, then back home so I could drop them off with my mom and pick my wife up so I could take her to a doctors appointment. This proved to be a huge road bump and we got home much later than expected. A big part of my plans for the day was to take my son out and let him pick out a couple items (mainly gloves). The delay at the doctors' office meant that we left the house for our evening excursion about an hour later than planned. Still, we'd made great time during the day so all I really needed to do was get my son squared away then get home and make a couple more online purchases in order for the day to be a complete success.
To give a little background on the glove situation, last year our son told us that the gloves he had just weren't cutting it. He was coming home with 12th degree frost burn most evenings (not really, but if you'd heard him tell it you'd think so) and he feared for his fingers, if not his life as a consequence. He explained that he needed not just any gloves, but the warmest gloves we could possibly find. I searched locally but nothing seemed up to snuff. I then checked Amazon and found a pair that sounded like they'd fit the bill. They had nearly a perfect 5-star rating and just looking at them made me feel warmer. They had several layers of proprietary, top-secret, patented insulating fabric and were water repellant as well. They also had sets of drawstrings--one at the wrist and another halfway up the forearm--which not only helped with the insulation but I'm pretty sure resulted as them being rated as scuba gear as well. I spent a small fortune on them, and when they arrived I gave them a try. As luck would have it, it was bitterly cold that day. I stepped outside and strapped them on. While the rest of my body was painfully cold, my hands were almost uncomfortably hot. They were great! I figured this would go down in my son's Christmas annals with as much fondness as Ralphie's Red Ryder BB gun.
No such luck. Here it is a year later and he's yet to wear them. He has all manner of complaint about them, but I think his main beef is that they're not black and don't mesh with his brooding ways. He still complains relentlessly about not having a good pair of gloves and after a healthy dose of persuasion from my wife, I finally decided that gloves would make a perfect gift this year. We tried Dick's Sporting Goods and quickly decided that instead of trying to pick a pair on our own only to have another $50 go wasted, I'd take my son out and let him pick. My wife told me I was brilliant, then gave a little additional detail about what our son was looking for. She said he wanted a pair of ultra-thin yet fully water repellant pair of gloves that would let him pick a dust mite up off a needle while keeping his hands nice and toasty even when encased in a block of dry ice. I told myself it couldn't be as bad as all that. Boy, was I wrong.
Standing in glove aisle at Wal-Mart (I'd made a judgment call against the sporting goods store, figuring that if the situation was as bleak as my wife had let on we'd be wasting any money we spent on the darn things), I found the situation growing ever more dire as I argued pointlessly with my son about whether the gloves he wanted could even exist without breaking at least 23 laws of physics. I guessed that even if I did manage to talk him into a pair of gloves, I'd either be too tired or it would be too late to get anything else done afterward. He wouldn't budge, though. He wanted nothing short of the unobtainium specials and I couldn't talk him into anything that, you know, actually existed. He finally clued me into the fact that these mythical gloves he'd been dreaming of were (in his mind's eye, at least) identical to the gloves used by NFL wide receivers. I tried to explain that, regardless of how he wanted to imagine things, the wide receiver gloves aren't much more than ultra-thin gloves covered with an adhesive surface which allows the wide receiving to get a better grip on the ball. He wasn't buying it, though. We wandered throughout the store discussing this as my headache grew and at least 14 new gray hairs appeared. I finally led us to the sporting goods department where we found some wide receiver gloves. When he saw I was right about them, he finally relented and I was able to get him to pick out a pair.
The fortuitous stumbling-upon of the football gloves allowed me to not only hit the other stores I had to go to, but I got home in time to get everything put away and all but two of those other online orders placed before midnight. As it stands, I have two gifts to order for my wife, one each to buy for the kids and then a pair of gifts for whomever my wife & draw in our family exchange (she still has to buy for her mom, but that's her domain). I'm beat, but I'm thrilled that I'm almost done and that I got everything done that I'd set out to do this morning.
11-21-2012, 04:19 AM
Haven't read it yet, but seeing a wall of BR text is like a Christmas miracle! :p
11-21-2012, 05:15 AM
Haven't read it yet, but seeing a wall of BR text is like a Christmas miracle! :p
I might test the post length limit later tonight.
11-21-2012, 08:52 AM
I've already discovered that there is a minnimum text allowed.
11-22-2012, 11:35 PM
I just found that there's a 10k character limit. Boo-urns! Boo-urns! Someone needs to fix that, stat!
The sub-cockles of my heart have been warmed with the return of BR posts! :D
11-27-2012, 09:25 PM
So I thought I was done with my Christmas shopping and all related activities (aside from wrapping) earlier today. I had a few packages sitting in the bedroom that I hadn't opened yet, but since I'd given each a once-over when they arrived, I wasn't too concerned. As luck would have it, I glanced at the package from Barnes & Noble again and saw that one corner was utterly crushed. I opened it up and one of the books inside was quite damaged. I proceeded to open the other packages and everything else was okay. I took the book to one of the local stores to return it. While that went off virtually without a hitch, it was an unnerving experience overall because the cashier who helped me had hairy arms. I'm not talking just hairier than normal; instead, she had "homemade gorilla suit" hairy arms. I nearly asked her where she got her sweater until I realized she wasn't wearing one. Very helpful, though.
On the way home, I ran to the grocery store to pick up some milk. I wanted to get some gift boxes as well. Years back I tended to be a bulk shopper. In other words, if something was on sale, I bought it in bulk. Even if it was something we only used once a year, if I found a great bargain I would stock up on it. And by "stock up," I mean, "buy more than I could use in a decade." This applied to everything from toilet paper and black beans, to wrapping paper and gift boxes. As a result, we ended up with two storage containers full of wrapping paper, as well as some stashed in not only the corner of our bedroom but the back of the basement as well. We have a huge bag full of ribbons and bows even though my wife and I seldom have the motivation to put them on our packages (when you're wrapping for five kids, you want to get through the wrapping as quickly as possible--and of course I mean when we're actually wrapping gifts and not the times we just tell the kids we're wrapping gifts). We also had, at one point, at least 50 gift boxes. Most of these were just the sort you put shirts, sweaters or socks in, but we also had some really cool, odd-sized, decorated boxes as well.
The place we did most of our wrapping supply stocking up was at Target. We have a long-standing tradition of shopping there the day after Christmas to take advantage of their clearance sale. We have a tradition that's just as old of shopping there a week or so after Christmas to take advantage of their last-chance clearance sale. It's at the latter that we did most of our stocking up over the years, picking up whole rolls of paper for as little as a dime. At one of these sales a few years ago, as I stood in the mangled remnants of the Christmas section with a cart full of paper, boxes, ribbons, bows and 2006 ornaments, my wife asked me if we really needed to keep doing this. She said we had more paper than we could ever expect to use in a reasonable amount of time, especially since we'd switched to having more modest Christmases several years before that. She pointed out all the paper we had at home that we both despised yet never seemed to go away. To give you an idea of how long some of this paper has been hanging around, unless I missed a roll, we finally used up the last of the Episode 1 Christmas wrapping paper last year (I suspect a lot of you know know what I'm talking about--all the Naboo and Trade Federation ships, plus a few bows, on a black background). I told her she was probably right, and except for a few rolls that I've bought just for Santa gifts, we decided that we wouldn't buy another roll of paper until our entire stock was gone.
The best part about this is that it gives me a real sense of achievement each year as we use up another roll. In addition to the Episode 1 paper, I finally killed off the worst wrapping paper in history last year. I liked it when I first bought it back in '96 or so. It was light blue and covered with white and darker blue snowflakes. It wasn't unattractive but it was improbably thin. The main side effect of this is that it would rip several times no matter how small or larger the item you were wrapping. Just as maddening, though, was the fact that it never seemed to end. Looking at a decent, sturdy roll of paper, after a gift or two you can guess about how many more you can get out of the roll based on how thick the paper left on the roll is. With this paper, since 2002 or so I figured we only had enough paper left for another 4-5 gifts. In 2008 or 2009, I was so hellbent on using this roll up that I violated my own policy on having a wide variety of paper under the tree and used this paper for virtually everything. Nearly 90% of what was under our tree and every gift we gave to the family was wrapped in that light blue, snowflake pattern (as well as a healthy dose of tape to hold together all those tears) which had become so appalling to me. When I was done, it didn't look like I'd made a dent in the roll. I was nearly convinced that it was somehow regenerating itself as I wrapped. Last year though, much to my delight, I finally used up the last few feet of the roll. It was truly a Christmas miracle! Unfortunately, I used up nearly all of our gift boxes as well.
Gift boxes are a funny thing because they truly do regenerate themselves. No matter how many you use in any given year, you always get some back. We always buy the kids a good amount of clothes for Christmas so we should have gone through those 50-60 boxes we had back in '06 fairly quickly, but the regenerative properties of gift boxes made them last a good deal longer. We knew we were running low in 2010, so during one of my last documented trips into Meijer, I stocked up on these pretty cool decorated boxes during their after-Christmas clearance sale. They were your standard size clothing boxes, but each had a really nice picture on top. While there was no paper to rip off, we had some awesome-looking packages under the tree last year. This year, though, with at least 20 items needing boxes, we're down to just three. This led to me wanting to pick some up tonight.
While the store did have gift boxes, they seemed way over-priced for what they were offering ($1.99 for three boxes). Perhaps it's just my being used to clearance prices, but I was pretty sure Target had larger packages of boxes for a comparable amount. Regardless, I passed on the boxes and will have to either pick some up in the morning or wait until this weekend. At this point I probably won't get to start wrapping until Saturday anyway. Hopefully by then all my packages will have arrived and I won't have any other returns to make.
11-28-2012, 04:13 AM
Turns out that I was completely wrong about the Star Wars wrapping paper. We still have two half-rolls left. Looks like our son's having a Star Wars Christmas!
11-28-2012, 12:52 PM
Funny just how long it takes to get rid of rolls of wrapping paper. We still have some that are well over ten years old too.
11-29-2012, 07:57 PM
As it turns out, I have a problem with another order. This time it was a missing item, no damage. I've already called for a replacement. I think I need to come up with a spreadsheet of all my Christmas orders so I can check them off as they arrive and make sure I don't miss anything.
11-29-2012, 08:35 PM
I figured I'd also bring up Christmas music, but wanted a separate post for it. As some may remember, I have a larger-than-average collection of Christmas music. After deleting tons of duplicates last year, I was left with something like 12,500 Christmas songs. I've already added a few hundred to that this year. I tend to play it non-stop on my days off from 11/1-12/25 or so but never manage to listen to them all in a single season. Since I make a CD each year to send out to my family, I actually start listening to it regularly sometime in September or October just so I can start picking songs and figuring out a theme. I'm a bit behind this year. I have the theme in mind but no songs picked. I've also only scratched the surface of doing the artwork. I'm hoping to make a good deal of progress on both the CD and our Christmas card this upcoming week.
One thing I look forward to each year is the local lite rock station switching over to Christmas music. A few years ago they started on 11/1. Due to a small number of very vocal complainers, they held off the following year but finally started in earlier than they'd been planning thanks to a very large number of complaints. They took a survey last year and started on 11/1 again. This year they didn't start until 11/8, despite a deluge of complaints, calls, emails and letters (not to mention a ton of posts on their Facebook page). It's a good thing there's an 11-month break between the end of their Christmas music and them starting it back up again because it takes about that long for me to forget how much I despise their ridiculously limited play list. This year is easily the worst it's ever been. Last year they had about 20 songs that made up 80% or so of their programming. They had another 20-30 songs that made up about 75% of the remaining airtime, with another 20 or so that made up the rest. This year, the percentages are about the same, but the numbers are much worse. The top 80% is made up of about 12 songs, with another 20 or so in the next tier, and another 40 or so getting interspersed throughout the remainder of their day. Of that top 12, the song that dominates the airwaves is my least favorite Christmas song of all time: Happy Xmas (War is Over). They play either the John Lennon original or one of the insipid covers of it (mostly Celine Dion) at least once every 90 minutes, and sometimes more frequently than that.
I ran the numbers last year and determined that it truly is the worst Christmas song to ever be recorded (Step Into Christmas and Wonderful Christmastime came in at second and third). Yet despite my frequent complaints to the station, they do their ever-lovin' best to cram down our throats 20-26 times per day. What's really awful is that it's displaced Kenny Loggins' Celebrate Me Home and Dan Fogelberg's Same Old Lang Syne. Not that these two are particularly good Christmas tunes, but they'd at least eaten into John Lennon's territory enough in recent years that they were only playing him 8-12 times per day. This year, though, no Loggins, no Fogelberg, not even the occasional It Doesn't Have to Be That Way by Jim Croce (it got a lot of airplay last year). I realize the local DJ's have little to nothing to do with the programming, but the Clear Channel algorithms are way out of whack this year. In addition to the ridiculous amount of time devoted to Merry Xmas (it's almost like when we lost all our classic rock stations about a decade ago, then one switched back without announcing it, but instead played Stairway to Heaven 24/7 for a week), there have been several other annoying anomalies this year. We were in the car on Monday and they played Burl Ives' Holly Jolly Christmas twice within 90 minutes. Another day last week, they teamed Nat King Cole up with John Lennon and played The Christmas Song either immediately before or after Merry Xmas all day long. What's worse is that, a few times, they played another song by Nat either right after the two play, or one song later, so two out of three or four songs were by him. I like Nat King Cole, just not that often.
Whatever happened to good Christmas programming? The programming manager they had several years ago (back when it was left up to an actual human and not a computer) did a great job. Sure, she played the horrible trilogy a bit too much, but she also worked in listener requests and a decent variety of songs throughout the day. She also would occasionally throw in some pretty obscure songs as well as some oddball tracks that you weren't likely to hear elsewhere. I even sent her MP3's of several really obscure songs that she ended up playing on-air. It was almost as good as when I was a kid and that one rock station would switch to Christmas music a few days before. You'd turn it on late at night and you never knew what to expect. You'd hear Gene Autry matched up with The Kinks and Bing Crosby followed by something from Dr. Demento. Nowadays you get John Lennon followed by Taylor Swift followed by Josh Groban, then back to John Lennon. It's truly horrible.
I'd gladly offer my services--and cheap, at that--to set up their programming for them for these two months. My smallest Christmas playlist in iTunes has a wider variety than they have all season. I have multiple covers of even the most obscure song, so it's not like you'd have to hear Gayla Peavey singing about the Hippopotamus each time. I can put together hours-long playlist of just about any genre you can think of, as well as a mix that would please just about any crowd without offending anyone. I've practically begged them in the past to liven up their choices a bit to no avail. Sure, it's a lite rock station, but it's Christmas so a little Run D.M.C., Slade and Twisted Sister wouldn't upset the cart too much. And while they tout their "variety" in the non-Christmas times, their homogenized playlist has gotten so bad now that they've cut out tons of classics, from John Denver and the Muppets to half the normal songs from Bing, Frank, Dean and the rest.
The only saving grace on the radio this year is the Christian channel south of here. Sure, they play their fair share of Christian pop (and a bit too much of the Christmas Shoes), and they sometimes throw in that cringe-inducing group of little kids singing Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus, but they play a much wider variety than the lite rock channel. Plus, I've yet to hear John Lennon on there, and that makes them champs in my book.
11-30-2012, 09:53 AM
I'm almost sick of Christmas music already since they have been playing it since the day after halloween. I do enjoy it very much in moderation at the correct time of the year, but its not even officially December yet. That and my ESPN radio station will go to all christmas music for the two weeks before Christmas and that is a separate issue but irks me to no end. My kids have been playing the Chipmunks Christmas album all week, I just wish they had waited cause I'm gonna be burned out on it soon, and I love that album.
11-30-2012, 04:55 PM
That reminds me of another song that's been put out to pasture in order to facilitate more airspace for John Lennon: The Chipmunk Song! I haven't heard that or Snoopy once this year. I actually have a copy of Justin Wilson (the Cajun chef) singing The Chipmunk Song (from A Cajun Christmas With Justin Wilson).
I don't think I could actually get burned out on Christmas music, at least not before January 2nd, but I know a few who get that way. I often think back on how it was when I was a kid. We didn't have any local stations going to 24/7 Christmas music until a couple weeks before Christmas, although some would start playing the occasional song earlier than that. Instead, my mom would start playing Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving. We had an okay selection of albums, maybe a dozen in all, but there were only two that we played with regularity. One was from Firestone, the other a compilation from one of the record companies. That all changed in 1979 with the release of John Denver & The Muppets' A Christmas Together. We suddenly had a third album thrown into the mix! We played them non-stop until a few days after Christmas. By "non-stop," I mean that as soon as we got up in the morning we stuck all three of them on the turntable and would let them go until we went to bed. They played while we got ready for school, ate dinner, watched It's A Wonderful Life (which played nearly non-stop), wrapped gifts or whatever. Anytime we realized there wasn't music playing we'd go and flip them and start over. At some point, someone left John Denver & The Muppets in the sun or sitting too close to a vent and it got warped. It wasn't too bad and one side still played perfectly, but we had to either weigh down the needle or make sure it was either the first or last album in the stack (I can't remember which) in order to avoid having Little St. Nick sound all slow and wobbly. We put up with that for a few years before finally replacing the album.
For as huge a collection of Christmas music as I have, you'd think that we would have listened to more than 32 songs on a regular basis when I was a kid, but for the bulk of my childhood and teen years, that was it (not counting the radio, of course). That didn't really change until '89 or so. I was 17 and working by then so I had my own money. We'd watch Holiday Inn and White Christmas each year so when I was at a hardware store with my dad and they had a selection of Christmas tapes out for sale, I picked up Bing Crosby's White Christmas, the soundtrack to the Charlie Brown Christmas special and Leon Redbone's Christmas Island. I couldn't get my mom to let me play Leon Redbone too often, but we played Bing and Vince quite a bit, which nearly doubled our regular Christmas lineup. I think I bought the Time-Life Treasury of Christmas Vols. 1 & 2 the following year, which more than doubled what we already had. I also bought most of the others on CD. My mom had her new stereo by this time, which means we'd not only graduated to the digital age, but we had a 5-disc player so we could put 5 CD's in, put them on random and repeat and have a better mix going all day that we currently get on the radio. Sadly, this meant that our two old compilation albums were played less and less. One year we never bothered getting them out.
Not hearing those old albums wasn't a big deal at first, and as my mom & I bought more and more CD's, we gradually forgot about them. Then I got married, moved out and started a CD collection and Christmas traditions of my own. I was listening to Christmas music with the family one year, I'm thinking in the late 90's, and I got to thinking about those old albums again. Between my CD's and computer, we already had a pretty massive collection of songs at that point. We didn't have albums that we listened to repeatedly, though. I got a bit nostalgic about those old albums and how we always knew what song was coming next. I had started making my annual CD's at this point (actually, I was making several each year back then), and I got it into my head that I should turn those old albums into CD's. I was only thinking of one of the albums initially, and the next time I was at my parents' house I decided to sneak it out. I ran into my first problem: I couldn't find it. It had always been stored in the entertainment center underneath the turntable but now it wasn't there. I didn't want to let anyone know what I was up to, so I didn't tell them I was trying to find it, but I spent the next couple years looking for it whenever it came to mind and I could get away with it. Needless to say, I didn't have much success.
As luck would have it, one year my mom finally decided to get rid of her old turntable. She no longer had any albums that she hadn't repurchased as CD's and it hadn't been played in years. She told me this one Sunday when we were over for dinner. I said we still had a bunch of albums at home but no way to play them. I figured if I got the turntable I could hook it up to my son's stereo, then to his PC and record the album if I ever found it. She told me to take it. I then told her I thought it would be fun to listen to one of those old Christmas albums again. My mom told me to take it so I made a show of trying to find it. When it didn't turn up I asked if she knew where it was. She recalled that my sister had put a big box of albums in her closet. I went up and one of the first albums I found was the one I'd been looking for for all those years. With that big hurdle out of the way, I ran home, hooked up the turntable, plugged it into the PC and played the album while recording it with Audacity. It was great hearing the old album again, and I still remembered the order of the songs. When I tried playing it back on the PC, though, pretty much all I got was static. I spent hours trying to get something more, but nothing worked. I was crestfallen, to say the least.
If I remember right, I gave up on recording the album with the old turntable in 2005 or so. This means I'd been working on recreating this album for 7-8 years with no success. I put the idea on the back burner until 2007. That was the year I got my wife a USB turntable for Christmas. I was pretty excited because it claimed you could not only listen to songs directly on your PC, but you could also record them directly to PC. Let's just say it didn't work anywhere near as advertised. We never could figure out how to play albums and listen to them without trying to record them. The software that came with it let you hear the songs as you recorded them, but the resulting files were unusable. They didn't sound too horrible but it was a proprietary format that couldn't be played with or edited by any other program, and you couldn't burn them to CD. I finally figured out how to use the feed from the turntable as input into Audacity, but the resulting files were atrocious. After countless hours spent trying to figure it all out, I gave up.
This time, though, I only gave up for a few months. As Christmas 2008 approached, I decided to give it one last try. I made all sorts of adjustments to my Audacity settings and was finally able to get a file that had decent audio levels. It still didn't sound great and I couldn't figure out how to clean up the sound in a cheap, fast and efficient manner, but at least I had a digital copy of the album. I then got to work on putting the cover together. An album cover is much larger than a scanner's bed, so I decided to take photos instead. This didn't work out so well, so I went back to the scanner, taking four separate scans of both the front and back, then editing them together. It took a couple weeks to get them looking right, but once I was done I went back to putting the CD together. I still wasn't happy with the sound quality. Then an idea I should have had years ago finally dawned on me. I knew I already had three of the 13 songs in my collection so I decided to substitute my poorly-made mp3's with those. I then decided to search my collection to see if I had any of the others. Turns out I had a couple more. Then I hit Amazon and the Christmas album sharing sites and managed to get all but three of the songs. One was a version of Silver Bells by Lawrence Welk that apparently has never been released anywhere but this album. The other two were from The Pat Boone Family Christmas album. This hadn't been released on mp3, and my initial searches indicated it was out of print. I finally found a used copy on secondspin.com. By the time I found this, though, it was just a few days before my family gift exchange and for this album, for some reason, next-day shipping wasn't an option. I ordered it with expedited shipping, then called their customer service to see if I could upgrade. They were able to offer me second-day delivery for a hefty charge. The CD arrived about an hour before we were supposed to be at my parents' house. I'd already printed off the artwork so that wasn't an issue. I quickly ripped the CD and then burned mine. We were a few minutes late, but my mom & siblings were thrilled.
The following year, I was able to find the other album in a big box of albums my mom had hidden in the basement. Have learned from my previous experience, this one was much easier to replicate. Since then, I've tried to replicate the feel of those albums with my annual CD's. Whereas in the past I always had a theme or gimmick, and typically used a lot of second-rate recordings since I was giving them to more people including some by email, I now focus on putting together a high-quality album with a good variety of top-notch music. Some of it's still pretty obscure, but the end result is a lot better than the stuff I did in the past. Plus, at least a few of my albums from the last four years have ended up in the regular rotation of my family's Christmas listening.
12-03-2012, 11:31 PM
Ah just in time for Christmas, a new favorite for me already. Dropkick Murphys - The Season's Upon Us
And I even finished decorating today.
12-07-2012, 11:12 PM
All gifts are in hand and I'm ready to wrap. I just need to find the time to do it. I also need to find the time to finish up my cards and CD, neither of which have gotten any attention this past week.
One thing that came up this week was a collection for a gift for my boss. I don't know how any of you handle this, but one person on the team asked everyone else to chip in $25 so we could buy him a gift card or multiple gift cards to his favorite store/theater/restaurant. If everyone chips in, it will be more than the already-announced cap on bonuses for us regular stiffs this year. With everything that's gone on the past month, not to mention several other huge, unexpected expenses that hit in the last week, I told him I had to pass this year. Even still, I'm not sure how keen I am on the idea of a big group gift to a manager. He's a nice guy and I don't mind sending a card, but everyone chipping in to get him several hundred dollars worth of gift cards doesn't seem right to me. We did it a few years ago and there was a lot of pressure for everyone to chip in, plus some resentment against the couple who didn't. What was worse was that a couple days after we bought the gift, three of the people who chipped in were let go and we were all told that not only were we not getting bonuses, but we were also getting a pay cut. I don't hold him accountable for that, but there's something about us peons giving a hefty gift to the guy making the big bucks that sits wrong with me, especially when we know it's going to be a leaner-than-normal year. I know a couple others I've mentioned this to thought it was nuts that anyone suggested a collection, but at least one person didn't see an issue with it. I thought I'd fish for other opinions.
12-10-2012, 12:52 PM
@()c% that! Give-em a card. Do the upper management people all 'kick-in' to give the pe-ons bonus's, heck no.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays guys!!!!
12-25-2012, 12:07 PM
Merry Christmas, all!
12-25-2012, 03:24 PM
12-27-2012, 06:35 PM
I'm guessing this is an older issue than I'm aware of, but it's not something I started seeing much of until 6-7 years ago. It's becoming more and more common among people I know to use their Christmas card list as a venue for their passive-aggressive tendencies. When my father-in-law died, his side of the family cut my mother-in-law off their list almost immediately. She kept sending cards to them and after 3-4 years her sister-in-law relented but the rest still don't send to her. The sister-in-law (my wife's aunt), kept sending to us, but for several years she switched to cheap, dollar store cards for us. We're back on her good card list and even get a personalized, handwritten message. The cousins just started sending us cards a few years ago even though we've been sending to them since we got married. We apparently were put on their "wait and see" list this year as we didn't get any of their cards until after Christmas.
Her family has nothing on mine, however. When we had the gall to get upset over one of them giving our son a sex toy for Christmas a few years ago, 4-5 of them cut us from their Christmas card lists. A few others moved us over to the dollar store card category (my parents and siblings still get the Hallmarks). A couple years ago, my mom was talking about the nice, expensive cards one of them sent out that year then asked my opinion on them. I pointed out that we were no longer receiving cards from them or several others. She assured me it was just an oversight, then talked to one of them about it. They claimed I was lying and that they'd been sending us cards all along. A couple days later, we got a chintzy little card from them addressed just to my wife and I, with no mention of the kids. The following year (last year), this person and one other sent us another of the cheap cards. The one addressed it to just my wife & I (no "and the kids," or even an "and family"), while the other addressed the card just to me.
We got tired of all this pretty quickly and decided a couple years ago to start cutting down on the cards we send out. We decided that we'd save last year's cards and this year just send to those we'd received from the previous year. If anyone else sent us a card and we received it in time, we'd send them one. We sent out about five less than we did last year and received fewer cards than we ever have. I haven't gone over all of this year's cards yet, but we'll likely be making another big cut next year. We've been moved over to the cheap card list for a couple other family members. We haven't seen them in a couple years so I don't know if that's the reason or if they concocted some other grievous offense in one of their drunken gossip orgies. One of them not only sent us the cheap card, but didn't even sign it. The same person sent my parents an expensive card lined with fake jewels, lace and ribbons with a fairly lengthy but generic note inside. A few others added us to the "wait and see" list as we didn't get their cards until the 22nd or 24th, while my parents got them much earlier.
For the record, this is far from new behavior, although we weren't caught in the cross-hairs until a couple years ago (that is, if you don't count the time a couple of my aunts told my mother that if they ever found out I was sending Christmas cards to my godmother, they'd cut me out of the family). My sister was one of the big targets before that. She spent many years getting the cheap cards or having her name misspelled, then, for the first few years of her marriage, she had several of them address the cards only to her--using her maiden name, no less--and not mention her husband. Another cousin doesn't get cards from several of the family, although they do send cards for her kids to her mother's house.
Does anyone else's family engage in this festive yuletide ritual, or is it just in my neck of the woods?
01-24-2013, 07:58 AM
Back for the New Year finally. Computer crashed right before Christmas, it is back, almost like new. Hope everyone is sticking to their resolutions.
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