Wednesday, December 25, 2013

You know it's cold when...

A Minnesota Smoker's Winter Lament

You know it's cold when
...the snowflakes that fall gently upon your cheek don't even melt.
You know it's cold when
...the mug full of hot coffee you take outside with you is coffee-flavored ice cream when you go back inside.
You know it's cold when have to light your second cigarette with the burning ember of the first one because your lighter won't work.
You know it's cold when burn yourself and don't even know it until you've been back in the house for 20 minutes.
You know it's cold when takes you 10 minutes to get bundled up to go outside for a 5-minute smoke break.
You know it's cold when stand outside thinking of all the cold comments you can make on a blog post.
You know it's cold when reminisce about the "good ol' days" when it was 20F outside.


You know you're a smoker when go outside to have a cigarette even though it's so cold that freezing to death is entirely within the realm of possible scenarios.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"I Hate Christmas!"

I've been called a Scrooge for saying this, but this is my chance to issue a rebuttal.

First of all, anyone who says "I hate Christmas" probably has some very good reasons for saying something like that, and maybe they really want you to ask them why.

If they say, "I just effing do, alright? Back off!" then that is your cue that they don't want you to ask them why. You may continue to think of them as a Scrooge, but maybe keep it to yourself.

Because 'tis the season for lists, I'm going to LIST my reasons for being one of those people who says "I hate Christmas." But I want you to keep reading, because after that list, I'm going to switch gears and talk about something positive. (That's called a "hook." Did it work?)

Why I Hate Christmas

1. I am generally miserable when it's cold outside. And I hate snow. I don't think it's pretty. I think it's slippery. And I don't like falling when I'm walking on it, or skidding into a ditch when I'm driving on it. And since I live in the Northern part of the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas and cold/snow/ice/falling down go hand in hand.

2. Commercials. I don't watch a lot of TV, but when I do, it makes me sad. I hate the commercials, reminding me of the following:
     a. I don't have anyone buying expensive jewelry for me (never have, and please don't--if you want to spend ridiculous amounts of money on me, just take me to Target--I'm in DIRE NEED of underwear, jeans, a pair of winter boots, and make-up/toiletries).
     b. I don't have money to buy anything--NOT A SINGLE THING--for my family, but according to ABC commercials, I should be getting them cars and copious piles of clothing and oh yeah, more diamonds and gold heart-shaped key necklaces and dangly bracelet thingies. I can't even afford to get to the mall to use the coupon I have for a FREE PAIR OF EARRINGS!
     c. Vacations are not happening. Don't show me pictures of people sunbathing on cruise ships and frolicking at Disney World.
     d. No one is proposing to me, thinking of proposing to me, or wishing they could propose to me but I'm already taken. I'm okay with this, except during this "Every kiss begins with GAG" season.

3. Christmas music is everywhere, and it's so falsely cheerful or over-the-top worshipful that I pretty much want to stab myself in the ear drums.

4. Charity work is at its highest, which is awesome. But charity workers are at their pushiest, which is NOT awesome. Quit calling me! Quit asking me to throw you some spare change. I just spent $17 in Food Stamps for a TV dinner and a frozen pie and I don't have any change to give you. If you want to help charities out, why not do it all year long? Did you know that the people who are hungriest are also hungry the other 364 days of the year?

5. I don't have special candles, plates, dishes, silverware, table runners, doilies, scented after-poop spray, and napkins for the Holiday Season. I use the same stuff in December that I use the other 11 months.

6. Holiday parties. Make sure to bring a gift for the hosts. No gift? Oops. My bad. Make sure to bring your own booze. But I'm already spending my last $20 on gas so I can get to your house for the party, I can't afford a bottle. Guess I'll stay home. I don't have a special Christmas dress anyway.

7. The stress of decorating isn't really an issue this year, as we just moved into an apartment and there's barely room for even the smallest of additions, but in the past, it was A LOT of work to do all that decorating, and really not that much fun. Especially since I don't have fancy candles to light and booze to drink and I don't want to listen to Christmas music while I'm trimming the damn tree anyway.

8. Carolers. I'm sorry if you're a Caroler, but people walking around singing Christmas songs with smiles plastered on their faces are one of the worst things in the world. I'm not saying YOU are, as a person. You're probably wonderful. But I cannot appreciate caroling. Not one bit.

9. Big expectations, huge let-down. Christmas is like cocaine: you get all jacked up for a few hours, top of the world and all that, and then you crash. And when you crash, it's ugly.

10. Shopping is bad enough the rest of the year, but when I can't even get the few things I want/need (toilet paper and cigarettes and occasionally food) without a barrage of holiday stuff everywhere I turn, it makes me think violent thoughts.

Okay, now that you are all convinced that I am Scrooge, let me share this picture of me and my dog Emma, taken in 2004.

That's me trying to get in the Christmas spirit. I try, at least a little bit, every year. Why? Because I don't want to be Scrooge!

I feel those things listed above MOSTLY because I am poor. I don't even have a credit card I can use so I can pretend I'm not poor for a few weeks! I'm not asking you to feel sorry for me, it's just the truth. I am monetarily (that means "MONEY-WISE") very, very... really poor. And that's okay.

Here's the part I hoped you'd stick around to read.

I love my family and my friends with all the love that is in my heart. There's so much love for them that I've had to grind it up into dust and let it settle in the broken, cracked parts so that I could make room for more. I love to be with my family and friends. I love to hear their laughter. I love to make them laugh. I love to have discussions and debates and deep serious conversations. I love to be the goofiest one in the room. I wish I had the money to travel everywhere, to see everyone all year long. If I could, I would spend my whole life on the road, living out of a suitcase, going from loved one to loved one and sharing in the laughter and the tears. I think about this all the time, but when the Christmas season starts rolling around (sometime right after Halloween--if we're lucky, it holds off that long), the fact that I can't do what I wish I could do is thrown in my face repeatedly.

I want to decorate. But I don't have the room, nor the money to buy the decorations. I have a lot of decorations already, from Life Accumulation, but you know where that stuff is? In a cold storage locker 20 minutes away. And like I said, nowhere to put it.

I want to go shopping. I want to buy everyone I know whatever I think they would love most. And I'm pretty good at picking out gifts. I notice things. And if I had the money to buy for my friends, I think they'd like what I bought them.

I want to give to charities. Not just at Christmas, but every day of the year. I offer my time when I can muster the energy to do so, but even that's a challenge for me. And this time of year... it's more chaos than comfort, at least from my perspective.

Honestly, I wish I had the special napkins and candles and bathroom spray and glasses and silverware and plates. I wish I had the table runners and doilies, and I wish I had a stereo to play Christmas CDs (or even tapes!) on, because if I had all that other stuff, it would probably be fun to listen to a little Christmas music. But only in short bursts. Don't get crazy on me now.

And you know what? I really don't want a diamond on a ring of gold, presented on bended knee. I really don't want that. I wouldn't mind having someone special in my life, but it's not the most important thing to me.

I HAVE the most important things. And that's why I am RICH in ways that have nothing to do with money. You hear people say that a lot, don'tcha? Especially this time of year. But it's true. As sappy and ridiculous as it is (more sappy than pictures of your drooly kids on Santa's lap at the mall), it's also true. I still have my parents. I have my amazing brother and my sweet loving sister-in-law. I have two nieces who are the great joys of my life (and the reason I can no longer say I hate Christmas programs--how could I possibly hate Christmas programs, when they are in the show?!). I have so many wonderful, awesome, funny, not-so-funny, brilliant, stubborn, glorious, talented, goofy, ridiculous, loving, caring, understanding unique friends. And you are my friends even though I can't buy you Christmas presents or bring a bottle to the party. You're my friends even though I have serious issues about Christmas.

I love you all.

Unless you're a caroler. (Unless you do it like this.)

Aubrey, Elyse, & Me - Christmas 2011