Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot?

As a society, we are constantly facing this fast-paced, day-to-day, ever-evolving need to be politically correct and follow this unspoken (and unsigned) social contract.

Especially during the Holidays.

There’s: Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Secret Santa, White Elephant Gift Exchanges, Office Parties, Neighborhood Block Parties/Friends’ Holiday Parties, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.  (I know I’ve left a bunch out.  But…you get the idea.)

And you have to participate in one, or all of these Holiday Rituals… Otherwise, you’re a Heathen.

You have to:

Bring a Pinterest-Inspired Dish That’s Under/Overcooked to Friendsgiving – You’ve been involved in a group text for 3 weeks that you just can’t get out of. And you can’t believe that you’re friends with these people who can’t figure out who should bring plates.

Bring a Dish (and spend time with family) for Thanksgiving – You’ve been praying for a natural disaster, or a plague to befall you…No such luck. Sorry, Champ. Get in there…tell your Aunt who lives in rural Illinois that you still don’t know when you’ll be getting married, and you’ve never heard of… how do you say it? Politics?

Wake Up Earlier Than Sin to go Get a Bunch of Crap For Yourself That You’ll Forget About Until the Next Time You Move – You’re running on 45 minutes of sleep, Starbucks, and the thirst for really great Black Friday deals that really only get you a couple of nostalgic movies that you didn’t really like for $5. No matter. You’re a champion, and you know it.

Spending Company Time Online Shopping – Unfortunately, Cyber Monday isn’t a corporate-sanctioned Holiday. So, in between vigilance of deleting Reply-All emails at work, you keep up with your relentless refreshing for the <insert electronic item here> to be back in stock.

Hurry and Find a Present for Secret Santa/White Elephant Gift Exchange – No pressure. But it has to be good… and somehow within the $10 spending limit that was agreed upon and wrap it in fancier-than-usual wrapping paper because it’s for someone you don’t know very well…and you don’t want to seem completely cheap. Your reputation is on the line.

Argue With Each Other About Not Being Able to Cancel on Holiday Parties You’ve Been Invited To — It’s too late to cancel, and the invitation has been sitting on the fridge for months. (Let’s face it. You have to go to the Work Party… because human beings are all nosey…and Karen can’t hold her alcohol very well. Hilarity, blackmail, and a boost to your self-esteem. Hole-in-One.) So you go, anyway, and begrudgingly attend said parties by arriving at the absolute last minute, holding your breath and holding your tongue, and then leaving at the pre-calculated acceptable time to leave. (Hint: Make sure to say hello to at least 50% of the people there. Grab a snack or drink to hold in your hand to make it seem like you’re committed to staying. After a little while, find the host of the party, and tell them you have to go. You have other places to be. Total Time Lapsed – 45 Minutes. TOPS.)

Spend the Morning of Christmas Eve Going to the Grocery Store 27+ Times in Your Pajamas – No matter how many lists you write, and how many times you hit the aisles… you always seem to forget something. But you don’t notice until you get home and you’ve unloaded all the groceries…and now you have to drive all the way back to the store saying every curse word you have ever heard and find a good parking spot. Make sure you have everything! The safety of others depends on it.

Spend the Evening of Christmas Eve Making Sure Everything is Done – Presents must be wrapped, pies must be baked…It’s 3 AM and somebody has some enthusiasm they have to fake in the morning! You will be opening presents that embody your loved ones’ best attempts at guessing what you like. (Hint: Smile, make your eyes big, hide your visible disappointment, express gratitude, and hug. Repeat, as needed.)

Spending Christmas Day Absolutely Exhausted and in Fine Form – You got a lot of gift cards, and a few gifts you’ll definitely be taking back to the store. Your brother-in-law insisted on making Christmas Day dinner and it turned out to be a huge flop. The realization that you can’t get fast food on the way home has JUST sunk in.

Spend the Day After Christmas Eating Leftover Food and Resenting Leftover Guests – You did it. You survived Christmas — Almost. Now, you have to continue to entertain…even though you just used your last bit of Holiday Cheer.

Researching Places to go and Spend $20$100 on a Table Reservations for New Year’s Eve – Yet another beloved group text message trying to decide where you all want to spend NYE. You still can’t believe that you’re friends with these people – because you have set up the reservation on your credit card…and you know no one is going to pay you back. You know Doug will sing Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ and Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ along with the band at the top of his lungs at the beginning of the night, get way too drunk way too fast, make out with a stranger at midnight, and then he’ll be crying at the end of the night while puking in your front yard.

Filling Yourself with Greasy Food to Fight Off Your Hangover – All the while researching which gym you’re going to be joining, this year, as part of your New Year’s Resolutions… (Memorize those cancellation policies!)

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In my opinion…the Holidays are a time for us to share and celebrate what we are thankful for, to spend time with loved ones, to reflect on our lives and try to better ourselves.

We adhere to these ‘rules’ that we have created for ourselves.

We endure people, places, things, ideas…For what?

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This New Year, I resolve to speak my mind more.
and you should, too!

Let me tell you how I got to this resolution.

I was thinking back to when I was about 6-years-old, in Wood Dale, Illinois; and my best friend lived down the block from me.

One particular day, we were having a petty disagreement.  I don’t remember how it started — or why – but I would write an insult reserved for her on my driveway in sidewalk chalk.  And then, I would run in the house and keep checking the window for her to ride by on her bike to read it.  She did.  Then she would go back to her house and write an insult reserved for me, and then hide in her house and wait for me.  And so on, and so forth.

I was growing tired of the back and forth.  I was highly offended by the insults that she issued to me.  (Side Note: I had no problems with the insults I was dishing out to her.)

The passive-aggressive chalk-off had gone on long enough.

I went outside to the driveway…one last time.  I grabbed the biggest piece of chalk that I could find.

And in big, pink, bold, chalky letters…I wrote the worst word I knew –

JERK!

I stood out in front of it… Proud.  And I waited.

After a few minutes, as expected, she rode by on her bike.  She was surprised when she saw me – and then she saw what I had wrote.  Her jaw dropped, and she screamed.  I stayed put, and watched her ride back to her house.

In the end, I definitely don’t think I won the argument.  (I think I probably got yelled at)

But I spoke my mind.  She was being a jerk…and I called her out on it.

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So, for the upcoming New Year…

Be the proud 6-year-old standing in the driveway in front of what she had on her mind.

A Christmas Story

I grew up in a nice, quiet suburb of Chicago called Wood Dale, Illinois. I went to a nice, quiet Catholic school called Holy Ghost Catholic School. I had the same 20 kids in my classes for the short time that I attended Holy Ghost. In the Fall of 1997, my family made a company move from Illinois to Phoenix, Arizona.

My sister and I were going to be transitioning from a private Catholic School to a Public School…so my mother had to break some news to us. She sat us down and told us, “Ok, girls. There is no Santa Claus. Your father and I are Santa Claus. We’re also the Easter Bunny, and we’re also the Tooth Fairy.” (To this day, she will tell you that she did this because she didn’t want ‘those rat bastards to ruin it for us.’) As a bowl-cut laden 8 year-old…this was a lot to process. After deciding that I could deal with the information that my sweet mother presented to me…I had but one question to ask: “Do I still get presents?”

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My sister is exactly two years older than I am — and she has three kids, now. (Those are two separate thoughts, by the way. The fact that she is two years older has NOTHING to do with the fact that she has three children. They are not mutually exclusive.) The kids are all under ten years old – therefore, they believe in the Supreme Being that is: Santa Claus.

For the past couple of years, a family tradition has been in the works. (Forcing a family tradition is kinda like trying to give a cat a bath. No one really wants to do it, but a bath is needed…and it is going to happen…whether any of you like it, or not. Supplies are purchased, a plan is put into place to trick the cat and get it in the tub, long sleeve shirts are worn to thwart scratching…The whole shaboodle.) The tradition being put into place, thus far, has been that: on Christmas Eve, I go to my sister’s house to hang out with the kids and watch ‘Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!’ and then, once the kids go to bed, I play Santa by helping with wrapping the presents/putting the presents under the tree. (I also have the burden of eating the cookies to make it look like Santa has visited. I know. There will be monuments made in my honor, one day.)

My sister has a five bedroom house. And the room that my sister has designated to be the room where all of the presents are stored is right across from the girls’ room, and down the hall from the little boy’s room. (This part is stressful for me. I’m a bad liar. Any noise we make…if the kids come up to the room and knock on the door…I’m opening the door and telling them EVERYTHING.)

I’m terrible at wrapping presents – but I do have decent penmanship. So my sister wraps presents…and then passes them along to me to write the ‘To’ and ‘From’. We are (sort of) efficient.

Any lack of efficiency comes mostly from my ‘I-Don’t-Take-Much-Seriously’ attitude. For example: I asked my sister, “Who do you want me to put as ‘From’? ‘From: Mom and Dad’? ‘From: Santa’?” She said, “I don’t really care who you put.”

WRONG ANSWER.

I labeled all of the presents as ‘From: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’.

My sister started to slow down on wrapping the presents, and saw what I had been writing. She stops, looks at me, and says, “Why? Why are you putting that?”

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Here’s Why — (and the whole point to this post)

How is it any less likely that Ruth Bader Ginsburg traveled all over the world and delivered Christmas Presents to everyone in one night?

Think about it.

As a society, we have created a fictional character who lives in a fictional place. He is an Operations Manager at a Toy Factory. His sole purpose in this world is just to monitor children’s behavior and sleeping habits…and then, one night a year, he drives a vehicle that flies and is powered by magic and reindeer.

Never a mention if Santa has an education. Never a mention of career goals. Never a mention of Santa’s mortgage payments (if any). Never a mention of Santa’s bills. Never a mention of overhead costs in the North Pole. Never a mention of insurance payments. Never a mention of salary. Never a mention of health benefits, paid-time-off, paid vacation, paid sick leave, retirement plans, 401k…

Here’s how I see it: Santa is a very old man who likes cookies and milk, who never gets a day off, and who works himself to the bone in undesirable conditions and who will probably never retire.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a Supreme Court Justice in the United States of America. She is educated. She has a background. She has a story. She has an opinion. She has good work ethic. She makes a difference. (And…not for nothin’…but she probably has a pension.)

So – It doesn’t have to be Notorious R.B.G… But why can’t our imagination for Santa run to someone who inspires kids to be interested in our Judicial System? Why can’t it be someone who gets kids to be interested in making our country better? Or making themselves better? Why can’t it be someone who exists – and maybe they ordered presents off of Amazon?

Let’s create a better class of Santa.


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