Archive for holidays
So how many Christmas cards did you get this year?
Are they adorning the wall? Do you have so many that they outline the closet door frame? Or are they stuffed in a holder on the coffee table, bursting?
Not at our house, either.
The Christmas card is a dinosaur—like drive-in movies and transistor radios.
Nobody sends Christmas cards anymore. It’s another example of how Americans today just don’t like to slap a stamp on anything and ship it via the United States Postal Service.
Sending Christmas cards was a feeling of accomplishment but not of gratification. I mean, you were never there to see the recipient open yours.
But getting Christmas cards? Now that was some fun.
They would start to come, slowly at first, usually the week after Thanksgiving. Those cards were sent by the early bird folks.
But as the month of December moved along, the Christmas cards moved along with it, filling the mailbox more voluminously as the days ticked down toward December 25.
You almost had a mental checklist of from whom to expect cards, and crossing them off as you received them. It was fun to see the different styles, the cozy illustrations and the heartwarming words inside.
Everyday, it seemed, you got at least one card in the mail during December.
This is not a sign of the times anymore
The envelopes usually gave them away: red, of course, and also by shape and size. The electric bill never came in an envelope the size of a good, old fashioned Christmas card.
About 10 years ago, the cards didn’t come with the same frequency as in years gone by. It got to the point where the propped open cards could fit on the coffee table without much trouble.
Today, you’re lucky if you get ten cards, total. I think we’ve received about that many, though we sent out far more than that.
However, even our sending has decreased, mainly due to attrition, i.e. people passing away.
That’s the thing, right there: the older folks are much more likely to send holiday cards than the second generation of Baby Boomers (those born in the mid-to-late 1960s and beyond). And the older folks are dying off.
The thing now, of course, in the digital age, is to send an “e-card,” which is basically an online link that takes the recipient to an animated feature, about 30-45 seconds in length. They’re cute and all, but it’s not the same.
I can’t tape e-cards around my door frame, can I?
It’s a losing battle, I know. Christmas card sending isn’t coming back. Soon we won’t receive any at all.
It’s sad, but what are you going to do?
I’m beginning to think that the celebration of Fourth of July with fireworks is carrying on longer than the Revolutionary War itself.
In our neighborhood, the pop-pop-pop of things with fuses starts in late-June and is still going on, and this is nearly a week after the 4th.
Granted, the pace is slowing, but why are we still hearing things that go boom?
If people still possess these firework-like items, what are they waiting for?
Maybe I’m more sensitive to this because we have a dog, and he’s not unlike many other canines who don’t appreciate the rockets’ red glare. Last night we set out for our evening stroll and just five minutes into it, something went boom and just like that, our pup was making a beeline for the house.
I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but do we need to hear the commotion (sometimes past 11:00 p.m.) for a three-week period?
I could go into the accidents, some tragic, but that’s piling on. It’s unfair to take pot shots because some of these mishaps are truly not the result of being careless. The highest profile ones to Detroiters—the death of a 44-year-old man and the loss of an eye of channel 7 meteorologist Dave Rexroth—appear to be nothing more than horrible accidents.
Still, this is what can go wrong when lighters are set to fuses, when those doing the lighting are not professionals.
But back to the ever-growing July 4th “season.”
I understand the concept of a Christmas season, with decorations going up after Thanksgiving and staying up past New Year’s Day. I get it with Halloween as well. It’s fun to look at how creative people can get with their homes. Sometimes we like to pour some hot chocolate or coffee and just hop into the car and drive around, looking at the displays.
But those are nice, quiet holiday seasons. Independence Day is all about twilight’s last gleaming—and it seems to be every twilight for 21 days straight, at least where we live.
As I write this, I must admit that things are quieting down quite a bit, but it’s July 10th, for crying out loud, and the bombs are only just now abating.
I guess my biggest question is, if you shelled out the dough for the higher-end fireworks, why are you holding onto them well past July 4th? It’s not like these things are being discovered in a basement somewhere.
I know there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule here, and I don’t want to come off like a sourpuss (maybe that ship has sailed), but at the risk of sounding like a prude, this does fall into the realm of disturbing the peace, does it not?
Frankly, I quite enjoyed the night of the 4th around here. The celebration lasted for several hours and it was actually pretty cool and impressive, hearing all the rapid fire booming and seeing the pretty colors of fireworks that were mini-me versions of the awesome display we saw in Madison Heights the Sunday prior.
It had really ramped up on the 3rd and carried pretty strong into the 5th. No problem; it was the weekend. I get it.
But this started the last week of June and is only now slowing down. That’s about three weeks.
As for the accidents, they’re going to happen every year, no matter how many safety tips are floated around. It’s sad but true—and inevitable.
But while some of those are unavoidable, what isn’t is the setting off of fireworks for three weeks straight.
Or maybe we just chalk this whole thing off to the grouchiness of a 50-something white male living in the suburbs.
That “season” is much longer than three weeks, by the way.
Happy New Year. Or happy new year, however you choose to look at it.
As I watched the big ball drop on Tuesday night in Times Square, I jokingly asked my daughter what life would be like if we did that for the change of every month instead of year.
Seems silly, of course.
But so does, when you think about it, going through all the expense and effort to mark the start of a new year. Or New Year.
It’s perhaps too cynical—even for me—to say that January 1 is “just another day,” but it truly is. It is different, however, in one respect: It’s the one day when no one has ditched their new year’s (or New Year’s) resolutions—yet.
Ahh, about those resolutions.
There’s a funny commercial playing on TV right now where a small boy calls it the New Year’s “revolutions.”
I kind of like that.
You do have to revolt, in a way, if you’re going to commit to doing something different from how you’ve been doing it, which is essentially what a resolution is.
The revolt is internal. A civil war going on inside your body and brain.
The little dudes inside your head have to declare that there is a revolution, and then they have to start symbolically dumping tea into the harbor, i.e. those bad ways you are trying to get rid of.
A new year’s revolution.
I don’t do resolutions—or revolutions—per se. I make mental notes to change and then hope for the best.
Not working out too good for me, but there you go.
I don’t do anything involving weight. I’d like to drop a few pounds, like anyone else. But I don’t do any numbers crunching or obsess with the scale in the basement. Notice I said basement.
I don’t resolve to change my eating habits, which goes along with the above. My wife is Italian and Polish. I get what I get, and I scarf it down happily. If I lose weight because of diet, it’s akin to finding a dollar bill in the laundry.
I don’t make any commitments professionally. I don’t set out to write X-number of blog posts or set any goals at work. That may sound lazy and uninspired and displays a shocking lack of motivation, but I figure, why set myself up for failure?
In short, my revolutions internally are weak and quickly squashed. I’m the Bay of Pigs of self-improvement.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be a success and that I don’t care about my body or that I have indifferent feelings toward my fellow man.
It just means that when all is said and done, the status quo is OK. I’ll continue to help out my wife around the house, put in my 40 hours at work and be as good of a dad as I can be. I’ll say my prayers at night and make it a point to perform a random act of kindness now and again.
Wherever that leads me, so be it.
Happy N(n)ew Y(y)ear!
I was never a Halloween guy, as a kid. I could take it or leave it as a youngster. Too much effort, I suppose.
I never knew what I was going to dress up like, or even if I was going to go door-to-door at all, until sometimes hours before sundown on October 31.
One year, I recall, I was particularly tardy with my decision. I was planning on staying in, passing out candy, when I got a phone call from a friend. It was dusk, at the very least, when the phone rang in our Livonia home.
“You going baggin’?” was the question. It was my friend, Bob Bernard, who lived a couple blocks away and who I never had gone Trick or Treating with prior to that year. I still don’t know what prompted the call. It wasn’t that Bob and I weren’t friends; we just weren’t very close. Certainly not “baggin’” close. Or so I thought.
I initially rebuffed his request, but he pressed me.
“I don’t have a costume,” I pleaded. It fell on deaf ears.
I hung up, scrambling. What to be? WHO to be?
I don’t where it came from, but I asked my mom if she had a nylon stocking that she didn’t care much for.
Voila! I went as a bank robber, the stocking pulled over my face. I think I had a toy gun. Not sure. Regardless, I had a “costume.” I was ready to go baggin’. Bob’s term.
A pillow case served as my “bag.” Out we went into the Halloween night, soliciting for candy door-to-door.
Halloween—the only holiday based on extortion.
Trick or treat!
Give us candy, or something bad will happen to you or your home. Or maybe even your loved ones. Who knows.
It’s a holiday built around candy used as protection money. Just cough up the goodies and we’ll make sure nothing untoward occurs.
But as an adult—more specifically, as a father—I came to enjoy Halloween more. The decorations got more sophisticated and fun to look at, number one. One of our family traditions has been to drive around neighborhoods, admiring Christmas displays. Now, you can pretty much do the same with Halloween.
Then there are the cute little kids, made even cuter when stuffed into bumble bee or pumpkin outfits. I can’t wait to see who comes to our door next.
Our daughter has always been a big Halloween person, starting from when she was two years old and won a costume contest at a campground in Canada. She was dressed as a pumpkin, of course. Every year she has dressed in something different and never without creativity. In recent years she’s been Captain Jack Sparrow, The Joker, and Harley Quinn.
As usual, even at age 19, she plans on dressing up. She doesn’t go “baggin’” anymore, but she’s taken over the candy passing out duties at home. Tonight it will be friends coming over for pizza and to watch scary movies.
My wife and I will be safely ensconced in our bedroom, dressed as ourselves and eating pizza while the kids take over the front room, passing out the candy.
Yes sir, I’m liking this Halloween thing more, the older I get.
It was a ritual I remember pretty clearly, though I took part in it some 37 years ago.
I was an 11-year-old safety boy—remember those?—and part of my duty included taking care of the school’s U.S. flag.
And I do mean “taking care of.”
I remember that there was much reverence, as much as a youngster can show, every time a partner and I lowered, folded, unfolded and raised Old Glory.
Every morning I was part of the tandem that was responsible for getting the flag up the pole before the school day. Sometimes I was part of the pair who lowered it at the end of the day and folded it, properly.
In both instances, the flag was sacred. I remember being told to don’t dare allow the flag to touch the ground, even for a second. And it had to be folded a particular way—a way that I really didn’t understand because it seemed clunky, but I did it. Because that’s how I was taught.
As I grew older, I learned of other unwritten—and written—rules of how the U.S. flag ought to be treated.
Shining a light on it at night, for example. Lowering it at the end of the day, if there is to be no light source.
A neighbor of ours, a couple years ago, installed a flag pole and hoisted the stars and stripes up it. Terrific.
He hasn’t paid attention to the flag since. He certainly hasn’t shined a light on it at night. It wasn’t long before his flag, once brand new, started to look tattered and torn and something straight out of a Revolutionary War painting.
So the question on this Flag Day 2012 is simply, “Do we as Americans know how to treat our flag anymore?”
This is a nifty gadget for individuals who wish to fly the U.S. flag at night
There’s something called protocol, and I don’t think we’re following it.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen U.S. flags flying at night—in the dark.
The U.S. flag, should one choose to display it, ought to be done so properly. I think we’re losing that.
For those wondering why I haven’t called my neighbor out about his ham handed attempt at flying Old Glory, I can tell you that he’s not the type to take such advice—at all. His intentions might have been good, but his execution is sorely lacking. And always will be.
There’s been much consternation over the past several decades about flag burning. I can see why that’s a hot button issue.
But daily displays of the U.S. flag that are at once derelict, lazy and disrespectful ought to be paid attention to, as well.
Fly it. Display it. Do it proudly.
But do it right, or don’t do it at all.
This is both good and bad.
November is almost done, just like that—as usual. Wasn’t it just the other day when I was passing out candy?
I say it’s good and bad because the holiday season swoops in and that means more expense, more stress and more weight gained.
So it’s good that it all happens so fast.
But it’s also bad, because there doesn’t seem to be enough time for everything, like shopping. More to the point, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to assemble the funds needed for said shopping.
Starting on November 1, Thanksgiving already begins to creep into the minds of our lovely wives, who, whether hosting the holiday feast or not, have arrangements and plans to think about.
Turkey Day came relatively early this year (the earliest it can occur is November 22 and this year it came on November 24), just three weeks and some change after Halloween. That means that while the mini Snickers bars and tiny M&M bags leftover from a lack of kid traffic on Halloween sat in plain sight, begging to be consumed, Thanksgiving’s meal was already being planned.
We go from candy to candied yams, just like that.
How do we go from this…..
…to this, in a matter of days? (or so it seems)
Retailers don’t help, of course. They can’t wait to shove the Halloween displays aside and replace them with wreaths and inflatable Santas. One of the radio stations in town has made it a habit in recent years of starting to play Christmas tunes on November 1. I don’t pity the listeners (they can change the station), I feel for the employees, who have to listen to that for 54 days before Christmas even arrives.
TV ads shouting about Black Friday specials begin on or around November 1. The Internet sprouts stories of impending BF deals like pimples on a teenager’s face just before prom.
It’s all designed, I’m convinced, to throw us into a panicked tizzy.
So far, Mrs. Eno and I have managed to squeeze some Christmas shopping in, before November ends—which for us is unusual. The game plan this year is to chip away at it. Of course, that’s our game plan every year. And every year we scramble in mid-December.
Which is mere days after the ghosts and goblins have left our front porch. Or so it seems.