As for the rest of the real world, this year is now part of what I have come to know as the "Hard Times." I wish I could say I have hopes for 2018, but to be honest, I do not see things getting better. So I have been making an effort to just expose myself less to news and current events. I have trimmed and continue to trim my RSS reader and my social media feeds. I have been doing my best to read more in an escapist way, though that has not always been successful. I have not done my tally for books read in 2017 yet, but I get the feeling the number will be lower than 2016 just because more often than not my mood has been foul after hearing whatever the hell the Pendejo In Chief and the morons of the Party of Stupid have done. But let's try to stay positive. I still got a good amount of reading done, and I have continued my Tarot and oracle card studies. I have found Tarot and oracle to be a nice way to meditate and tune out for a while.
So whatever holiday or holidays you celebrate this season, I wish you all a happy and safe time. Let's get this show on the road then.
- Did you know that the value of U.S. imports of Christmas ornaments from China for 2016 was $1.5 billion. In fact, "China led the way with 92.0 percent of the U.S. total imports of Christmas ornaments." The U.S. buys a heck of a lot of Christmas ornaments from China. You can see this figure and more from the U.S. Census holiday fact sheet for 2017.
- Did you know that too much Christmas music can be bad for your mental health? That is a recent finding from psychologists. Article via AlterNet.
- Learn how Santa Claus went from being a nice saint to the patron of shopping malls and crass materialism. Via The Guardian.
- In fact, he has gotten both so popular and so full of himself you may now need an appointment to sit on his lap. Via NPR.
- Do you still send out Christmas or holiday greeting cards? In our house, we still do send out a few. Do you know how to address them properly? Here are some etiquette tips on addressing holiday cards. Via USA Today.
- Are you bored sending and receiving the usual holiday cards? How about spicing things up with some of these rude Christmas cards (warning, some images may be NSFW). Via Dangerous Minds.
- Did you have leftover decorations from your Christmas tree? You are not sure what to do with them? You got a beard? How about you just hang them from your beard? No, seriously, someone thought that was a good idea. Via Cosmopolitan.
- You can complement those beard decorations with an ugly sweater or two. Via Shoplet blog.
- And if you get a little hungry, you can maybe bake one of these holiday cakes. Via The New York Times.
- If you are traveling, you might get to see these creepy Santa Claus statues. Via Web Urbanist.
The holidays can be stressful, and I get the feeling that in these Hard Times they are bound to be more stressful for more people. So whether you are hosting people or traveling to visit people, here are some pieces of advice to keep your stress levels low when your drunken barely literate Right Wing nutjob uncle decides to insult you and your loved ones during the holiday gathering. Don't get in a war of words or any other fisticuffs with him. He and his ilk are not worth it. Instead, maintain the peace, breathe deeply, and if it gets bad, just leave (or kick him out). In addition, this time of year often invites reflection as we look to the year that has passed and we look towards the new year, so I am including some ideas to help you reflect, including ideas for journaling, which is a practice I find helpful.
- Via Inc., here are some tips on how to manage stress and have an easier time time during this holiday season. Do some basic things like getting enough sleep and staying hydrated. That part about matching water for every cocktail you might have is spot on.
- Are you dreading conflict over the holidays? A big piece of advice is to let it go. Or, as my mother would often say, rub some olive oil on so that stuff slides right off. Personally I prefer the avoidance tactic: just avoid the toxic people in your life, but if you can't, this may help. Via The Conversation.
- One thing you may consider to make the world a bit better around you is giving to charity. The Christian Science Monitor has some ideas.
- Time to reflect on the previous year? Consider some journaling.
- Via Kaizen Journaling, here is an exercise to help you review the year. This is one I have wanted to do but have not been able to do yet. Maybe this will be the year.
- Writing Through Life offers 10 ways to journal out the old year and ring in the new.
In the meantime, Happy Holidays.