Monday, December 19, 2016

Holiday Post 2016: Traditions, Manners, and Other Miscellany

The academic semester is over; it ended last Friday. Now I am on the final stretch until Christmas. This week before Christmas I am working through Thursday, December 22, and then I will get a break until a bit after New Year's Day. For the last couple of years or so, it has been a tradition here at The Itinerant Librarian to make a few posts for the holidays. I do these mostly to amuse myself and to give my four readers something for entertainment while I am off celebrating the holidays. So before we get started, let me take this opportunity to wish one and all, near and far, a safe and happy holiday season in whatever way, shape or form you choose to celebrate it or not. Paz y amor.

The Christmas tree is up at our house. We managed to put  it up last weekend. This year, our cat Autumn passed on, and after some mourning, a new cat joined our family: Clio the torbie (a tortie + tabby), who by now is about 2-years old. We got her in April, and the people at the shelter told us she was about year and half at the time. Anyhow, this is her first Christmas in a house, and her first Christmas tree. Lucky for us, she has not gone crazy climbing up the tree. She just nicely lies under it.

The coquito will get made this week. If you are interested, I wrote about that Puerto Rican Christmas tradition last year, including some tips on how to make it.

So let's get on with the stories and links about traditions, manners, and other miscellany:

If you enjoy holiday season trivia, the U.S. Census Bureau always has their Facts for Features series for holidays and observances. Here is their document for the 2016 holiday season.

Christmas cards and greetings

Many people love sending and receiving Christmas/holiday cards. We certainly do. You probably should have gotten them out by now, but I believe you still have today if you are running a bit late so they get there by Christmas. In our house, we also celebrate Three Kings Day, a.k.a. Epiphany, so if a card or two arrives a bit later, it is perfectly fine.

Decking the halls and adornments

Let's have a look at some of the things people do to decorate and make things more cheerful.

  • Some people go all out decorating their homes and putting up light displays. If you like looking at light displays, here are 14 Christmas light shows you can look at. Via Mental Floss.
  • Here are some holiday ornaments for book lovers via Book Riot. They also have a few other bookish holiday decorations
  • Want to put something different on your Christmas tree? How about some Anton LaVey tree decorations? Via Dangerous Minds.
  • Some people put a Nativity scene in their homes as part of their holiday decorations. Now anyone can put out the same old creche. This year, how about going with a hipster nativity? Yes, there is such a thing, and you can read about it at Dangerous Minds.
  • Here is how you make a simple but nice Christmas wreath out of candy. Via Dollar Store Crafts.
  • Now, you may think putting up a few lights and decorations  is not big deal. Turns out there are various risks and hazards in the task such as fall, cuts, and even choking. Via Mental Floss.

Shopping and money

Whether we like it or not, shopping is a big deal of the holidays' season. Some people enjoy it and have fun with it. Others find it to be a big source of stress. Yet others cannot afford to buy gifts for others. In the end, for what it is worth, keep in mind much of the season is supposed to be about peace and goodwill to others. So if what you have to offer is time, or treats you make, or just being there, go with that. Here are some links on shopping and money:

  • Some people suggest that you should start your holiday shopping early. This year, I got much of my holiday shopping done early because I bought things gradually and stowed them away for when I needed them. That way, I could avoid shopping out of panic or pressure but rather could take my time finding things and buying them as time and leisure allowed, often at a good price. Plus I could find a few things I might find during the holiday season. However, for some folks, there may be an advantage to shop at the last minute. Wise Bread offers nine reasons to shop at the last minute. One thing I see is the point about discounts. Overall, I am not sure I am totally convinced, but I will leave it to my readers to decide. Feel free to comment. Do you shop early, or do you leave it to the last minute? Why or why not? 
  • One of the sources of stress around the holidays are the unexpected expenses. You just when you thought you had everything planned out, something unexpected siphons money from your budget. Via Parenting Squad, here are some ways to deal with  those unexpected expenses. Some of it does boil down to being prepared. I like their idea of, if possible, putting a little money aside just for the little curve balls life has a way of throwing at you.
  • I am not honestly sure how many people actually practice holiday tipping. I mean tipping you may do for folks that provide you regular service over the year such  as your postal carrier or delivery person, your baby or pet sitter, and your hair stylist. I remember growing up, my parents did some of that with our local garbage collector (this was back when garbage collectors were municipal employees you got to know personally and not the corporate drones  you got now who just drive the mechanized truck and do not pick up anything extra) and some others that, again, they knew personally. In my case, I am not well enough to employ most of those people on a regular basis. A housekeeper? Bitch, please. But if you do, and you want  to tip but are not sure how much, here is a handy infographic with a guide of  what is  customary to  tip for certain regular services. Via Mental Floss. Again, question for the readers: anyone  out there tip any folks for regular services like housekeepers, sitters kids and/or pets, hair stylists, other service providers? Feel free to comment.
  • I do not know about you, but I am not a huge fan of holiday parties, especially office parties where one or two people who happen to love partying and gossiping guilt trip the rest of of the office into some potluck. However, if you must bring some treat, you are not the incarnation of Martha Stewart, and you do not want to break the bank, here are some suggestions for no-bake holiday treats. Via Wise Bread.

Other miscellaneous things

This is where I am putting everything else I found of interest, but I was not sure how to sort it out.

  • Perhaps you need to take little time for yourself, or you want to reflect a bit. If you want to start a journal, or you already have one, this season is a good time to write in that journal. Via CreateWriteNow, here are some journaling ideas for the holiday season. For some introverts, this may be specially helpful.
  • Are you having people over for the holidays? Did you clean the house? If you did, good for you. Whether you did or not, here are some last minute tips and ideas to get your house clean for guests. Via A Debt Free Mess Free Life
  • For those of you hosting folks, here are some simple kitchen hacks to help you out if you are cooking. Infographic via Mental Floss. I admit the gravy in the thermos thing did not occur to me, but I am sure some old hands out there knew that trick.
  • If you are hosting, you might offer chips and dips as part of the snacks. However, I might urge you to reconsider if you are tempted to serve the Pringles holiday flavors. Read about them at Foodiggity.
  • Need some music? Here are some vintage Christmas classics, via Mental Floss.
  • Want to do something different? How about a few Christmas horror films? Via BuzzyMag.
  • The holidays a bit too much? Do you feel overextended? Taking on too much? May you want to consider some ways to simplify your life during the holidays. Via Get Organized Wizard.
  • And as the year ends, you may want to consider doing a little end of year reflection. Here is an interesting suggestion via Zen Habits.
  • Finally, this season can be very rough on introverts like me. So, after you are done with dealing with people sucking the energy out of you, here are some ways for you to recharge. Via PopSugar.

And if you happen to have people over, and it turns out there are way too many of them, you can do what El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico does: once they get too obnoxious, "pa' fuera!" ("out you go!"):

Have a safe and happy holiday season. Stay tuned this week for other holiday posts including things about weird gifts and reading suggestions. Hope you will come back,

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