SPENDING CHRISTMAS ALONE? I have some ideas plus some extras!*(Update 2011)

Vol. 2,  No. 30, December 17th, 2011
TITLE: “SPENDING CHRISTMAS ALONE? I have some ideas plus some extras!*”(Update 2011)  
Christmas is a magical time of the year. I am again thinking about the people who are celebrating on their lonesome.  It breaks my heart. My book of the week still remains: “Skipping Christmas [Hardcover]” by John Grisham.  Like the book title, I am sure that there are some who would like to skip the whole thing. A possible reason is that they are planning to spend Christmas alone. This is my topic of the week because I want to change that. And this year, I have somes extras: a bonus book- it is “Elmo’s 12 Days of Christmas” (Sesame Street) [Board book] by Sarah Albee (Author), Maggie Swanson (Illustrator) (Editor’s note: This is another in the series on holidays and special dates.) 

Next week, in the continuing series on holidays and special dates, I will present my annual New Year’s post along with an update.  Why don’t you join us? Not to worry…I’ll be the designated driver.
As a child, growing up, I learned about Christmas. First, of course, it is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Second, it is to UNITE with family. When my grandparents were alive, on Christmas Eve, after supper, we would all go to their home. We were QUITE THE GROUP as my mother had 8 siblings in Canada. All of my aunts, uncles, cousins plus my parents and brothers and invited guests were in excess of 35+- persons. Indeed, this was a real FULL HOUSE!  My grandparents were the best Christmas host and hostess. My grandfather always decorated their house with lots and lots of Christmas ornaments and a big Christmas tree. He also picked out joyful Christmas music, which played throughout the evening. My grandmother would bake all our favorite, traditional desserts and the dining room table also had finger foods, drinks, etc. The spirit of Christmas lived there! I always looked forward to this day.
More recently, my holidays continued to be enjoyed with family. On Christmas Eve, my Mom would cook a big meal for the family and we would later open our gifts. Christmas day was my turn. My folks and siblings along with their spouses and kids would come to my house at noon and I cooked a big Christmas meal. The atmosphere was always one of festivity, joy and happiness. 
However, the past five years have been a little different. My Dad passed away and my Mom’s health has declined. She has had to stop cooking the Christmas Eve dinner. I continued with Christmas Day except when one of my daughters cooked the Christmas dinner several times and it was wonderful. Last, I need to make one thing clear. Once my marriage ended, even with my folks and daughters, I still had some alone time during the Christmas holiday. I had my moments. I can relate.



This is a hectic time. Here are a few notes.
Wrapping:  One of my sisters-in-law beautifully gift wraps her Christmas gifts. I always marvel at the effort that she puts into this work. When it comes to my wrapping, I must confess, it’s something that I don’t like to do.  One alternative is to give the job to the wrapping counters at the mall. My fast track approach is gift bags. They make everything easy. Here are my directions: (a) Buy a bag big enough for the item … with Christmas motif of course; in this regard, (i). Try to use the pinks for women and the blues for men;  (ii). Insert  appropriate matching tissue paper to add to the decorations. 
Christmas cards: For me, sending paper Christmas cards by snail mail has become something of a thing of the past.  Nowadays, if a long distance card is suitable, I send electronic e-cards. They are less expensive and just as effective.  However, just so you know, to my loved ones, I choose a really mushy holiday greeting card. It goes in the gift bag – it’s not the sticker type.    
2011 Headline  Extra: My granddaughter loves Elmo.  She likes to watch Sesame Street on television.  This little red character lights up her face.  Since her sweet little face lights up mine…you guessed it…this year, I bought her as one of her Christmas gifts, an Elmo product – it is a musical CD. 
Bonus book:  Elmo’s 12 Days of Christmas (Sesame Street)  by Sarah Albee (Author), Maggie Swanson (Illustrator)
Author:  Sarah Albee
Sarah Albee is an author and edits children’s books.  Some of her published books are:

  • Nick Jr.’s Pop-up Songs
  • Zoe’s Day with Daddy (Sesame Street)
  • Plaza Sesamo: Restando galletas (Plaza Sesamo/ Sesame Street)
  • Plaza Sesamo: Sigue a Elmo (Plaza Sesamo/ Sesame Street)

Illustrator:  Maggie Swanson
Maggie Swanson is an author and illustrators children’s books. Some of her published books are:

  • A Scratch & Sniff Night Before Christmas (Scratch & Sniff)
  • Storytime Stickers: Easter Bunny (Storytime Stickers)
  • Elmo Loves You!
  • My First Christmas

The bonus book: “Elmo’s 12 Days of Christmas (Sesame Street) by Sarah Albee (Author), Maggie Swanson (Illustrator)”
Red is a Christmas colour. Elmo is red and he is perfect in giving his personal take on the song,  “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a classic. When Elmo counts off the 12 days, it is great fun for the youngsters. Elmo is joined by Cookie, Grover and Herry. On day one, there is one red monster in a tree. Guess who? On day two, there are the same number of good tasting cookies. On day three, there are the same number of French friends. On day nine, there are the same number of monsters dancing under a disco ball. On day 10, there are the same number of monsters in ballerina garb springing. The items fit the numbers; and the images are colorful. This board book works for me and the kids seem to like it. I’m sorry that the days stop at 12. Don’t you?

THE AUTHOR: John Grisham
Grisham is an attorney, practicing in Southaven, Mississippi. Having a flair for writing, he became an author as well. From his profession, he found an interesting backdrop for his novels. The law is a natural dramatic device. The rest is publishing history. His juggernaut then succeeded wildly in Hollywood.
(Fact source: Wikipedia the free encyclopedia)
John Grisham has written MANY books – here’s the list.
• A Time to Kill (1989)
• The Firm (1991) (N.B. It spent 47 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers List.)
• Pelican Brief (1992)
• The Client (1993)
• The Chamber (1994)
• The Rainmaker (1995)
• The Runaway Jury (1996)
• The Partner (1997)
• The Street Lawyer (1998)
• The Testament (1999)
• The Brethren (2000)
• A Painted House (2001)
• Skipping Christmas (2001)
• The Summons (2002)
• The King of Torts (2003)
• The Bleachers (2003)
• The Last Juror (2004)
• The Broker (2005)
• Playing for Pizza (2007)
• The Appeal (2008)
Nine of his novels have been turned into major movies. His second novel, “The Firm” starred Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman. It was a great legal thriller. The hero of the Rainmaker novel/movie is a lawyer with a small practice. A young lawyer is at the heart of the Partner. The Brethren has three stories in one. The Appeal is suspenseful.
THE BOOK: “Skipping Christmas [Hardcover]” by John Grisham
 This was a change of pace for John Grisham. The novelist turned part-time satirist. He pulled it off commercially – it sold 1.5-million in the first printing. It had potential. A typical American couple changes course. Once their daughter joined the Peace Corps and for the first year ever was not with them for Christmas, they decided to break with tradition and spend the dollars saved on a 10-day Caribbean cruise. Playing hooky on Christmas might annoy Santa. It also annoyed me as this bit of fun just didn’t work. For me, Grisham is best at writing lawyer dramas.

The Christmas holidays are for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the enjoyment from get-togethers with family and extended family friends.  

For most people, it is a BIG downer being alone at a time usually viewed as one spent with relatives and loved ones. Don’t agree? Then consider if you will, the fun you would have going: (a) To a play cast party in a one-man show without the crew and production staff attending; (b) To a rock concert, with no performer and no audience present;  (c) On a date without an escort at an empty night club, the music being off; etc.  Christmas alone is equally ridiculous.
My personal comments

As already said, for a time as a woman no longer married, I walked in your shoes. Starting a holiday unattached does not bode well for a pleasing time to be spent. My girl friends, for the most part, were occupied with their families. Not only were there no gal evenings, the phone was also quiet. Being off work, I did my house work. With the house up to date, I had some free time.  Then, with nothing as company except a TV, you think; and you think some more – perhaps too much. A holiday feast attended by me, myself and I is by no means a crowd! Dinner conversation is muted. Interest level is so low that you would prefer to stand yourself up and be a no-show. There is no comfort zone here. It is profoundly disagreeable. Being in bad mood is an under-statement.
The point
It is important that no one should be left alone on this special day.  Unfortunately, some people don’t have anywhere to go. 

Now as we get closer to the “CE” (i.e. Christmas Eve) hour, I do not want to presume what you are thinking and how you are feeling. If you have plans, for the most part, to be with family and friends, I guess you’re covered. And if you’re a happy loner, this does not apply to you. If not a happy camper, I am then talking to you.My message is that it does not have to be this way. It is in your power to change this not only for you, but also, for others facing the same prospect this coming holiday season.
The first step is to decide if you want something more; if so, try one or more of the following.
Weeks before
1. Plan to be connected with others on Christmas Eve/Day; to do so, you could:
1.1 Exercise your leadership capacity and organize an event scheduled for Christmas Eve/ Christmas Day:
(a) Holiday (pot-luck) meal: Invite single neighbors, work mates or those away from family in your condo-apt. building complex, workplace, etc. (N.B. If female, do NOT hold the event in your home. Instead, let a guy friend do it or have it in a neutral party room, etc.) Beyond one dish, everyone is expected to share one personal story of a sweet or especially meaningful holiday spent from years past.
(b) Chorus group: Assemble a small team of people really in the spirit to sing Christmas carols door-to-door;
(c) Two-day board game extravaganza:  Schedule a round-robin tournament of chess, checkers, scrabble, etc. at a local hall;
(d) Fundraising campaign: Raise awareness and money through a kid’s picture coloring contest, (to benefit a charity for children who are ill),  at a local pharmacy – this is probably the only business, which is open;
(e) Christmas card exchange: Collect beforehand, Christmas cards MADE by local children for distribution to a children’s hospital on Christmas Day; etc.
On the day of
2.1 Be active – start on an exercise routine: power walk, run, etc.;
2.2 Bake cookies and deliver boxes of your home-made creations to the firemen and police (they’re working)  in your city;
2.3 Volunteer at a local hospital or homeless mission;
2.4 Put on a Santa hat and visit residents at a local old-folks home; etc.

Checkmate…now please pour me some eggnog!
And that’s my thought of the week on books, what’s yours?*
Take it out for a spin and tell me if you agree.
“Books are life; and they make life better!*”
P.S. Big News: There are big changes coming to my blog – Please stay tuned.
P.P.S. #1 I have a TWITTER page. Consider becoming a follower? Visit www.twitter.com –   saveandread
P.P.S. #2 I also have a FACEBOOK page. Consider becoming a friend? Visit: www.facebook.com – Alp Save Andread – please check it out.
P.P.S. #3 I am on Linkedin. Consider becoming a connection? Visit  www.linkedin.com – Antoinette La Posta
*TM/© 2011 Practitioners’ Press Inc. – All Rights Reserved.

S & R* CHOICE ANECDOTAGE #1: Heawood’s Watch
“Like many mathematicians, Percy John Heawood was famously eccentric. (He considered a day “wasted,” for example, if he did not attend at least one committee meeting.) One day Heawood, who set his watch just once a year (on Christmas Day) even though it was consistently slow, was asked for the time. He graciously replied, and was promply informed that his watch was approximately two hours fast. “No, it’s not two hours fast,” he replied. “It’s ten hours slow!”
(Source: Anecdotage) – 
S & R* CHOICE ANECDOTAGE #2: Debs Daunted?
“In 1918, the noted pacifist Eugene Debs made a speech condemning World War I and criticizing the persecution of persons charged with sedition in violation of the 1917 Espionage Act – a speech which earned him a ten-year prison sentence. On Christmas Day, 1921, he was pardoned by President Harding and released from prison: “It is the government,” he bitterly remarked, “that should ask me for a pardon.”
(Source: Anecdotage) – 
S & R* CHOICE ANECDOTAGE #3: Birthday Girl
“One day a young friend of Robert Louis Stevenson’s complained of being born on Christmas Day: receiving gifts but once a year, she often felt short-changed. Some time later, Stevenson amended his will, bequeathing to the girl… his own birthday: “If, however,” the document declared, “she fails to use this bequest properly, all rights shall pass to the President of the United States.”
(Source: Anecdotage) – 
S & R* QUOTE #1: Sir Julian Huxley
“There are two ways of living: a man may be casual and simply exist, or constructively and deliberately try to do so. The constructive idea implies a constructiveness not only about one’s own life, but about that of society, and the future possibilities of mankind.”
(Source:  http://www.wisdomquotes.com/)
S & R* QUOTE #2: Felix Adler
“A human being is not to be handled as a tool but is to be respected and revered. [From: An Ethical Philosophy of Life]”
(Source: http://www.wisdomquotes.com/)

S & R* QUOTE #3: Edwene Gaines
“In order to hold on to thoughts of anger, bitterness, revenge, guilt, and shame, we have to use a lot of energy.”
(Source:  http://www.wisdomquotes.com/)
For today, my word/phrase(s) are: “Christmas”, “Single”, “Solitude”, etc.

“Christmas[3] or Christmas Day[4][5] is a holiday observed generally on December 25[6] to commemorate the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity.[7][8] The date is not known to be the actual birthday of Jesus, and may have initially been chosen to correspond with either the day exactly nine months after some early Christians is believed Jesus had been conceived,[9] the date of the winter solstice on the ancient Roman calendar,[10] or one of various ancient winter festivals.[9][11] Christmas is central to the Christmas and holiday season, and in Christianity marks the beginning of the larger season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days.[12]”
(Source: Wikipedia the free encyclopedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas

“In legal definitions for interpersonal status, a single person is someone who has never been married. A person who was previously married and was divorced or widowed is usually considered an “unmarried” person.[citation needed] If a marriage is annulled, however, or it is found to have been void ab initio (i.e. not valid in law to start with), and assuming the person was not married previously, that individual is single, rather than unmarried. In that situation, the law behaves as though the parties thought they were married when, in actuality, they were not. The term single in its common usage is often referred to someone who isn’t involved in any type of romantic relationship, whether it would be dating, engagement, or marriage.”
(Source: Wikipedia the free encyclopedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_person

“Solitude is a state of seclusion or isolation; i.e., lack of contact with people. It may stem from bad relationships, deliberate choice, infectious disease, mental disorders, or circumstances of employment or situation (see castaway).”
(Source: Wikipedia the free encyclopedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solitude

Bonus fact #1: Single person households
“According to the United States Bureau of the Census, the fastest-growing household type since the 1980s has been the single person. Previously both socially uncommon and unaccepted due to perceived roles, public awareness, modern socioeconomic factors and increasingly available popular and lengthier education and careers have made the single lifestyle a viable option for many Americans, especially after the Vietnam War.[3]

Similar to the United States, single-person households are increasingly popular in the United Kingdom. In recent years, studies have found that more citizens value career over personal relationships. The single-person households have also been spreading due to the high self-esteem it offers.[4]”
(Source: Wikipedia the free encyclopedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_person
Bonus fact #2: Holiday Names
“Place names associated with the holiday season include North Pole, Alaska (population 2,226 in 2009); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,303); Santa Claus, Ga. (247); Noel, Mo. (1,615); and — if you know about reindeer — the village of Rudolph, Wis. (418) and Dasher, Ga. (821). There is Snowflake, Ariz. (5,686) and a dozen places named Holly, including Holly Springs, Miss., and Mount Holly, N.C.”
Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/popest/estimates.html>
(Source: U.S. Census Bureau – Newsroom).
U.S. toy imports: $5.1 billion
“The value of U.S. toy imports including stuffed toys (including dolls), puzzles and electric trains from China between January and August 2010. China was the leading country of origin for stuffed toys coming into this country, as well as for a number of other popular holiday gifts. These include roller skates ($37 million), sports footwear ($218 million) and basketballs ($32 million). China leads Thailand as the leading supplier of ice skates ($9 million versus $6 million), with Canada ranking third ($4 million).”
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics <http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/>
(Source: U.S. Census Bureau – Newsroom).
S & R* NEWS ALERT* #1:  Generation C
“(NC)—Whether you’re a Millennial or a Baby Boomer, everyone celebrates Christmas as a member of Generation C.
Millennials: 18-30
Gen Xers: 31-44
Baby Boomers: 45-64
Matures: 65+
To determine generational differences, a recent survey asked questions about favourite holiday dishes, size of holiday gatherings and who does the holiday cooking.While all generations agree the traditional roasted turkey is tops, Millennials and Gen Xers say they like to experiment with different cooking methods like barbecuing or deep frying the festive turkey. Millennials and Gen Xers may Twitter, Facebook and Blog, but everyone can get help cooking the holiday turkey by calling 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-3722).”
(Source: www.newscanada.com)
S & R NEWS ALERT #2: Teach children about the holiday spirit
“What would you like for Christmas? This question, whether it comes from Grandma or the jolly man in red, seems easy enough. But as the options multiply and the shopping frenzy escalates, the answer becomes more and more complicated and expensive! It is important to help children put the holiday season into perspective. Parents should take a look at how they are spending money and time this holiday season. If their list is more about expensive gifts, party clothes and concerts. Think about deliberately cutting something back. Make time for the pleasures of family this Christmas: skating on an outdoor rink, baking and decorating Christmas cookies, driving around town to look at Christmas decorations, or, calling a snow day and staying home for a movie marathon. This creates traditions that children will remember. Helping somebody less fortunate is an important reality check for the whole
family. One Canadian family uses the World Vision Gift Catalogue (worldvision.ca/gifts) to help a child in need. We give each of our children some money to choose a gift from the catalogue, says Lucie, of Montreal. They not only practice an act of kindness, but they learn about how other children live. It helps them appreciate everything they’ve got. Great holiday ideas are habit-forming. So why just save them for the holidays? Going easy on the expenses, investing in fun family time, and remembering people who are less fortunate are lifestyle choices.”
S & R NEWS ALERT #3: Fun and festive activities for your family and friends
“It’s great to spend the holidays with family and friends, but sometimes the boredom factor can set in. Here are some fun, festive ideas on how to spend time together. Start fun, new traditions. Instead of the same old holiday cookies, create a major factor with holiday cake pops. Gather family and friends to bake and decorate with the Starbucks Cake Pop Kit. Your creations will look like they came from a seasoned pastry chef and stand out among all the traditional cookie baskets. Holiday movie night. Introduce the holiday classics to the young ones these movies are sure to bring back fond memories for you and create a memorable impression on your kids. Then, let them pick a recent holiday flick so you can all discover new favourites. Volunteer together.  Gather family and friends to spread some holiday cheer to those less fortunate. Organize a day where you all meet up to volunteer at a local soup kitchen or food bank. Not only is it a great way to give back to your community, it will also give everyone in your group a sense of holiday spirit while working together. Host a wrapping party. Turn on the holiday tunes, pull out the ribbon, make sure to have food and beverages on hand and you’re set. This is a great way to turn a sometimes-daunting task of gift-wrapping into a fun and social event. Play in the snow. Building snow forts and igloos isn’t just for kids; it’s a great way for everyone to enjoy some great fresh air and outdoor exercise. Pack a thermos of hot chocolate and stay outside even longer so you can sing some holiday carols under the stars. Try one or two of these activities this holiday season, and see how time flies when you’re having fun.”
*TM/© 2011 Practitioners’ Press Inc. – All Rights Reserved.

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