Archive for the ‘x-mas’ Tag

11-14-15 Journal – Pre-Christmas Blues!   Leave a comment

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I’m already on my third cup of coffee this morning and that good old caffeine buzz I’ve come to rely on has yet to rev my engines.  I have a lot of errands to run today and need some serious motivation to get them all completed.  The blessing is that my better-half is working which will keep her out of my hair (what little I have left) to prepare for her birthday dinner tonight.  It’s difficult to get anything secret done around here and over the years she’s forced me to become even sneakier  than usual.

She loves being surprised and each year that goes by it get tougher and tougher to come up with fresh ideas.  I’ve purchased her a few gifts which I’m sure she’ll like because I am “The Man” when it comes to giving great gifts.  As much as she likes being surprised I like doing the surprising.  I can’t go into too many details because she reads this blog looking for clues.  I’ve learned to be very careful in keeping important information as secret as possible.

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She’s been feeling a little depressed coming into the holidays since it’s the first ones since the passing of her Mom.  She’s usually a Christmas fanatic going totally bonkers with decorations and general X-mas silliness. She needs something to get her into the holiday spirit and I’m hoping we’ll  have our first snowfall soon. That’s always been a kick-start for me and I think it will be for her as well.  She’s also a shopping machine and quite possibly a few hours out in the crowds on Black Friday will help too.

I understand how she feels because I went through the loss of both my parents in the last eight years.  My mother was a Christmas lunatic too and it’s still difficult to have Christmas and not think of her and my dad and Christmases past.

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The saving grace this year will be the grandsons.  Christmas has always been for the children and once the tree gets decorated and the kids come to visit, chattering on and on about Santa and reindeer, she’ll be just fine.  They own her completely and a few smiles from them will make all the difference in the world. Then she’ll go crazy the last week before Christmas trying to make up for lost time which is what I’m hoping for.

Truthfully I’ve been a real Grinch for many years about Christmas but having the boys in our life is changing all that. I hope we both can find the holiday spirit once again.  I’d love to have that feeling on Christmas morning like I did when I was eight years old.

It can’t get much better than that.

11-09-2014 Journal-Have a Hully Gully Amazon Christmas!   Leave a comment

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‘Amazon Warehouse – My Favorite Shopping Place’

I’ve been rather busy over the last couple of months since I made a commitment to myself to have my Christmas shopping completed, wrapped, and ready for delivery or mailing by Thanksgiving.  This also included shopping for my better-half’s upcoming birthday which is entirely too close to the holidays for my liking. As soon as I made it known that this was my plan the criticism began.  Fortunately I’ve been called "anal" so may times by so many people that it no longer bothers me.  I’m at the point now where it’s actually become quite the compliment.

Call me anal if you’d like but you won’t be seeing me on Black Friday or any other day being elbowed, pushed out of the way, and worse by the crowds of people waiting until the last minute to Christmas shop.  The rationalizations thought up by those late shoppers sometimes makes me wonder about their sanity.  You get up at 4:30 am on Black Friday, wait in line for a hour for the store to open, and TA DA, save a whole two dollars.  It’s some form of X-mas insanity that I just don’t understand. A thousand people show up for free stuff that only the first one hundred actually get.  I’d call that the ultimate bait and switch scheme regardless of which retailer is doing it.

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You have to understand that I’m more than a little claustrophobic when it comes to large crowds of people or small crowds of people stuffed into even smaller buildings. The retailers today led by my all time non-favorite, Walmart, insist on clogging the aisles and for that matter any open space with a never ending supply of merchandise and stack-outs.  You barely have enough room to get through the store with a shopping cart let along enjoy the shopping experience.  After ten minutes of that I’m ready to get the hell out of there just as fast as I can.  I may be a member of the so called "great unwashed" but that doesn’t mean I have to like rubbing elbows with each and every one of them.

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‘IPad Fever’

I made my first Christmas purchase on-line in June.  It was earlier than I’ve ever started before and thank God for Amazon and gift cards. This is going to be my first Amazon Christmas and I guarantee it won’t be my last.  I’ll still manage a few short trips to some of the smaller local retailers on those days that they’re not too busy.  I can’t show up on Christmas morning without all of those stocking stuffers everyone seems to love so much but that’s the extent of my Christmas shopping fun for this year.

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The better-half’s birthday will come and go and you can be sure I’ll really be enjoying that Thanksgiving turkey when it finally gets here.  I can kick back and relax just knowing my holiday preparations are complete for another year.  

Merry Christmas . . . . and thanks Amazon!

11-02-2014 Journal Entry – My Perfect Woman!   Leave a comment

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“It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature’

Have you ever had something good you were trying to do for someone come back and bite you in the ass?  If you haven’t, you don’t know what your missing.  I’ve never been known as a “relationship guy”and I’ve failed in so many I should be somewhere in the Guinness Book of Records.  As I’ve gotten older I really and truly tried to change my ways with only moderate success.

I was always a good listener but the other skills necessary for maintaining a long term relationship were severely lacking.  After trying and failing and then trying again I began to make some progress and was really proud of myself. My better-half constantly assures me that I’m a good partner and we have a healthy and happy relationship.  Little did I know that she was lulling me into a false sense of security and it all came to a head yesterday.

It all started with a casual conversation about how stressed she was with Christmas approaching.  She was stressing about buying gifts, what gifts to buy, where to buy them, and on and on and on.  I fell for it completely and was actually starting to feel sorry for her.  After being told what a great relationship we had I felt the need to step up and help her out as much as I could. I casually mentioned that I might consider spending some time with her and using my superior shopping skills to help get her back on track.  It might have been one of the dumbest things I’ve ever suggested.

It wasn’t much later when she arrived with a handful of coupons from a bunch of retailers, laid them on the table, and then gave me our tentative travel plans for our full day of shopping.  I’m not saying she set the whole thing up but I’m highly suspicious of how quickly those plans came together.

Yesterday was “THE” day.  I was rousted out of my warm bed, given some coffee, and a “hurry up, we’re burning daylight” comment.  Eight hours, seven stores, two snacks, and three coffees later my ass was dragging.  Thank God for Mother Nature.  It began raining soon after we left the house and the more it rained the more her shopping enthusiasm waned.  As we were leaving the over crowded mall in the late afternoon we made a mad dash for the car and got a little wet.  She decided right then and there we should just call it a day and go home.  Halleluiah and thank God . . . .

It’s now the next morning and I slept in until 8:30 am.  She came running into the bedroom all pumped up with another handful of coupons, ready for another round of shopping.  Get this, she even served me bacon, eggs, toast and coffee in bed.  I think she needs a bit more training on how to be subtle. Once again Mother Nature arrived to save the day.  As we were looking out the window at the already crappy day it began to lightly snow.  The first snow fall this year and I made the most of it.  I was moving kind of slow (intentionally) and told her I really wasn’t up to driving and shopping in this weather. All of my Christmas shopping was already done and I really just wanted to stay at home and relax for an hour or so.  I laid it on pretty thick and before I knew it she left in a cloud of coupons to go shop, shop, shop.

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‘Thank You Once Again Mother Nature’

This experience has shown me who my perfect women really is, it’s Mother Nature. She’s a little older than me but she’s still got it going on.  I’m a good listener and I clean up pretty well so we should be able to easily make our relationship work over the long term.  I also understand she’s not much of a shopaholic which is just another plus. My better-half had better slide a little further over in the bed to make room for our new friend.

52 SHOPPING DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS

10-09-2014 (Sarcasm On) Merry Christmas!   Leave a comment

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We’ve reached mid-October and I’m starting to see indications of that holiday freight train that is rumbling full speed towards us. I was tasked with an errand last night that required me to pickup my better-half who was attending a wedding of a co-worked in a town north of here.  Darkness had fallen and our trip home took us through a number of neighborhoods and small towns. We were within a quarter mile of home when I spotted something that sent a cold shiver down my spine . . .  a lighted Christmas tree in front of a neighbor’s home. These neighbors are the newest members of our little community and are folks who love to celebrate each and every holiday with decorations of all sorts hanging from trees, shrubs, and anything else that doesn’t move too much.  It can be cute but also it’s also more than a little annoying just like that tree was last night.

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During some of my shopping  forays in recent weeks I’ve observed the expected Halloween and Thanksgiving craziness but Christmas rearing it’s ugly head this early in October is ridiculous. Having worked for many rears for retail companies I understand the management mentality in getting the jump on competitors.  It just seems they’ve all picked up some of the more bothersome bad habits of the king of all retailers, Walmart.  They seem to think that anything that Walmart does automatically become the final word in making money.  Having spent six months in a Walmart management training program allows me to proclaim that Walmart is just as screwed up as any other company.  Their saving grace secret is their size.  When you’re as big as Walmart it’s much easier to  hide your screw ups and bad decisions.

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I have a sneaking suspicion that Sam Walton is probably spinning in his grave after watching what has gone on with his company.  On my first day at Sam’s Club I was handed a paperback book on the life and times of their founder Sam Walton.  I was ordered to read that book immediately and was questioned heavily on it’s contents throughout the training period.  Almost all of the training tapes that were in use were tapes made by Walton himself who at the time had been dead for more than ten years.  I was being trained by a dead guy in Walmart’s lame attempt to brainwash me into their world of retail. Just before my graduation from that training program I was on my way to work and wishing I wasn’t. Ten minutes after I arrived I walked into the General Manger’s office and resigned. I walked away and never looked back. They only succeeded in making me unhappy, miserable, and just a little crazy. I’ve never regretted my decision.

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This isn’t a rant just about Walmart but a general disappointment with the cynical approach taken by almost every retailer. I think we can thank Wall Street and the Harvard Business School for a lot of these issues. The stock market virtually requires companies to meet expectations regardless of the methods used.  The Harvard MBA’s that I’ve been involved with over the years were all young bean-counters of the worst sort.  They’d gut a company, fire any number of employees, cut benefits, just about anything to help meet those Wall Street projections.  People are just numbers to them and are treated accordingly.  Is it any wonder things are the way they are.

So after saying all of that I hope you’re prepared for the avalanche of Christmas nonsense headed your way.  Ten glorious weeks of Santa Clause, presents, endless TV commercials, and a hit to your wallet that will be larger than ever before.  Oh yeah, I recently heard a nasty rumor that once upon a time Christmas had something to do with religion.  How stupid am I?