And when those blue snowflakes start fallin’ That’s when those blue memories start callin’ You’ll be doin’ all right, with your Christmas of white But I’ll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas
Sometimes it’s hard to be cheerful during the holidays.
If you have a loved one who’s suffering, “Happy holidays!” can feel like a cruel joke. The most wonderful time of the year? Not for everyone.
This topic is heavy on my mind because I have a dear friend who is dealing with recent deaths and serious financial difficulties. She lives across the country so it’s hard to know how well she’s handling it. Here in our small community at least two local families are dealing with the deaths of their sons this year, including one who was buried only last week. We probably all know someone who is not having such a happy holiday. Maybe it’s you.
Do the holidays always lift your spirits or have you had to cope with sad holidays? Are you prone to sadness or melancholy during this time of the year? How have you tried to help others in this situation? Do you ever feel guilty about enjoying this wonderful time of the year while others close to you are suffering? Are you having a happy holiday this year? What are the best and worst parts of the holidays?
Since I’m in the government sector, my office just doesn’t do the kind of party described there, but for those of you who do attend dressy evening office parties, do you think the article offers good advice? What tips would you add?
Here’s an idea: what if you decide to gift only experiences this year? How much more memorable will your holidays be?
Consider these experiences: concert tickets, a home-cooked meal, tickets to a play or a musical, breakfast in bed, a back rub, a foot rub, a full-body massage, a holiday parade, walking or driving somewhere without a plan, spending an evening talking with no distractions, making-out under the mistletoe, visiting a festival of lights, cutting down a Christmas tree, watching a sunrise, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, dancing, taking your children to a petting zoo, making snow angels, making a batch of hot apple cider, taking a vacation together, watching a wintertime sunset.
What other experiences can you give to someone you care about?
The Halloween stuff has been showing up in stores since late August or early September, and 2/3 of my offspring already have costume plans — inflatable T-Rex costumes, which they’re also trying to talk some friends into getting, so they can go as a pack of T-Rexes. Possibly they were inspired by this series of videos:
Are you ordering / working on Halloween costumes or decor already, or are you reading this post and thinking, “Even on the Totebag we’re doing Halloween already?”
There are many cost of living rankings out there, but most of them give cost of living averages for the “average American household.” Here’s the issue – the “average American household” doesn’t exist. Income and expenses vary widely between a single millennial to a household of two parents and three kids. Our cost tool explores the costs and expenses of living in a place based on your own, specific needs.
The True Cost of Living tool allows you to add details like household size, income, occupation, and even food preferences.
Happy 4th of July! Are you celebrating with fireworks or a parade?
This latest survey from U.S. News & World Report says that Switzerland is the best country in the world. What’s your opinion? Do you think the USA is the best? Or another country? Any plans to move? We’re still the “most powerful” country in the world according to the survey, but we’re only ranked seventh overall.
The survey ‘polled more than 21,000 people described by organizers as “business leaders, informed elites and general citizens.”’
Are you off from work today? Do your kids have this week off from school? Any special plans?
What else is on your mind today?
I am still slowly going through the Washington Post Presidential podcast series. Yesterday I listened to the Andrew Jackson episode again after reading about comparisons between him and Donald Trump. My latest “favorite” president is James Garfield, who may have been great had his term not been tragically cut short by an assassin’s bullet (and the poor medical care he received). Do you have a favorite president?
The holiday shopping season means bulging shopping bags, boxes piled up outside front doors, purchases galore. In spite of the retail cheer, I thought I’d bring up MMM (The Grinch?). Have you regretted any purchases? Have you racked up too many bills? Spent on things or experiences that were not worth the price tag?
Do you entertain during the holidays? An open house kind of thing for friends and family, a work-related thing, a cookie-decorating party, the big family dinner, a cocktail party? Let’s share our holiday entertaining tips!
My household relies heavily on Costco when doing a big party. We get the shrimp tray, the crudite tray, the cookie tray, some of the booze, the frozen spanakopita. Sam’s Club we use to supplement (sometimes they have better selection of frozen puff pastry hors d’ouevres), along with a couple of trays of finger food items from a nearby restaurant. I avoid having much cooking to do during the party as I find that even having to remember to take a pan out of the oven is more than enough to remember once the party is rolling.
Our biggest challenge is probably finding a date, as it seems like most people we know have packed weekends in December full of kid activities and family obligations. We just aim for earlier in the month and cross our fingers.
Do you have holiday entertaining tips to share, or stories to tell?
We have an open thread for any discussion topics over the Thanksgiving weekend. How are things going?
Related to previous conversations about the “bubble” in which we live, here’s a version called the Thanksgiving Bubble courtesy of CollegeConfidential.
Is Your Thanksgiving in an Elitist Bubble?
No green bean casserole: 0 points
From scratch using a recipe off epicurious and fresh green beans and mushrooms: 1 point
Canned soup base, canned green beans, French’s fried onions: 5 points
Heritage breed, free range, humanely raised, hormone free turkey sold by your local butcher or Whole Foods at price that could pay for a nice dinner out for a family of four: 0 points
Pre-cooked turkey dinner bought at Dean & DeLuca: 0 points
Fresh turkey, nothing special: 1 point
Frozen Butterball Turkey: 2 points
Store brand turkey that you saved up the store receipts for months to get for free: 3 points
Turkey you shot yourself in the woods, gutted and dressed yourself: 10 points, with bonus point given for deep frying it.
Homemade cranberry sauce with fancy ingredients like candied ginger, figs or kumquats: 0 points
Homemade cranberry sauce, nothing fancy: 1 point
Canned whole berry cranberry sauce: 2 points
Canned jelly cranberry sauce still bearing the ridge lines from the can (my favorite kind ): 5 points
No cranberry sauce because you’re from the deep south and they don’t do the cranberry thing there: 7 points
Fresh sweet potatoes with a brown sugar/rum glaze (family favorite): 0 points
Fresh sweet potatoes with store bought marshmallows: 2 points
Fresh sweet potatoes with homemade marshmallows: -2 points
Canned sweet potatoes with store bought marshmallows: 5 points
Fresh whipped cream for your pie: 0 points
Whipped Cream from a can: 1 point
Premium ice cream: 0 points
Store brand ice cream: 1 point
Cool Whip: 5 points
What’s your score, both from your childhood and from today?
These two related topics dovetail nicely so they are posted together.
Holiday Gift Giving
by North of Boston
OK, Totebaggers, the Holidays are upon us, so let’s talk presents. What are you planning to give your loved ones? What are you hoping to get? Are you changing your gift-giving habits this year (e.g. expanding or contracting your recipient list, or spending more or less on gifts than you have in the past)? And if you’re stuck on what to get someone, here’s your chance to ask for suggestions!
With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, that can only mean one thing: Black Friday is also approaching, to be followed by Small Business Saturday, then Cyber Monday.
Are you looking to take advantage of any deals offered in this shopping season? What are your strategies? Are there any great deals out there that you’re willing to share?
Today on Memorial Day we honor the memory of members of our armed forces who died in service to our country. Like many other places across the country, our town has a parade and memorial service today. Barbecues, ballgames, and beaches are also popular spots for this day. What are you doing today?
ALSO, for POLITICAL COMMENTS we now have dedicated weekly pages.Check it out!
The Totebag 30-Day Challenge is DONE!
We have completed our challenge. Your thoughts? Good, bad, indifferent? Would you do another one?