Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Five: Things I Would Change About Christmas

"No," you say. "You aren't going to attack Christmas, are you?" Yeah, yeah, 'tis the season and all that. But as another season is ramping up towards its grand finale on December 25th, I can't help but think about all the things that I wish were just a little different. I'm not calling for a Grinchy ban on the holiday by any means. But I think it would be nice if we shifted our perspective, away from the excesses of the season, slowed it down, and applied the "less is more" rule.
1. The actual timeframe of the season: There's not a lot to say on this, except it's getting out of hand. And it absolutely does get worse every few years. This year, Christmas crap was on display on NOVEMBER 1st. The day after HALLOWEEN. Hiiii, did we just wanna railroad right over Thanksgiving? Traditionally, the "Christmas season" is supposed to start the day after Thanksgiving, and not a minute before. Why are we in such a rush? Is it to fuel the fire for some of my other points (gift-giving, decorating)? Whatever the reason, stop it. Or make Christmas crap available year-round. But it's uncomfortable and annoying to see Santa and Halloween together. Only Tim Burton is allowed to do that.

2. Decorations: Again, I'm not calling for a nation-wide wreath-burning. But, very closely related to item 1, is the fact that there were people in my neighborhood that had their Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving. That is NOT festive. That's pressure. It's forcing Christmas down everyone's throat before it's time. I see it as celebrating your birthday two months before the actual day.
 "It's my birthday!"
"Really? When? Today?"
"No! In two months! I'm so excited I'm going to start decorating my cubicle now!"

You wanna slap that person, don't you?

I rather enjoy looking at all the houses decorated, especially when they are really creative or unique. It's fun and it's merry. After Thanksgiving.

3. Gift-giving: It's a point. The gesture of showering the ones you love with thoughtful presents is never an ill-intentioned one. But there's a certain level of politics involved with gift-giving. If so-and-so gets me a gift, then I should get her/him a gift, too, shouldn't I? You know, I was going to get what's-his-face a gift worth $50, but you know, he really pissed me off today, so I'm knocking that down to $30. I would not define the spirit of giving in this way. Instead, we should stop being so self-involved and really think about what it is we're doing. We're spending hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars to impress, oblige, satisfy, spoil... but why? I'm not suggesting we don't gift-give at all. But maybe we ought to both cut back, and maybe, just maybe... stop giving even more to those who have, and maybe kick a little to those who have-not.

I'm not a Debbie Do-Gooder by any stretch of the imagination. But in this whole frenzy of gift-selection, you'd think that we could spend a little less on giving more crap to each other, and giving some of that stuff to people who have, quite literally, nothing. People here in New Jersey are still reeling from Hurricane Irene. We go into the mall, drop serious coin on electronics and designer clothes, and then scurry past the Salvation Army Santa, avoiding eye contact or pretending we have no change. You can't buy a sweater at Old Navy for $10 and put it in a Goodwill bin?

I would have absolutely no problem if my loved ones told me that they were donating their holiday funds to charity rather than giving gifts this year. Absolutely. Go for it. And here's the snippet of sentimentality for the day: I'd much rather spend time with the people I care about than exchange more crap with each other. I have plenty knick nacks and doo-dads. What I don't always have is the fortune of spending time with people I care about.

4. Blaming Christmas for ruining your diet/as an excuse not to work/as an excuse for things not to get done: Again... Christmas isn't two months long. However, this is more about people and less about Christmas itself. Yes, people do things like bake and share the holiday cheer in the workplace. But if you gain 20 lbs during the Christmas season, it's because you have no self control. There's no reason you can't stick to your regular diet and exercise regimen, for the most part, during the holiday season.  (These are the same people who make going to the gym in January and February a test of patience, as they flood the facility in a panic over their expanding waistline, and then stop caring right around March.) This is also fodder for the news outlets to roll out year after year, giving us tips on how to "beat those holiday pounds." Know how to beat them? Put down the candy-cane-shaped sugar cookie. Eating a big meal on Christmas Eve and even again on Christmas Day isn't going to do major damage to your diet/weight.

There are certain things that can be blown off for holiday shenanigans, things that aren't pressing for year-end numbers, results, etc. But then there are situations that are still, regardless of the birth of Sweet Baby Jesus, pressing and dire. Liiiiiiike being separated for over two years in what should result in a simple, non-contested divorce. Anything legal, medical, or business-profit related should not come to a grinding halt the 1st of December. Let's take it to the 23rd, folks.

5. Holiday Cheer IN YO' FACE!: I think it's lovely when cashiers, clerks, wait staff, fellow shoppers, small children, and others warmly wish you happy holidays. It's nice, it makes everyone feel good, it shines a little sparkly light on the spirit of the season.

But then, there are the overly caffienated, bubbly, bouncy, saucer-eyed folks who live and breathe all things Christmas, adorned with garland, blinky wreath pins, Christmas earrings, Santa hats, and giant, twinkle light grins, leaning forward over the counter, squealing "MERRY CHRISTMAS!!" like Cindy Lou Who on speed.

I can hear you blinking.

These are the people who are "sad" when Christmas ends. Who can't find a way to feel the joy in other things during other times of the year. These are the post-Halloween decorators, the people who start their Christmas shopping in June, who absolutely revel in half-price Christmas swag on the 26th, beaming with anticipation of next year!!!!

Tone it down. First, because it's just annoying. Secondly, being jolly and joyous has to come from within. It can't be forced past your teeth by a psychotic Workshop Elf Wannabe. No matter how much green and red sugar you coat it in. Let me be merry when I'm ready. And if that means I don't feel it until Christmas Eve, when I walk into my mother's house and smell the familiar favorite dishes, or when everyone is around the table, or even when it's all over, and a few of us stragglers are reflecting back on the night... let everyone feel the joy on their own time.

And so, my friends, With eight days left until the 'Eve, I politely wish you an affordable, tasteful, joyous on your own time Christmas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Five: Annoying Things About Facebook

Greetings, Loves. I hope you all survived the belly-busting Thanksgiving holiday, and the body-trampling Black Friday. I have crawled from the wine soaked, food stuffed, pants straining depths to rejoin you for another Friday Five.

I have found myself growing increasingly impatient with Facebook, and although I posted an entire blog entry on Facebook and it's role in our relationships, I find the little things more peevy as of late. Don't get me wrong, I love Facebook, and I do have a fair amount of fun on it. But like anything else, with the good comes the bad.

1. The Distributive Friendship Property: I have received this request quite a few times, from both guys and girls. The Distributive Property in math is when you distribute something as you separate or break it into parts. What you do to one side, you must do to the other. This also goes for Facebook friends. If Sam breaks up with Sally, and you are friends with Sally and with Sam, Sam expects you to also Facebook breakup with Sally. So, I guess the breakup is what is being distributed. Especially if you are "more friends" with Sam than with Sally. Everyone has to breakup. On Facebook.

First of all, unless Sally is a stalker, murderer, or poses some sort of terrible threat, there's no reason to send out a mass "defriending" message to everyone on your friends list. Maybe Sally is a swell gal. Maybe she posts funny quotes and pictures that you delight in throughout the day. And, you did become actual friends with Sally in real life. No reasonable, logical explanation exists for this outside of the "dangerous" one.

Secondly, this is not 3rd grade. If you aren't going to be my friend because I'm Sally's friend... well, quite frankly... fuck right off, Sam. I am not betraying some sort of deep-rooted obligation as a friend if I keep someone you don't like on my Facebook. Sally and I are not secretly sharing Sam tidbits, keeping each other posted on the Sally replacement he's possibly going to include in a relationship status update. It just doesn't happen.

Thirdly, how about you let me decide who I communicate with? Do you want the password to my email and access to my cell phone bill to make sure I'm not talking to anyone you don't like? You are not the Friend Police, Sam. OR the Facebook Police. 

Oh, and... it's FACEBOOK. Get over it.

2. The Death and Panic Statuses: If you are in the middle of a panic attack, are sitting in the ER waiting for medical attention, or have 104 fever, and can still manage to make it public knowledge on Facebook, I don't believe you.

If you are mid- anxiety attack, all you can think about is not dying. Updating your Facebook status is the last thing on your mind. You can't hear that thought over "OMIGOD I'M GONNA DIE OMIGOD I'M GONNA DIE OMIGOD I'M GONNA DIE." Maybe it's just rapid heartbeat. Or gas. But it sure as shit ain't a full-blown panic attack.

If you are in the ER, chances are, it's pretty serious, so again, the aforementioned is likely what's going through your mind. And you know what? Ok, fine, I get that you're waiting, but if you're gonna post about it while you're waiting, don't be all vague and elusive (more on this later) so that you get 35 "omg, what's wrong??? what happened? Are you okay???" Comments. Explain why you're there, or shut the hell up. But don't be vague, attention whore.

The near-death flu with 104 fever is never fun, and sure, we all like a little sympathy now and again, but you know what? Be truthful. You can still say you have a fever (even if it's only 100) and feel like poo and people will give you the sympathy that you're seeking. But most people I know who have had 104 fever lie on the couch or bed like warm, rubbery celery, hallucinating Care Bears and begging them for a quick and merciful death. It hurts to even blink, let alone do all that typing or thumb-tapping nonsense. Just say you feel crappy. And you'll get plenty of well wishes without looking like an ass.

3. The "I 'like' everything you ever say and post every single day" friends: I know that I'm adorable, and witty, and I share fun things, but there are some people out there who are "like" happy. And they like it so fast it makes me wonder if I am being stalked by the "liker." I could post that I am sticking knitting needles into a kitten, and I'll get an immediate notification that "friend who has nothing better to do and is clearly a sicko likes this." It is statistically impossible that another person could actually, legitimately like everything I (or you) do. You are creepy and annoying people, over-likers. Be selective in your "likes." And if you legitimately like everything that someone does, you clearly have no individuality. Stop it, drone.

4. Repost this if you care/agree/love someone: I cannot for the life of me understand how posting "Leave this as your status for 1 hour if you know someone who has fought (and either won or lost) <<herpes/shingles/pink eye/diarrhea/any number of diseases added here>> makes me a "supporter" of that cause. Copying and pasting something that someone else wrote makes me "active" in supporting that cause? This is a forum that allows you to reach so many people. If you really care about a cause, you can, in real life, get involved with said cause, and encourage your Facebook friends to join you in doing the same. Post information, links, events, etc. If you're gonna support, then SUPPORT. But copying and pasting some rote, bullshit status doesn't make you anything but a person who wants to look like he/she cares. You care? DO SOMETHING. And then all the other copy-and-pasters can prove how much they care by actually getting involved.

A cousin of this is the "repost if you have the awesomest mom/sister/teacher/gardener/mechanic ever!" I have been guilty of one or two of these, but seriously... if the person you are copy-and-paste honoring doesn't even have a Facebook account, then you are obviously doing this for selfish purposes. "Look at how much I love my mom because I posted this! She doesn't have Facebook, but maybe the people who know her that are my Facebook friends will tell her what I posted and then she'll know!" Meanwhile, you're too lazy to call the woman you love so much, because it's just easier to copy and paste your sentiments (especially since someone else wrote them). Once upon a time Hallmark wrote the sentiments, and you could paste a stamp on it, and put it in this thing called a mailbox.

Just as ridiculous are the ones that appreciate your children, especially when those kids are infants and toddlers. "Mommy loves you, Junior!!!!" Know what, Mommy? Junior's gonna hate your guts for posting every single second of his life on Facebook, so be ready for the rebellion. Our mothers may have taken pics of us in the bathtub, or with cake all over our angelic little faces, but those photos were kept safe in the house, in an album that only old relatives and new boyfriends and girlfriends would see. Not 542 Facebook friends.

5. Oversharing and/or Vague and Elusive Statuses: I list these two together because, while they may be the complete inverse of one another, they are just as infuriating.They are the yin-yang of stupid Facebook activity.

There's something to be said about a person who is completely comfortable with oversharing the most intimate and private details of his or her life. A former friend (both in real life and on Facebook) posted, nearly minute-by-minute the travel to a courthouse to file for a restraining order on her ex-bf. Literally, from check in at such-and-such courthouse, to obtaining the RO, to WHY she was obtaining the RO was documented on her FB page. She had over 500 "friends." One of these brilliant souls dared to comment and say, "And you think it's a good idea to plaster this all over Facebook?" It was a shining beacon among the "OMG, that's soooo scary", "What a jerk! You deserve better, girlfriend!" and other Oprah-approved, girl power comments. And naturally, it was deleted. Again, this points to intention and credibility. How serious and/or scary could this situation be if you are willing to billboard it? And why would you take the risk of putting it out there if this person is soooooo dangerous? Either way, it's aggravating and it makes me not care about you or your supposed problem.

The vague and elusive concept is pretty simple: If you don't intend to or don't want to talk about something on Facebook, don't even bother bringing it up. When you post, "Today is the hardest day of my life..." And then 376 people comment and say, "Why? What's up? Are you ok? Do you need to talk? I'm here for you..." And you respond with "Yeah, just something big to do today..." or you tell a specific person to message you privately... frankly, Sally... you look like a jackass. And an attention whore. Either discuss it or don't. But if you need support, and you have 785 Facebook friends, chances are you have one or two REAL friends you can call to gain that support legitimately and privately. I might just listen to Sam and defriend you...

After I post this blog link on Facebook.