The Holidays Are Coming, So I’ve Prepared a Wish List

I actually don’t want anything for the holidays. I never do.

There are things that I need. But want? I stopped wanting things around the time I stopped getting things that I wanted.

Did that make sense? Either I’m a really spoiled brat, or – more accurately – I’m an adult. Somewhere between the birthday I got a Caboodle filled with my very first set of makeup, and now, holidays, birthdays, and special occasions became very much about necessity, not frivolous crap.

I’m saying that I lost all the joy of a reckless purchase or a careless request for an expensive bag.

Now when someone asks me what I want for my birthday or Christmas, I reply with the typical 30-something responses:

Money for bills…

My annual supply of Bath and Body Works Winter Collection, without which I would smell like peanut butter, a mom’s life, and questionable choices…

Something we need for the house…

Underpants, because all mine have holes in them…

And in fact, when people give me things that I don’t actually need, I feel awkward about it. Super awkward, almost irresponsible.

There’s also this whole thing with my husband that has made me stop asking for things I want too.

You see, blog followers, I’m married to a younger, thinner, harrier version of…well…Homer Simpson. This is for a lot of reasons, but for right now we’ll pretend it’s just because of that one time Marge almost had an affair with a French bowler.

There’s an episode of The Simpsons pretty early on, where the whole family goes out to dinner for Marge’s birthday. Bart has bought her some ridiculously terrible-smelling perfume, Lisa made her something memorable…but Homer had forgotten, so had run out at the last minute and instead of getting her what she actually needed or wanted, he ended up seeing something he wanted, so got that instead.

It was a bowling ball with his name engraved in it.

Figuring Marge would just give it to him as she always does with his flopped gifts, she surprises him by taking the ball and going to bowl. There, she meets Jacques and he teaches her to bowl and they almost have an affair, but don’t…blah blah, watch the episode if you want to hear the rest.

My younger, thinner, harrier Homer Simpson of a husband has a little bit of a history with this. Of course he’ll come home from work tomorrow morning extremely offended that I said this, and I’m sure his intentions have all been good.

But… Soda Stream? I drink one Diet Coke a day, no more no less. I don’t drink mineral water, I don’t drink flavory sugary sodas, I don’t drink teas or lemonade drinks…

And by one Diet Coke, I mean one Diet Coke. Not Diet Pepsi. Not Diet Tab. Not Diet Soda Stream Brand Cola.

Diet. Coke.

Nonetheless, one year my husband got me a Soda Stream for Christmas, another year he said he was going to take me on a cruise even though I hate boats, don’t know how to swim, and had told him several times I had no interest, wish, or plans to board one of those Norovirus Death Traps.

He was the only one to ever use the Soda Stream. We never went on a cruise.

So anyway, back to the original point: I am an adult and as an adult, holidays and birthdays are used as an opportunity to acquire need-based things.

Here is my list:

A Gift Certificate for a Pedicure

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In all seriousness: if I don’t get one soon, my feet will rival Gollum’s.

Money for Bills

Because we have a lot. And more than that, my student loans aren’t paying themselves. As lovely as all those degrees are, I don’t even have them on the wall because my student loans have rendered professional framing of them an impossibility.

At this rate, we’ll have my student loans paid off 6 years after I die, so yeah money for bills would be the greatest gift this gal could ever get.

A Butter Churn With Butter Molding Shapes

I saw an article recently about how you can buy a more modern butter churn for someone, and well I lost my shit and immediately texted it to my husband over and over again until he stopped working long enough to acknowledge that he, in fact, received my request for a butter churn.

He won’t get me a butter churn, because you know he’ll get me a moonshine maker or some other shit I have never even heard of, and will never use, but I really want a butter churn.

Rather I need a butter churn.

Here are the reasons why:

I have started making my own butter at home. I’ve gone that hipster – yes it is intolerable, yes I talk about it at parties. I flavor it too: raspberry, blackberry with honey, ginger, garlic and herb…makes you want some of my homemade butters, huh?

The whole thing would be made so much better if I (a) had a churn and (b) had little shapes and molds to use to make that shit Butter Maker Pro Level 10.

It would also cut a lot of time out of the process, and a Stay At Home Mom always needs more hours in the day.

So you see this is a need, not a want. I need it. Someone get it for me.

My Annual Supply of the Bath and Body Works Winter Collection

See aforementioned comment about how without which I would smell like peanut butter, a mom’s life, and questionable choices.

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A New Short Robe

I just discovered that my short robe (I have a short robe and a long robe) has a large hole in it in a place I’m not sure I’m comfortable with.

The thing about my robe is that I don’t just wear it – like – over my pajamas, or exclusively in my bedroom. After I shower, I walk around in that thing for like two hours. I go outside. Make dinner. Take out the dog. Get the mail. Talk to the neighbors.

I. Am. Not. Kidding.

I’m that lady. Only now, I’m that lady whose robe has a gaping hole in it, rendering my short robe X-rated.

I like dark colors for my short robes. Makes my activities in it that much more confusing.

The Amazon Echo

This is a bit of a stretch to call it a need, but let me try anyway.

For one, I spend a lot of time stopping everything that I’m doing to go to the computer and look something up. I mean several times per day, amounting to probably hours, cumulatively. Hours, because I go to the computer, get distracted by an email, get even more distracted by Facebook, go on Pinterest for a while, forget why I came to the computer anyway, go on Twitter until I remember, look the thing up, then…check Facebook one more time.

Remember that thing I said about needing more time?

Additionally, my husband works nights, so the ability to get those attachments that hook up to your lights and then allow you to say “turn on the lights” – or whatever this attachment does – sounds brilliant. It’s scary being at home alone with children at night in my short robe with the only thing standing between me and that gaping hole causing a problem is my Gollum feet.

See how this is a need?

There’s also the whole thing about how I’m a Stay At Home Mom, I have very VERY little interaction with the world outside, and my husband is gone for about 15-18 hours a day (at work). The film industry is his real wife, and so I’m left with no one to really talk to other than the children, and you know they get my humor but 95% of the time I have to censor it, or talk about things like Barbies and Fashion Story video games.

I need to not censor myself, and I need someone to talk to. Even if it’s just a little black stick sitting on my counter.

Also, Siri is starting to seem annoyed with me talking so much…

meaning-of-life-2

 

So you all see where we’re at here, right? My list seems basic. I return the favor by only giving others things they need as well – I always have, actually. Kids need more exercise, this year I got them bikes. Kids need clothes that actually fit them, instead of items that are two sizes too small – so small I’ve actually just cut the footies off the pajamas? They’re also getting clothes, including new pajamas.

Same goes for my husband, everything I got him was needs-based; but I can’t say what because you know he’ll read this blog and come home really mad at me for that Homer Simpson thing I said before, which leads me to the last thing I need for Christmas this year, but will probably not get it- now, or ever:

A Filter

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I May Shop On Thanksgiving

not-shop-on-thanksgiving-300x300How many friends will I lose over this one? What kind of a backlash will I receive by people that have followed my blog for years?

Don’t know. Don’t care. Seriously – don’t wear underwear.

You see the thing is, I may shop on Thanksgiving.

And I’m getting sick and goddamned tired of hearing about how you won’t.

I used to work in retail. When I was in high school, I worked at Burger King and then Wendy’s. Then when I moved to California, I got a job at the mall in a department store that no longer exists (talk about making me feel ancient). Then I landed a position in a local pharmacy, where I worked for a whopping seven years.

The company that was that chain of drugstores no longer exists either, having been bought out by CVS a few years ago. I’m going to go dig my grave now.

I always wanted to work on holidays. I requested to work on holidays. A lot of people that work in retail do.

Holidays – for me – were a time to make extra money. We always got off or closed in time to do family stuff. And if – by some odd chance, we didn’t – family stuff was scheduled around my work schedule.

Because what the more privileged people of this nation don’t realize, or are so far removed from their own experiences, is that people that work in retail don’t make shit for salary. Holidays may be family time, but your family ain’t eatin’ shit because you make minimum wage, which is not – in any city or state in this, our United States – a livable wage.

So when I hear people talk about how Thanksgiving is a day for family, and people shouldn’t have to work… And how they will be boycotting shopping on Thanksgiving because of the sanctity of the holiday, I often think to myself wow, these people must have no idea what it’s like to be hungry. And surely they don’t know what it’s like to be unable to buy Motrin for their baby, or pay for their son or daughter to participate in a school field trip.

And I also think that they’re hypocrites. Because for every Kmart that is open on Thanksgiving day, and every Walmart that opens at 6 pm on the blessed holiday of shoving as much turkey down your gullet as you can, there is a restaurant open that no one gives a fuck about being open. Oh Thanksgiving is a time for family? But you want to go to Burger King for breakfast, or Marie Callendar’s for a light lunch before your big family feast. So it’s OK for those people to work, because you need to stuff your face even more that day than you already planned to.

But if someone wants to go to Kmart to get Christmas gifts because they can’t afford to shop at Neiman Marcus, or they don’t have the luxury of free time to stand in lines at Best Buy to get good deals because they have to work two full-time jobs just to pay the rent…HOW DARE THEY TARNISH THE SANCTITY OF MY THANKSGIVING!!!!!

Now I don’t shop on Thanksgiving normally. And I never go to Black Friday sales. The truth is, I’m already done with my Christmas shopping. But allow me to just say a few things about all this ignorance going around about shit being open, and people having to work on Thanksgiving day:

1. Some people can’t afford to not work on holidays. If you don’t understand that, you have some serious learning to do, and it will be done off your pedestal this time.

2. Other people have had hardships, or they don’t have families, or the holidays are really tough for them – for whatever reason. So they like to work to keep their minds off things, and they do it by going to work. Only a total dickweed thinks they have the right to tell others how to cope with their life’s problems.

3. A lot of people that work on holidays want to. I might go as far as to say that everyone I know of that works on holidays, or have ever talked to working on a holiday, has said that they enjoy it and the extra money, and that they wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I would go as far as to say that.

4. Thanksgiving is celebrating the genocide of an entire nation of people anyway. And gluttony. It’s not like we’re talking about the baby Jesus here or anything, which incidentally I also don’t see people railing against stores being open on Christmas Eve or for a short time Christmas morning.

Because you’ve gotta’ get those last minute gifts, right?

In a nutshell, I think the majority of you people are privileged hypocrites.

Now we can still be friends. I promise. You don’t have to be really mad at me for saying all of this, because really I just have a much different opinion. I happen to know that my opinion is the right one, but we won’t get into that.

All we really need to do is accept that not everyone in this world is living the same life as we are. That’s it! Then we can still be friends, and wield our shared misanthropy around the Internet together. Because in accepting that not everyone in this world is living the same life as we are, we maybe stop making ignorant comments about people that work on holidays, or even that shop and eat out on your blessed Stuff Your Face With Turkey Day. So you hate Kmart for being open all day on Thanksgiving. Fine! You do that! And it’s true that a lot of people there that day will just be shopping to screw the pooch and get a good deal.

But instead of hating on the company for being open, why not turn your hatred into compassion for the employees that probably are thanking their lucky stars that Kmart is open that day. It’s an extra day they get to work and put food on the table. Instead of being such a jerk, why not drop $5 Starbucks cards off to all the employees, or embrace the needs of fast food workers to work on the holiday by stopping by on your way to your Thanksgiving feast to get a soda and just wish the workers a happy holiday.

Maybe – just maybe – then this country would be a better place. If instead of screaming from our Facebooks and Twitter pages how much we want to boycott companies and how morally wrong this or that is, we just love each other and act with everlasting compassion.

Thanksgiving

Countdown to Thanksgiving Day 3: Will Everyone Shut Up About Black Friday Already?

Countdown to Thanksgiving Day 6: Cooking for Ungrateful People (STFU Fridays) was postponed because it contained a snarky, and yet scintillating, roast of a few of my favorite bloggers, one of whom’s father had to unexpectedly undergo an emergency heart procedure to unblock some arteries. B(itch)log is happy to report he is on the mend, and our roast will be featured this week on Black Friday. 

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This morning I woke up and did my usual. I read my emails. I checked my Facebook. I scrolled through my Twitter.

Then I got angry.

That’s pretty usual too, so not entirely out of the ordinary. But I was extra angry this morning. You might say extraordinarily angry; and it was for one reason: Black Friday is this week.

Everywhere I looked, I was being assaulted visually with Black Friday bullshit. I get it. The Christmas season is breathing down our necks. What will I get for Aunt B – the person that has everything? How am I going to manage my meager funds if I don’t take advantage of the Buy 1 Get 5 Free holiday turtleneck bin at Target? When will I have another opportunity to murder someone in line at Walmart to get a good deal on a flat screen TV?

All excellent questions we all ask ourselves year in and year out.

But I still got angry, and for a few reasons.

#1

Christmas Is About Jesus, Not a New XBox360

I’m pretty sure every year on his birthday, Jesus wasn’t screaming at Mary and Joseph for not getting him a new XBox360, or Tweeting about how his life was over because he wasn’t given a new iPad.

Whether you are religious or not, it is absolutely wrong to ignore the actual meaning of Christmas. It ‘aint about what you got, who gave it to you, and who’s off your list next year because they gifted something homemade. It ‘aint family gatherings where Uncle Floyd gets shit faced and moons the Christmas carolers at the front door. It ‘aint a Christmas ham bone getting stuck in the dog’s throat. It’s about Christ.

I’m not about to wax all Catholic on you faithful blog followers; and quite frankly as a Catholic I am well aware that Jesus wasn’t even really born in December. But that’s all beside the point: religious or not, the least we as consumers could do is exert a little humility and appreciation for the actual meaning. And then we can subsequently calm the fuck down on the gift giving nonsense.

This is just like Thanksgiving, though. Do you think Thanksgiving was all about shoving as much turkey into your body as was physically possible? Is the meaning of Thanksgiving to engorge yourself on pumpkin pie until you go running for the bathroom in a sheer fit of fiber-induced gas? I think the answer is obvious.

#2

Thanksgiving Isn’t Even Over With Yet

Seriously. Did Thanksgiving cease to exist? Are people not even doing anything this year? At least that’s what it seems like because the stores are decked out, people’s houses are already covered in lights, and Black Friday is being shoved down our throats.

I read a great post a few days ago about how these retailers are showing their true greed and opportunism by opening at 6 or 8 in the evening on Thanksgiving night. And while I did think it was a great point, I also believe it is the role of the consumer to stand up and say “no” to that kind of bullshit.

But they don’t, obviously because we don’t give a fuck about Thanksgiving or traditions. We give a fuck about our new Bluray players and our Old Navy sweaters.

Now I have been done with my Christmas shopping since September, so perhaps I have absolutely no room to talk. But that wasn’t about getting into the Christmas season, prancing around in my santa hat and sipping egg nog and shit when Labor Day was just passing by. It was about avoiding these assfucks on Black Friday and thereafter altogether.

And while I am generally anti-holiday, being far away from my family and stuck in a pretty awkward and dysfunctional location, I also would like to just enjoy Thanksgiving without the retailers cramming their shit down my throat before my turkey’s even fully digested yet. It’s relaxing to have a lot of people gone and out of town. It’s nice to have my husband around to clean up some of the shit around here.

OK, so if you are a retailer, please kindly consider shutting the fuck up until it’s actually Black Friday. If you are into this early Black Friday stuff, fine; just don’t ask me to get in line outside the Beanie Baby Outlet at fucking 8 o’clock on Thursday. And if you are smart, you’ll do what I did, as well as some of my friends: Amazon, bitch. I have no idea why anyone would go anywhere else. Those Buy 1 Get 5 Free turtlenecks just aren’t worth it.

Next up on the countdown? Day 2: explaining the correlation between the genocide of innocent Native Americans, and shoving turkey down our throats in celebration, to your kids.

Forget About Family

Here is what I hate the most about the holidays.  It isn’t the blatant lack of cultural knowledge of what the holidays actually represent.  It isn’t the materialism that bleeds out of every nook and cranny.  It isn’t the consumerism, the over-indulgence, or even the misguided judgments that what ‘I’ do for the holidays is what everyone should do.

It’s family.

The day after Thanksgiving, I saw some articles from the Baltimore Sun featured on Google News.  They were opinion pieces about how earlier shopping options for Black Friday deals were breaking away at family values – that people deciding to go to stores late Thanksgiving day was the wrong thing to do because it cut into family time.  It also stated that Thanksgiving’s meaning is to embrace family – a statement so unambiguously false I shot out of my chair and began pacing around the room as I deciphered just what I would respond with.  The article accepted comments that were clean, relevant, and within a certain word count – all guidelines I abided by to the strictest sense.

And yet, my comment was never approved by the opinion editor of the Baltimore Sun.  So much for freedom of speech.

If you look at the great thinkers in the history of the world, you see that centuries of guidance on avoiding family have been put forth as obscurely as in the old Ben Franklin quote about in-laws “keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half shut afterwards;” and as blatantly as when George Burns said “happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”  Jesus even said that people are to “leave behind your families, your mothers and your fathers” to go out and do what is right in the world.  How, then, has family – and dysfunctional family at that – completely taken over our entire lives, then – and to such a degree that we will let it cloud our judgment on things (like free speech) that are entirely unrelated to family at all?

I have a few thoughts on how.

To begin, I do not believe that the people who obsess and focus their lives solely on family are very intelligent.  This explains why no one has taken heed of the century’s worth of advice from the great thinkers.  Take a look at the people that argue in favor of the family values campaigns; or even of the average conversation at your typically banal family gathering.  Some of them cannot even communicate using the English language very well any more; in fact, in one of the opinion letters, the person did not even take the time to check their typos and misspellings.  I don’t know if I have ever had an intelligent conversation at a family event.  At both my and my husband’s family events, everyone is either talking about gossip or Dancing With the Stars.  There is no discussion of literature, great film, the aesthetic arts, politics, or society.

If the mundane conversation about what everyone’s been up to at work, and the consistency of each other’s bowel movements and hemorrhoid troubles  (a popular topic at our family dinners) is what truly makes these people happy – by all means, continue on.  But it is evidence to the decreased awareness so many people have about the greater picture of life and the world.  It might also explain why less than 25% of Americans know the actual history and meanings behind the holidays they hold so dear.

Further, I strongly feel that a variety of societal factors have played a part in creating the problem of enmeshed families, which is on the verge of being a psychological epidemic.  I’ve talked about enmeshed family theory before.  It’s the socio-psychological theory that a family becomes so over involved in each other’s lives that massive levels of stress and dysfunction arise, as well as the younger members of the family growing to be socially awkward and ill-equipped to handle the responsibilities an adult must be able to deal with.  I’ve been in a few relationships where the significant other’s family is one of these enmeshed ones – everyone is so up in each other’s business at all times it’s a wonder any of them know the concept of “personal life.”  What arises from such a situation, though, is just more dysfunction.  Gossip, hurt feelings, miscommunication, and – most importantly – expectations on each other that are beyond what any reasonable person can expect.  I think this is where someone would think it is hurting the value of family to have stores open a few hours into Thanksgiving day, such as in the case of the Baltimore Sun articles I mentioned above. And this is also why so many people now see the holidays as exclusively family time.

I say forget about family.

That doesn’t mean to completely isolate yourself from family altogether; but it means to be yourself, do what you want, and don’t allow yourself to feel obligated, manipulated, or bullied into complying with a set of family values you may not agree with completely.  And to those that feel like family is the only thing important in the world, open your mind just a smidgeon and remember that in a post-modern society, everyone gets to determine for themselves what is right and wrong.  That means that your family values are not absolute truth for everyone.

Oh…and boycott the Baltimore Sun.  Censoring a clean and legitimate opinion is not what I’d call “journalism.”  How often in history do we see that the things being silenced end up being the truest?

Snarksgiving: My Holiday in Photos

Well, faithful blog followers, Thanksgiving is over but the fun has just begun.  Soon people will be trampling each other for Christmas deals and ringing in the New Year with booze and a stomach pump.  I’m sure on this Thanksgiving, everyone had a wonderfully glutinous holiday filled with 3000+ calories.  I, however, did not.  Holidays are not always a family time or an eat-your-heart-out-time; as in, they haven’t always been and they don’t have to be.  For me, growing up with just my father after my mother left us and moved across the country, the holidays were much different.  They were about understanding the actual meaning behind the holidays – something less than 25% of Americans reportedly do.  They were about relaxing and having a day that we didn’t have any other obligations.  It has never been about stuffing our faces.  Sometimes we did things with the family, but other times it was too snowy or we just felt like hanging out and watching movies.  This was the general idea behind almost everything my dad and I did:  we did what we wanted or what we could and we did not allow ourselves to feel obligated to participate in pastimes that were about as meaningless as the stuffing being shoveled down people’s gullets.

Since moving to California, my holidays have not been much different; and in fact, I have grown more contemptuous of the holidays as the years have gone on.  So much of them now are about doing what is expected of you, rather than what will truly make you happy.  So much of them is about how much money you can spend as well – buy this, spend on that, get in line for the big deals!  And to me it seems that in recent years the addition of the family element has gotten out of control – as if the meaning of holidays is actually to spend time with family.  As if people cannot have holidays if they are not in a large, family unit.

This morning when I woke up, I saw Facebook status after Facebook status, and thousands of Tweets, all about what people are thankful for, and how important family is to this holiday.  It seems that people have ignored, though, the two important events that brought about this holiday:  the pilgrims leaving behind their families and settling in a new country; and the Civil War breaking families apart in the name of a greater cause.  Some people on Twitter claimed themselves to be the moral authority on what Thanksgiving means (which they were most certainly wrong about); another person still on Facebook said her family was “chosen by God to be the best family in this blessed world.”  Christianity was folded in as well, with the bizarre idea that Thanksgiving is now a Christian holiday and that the Christian way is to be with your family – both ideas that are unambiguously false.

Thanksgiving (as with most holidays) do involve family in many cases, but they are not about them; nor is it wrong if huge family gatherings are just not your thing.

This is something that took me a long time to accept and come to terms with, mainly because I had other people shoving down my throat what they thought I was supposed to believe, rather than what I did.  Like many, I even let them convince me that is what I wanted and what made me happy – and yet somehow, I couldn’t understand why at the end of every big family event I felt completely exhausted – both physically as well as mentally.  But then earlier this year, I resolved to do what I want for the holidays again and appreciate them for what they truly are – because after all, that is what I always learned was the right thing to do.

For Thanksgiving this year, I didn’t really feel like spending my time discussing mundane life updates and hearing all about the bowel movements of the men at the table (something my family and in-laws discuss regularly over the main course).  In a time when life has been overwhelmingly tumultuous and underwhelmingly intellectually stimulating, I really just wanted to relax and have a day that I could do what I wanted to do.  So, faithful blog followers, here is my holiday in photos:

I woke up and checked my Facebook, Twitter, and the blogs I read every day.  I’ve already shared with you the annoyances of Facebook and Twitter, but what was wildly entertaining (and confusing) were two images that showed up on the blogs I read.  One was a spray-painted turkey, the other was a cow giving birth to a pig.  That’s right… a cow … giving birth … to a pig.

In deference to those that have fallen for the sake of this country (I’m talking about the Native Americans), I made those silly headpieces you make in 1st grade.

As I mentioned, I couldn’t bring myself to go to any big family feeding fests this year.  Not only was I uninterested in another event of blasse conversation, I just didn’t want to eat that much.  I don’t dictate my life around food as a lot of people seem to now; in fact, I didn’t even really want turkey this year.  So we went out to lunch instead and (while everyone else had turkey), I had a glass of wine, a cup of soup, and a nice salad.  There was no need to unbuckle my pants at the end of the meal, and I felt good about myself for making a healthy choice.

The final step of the day was to go see The Muppets.  It was a great movie – probably the best I have seen this year.  I have a soft spot for The Muppets and the new movie hit it.  The theater was relatively empty as well, which was awesome.  Now that I am home and in pajamas, I’m going to curl up with my book (“When Neitzsche Wept”) and read probably into the early hours of the morning.

I’m overwhelmingly glad that my friends and family are in my life – I am not unthankful for them at all.  I am thankful for my book club, for the roof over my head, for my wonderful Apple products, for my staunch sense of independence, and for the education I have received.  But I also don’t need a day to remind me that I am (or need to express that I am) thankful of all of that.  I think my day was just as awesome as the next guy’s, and for this I am thankful as well.  People don’t need to look at a day out and about, eating salads and hanging out relatively alone as something to pity or look down upon.  It was a good day, filled with exactly what I wanted to do.

The bottom line is this:  if people want to spend their time on Thanksgiving with family, without family, in line at Best Buy, at home eating Chinese take-out – it is theirs for the choosing.  The one thing I cannot stand is people that say their way is the right way.  I’ve got news for you, it’s far from it.  Happy Holidays, everyone:  whatever you choose to do for them.