holiday spirit: post 9 - a bit grinchy

There have been a number of things creeping in, trying to steal my Christmas spirit lately. I must admit to feeling a bit grinchy, wrapped in a layer of bah humbug.

As many of you are experiencing, wherever you happen to be in the U.S., the weather outside is frightful to say the least. And, (now bordering on excess) baby, it's cold outside. The combination of the massive snowfalls plus the subzero temperatures has made me rethink my travel plans. This means I may experience my first ever Christmas away from my family. This is devastating to me, as Christmas is the one time of the year when all of my cousins, aunts, uncles, everyone congregates at my grandpa's two-bedroom house to celebrate the holiday. This amounts to over 50 family members, all of whom I'm dying to see. Unfortunately, I don't want to literally die in order to see them, so I may have to avoid travel until after the holiday.

Now for the boring weather statistics. I'm not meaning to start a pissing contest, but here are our stats from Southern Wisconsin, where we're knocking on the door to beat the December snowfall record. Not a record worth breaking, if you ask me. Anyway, we received over a foot of snow last Friday, 4-7 inches are falling today, and an additional 3-6 inches are expected for tomorrow (Christmas Eve). The day after Christmas is promising freezing rain, snow, and sleet. Yay. Pardon my math, but that amounts to a fuckload of snow.

The man loves the snow and has little sympathy for my situation, as his family lives across town and there is no danger of him missing his Christmas. The whole 45 minutes of it that he attends. I think he just wants me to stay in town, to be honest. Nevertheless, his attitude is making me less than jolly and I believe I even went so far as to tell him to stop pissing on my Christmas. Not sure what holiday spirit crept out of me with that comment, but I wish it would've taken the stick out of my ass when it made its debut. To say I'm uptight and stressed is an understatement.

Yet, the story of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas has a happy ending, with the Grinch being warmed by the spirit of the season, taking him from asshole to do-gooder in one fell swoop. I'm hoping that life imitates art and that this grinchy feeling washes away and everything works out in the end. That would be a Christmas miracle of mythic proportions. Kind of like that year in the 90s when my pretentious and disliked cousins came down with the flu and couldn't come to our other family celebration.

And now, your reward for listening to my quite silly woes, how about another holiday music selection, brought to us by the late, great Dr. Seuss:

Sidenote: You may not know this, but this song was sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony the Tiger (from Kellogg's Frosted Flakes fame).

the man who couldn't cry

Artist Scotty Reifsnyder illustrated a book and created a short animation based on Johnny Cash's song "The Man Who Couldn't Cry." I love how he captured the lyrics, tone, and overall feel via artwork.

Click on the photo for a link to the artist's website and for an animated film of the book.

via Design Milk


holiday spirit: post 8

This is by far, in my humble opinion, the best Christmas song ever recorded. And now, for your listening and viewing pleasure, "Holly Jolly Christmas" by Burl Ives.


holiday spirit: post 7 - we've been outnumbered

I've got some happy news. The man surprised me with an early Christmas present on Friday: a new kitten whom we've named Rue. She is a rescue kitty who was found in a tree and we figure she is about 10 weeks old. I'm glad that she was found when she was, since temperatures have been below zero lately.

We will be taking her to the vet in the next week to get her checked out, but she is a happy and feisty little thing.

The dog is in love with the kitten. I think her mothering instincts are kicking in. The funny thing is, the kitten is pretty indifferent toward her, which is a manifestation of karma, if you ask me. The dog was quite the bitch to Jack from the time he was a kitten, despite his best efforts to bond with her. Now, Jammer (the dog) is having to deal with the same sort of apathy from Rue. Interesting to see karma at work in the dog world.

Jack, our 15+ pound beast of a cat is quite a pansy. He initially was petrified of the kitten. This makes sense as we found him when he was barely a month old and he had likely not seen very many other cats before. He has been interested in Rue from the beginning, a sort of cautious fascination that often led him to run away like a wee baby whenever the kitten made a sudden movement. As of now, after having been given the opportunity to let it all sink in, he has begun to play with Rue and they are becoming fast friends, much to the chagrin of the dog.

And yes, the bipeds are now outnumbered in our little happy family. In the event of a inter-species wrestling match, we're down one person if we need to tag out so one of us will have to pull an extra shift. My vote is on the man.



I am very much looking forward to this movie:

For anyone who liked Nightmare Before Christmas, I think this will be in the same vein.


holiday spirit: post 6 - in memorium

Today marks the anniversary of John Lennon's death. As an avid Beatles fan in my teenage years, I drank in all of the Beatles and John Lennon music that I could. I find that this date still pops up in my head each December and I feel a sense of loss, despite not having been born when the event took place.

On this date each year I feel sorry for the many fans who were alive to experience the loss on that day and I feel sorry for those of us who came later and were never able to experience the thrill of a new album release or see a live interview with such an influential and talented individual.

And so, to mark this day, I'm posting one of my favorite holiday songs, sung by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I like to think that by electing Barack Obama, we are this much closer to at least one war being over.


holiday spirit (kind of): post 5

Today has been an absolutely awful day. I have very little hope that my job will ever be satisfying, gratifying, or bearable. I'm lucky to have a job, so that is all I will say about it. Anyway, I'm in a kind of a funk as a result of a few work issues today and I was near tears as I sat at my desk and read yet another e-mail that made me want to rip my eyes out of their sockets, just so that I would be rendered blind and unable to read the bullshit.

It was at that very moment that my all-time favorite Christmas song came on. My old buddy Burl Ives came on and serenaded me with his Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer television special rendition of "A Holly Jolly Christmas" and as much as I would like to say that my faith in humanity and the upper management was renewed, it wasn't. I am, however, more willing to deal with it now. It is funny how a song can lift your spirits, even just a little.

Thanks go to you, Burl, you've kept the desk rage at bay.


holiday spirit: post 4

I've made a firm commitment to only using real money this holiday season: no credit cards. As I've said many times before, I am on a strict debt pay-down schedule and timeline. I may be spending less this year, but it is all money that I have and thus I won't be spending more in the long run. Also, the man and I are not exchanging gifts so that we can use that money on gifts for others.

I've also made a commitment to buying products from independent and local producers/sellers. I've had to step outside of this commitment for my nephews because I couldn't find a local independent seller of WALL-E DVDs. Other than making a conscious decision to buy local, I'm also making gifts again this year as much as I can. I've plugged this before, but buying homemade via sites like Etsy can yield high-quality goods and can help independent artisans/crafters and their families.

I know that this holiday season is going to be a tight one for many people and their families. I'm lucky that I don't have to worry about how I'll pay my bills and that I have the luxury of being able to make payments toward my debt.

Thinking about the holiday in terms of money doesn't usually make it into the "holiday spirit" category, but I think an economic downturn has the potential to bring Christmas back to its true meaning without the emphasis on gifting. It is amazing how much creativity can stem from times of misfortune and how clearly we can be compassionate to the plights of others more when we are ourselves experiencing hardship.


If you would like a visual representation of how our economy went into crisis mode (aka went down the toilet), I suggest this:


holiday spirit: post 3

Did I mention that I love Christmas music? I do, but I must admit that I'm more than partial to the classics...think Time Life Christmas with Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, all the greats. If you can stream music online, I highly suggest going to Iceberg Radio. Select "Seasonal" from the list and then "Old-Fashioned Christmas" from the expandable menu. It is what I've been listening to for the past couple weeks. All day. Every day. There is a pop-up player so you don't have to keep the main browser window open: quite handy. Also, the player has many other options if you prefer a different type of holiday music, but like I said, I stick with the classics.

Now, thanks to the standard stations that switch over to nonstop Christmas music during the holiday season, I'm able to listen on my way to work, at work from my computer, then on my way home again. Ah, you've got to love that.

NOTE: If you have sense enough to despise the David Bowie/Bing Crosby duet as much as I do, there is also an option to deselect 5 artists (in the pop-up player mode) so that their songs don't appear in your playlist. Whew, no more Ziggy Stardust or Chipmunks messing with my holiday cheer.


holiday spirit: post 2

If you are in need of a dose of Christmas spirit...the real kind, not the kind associated with presents and Santa Claus, I recommend that you seek out the movie The Bishop's Wife. Be sure to watch the 1947 version with Cary Grant and Loretta Young. It is fanciful and wonderful and heartwarming, and it hits all of the aspects of the holiday (good and bad) then winds down into the true meaning of Christmas. I particularly love David Niven's sermon at the end. Also, you can't help but grin at the special effects. A "must watch" for anyone trying to rid themselves of the bah humbugs.

holiday spirit: post 1

I love Christmas. I love the way you hear a Christmas song and you can feel the warmth of it seeping into your bones, heating you from the inside out like a mug full of hot chocolate. I love how people seem a little bit nicer and dig a little deeper into their pockets to help others, even if they can't really spare the money. I love the innocence of the holiday, if you are able to look past all the capitalist trappings.

I'm going to take a break from some of my standard negativity to bring you a series of holiday-inspired posts. Maybe not all holiday-inspired, but I'll share with you some of the things that inspire the feelings of holiday festivity in me.