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Smile, Don’t Stress!

Dear Neighbors:

“All year long, I’ve been treated to news stories and videos that induced a great deal of smiling, “awwwww”ing and “that too cute not to share”-ing. Today, I present you with…

Doro’s Eight Reasons To Smile

1. Goldi-Seal

This adorable baby seal entered a house through a small cat door and decided to take a nap.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/12/baby-seal-enters-house-and-naps-on-couch/

Is your couch this comfortable?

2. Jonathan Hears His Mom For The First Time

This story is a few years old, but it was just passed on to me about a month ago. In this video, 8 month-old Jonathan’s new cochlear implants are turned on for the first time and his reaction is priceless!

3. Senior Flash Mob

This would have been #1 had it not been for the awful Gleeifying of the song. Never underestimate senior citizens, folks.

4. Shelter Dogs Turned Rescue Dogs

I wish I could take in the multitude of animals that are left at shelters every year, but like most of you, I just don’t have the space or the resources.

Wilma Melville is the founder of the National Disaster Search Foundation and her organization finds dogs in shelters who have the potential to become rescue dogs. You can read about it (and watch the video) here:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/09/01/cnnheroes.melville.search.dogs/index.html

In addition, the foundation needs your donations! For those of you who prefer to give to worthy causes without sneaky agendas, your money might save your life someday.

5. Anonymous Donors Pay off Layaway Accounts

The holiday season can be impossibly hard on those who are un – or -underemployed and still want to provide their families with gifts. This is where layaway comes in. When I was a kid, there were always jokes about the layaway program at Kmart, but this program is a must for families who need to pay off items a little at a time. I had no idea that many of these layaway accounts end up dormant when the families are unable to pay them off before the holidays. 

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/anonymous-donors-pay-off-kmart-222535611.html

If you happen to be near a store that offers layaway in the next few days, check your wallet and decide if you can afford to contribute to someone else’s joy.

6. Backtalking Kitten

I can’t help this one. It’s just beyond cute.

7. Nasa Superfluous? Not Hardly.

Funds spent on NASA research are often considered to have been siphoned away. In other words, NASA’s scientific discoveries are considered worthless. The last refuge of the scientifically-disinclined is to nitpick at all the things we could be doing with the money spent on NASA. What we can’t buy, however, are our natural resources.

Artist rendition of the planet currently known as Kepler 20e.

In planning for the future, what are we going to do when this planet has been completely stripped of all its natural resources — including water? We’re going to turn to NASA. As it happens, they’ve discovered two Earthlike planets, though neither is habitable by humans. It begs the question, however — what else is out there?

For more information on the Kepler project, you can visit the NASA website at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/main/index.html

8. Stewie the Cat as Babysitter

This YouTube gem shows a crying baby who is soothed to sleep by a very patient cat named Stewie.

Now go smile and finish your holiday shopping!

Doro

Dear Neighbors:

As you can see, I decided to give WordPress a try. I don’t know for sure if I’ll stay here or stick with Blogger, but there can’t be any harm in trying something new, right? Go ahead and say it — Doro’s a commitmentphobe. Given that I can make any number of complaints on any variety of topics, you’ll be surprised to learn that I don’t have many pet peeves about this time of year. I don’t have the same pressures as other people. It’s one of the few benefits of being single. My friends, however, make many complaints about the complexities of dealing with kids and in-laws and bosses and parents.

If I put up a Christmas tree, it would probably look like this one.

This is the time for giving, and I intend to share with you the Twelve Peeves of Christmas.

1. Holiday Hoarders (my one genuine pet peeve):

These are the irritating people who insist that the period of time from the end of November until the new year is Christmas and only Christmas (this event that began its annual celebration somewhere between 200 and 400AD). It’s not X-mas, either. They’ll tell everyone to remember to leave the Christ in Christmas and that Jesus is the reason for the season, completely ignorant and oblivious to the fact that the season also includes:

  • Hanukkah (began approx 138 BCE)
  • Kwanzaa (first celebrated in the 1960’s)
  • Winter Solstice (think: “neolithic”)

When I say “Happy Holidays!” I’m including everything that a person might celebrate during this time, including the more non-traditional reasons to celebrate:

  • Vacation from work/school (I’m off until January 9th, as are most teachers in my area)
  • Seasonal bonuses (I have friends whose bonuses determine just how merry the season will be for them)
  • Excuses to gorge on food, alcohol and a variety of mind-altering substances
  • Anticipation of the giving and getting of gifts
  • Spending time with family
  • Not spending time with family
  • Driving around and looking at all the lights
  • Doing nothing
  • Sleeping in
  • Watching football
  • Not watching football
  • Wearing silly holiday sweaters
  • Wearing Santa hats to work
  • Playing holiday music loud enough to annoy the neighbors
  • Decorating the house in lights and feeling that satisfaction at having one upped the neighbors again.

See? It’s not just about you. It’s not just about your specifically-designated reason to celebrate. Don’t hoard the holidays. It’s selfish. Save the selfishness for those boring months that don’t have fun holidays. Like August. Feel free to hoard the month of August all you want.

2. Holi-Obligations

It’s supposed to be a happy, generous time of year and instead, some of us find ourselves burdened by obligations. We have to be in certain places at certain times and if we aren’t, someone is going to be disappointed. Those who choose to do something unusual — taking a vacation, not decorating the house or not having the family over for dinner — are often berated by their families and friends. Remember this novel?

Don't try to run away from Christmas. It will find you. It will force you to be jolly.

A couple decided, instead of celebrating Christmas, to take a cruise and avoid the hassle. They chose not to put up the homeowner’s association-mandated decorations, a tree, to cook the big dinner, and they paid for it by being forced to go through the motions anyway. Celebrations should be enjoyable and entirely voluntary. When they become annoying obligations, they stop being…what they are.

Some Non-Traditional Alternatives to The Holidays:

  1. Take a vacation. Let someone else handle the cooking and cleaning up for a change.
  2. Make the rounds early and stay home. If it’s truly the thought that counts, it doesn’t matter if that thought arrives on December 22nd or December 29th.
  3. Eat what YOU want.My mom started a new tradition of only including those foods at the dinner table that we specifically enjoy. We’ll have turkey, lasagna, shrimp cocktail, and the more mainstream mashed potatoes, vegetables and rolls (I suggest King’s Hawaiian. You won’t have any leftovers).
  4. Help the less fortunate. There are always homeless shelters and larger gatherings that allow people who can’t afford an indulgent meal to feast like everyone else. Find one. They can probably use some help.  The Los Angeles Mission will be serving Christmas Dinner on December 23rd: http://www.losangelesmission.org/Serve/Volunteer.aspx
  5. Sleep.

3. Gift-Giving Madness

Is your child going to be devastated if you don’t manage to grab the last Rock Me Elmo? Are you, like Clark Griswold before you, going to ruin Christmas altogether if you don’t get your bonus? The pressure to not only give gifts, but to give the right gifts, is insane. Parents who should be saving for their children’s futures are splurging on the latest in toys and technology. Consumers rack up more debt between Thanksgiving and Christmas than they do at any other time of year. When you convince yourself that you have to keep up with the Joneses, you might want to consider that you’re the freaking Jones family that everyone else is trying to keep up with. Seriously, lay off the shopping and no one will die. I promise.

4. Crowds, Crowds, Crowds

Okay, maybe I do have another pet peeve. It drives me crazy that I can’t go anywhere during this time because there are people EVERYWHERE. I can’t park at the mall, even though I still need hair products during the shopping season. At the grocery store, while I’m doing my regular weekly shopping, I’m standing behind people with cartloads of food to fill their…underground bunkers? Because seriously, just how many people are they having over?

5. Where Did My Radio Stations Go?

(I’m much more peevy than I originally thought)

I don’t often listen to the radio, but when I do, I expect to hear music. Real music. Not tunes full of freaking holiday cheer. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s Frank Sinatra, Mariah Carey or Jason Mraz singing those songs — they all sound the same to me. I just want my normal music. If I wanted to listen to holiday songs, I would purchase some of the thirty-two million iTunes options. Bring back my music!

6. Give Me Your Money!

Everyone wants my money (what there is of it) this time of year, and the Salvation Army is no different. I would give to them. I would. Except for the fact that I find their mission and position statements utterly detestable and offensive. It’s my opinion that a group committed to helping others should leave their religious beliefs out of it. One can be charitable without invoking one’s beliefs on homosexuality, abortion and the sanctity of sex between a married couple. That’s what I think of when I see the red bucket. You can read about it here: http://www.salvationarmy.com/usn/www_usn_2.nsf/vw-local/About-us

7. The Visitation Shuffle

Because I don’t have kids, I don’t have to worry about who’s going to whose home the night before, the morning of, or the next day. Parents who share custody or visitation of children, however, must make arrangements for the transportation of said children on each and every holiday. Who gets the kids for Christmas Eve? The first night of Hanukkah? To which house will Santa go so the kids can wake up and find that he was there? Who will be spinning the dreidel for fun and chocolate at whose home? It’s all so confusing. For the kids, it means hitting the jackpot.

The Dreidel Song — with lyrics

8. The Office Holiday Party

This is, once again, a situation that does not concern me. I’m a teacher, which means there is no holiday party other than the one we throw with the kids on the last day of school. I’m single, so I don’t have to worry about tagging along with a significant other. In the early 90’s, I was working for a mortgage company whose owners were a bit ostentatious and insisted on having every event at the local country club. The Christmas party was no exception.

Things You Get to See At An Office Holiday Party That You’ll Never See Again:

  1. Your boss doing the chicken dance, the macarena, the dancing-on-the-table-because-I’m-so-hot-when-I’m-wasted, and the awful striptease he or she will regret when the pictures show up all over the office the following day.
  2. Your co-workers’ ability to consume dangerous amounts of alcohol and yet continue to utter embarrassing statements about the boss (as he stands nearby, taking notes).
  3. The two least likely co-workers hooking up in a bathroom stall.
  4. Something to which you could testify, if you absolutely had to, in one of many ensuing divorces (“I’m not saying she was doing anything. I’m just saying she spent a great deal of time under the table and he appeared to be particularly cheerful that she lost an earring.”).
  5. Your potential raise being wasted on overpriced food and gallons of alcohol.

9. The Other Holiday Parties

We all seem to have friends who insist on throwing parties this time of year, even though they know that everyone is busy trying to ready themselves with food, gifts and cheer (fake or otherwise). Inevitably there will be a gift exchange in which you either draw the name of someone you don’t know and don’t care about, or you find yourself obligated to contribute the $10 gift. My mom ends up at these kinds of parties every year. She always finds something that will go over well with anyone, such as a gift card. Know what she ends up with in return? Christmas decorations, stinky candles, and unbelievably ugly knick-knacks.

10. Those AWFUL Jewelry Commercials

If I see one more commercial for freaking Jered or Kay or one of those dumbasses, I might go absolutely crazy. First, it’s hard to be single and have to watch the dedicated husband getting his oh-so-hardworking wife the diamond necklace of her dreams (at least this year’s dreams) year after year after year. Particularly because those same commercials will be adjusted for Valentine’s Day in two months. For those of you who are coupled, does the vision of the mall diamonds make you think you’re missing out? Do you really believe that every kiss begins with Kay and that it’s important that he went to Jered? Is there any occasion that doesn’t call for jewelry? Oh, the pleasure I take in the “mute” button…

11. Animals in Santa Hats

Does this cat look jolly to you?

It’s just mean. And unnatural.

12. The Post-Holiday Weight Loss Frenzy

After we’ve eaten a million cookies, brownies, pieces of candy and fudge, we get to treat ourselves to Diet Water and gym memberships at the start of the year. The gorging turns to fasting and the relaxing to sweating. One thing is for certain — when it comes to the holidays, the only thing we do in moderation is….moderation.

Have a holly jolly holiday…however you celebrate!

Doro

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