Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Holiday Post 2008

My goodness. I have not posted here since last month when I did the post for Thanksgiving. Time does move fast. I will simply say that things got very chaotic right after Thanksgiving. My mother passed away on December 4th after a decades long battle with lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus if you wish to get specific). She remained optimistic and positive to the very end, and at some point I will probably write a post or two about her. For instance, she enjoyed riding roller coasters, but that is another story. She was a big fan of Christmas, and in our house, the tree went up the day after Thanksgiving. So I know she would want me to continue with traditions, and thus we come to our Holiday Post of 2008.

This is now the fourth year I have done this (see 2005, 2006, and the 2007 three part extravaganza), and I do enjoy putting these together for the amusement of my two readers. This time I am putting things in no particular order by broad categories, so my two readers can find what they like. Just like last year, we have enough stuff to make another three part extravaganza. Part One is this post. Part two will be a collection of humor with a bit of "spice" thrown in (an adult thing or two could get in), and Part Three will be a special post for book lovers and readers (hey, I am a librarian after all).

So here we go:

Safety: It is important to be safe during the holidays.
  • From the blog GovGab, a post on holiday safety with those Christmas lights and decorations. They also point to information on food safety. Given the many meals that will be prepared, being aware of food safety is important.
  • Speaking of safety, this time when traveling: if you fly, you may want to look over the list of restrictions on food and gifts from the TSA.
Gifts and Shopping:
Food and Spirits:
Arts and Crafts:
Books and reading:

Miscellaneous (or I was not quite sure where to put these):
  • This is one I saved from last year. If you need some ideas, here are 50 Ungrinchy Holiday Ideas. It has a selection of simple things to do for things like crafts, shopping, and cards. (via Tinker X).
  • Make sure that you get the right lyrics when you go caroling. Look them up in this handy Christmas Carol Lyrics Database. You can browse it online or download it to your computer.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau always puts out a Facts For Features sheet for the holidays. Here is the one for 2008. For example, did you know that sales by U.S. Christmas tree farmers in 2007 totaled $493.3 million?
  • Many people will be traveling this holiday season. My family and I will probably take a short road trip (or at least a day trip or two), but not too far. To help out travelers, here is a list of 20+ Tools for Holiday Travel, from Mashable.
  • The holidays can be a time of stress for some people. There is a Spanish song, pretty popular in Puerto Rico, that speaks of Christmas that returns ("Navidad que vuelve") where some are happy, and some are crying ("unos van alegres y otros van llorando"). Christmas this year will clearly be a bit different for me this year, but I am doing my best to keep the party going. To help folks out, here is a Holiday Survival Guide from the folks at About.com. The guide has items on things like dealing with family during gatherings and simplifying things. Folks, do remember to take care of yourselves as well as each other. And do keep things simple.
  • Ever wondered who invented those cool Christmas lights? Find the answer here, a feature from the Library of Congress.
  • GovGab has a nice summary of what they do for the holidays at the White House. There is even a link to the first dog's BarneyCam.
  • The Australian Government cultural portal has a page on Christmas in Australia. A shout out to my brother who is currently living in Australia with his wife and two lovely daughters.
  • The American Antiquarian Society has an online exhibit on "Visions of Christmas." They present a nice collection of images from books and materials from the 19th century.
  • Also from GovGab, a summary of issues about animals and the holidays. This is mostly about whether to adopt an animal and giving to agencies like the Humane Society. We have two cats at home, Autumn and (the mighty) Isis, who were adopted from a shelter. We were in Houston when we adopted them and got them at CAP. If you are getting a pet, I would encourage people to seriously consider adopting one from a shelter, especially for cats since they often have more kittens than they know what to do with, as the saying goes.
  • Talking about music, Accuradio has an excellent holiday music section. Their Navidad section has a great selection with a lot of Puerto Rican and Caribbean holiday music. If you want to get a taste of "mi musica," go listen. It's what I am listening to now while I am blogging.
Another tradition in our house is to track Santa. Once again, the folks from NORAD have their Santa Tracker in place. The actual tracking starts on December 24, but they already have some activities in place to amuse you while you wait. We'll be spending Christmas Eve (the semi formal plan is to go out and see some Christmas lights in the evening, but in true gypsy fashion, depends on what we feel like doing at the moment) and Christmas Day at home. The university is closed until January 5th, so I am getting some time off. My wife managed to get a few days off from her work, so we'll likely be hitting the road sometime around the 26th. We'll see. I would like to take this moment then to wish my friends and readers a safe and happy holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the Winter Solstice, may it be a time of peace and joy.

And I leave you with a bit humor for now (by Matthew Henry Hall, from Inside Higher Ed.):

Update Note (12/31/08)
: I added the links to Parts 2 and 3 above.

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