Let’s Get Mushy for a Minute

How do you feel about love these days?

I came across this prompt the other day and thought, gee, what a perfect prompt to end of this week, what with tomorrow being the international day of love, Valentine’s Day. I can’t be with my loved ones for Valentine’s Day this year since I’m on shift out West, but at least I can take this time to say a few things about love.

So how do I feel about love these days? Well, a lot differently than I felt about it ten or fifteen years ago, that’s for sure. When I was in my teens and early twenties love was all about romance. One a day like Valentine’s Day it was important to have flowers and chocolates and little teddy bears holding stuffed hearts. It was a big deal to go out on a special date, to stroll along a beach, and to be wooed. Romance was everything, because without it there could be no claim of love. That was then, but these days I feel very different. Make no mistake: romance is an important part of a loving relationship. But LOVE is a hell of a lot more.

Love is cooking a beautiful meal for your family. It’s putting up with all the little things that kinda drive you nuts. It’s giving up the TV upon request, and giving up the last delicious treat without request.

Love is providing for your family, in whichever way is necessary. It’s spontaneous hugs and sweet kisses, and knowing that you’re part of a team.

Love is a bedtime story surrounded by stuffed animals and warm snuggles under a fuzzy blanket. It’s little tokens of affection and taking time out to play.

Love is doing something a little special every now and then…but not expecting special things. It’s being appreciative, but not seeking out appreciation.

Love is being supportive even if you don’t “get” it. It’s understanding that you’re not always going to agree about everything, but that you can agree to disagree and still love each other in the morning.

Love is being able to just be together, even if you’re just relaxing in the same room.

Love is knowing that, no matter what, at the end of the day you’ll always cherish each other.

FamilyPicHappy Valentine’s Day, everyone. ❤

ENORMOUS Funko Haul…Only True Nerds Need Apply

We all have our little idiosyncrasies. If you try to deny that, it’s just because you’re the only one who doesn’t realize what it is that you’re doing; trust me, everyone else knows you by your little ticks and habits, even if you don’t realize that you have them. I, for an example, have a few phrases that I use constantly, without even realizing it, and the only reason I actually know that now is because of my YouTube videos (watching yourself on video really brings out the cringes).

One of my husbands idiosyncrasies is that he is a major completionist. The way that this usually shows itself is if a video game he’s playing has hidden collectible items in it; it will drive him completely mad until he finds every single one. He’s the kind of gamer who has to unlock every ability, find every item, and destroy every side-quest. But it’s not just video games. Sometimes his completionist nature bleeds over into real life.

2014 was a year for my husband to get very caught up in collecting items for a themed Christmas present for me. He started as early as January, and by the time December had rolled around it had gotten ridiculously out of control. But, it got ridiculously out of control in a way that made me very, very happy.

Want to see how my husband’s competionist nature manifested itself as one of the most epic nerd Christmas presents ever? Well grab a coffee, sit down, and check out the video:

Is that not epic? Okay, okay, I’m sure a few of you had reactions more in the “what a couple of losers” vein, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s epic. And the really crazy part? My newly-exploded collection doesn’t even scratch the surface of how many Funko Pop! collectibles are out there. As part of my present, my husband printed out a checklist, and it’s amazing how little of the list my collection takes up. I don’t even have all the available Deadpool options! o.O

So now that you’ve seen the insanity, you may be wondering what some of my favs are. Well, it’s difficult to pick because so many of them are totally awesome. Definitely high up on the list is Vegeta, who is so well done with his little scouter that it makes me giggle every time I look at him. Sam and Dean Winchester are also high up there, because I love those characters so much, and it makes me so happy that Funko got their hairstyles right. Loki also makes me giggle like a school-girl, and the Power Rangers are a huge nostalgia blast that makes me so happy, and honestly, how can you not get a kick out of He-Man and Skeletor? And X-Men Deadpool! Arg! There’s too much awesome!

Okay, you probably think I’m a lunatic now, so I leave you with a few questions: Do you own any Funko collectibles? Which ones? Are there any you really, really want? Do you have any of the Pop! figures that were discontinued? Any exclusives? Am I a total lunatic? Please share!

Overreaction? Not in My Opinion

So there’s been a bit of a scandal going on near home lately. Basically, what happened is this: 13 senior male dentistry students at Dalhousie University posted some pretty awful stuff on their private Facebook group, which was then accidentally left open by one of them and thus the comments discovered and released to the public. Some of the things they said? Well, for one thing they had a discussion about which of their female classmates they would like to “hate-f–k”. There were multiple comments throughout the conversation about the use of chloroform to render women unconscious, and they compared chloroform to nitrous-oxide, which you may recognize as the gas that dentists use to knock you out for surgery. The students also referred to the penis as “the tool used to wean and convert lesbians and virgins into useful, productive members of society,” and described the role of women as being “chefs, housekeepers, babysitters, etc.”

So right now there’s a bunch of debating going on as people fight over whether the students should be expelled (they are currently on probation from practicing at the in-school clinic), what kind of punishment is befitting, whether it’s all being blown out of proportion, and so on and so on.

MAC01_TEITEL_POST01
PHOTO CREDIT: Ingrid Bulmer/The Chronicle Herald

As this article in McLean’s explains, some people – like Margaret Wente – believe that the crux of the problem is not the students and their private Facebook discussion, but that women need to “man up” and stop being such delicate little flowers who bitch and moan about every little comment or joke a guy makes.

Here’s the thing. I’m a tradeswoman, working in a traditionally male-dominated field, and when I’m out West at work I’m usually the one woman for every hundred men. I’ve been doing this kind of work for about 8 years, and I’m one of the first ones who will tell other women to buck up, stop being so prissy, and stop turning everything a guy says or does into an insult, because I’ve seen first-hand that women do this, and they do it a lot.

But the Dalhousie scandal is not one of those times.

When a guy makes a joke of a sexual nature, I don’t see any need to get all up in arms about it, because let’s be open and honest: we’re all thinking about sex about 50% of the time, whether we admit it or not. It’s human nature. I have a work-mate who constantly jokes about sex toys and teases me relentlessly, trying to get me to reveal what kind I own. It might be a little annoying to some people, but it’s not exactly something worth getting a restraining order over. He’s my buddy and he’s a torment, and he and I both know that he means nothing by his comments other than trying to get me to blush. He’s a joker. Again, human nature.

But you know what isn’t human nature? Using chloroform to knock women out and “hate-f–k” them. Whether it was a joke amongst buddies or not, being so cavalier about rape like that is disgusting, and I don’t think anyone is overreacting by getting upset about it. Margaret Wente, in her article, talked about how the 13 dentistry students were all “decent guys” and were just “boys being boys”, but is she inside any of their heads? No. They could be some of the greatest guys out there who would never hurt a fly, but anyone of them could easily be a sociopath, and ignoring comments about them basically stating out loud that they want to rape someone is tantamount to handing them a girl and saying, “Here, have fun.” If any random student with access to guns make comments about bringing weapons to school and shooting up the place, they’d probably be arrested within the hour, because we don’t take risks when someone threatens to kill people. But somehow we’re perfectly okay taking risks when someone shows signs of possibly being a rapist.

There are lot of things that I think people should stop whining about in today’s culture. But any kind of support of rape culture is not on my list, sorry.

So what should we do about it? Well, that’s a whole other argument. There are lots of people screaming for the students’ expulsion, and lots of people arguing the opposite (they did pay for all that schooling, after all). They can’t be taken to legal justice (so far as I know; correct me if I’m wrong) because they didn’t technically do anything or make any direct threats toward the victims of their misogynistic conversation. Personally, I’m not too concerned about how the actual punishment plays out because I think the students have already screwed themselves over enough. After all, if you were looking for a dentist, would you willingly go to the one who was publicly revealed to have compared nitrous-oxide to chloroform, whilst in the midst of a conversation about having his way with the female classmates that he believes should be sent back to the kitchen? I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t let that guy within a hundred feet of my mouth, or within a thousand feet of my family.

What do you think? Are we overreacting about a bunch of “harmless jokes”, or should these 13 guys be nailed to the wall for their comments? If it was your decision would you expel them from the rest of their studies or let them complete the program and deal with the consequences of their actions once they’re out in the professional world? Here’s one: what would you do if one of these guys was YOUR son, and you found out that this is how he talks about women to his friends when they think they’re behind closed doors?

Still a Nerd, Just One Who Hates the Cold

I’ve always found it interesting how people change as they grow up; or rather, how they both do and don’t change.

A lot of it, of course, is because of what side of a situation you are on. When I was a kid, for example, I absolutely loved the winter. Snow was one of the greatest things ever. I could bundle up and spend all day outside, digging tunnels, making snow angels, building snowmen. Sometimes my mother would have to tell me to come in and eat, because I’d completely lose track of time. I didn’t even feel the cold, because I was too busy having fun. I could never understand how my parents could hate winter so much, and get more and more frustrated every time it snowed. How could they hate snow? Snow was so awesome!

Now, of course, I’m a grown adult and I’m on the other side of the situation. When it snows, my husband and I have to shovel. When it snows a lot, we have to shovel a lot. We spend a great deal of money keeping our house warm while it gets colder and colder outside. We have to put up with the disgusting mess that seems to end up everywhere as a result of the half-slush-half-mud crap that inevitably becomes the most common substance in the world during the winter months. We curse and growl while trying to de-ice the windshield in the morning while our daughter laughs from the inside of the car and declares that she loves snow. In short: I’m a cranky adult and I hate winter now.

snowrage
Just LOOKING at this fills me with a Hulk-like rage.

This is an example of how people can change as they get older, and there are plenty more. I think a fair bit of the music I listened to as a kid is complete trash, because my musical palette has matured. Some of the foods I used to eat daily as a kid now make me gag because just knowing how bad they are for you changes my ability to taste them the same way. I care a hell of a lot less about what other people think about me because I’ve found myself in the excellent position to understand that in most cases it doesn’t matter two iotas what other people think of me. I’ve changed over the years. My thoughts and opinions have changed, sometimes dramatically.

But then there’s the exception side of the coin, because no one ever really changes completely, do they? There are always going to be remnants of who you were in an earlier time.

For me, you can see it in my nerdiness. I still love almost all of the fandoms I loved as a kid. To this day I can happily sit down and watch and entire season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer without coming up for breath. I’ve been known to track down shows like Sailor Moon and Pokemon just to see if I can still stomach them and found myself curling up to binge-watch with a stupid, giddy smile on my face. I don’t watch Star Wars nearly as often as I used to, but I can still kick a lot of ass at trivia games because all that useless info seems so important to my brain for some reason. I was genuinely upset to find out that they only make three of the Power Rangers as Funko Pop figures because I would kill to have the whole set. I have almost every gaming console that has been available over the past two decades, but I will still happily curl up and play an entire run-through of Final Fantasy III or Chrono Trigger. And the thing is, maybe I’m wrong (because who can really tell?), but I don’t see any of this changing any time soon. I mean, if I’m still playing Final Fantasy III almost twenty years after first discovering it, then there’s probably a pretty good chance that I’ll be playing it in the nursing home when I’m 90, while complaining to the nurses about how this virtual reality junk that the kids play today is nothing compared to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

I don’t know. It just seems funny to me how some attitudes and options can change so dramatically, and yet other things can stick to you like glue throughout your entire life. There’s a psychology research paper in there somewhere, I think.

What about you? Which aspects of your personality have changed so much that the younger version of you wouldn’t understand what the hell had happened, and which things are so much the same that part of  you wonders if you ever really grew up at all?

Look Out for Yourself…You’re the Only “You” the World Has

I was sitting in front of my laptop this morning, trying to think of something interesting or upbeat to write on the blog today, but it’s not to be, because as I was sitting here my husband got a call with some pretty horrible news. It turns out that one of my daughter’s classmates lost his father to an accident. The boy is around 4 or 5 years old.

Now, I don’t want to bring you all down, but hearing this news made my heart clench inside, so I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you to take care of yourselves and always realize that there are hazards out there. We don’t know the details of this particular accident, but as an industrial worker I’ve seen and heard about plenty of avoidable accidents and it kills me a little inside every time. And it’s not just at work; people do things around their home all the time that put themselves and others in danger. Everyone thinks that they’re invincible, that they can’t make mistakes, but instead of having that attitude you should be thinking about the possible damage you could cause if you’re wrong.

Our hearts go out to the family, and to the little boy in my daughter’s class who lost his world today. That’s all I can say.

The Little Things in Life

No one who knows my husband and I personally would dare disagree with the statement that we go a little insane at Christmas. We’re not crazy people with endless disposable income – it’s just that we don’t spend a lot of money throughout the year. Our hobbies are cheap ones (he mostly just plays video games, and I’m happy to write on my slowly-dying laptop), and we make a point of trying not to buy our daughter things regularly because we don’t want her to be one of those kids who thinks she can have anything she likes every time we go to the mall.

But at Christmas? Oh, we totally lose our minds at Christmas. It was bad enough when it was just the two of us buying each other geeky collectibles by the truckload, but the past few years we’ve had a kid to deal with as well and the resulting Christmas-tree explosion is a completely ridiculous testament to our mental states.

And I won’t say that the daughter doesn’t enjoy it, because what kid wouldn’t enjoy a mound of presents to open all at once? However, as usual, our adorable little mini-me shows us that quantity is not necessarily the be all and end all.

Rocket

That little critter in her arms right there is a stuffed Rocket Raccoon. My daughter asked Santa (several times and through several different methods and mediums) for a Rocket Raccoon for Christmas this year, and so when she woke up on Christmas morning this little critter was sitting, unwrapped, at the front of the present pile with a little pink bow on his head. And you know what? She’s hardly let go of him since then.

I’m not saying that she ignored her other presents. Hell no. She loves the superhero action figures that she got, has been rocking out on the Barbie guitar that great-nana gave her, and I’m pretty sure she’d play Disney Infinity all day until bedtime if we allowed her… But this little Rocket Raccoon toy – this little stuffed dude who doesn’t do anything other than be hugged with a grumpy look on his face – has barely left her sight for the past week. She’s been sleeping with him cuddled into her arms every night, and he didn’t leave her hand the entire day when we went out shopping for Boxing Week sales. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that someone had super-glued him to her hand.

And you know what? There’s a lesson in there somewhere. Kids (and adults) these days are surrounded by technology, thousands of channels, hundreds of thousands of options, everything bigger and better and flashier and more expensive. And yet a kid’s favorite toy can still be a little plush that does absolutely nothing. It doesn’t play games, it doesn’t talk, it doesn’t move at all. And yet it’s exciting to her to be able to take him to the grocery store and buckle him in to the seat in the cart next to her. That’s pretty amazing, and something we should all probably think about emulating. Because toys (whether they be actual toys, appliances, electronics, or whatever else) don’t have to be the biggest, brightest, noisiest model with the most possible options to still be fun and enjoyable and make a person happy.

What were your favorite toys as a kid? Were they the simple ones or the complex ones? What about as an adult? Do you have to upgrade to the newest cellphone the second it comes out? Or are you the kind of person who is happy to snuggle up and enjoy an old movie favorite? Do you enjoy the simple things in life, or are you all about the complexity? Please share!

Totally-Probable Goals for 2015

HappyNewYear2015
Well, ladies and gents, this is it: it’s officially 2015. Where the heck did 2014 go? I honestly have no idea. I really feel like it was just yesterday that I was making my list of goals for 2014, and now here I am making new ones for 2015. I must be getting old or something, because time…man.

Anyway, let’s look at happier things than time flying out beneath me. First of all, if you saw my “Year in Review” post yesterday you’d have seen that I had approximately 35,000 views last year. At first that didn’t seem like a very large number to me, but then I looked at previous years and realized that the most views I’d gotten in a year before this past one was about 11,000. So that means that my view base has more than tripled in one year! Not too shabby, I’d say. However, something that I noticed when comparing my stats with some of my fellow bloggers’ is that while I have more views than several of them, almost all of them have significantly more comments than me. This makes me wonder if there’s something about the way I write, the topics I choose, or some other factor that makes people not want to bother interacting with my posts, and that’s something that I’d really like to work on. So if anyone has any thoughts, comments, or suggestions, please let me know! Interaction is important. 🙂

So with that out of the way, what about the coming year? Well, I’ve learned a few things from last year that I plan to apply to the coming year. First and foremost, I am not making any goals pertaining to weight loss. Screw you, diet industry. And it’s not that I don’t think I could stand to lose a few pounds, but I’m just sick and tired of setting myself up for failure. The fact of the matter is that regardless of how I feel about my weight, it is not the most important issue in my mind, not by a long shot. Therefore making a goal like that, I may as well just admit today that it’s not going to be accomplished. Hands down, when my options are to exercise, to write, to sleep, to spend time with my family, to play games, or to work on the blog/social media/etc, exercise will always be the absolute last choice. There’s no denying that. So from here on out, no goals about weight loss. Weight loss would be awesome, but I’m not holding myself to a goal like that any more.

Second of all, in the past two years I’ve made my list of goals and then reported on them on a weekly basis: my “Accountability” posts. I’m not going to do that anymore. About midway through 2014 I began to realize that those posts were more or less a way for me to have a really easy writing day every week, and that they weren’t contributing anything to the blog. Yes, occasionally I got some interaction on those posts from readers, but I think I would have gotten just as much interaction had they been monthly posts instead of weekly ones. So from here on out, my “Accountability” posts will be an end-of-month report instead of a weekly whine-fest. (Oh yeah, I’m going to try to work on the whining too…lol)

Third, sometime over the course of the next month (before I return to work), I’m going to try and straighten up the blog a bit and create an actual author page. I like the blog the way it is and I don’t really want to change it, but I think that as a published author I should have at least one page that just says who I am and promotes the book. Something a little more professional-looking, yes? Maybe with a couple of widgets so that you can still connect to my forms of social media via that page. We’ll see how it turns out. 😉

And finally, I guess it’s time to talk about the actual goals. So what are my goals for 2015?

Goal #1: Take care of myself more.
I may not be making any goals about weight loss, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a goal pertaining to my physical and mental well-being. This is a very broad goal, but basically boils down to the fact that I want to work on thinking about myself more often. I’ve already started the trend by taking the time to pamper myself with things like a manicure, or an extra-long shower while wearing a mud mask. Little things to help relax, you know? But I’d also like to work on other little things, like forcing myself to relax and read/play games/watch shows more often, getting up and moving every now and then, and maybe even eating a little better (although that one will always be a huge stretch for me). Basically, this is an all-encompassing goal for the betterment of my personal lifestyle. Wish me luck.

Goal #2: Continue to build my readership/viewership.
Last year this goal was to “work hard on my author platform”. This is basically the same idea, except I’m not really calling it an “author platform” anymore. I’m preferring to think of it as a “me platform”. Yes, the biggest part of my online presence is meant to be “author” me, but there’s really no sense in pigeonholing myself like that. If people find me through Instagram because of a cute pic I posted, that’s awesome. If people find me because they stumbled across one of my unboxing videos on YouTube, that’s awesome. Any way that people come to me is great; it’s not just about directing them to the blog. Ultimately, of course, the goal is to connect with as many people as possible in hopes that they will one day become the readers of my books, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to be chasing after them with a jpeg of the “Nowhere to Hide” cover, screaming for them to buy. No, I want people to find me whichever way they can, and hopefully that will eventually lead to more books sold. If not, hey, it’ll still be pretty awesome just to be viewed.

Goal #3: Write. Write a lot.
I seriously considered setting myself another specific word count goal this year, but I eventually decided against it. You know why? Similarly to the weight loss goals, it just sets me up for failure. I don’t need a specific word count to strive toward; all having one does is make me panic as I steadily realize that I’m running out of time. So this year I’m just focusing on the writing. I’m going to try for 500-1000 words per day, but I’m not going to panic if I don’t accomplish that. Just as long as I’m writing. And I will still keep track, but only because I’ll be interested to see what the final numbers work out to. Hopefully this last goal will lead to the publishing of another book this year, but again, I’m not going to hold myself to it because I don’t want to rush and stress myself out. All things in good time.

So those are my goals for 2015. Take care of myself, keep building the blog/YouTube channel/various other social media outlets, and write like I mean it. I think they’re pretty good ones, ones that will keep me grounded this coming year without stressing me out.

What do you think? Have you made any goals for 2015? How are you planning to go about achieving them? Please share! We can support each other. ^_~

Merry Madness

I’m going to change things up a bit today and talk about one of the bad sides of Christmas: the last-minute shopping. Now, I’ve been known to run out for a thing or two at the last possible minute, but I know what I’m getting into going in, and I don’t condone the insanity that plagues many shopping centers on the days leading up to Christmas. That includes wrongs perpetrated on the sides of both stores and shoppers. It’s just a foolish, unnecessary, stressful mess.

IMG_5239.JPG Just looking at that image gives me post-traumatic stress symptoms. 😛

I’m going to tell you a story of the year I worked at a Zellers department store during Christmas. I was seventeen, just trying to make a few bucks as a seasonal worker, and I was scheduled to work 9-5 on Christmas Eve. The stressors were many, my friend. Let me tell you about them.

Stressor #1: The store was packed beyond capacity. It was chaos as panicked shoppers – many of them who were literally just starting their Christmas shopping – shoved their way through the store. They were hurried and frustrated. They were fighting with store employees and fellow shoppers alike. And it was no one’s fault but their own, but you wouldn’t dare point that out.

Look, I know that everyone is busy around the holidays, and we don’t all have the luxury of being able to just run to the mall whenever we feel like it. However, if you start your shopping on Christmas Eve and start getting belligerent with everyone because the store is so busy, or because it doesn’t have the particular toy you need…well, I just have absolutely no sympathy for you. Even accounting for other holidays and store closures, there are over 300 other days in the year that you could do your shopping if you just think ahead a little bit. Your poor planning skills are not the fault of the other shoppers or the poor cashiers that you inevitably wind up harassing.

Stressor #2: Lay-Away is the invention of the devil. Approximately half the damn town thought they would be terribly clever by doing their shopping ahead of time, putting it all on layaway, and then come in to pick it all up on Christmas Eve. People, please don’t do this. You may find it hard to understand, but when five thousand people all make this same plan, and each person has several hundred dollars worth of stuff to pick up, it takes quite a while to track everything down and process it before you can leave the store with it. Honestly, the guys and gals who manned the lay-away counter that year deserved a goddamn medal.

Stressor #3: We were horribly understaffed. As is a common(ly horrible) thing with department stores, this particular Zellers regularly tried to run with as few people as possible, even during times that they knew would be outrageously busy. On Christmas Eve that meant that from open to close, each cashier had a constant line that never dipped below 8-10 people deep, and we had exactly zero help from floor staff. You know those people who are on the sales floor to help answer questions and the like? Well they’re also there to be able to hop on an empty cash if it’s too busy, but this night we only had two of them, and they were run ragged the entire night by crazed shoppers looking for toys that had been sold out weeks ago. So we had no help. I literally didn’t even set eyes on those two girls for the entire shift.

Stressor #4: There is absolutely no empathy and employees start getting treated like robots. I remember at one point my coworker was told that it was time for her to go on her break (the first one in over 4 hours, by the way). Since we had no one to take her place on the cash, I was instructed to facilitate the break by incorporating her line into mine (in other words, serve one of my customers, then one of hers, and so on, so that no one had to wait too long). It was the easiest and most fair way to handle the situation, but people flipped the hell out. They started shouting about how they’d already been waiting forever and that my coworker should have to finish the line before she got her break (which, as mentioned earlier, would never have happened). And more than one customer actually tried goading me into the fight by suggesting to me that my coworker was a “lazy bitch” who was leaving me to do all the work by myself while she buggered off to have a smoke or something. I barely got through those 15 minutes without punching someone.

Oh yeah, did I mention all the fuss was over a 15 minute break? Her first in over half the shift? Yeah.

Stressor #5: People kept trying to steal stuff. No, really. The one that sticks out in my memory is this one young kid – maybe 12 or 13 – who was buying a large, round Christmas tin. He looked visibly nervous, and when I picked up the tin I noticed that it felt too heavy. I opened the lid to find that he’d put a smaller tin inside…and another smaller tin inside that…and a further smaller tin inside that. I gave him a look, and he averted his eyes and pretended not to notice. So I scanned all four tins, took his money, and watched him leave the store in a big hurry, which made me wonder if he didn’t have something in his pockets as well.

And stuff like that kept happening all day. People hid shirts inside other shirts, or ripped open packs of socks and underwear to stuff extra sets inside. Sometimes they shoved small toys into the front of play sets with open-front boxes and pretended that they thought it was included. I never confronted anyone, and just scanned it all properly, but it made my frustration level go way up because I had to scrutinize every item everyone brought me.

Also, who goes through that kind of crap for an extra pair of socks?

Stressor #6: The goddamn registers didn’t work properly. I don’t know about Zellers stores in other parts of the country, but the Zellers store in my hometown had a reputation for never updating their sales properly, so the registers never rang in with the correct prices. On that Christmas Eve there were a mega-ton of sales going on, with completely random new ones being announced over the PA system every hour…and none of them rang up properly. Since a lot of the sales were things like, “25% off women’s shoes in brand x, y, and z” or “30% of kids clothes from sizes x to y” it was effectively impossible to keep track of everything, so every customer had at least one item that they insisted was scanning in wrong, but you had very little way to know for sure. And there were lots of sales that were very subjective, like “$20% of ‘Learning Toys'”, so then you got into arguments like, “Well, building blocks aren’t really a ‘learning’ toy, but they do have the alphabet on them so I guess maybe that makes them educational?”

To top things off, remember those floor workers I spoke of earlier? Yeah, normally we would call one of them to check into the sale for us, but as I mentioned they were completely inaccessible, and if you bothered to call one you’d just end up sweating at your cash register for 20 minutes while angry shoppers screamed at you to hurry up. So what did I do to handle the onslaught of people insisting that this item or that item was on sale? Well, here’s the thing: our registers did not need supervisor access to do a price override. So, yeah…you can see where I’m going with this. It definitely wasn’t the “right” thing to do, and I knew it at the time, but on that day, Christmas Eve, with hundreds of people crammed in the store at once and everyone losing their minds left, right, and center, all I really cared about was getting everyone rung through and out of the store as quickly as possible.

———-

The entire thing was a learning experience for sure, and I have to admit that I’ve had a lot more empathy for cashiers during the holidays ever since that experience. Because here’s the thing; as much as you last-minute shoppers may want to get angry at the stores for running out of the item you want, it’s really your fault for not going out to get it sooner. And as much as you want to bitch out the cashier for things not ringing up properly, she’s not the one who programmed the registers and has no way of knowing the proper price for every item in the store. And as much as you want to kill the other customers who are getting in your way and holding up the register with an outrageous number of items, they’re just doing the exact same thing you’re doing, so hey, stop being such a hypocrite.

So my advice is two-fold, as we approach the final shopping days before Christmas and things begin to get a little intense:

1. Take a moment to stop, think about what you need to get done and get bought, and do your damnedest to work out a plan to do it before the last minute.

2. When you start to get filled with rage toward a store employee, stop for a second and put yourself in their position. Imagine if you were the one working a cash register on Christmas Eve (probably at minimum wage), getting berated by every single person who so much as looks in your direction. I guarantee you’ll suddenly feel a lot calmer and a lot less judgmental.

My final thoughts? Try to treat each other respectfully during the season. Period. 🙂

Have you ever worked retail during the holidays? Do you have any horror stories? Maybe a story that proves that not everyone is a maniac shopper? Please share!

A Special Talk about Specials

Let’s talk about Christmas specials for a moment.

IMG_5232.JPG
That intro? I killed it.

Now, I am sure there are lots of people out there who hate watching the same specials year after year after year…but I am not one of them. My husband and I love Christmas specials, and there are plenty that we watch every year, without fail. In the past couple of years that list has grown full of things like the Spongebob Christmas specials, the Sofia the First “holiday” special, and other such stuff, but those are just add-ons, things to entertain the little missy. These are some of the real important specials, the ones that have to be watched, or else it just feels like something is missing from the holiday:

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
This well-aged Rankin-Bass special takes some large liberties with the lore of Santa Claus, but it’s a cute take on the jolly old fellow’s origins. Fun fact: we have a copy of this movie-length stop-motion picture in high definition, and it’s so clear that you can see the strings everywhere. Kind of amusing.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
As a grown adult who is more aware of such things, this other beloved Rankin-Bass special has become known as the tale in which Santa is a total jerk and Prancer is totally sexist. That said, it’s a classic and I love it. And nowadays I get to hear my daughter exclaim over the arrival of the Bumble, which is just hysterical.

Garfield’s Christmas Special
Who doesn’t love this special, honestly? It’s right up there with the classics for sure, and one that definitely can not be missed in the Tobin household. It has such a cute story, in my opinion, and no matter how many times I watch it I never get tired of hearing Garfield sing the words, “electrical contracting”.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Because of course.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Ah, the Dr Suess tale of nonsense words as read by Boris Karloff. So many nonsense words… Read by Boris Karloff… It just seems ridiculous somehow. But, of course, this is a wonderful tale to partake of near the holidays.

Christmas Vacation
Chevy Chase and his supporting cast really do an amazing job of encapsulating the wonders and woes of the holidays. And it’s funny as hell. I’ve watched this movie every year (sometimes two or three times in one year) since I was about seven years old, and yet the same gags crack me up every single freakin’ time.

Prep and Landing
What the- Oh, you thought I was just talking about classics, didn’t you? Well, I kinda was, because those ones are the best, but I wanted to mention this newer special because it’s so cute. It’s the CG-animated tale of the elves who help prepare each house for Santa’s arrival, and it has an adorable sequel that focuses on the importance of family.

There are a lot more specials that I could mention because we have quite the collection to work with, but those are just a few of my absolute favs, so I thought I’d share. 🙂

What about you? Do you enjoy watching Christmas specials each year? What are some of your favorites? Are there any that you absolutely can’t stand? Please share!

The Important Tradition of Adding Holiday Pounds

Food is a very important part of Christmas. You know it, I know it, and everyone else knows it. Anyone who denies it is lying.

In my household the feast of foods begins on Christmas Eve. This is when I make a big ol’ ham, using a modified version of my grandfather-in-law’s recipe. I start by slow-cooking the ham (if possible – occasionally we’ve gotten one that was too big for the slow cooker) all day. At the beginning of the slow-cook I’ll spread a nice coat of brown sugar on top of the ham, and during the last hour or so I’ll throw some pineapple slices on top (if I remember to buy them…pineapple slices are this meal’s cranberry sauce for me). To serve with the ham there is a delicious sauce that is basically made of pineapple juice, brown sugar, and raisins. Depending on what we’re feeling like I’ll make either potato salad or cheesy scalloped potatoes to go with the ham, and by early evening we are all quite docile and ready to sit back and relax with some Christmas shows.

Now, things may change a bit this year since my daughter is now old enough to be very aware of Christmas, but usually I would get up early on Christmas morning and cook a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast, and we’d eat before the little one ever woke up. This year, however, it’s very likely that she’ll be the first one up, so we may have to change things up and possibly have our breakfast as a mid-morning break from opening presents. I am not cruel enough to bring a 4-year-old downstairs on Christmas morning, let her glimpse her toys, and then make her sit and wait while the adults flitter about eating bacon.

And then, of course, there’s the coup de grace…the Christmas dinner. I make my stuffing from scratch with torn up bread, celery and onions, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, and butter, and pack it all in the bird. to cook the turkey I forgo the traditional roasting-pan-in-the-oven in favor of an electric roaster, which is basically just a really big slow cooker. Before I start cooking I paint the turkey with butter and flavor with poultry seasoning. Then I cook on high for an hour or so to get things moving before turning the temp down low so that it slow-cooks throughout the day. And I baste regularly, of course. When the turkey is nearing completion I set the potatoes, carrots, and turnip to boil, and get mashing with lots of butter. My mother usually makes the gravy while I’m handling everything else; she makes it from scratch using the turkey drippings, the boil water from the veggies, flour, and soy sauce. Make a box of Stove Top just to make sure there’s a ton of stuffing (because, duh), and we’re ready for the most important meal of the season!

IMG_5238.JPG(Honestly, I could probably just have this and still be happy.)

And then it’s off to the living-room floor to exhaustedly help missy de-box her presents. Usually this step is accompanied by rum and eggnog.

Do you look forward to Christmas food as much as I do? What kinds of food-related traditions do you have? Do you do the cooking yourself or let others feed you? Please share!