The unsung heroes of the Christmas season

This weekend, I decided to stop at one of my local retail stores to do some last-minute shopping, and very predictably, the store resembled a complete madhouse. My entire town had the same exact idea in mind. The checkout lines were extremely long and I could just sense the frustration in the air. I spent about 30 minutes in the store and that was enough for me! As I was driving home, a rather sobering thought came to mind. Imagine if I had to work in one of those madhouses? Imagine if I had to endure impatient, frustrated and rude people for several hours during my shift? That thought sent shivers up my spine to say the least! Anyone who works in customer service at this time of the year can fully understand what I am talking about. Working with customers at this time of the year can prove to be very challenging and I really tip my cap to all those retail workers who put up with a lot during the Christmas shopping season.

During my college years, I worked at a retail store and the Christmas season was a times pure hell. People’s real character comes up when they are frustrated. I can vividly recall a lady yelling at me for not having a particular item in stock during a sale. Here I was some young 20-year-old who suddenly out of nowhere became the scapegoat for a person’s selfish needs. I calmly explained to her that you need to contact the store’s manager for issues like that. Unfortunately, many people are just like that lady. They see some store clerk as someone who they rail on not realizing the harm they are doing.

I know many retail workers who bust their butt off during this time of the year in serving others so they can have a special Christmas. Some go the extra mile in making sure the customer is completely satisfied with their product. Most of them get paid very little yet take a great deal of pride in their work. Working in retail during the Christmas season is a challenge for them and I admire their patience and understanding as people just trying to serve you and make your Christmas that much better.

The other workers that I really admire are the folks who work at the post office or UPS stores. So many folks order stuff online these days and most people fail to appreciate how busy these hard-working people are. I would guess that many work up to 12 hour days during this time of the year. These dedicated people are out there trying their hardest to get that special package out to you. A few weeks ago, a UPS driver endured some icy roads to deliver a much-needed package to yours truly. When he arrived at my door, I wanted to shake his hand and give him a big huge. Just seeing my reaction probably really made his day!

When you are sitting down with your family and opening presents during these next few days, just think for a minute of all these hard-working people who made your Christmas enjoyable. These people are true Christmas heroes and deserve much credit, and maybe a few days off!


A great time to get engaged

So you and your gal have been dating for a while and there is no doubt in your mind that you want to spend the rest of your life with her. You guys are madly in love and now is the time to pop the question. Wouldn’t it be great to do it during the Christmas season and create a Christmas memory that would never be forgotten by either of you?

I don’t know what other people think, but I regard the Christmas season to be a very romantic time of the year. I really cannot point to why it is so romantic; maybe many of the Christmas activities enhance those romantic feelings like driving around town with your sweetheart and looking at the beautiful lights or holding hands during a nice quiet walk at night with the snow gently falling down. It is a very festive season and those romantic feelings really come out in people. A proposal will only add to those feelings between you and your special love.

I know many guys including myself would never do this, but here is a great idea for proposing to your gal. I know many guys have to spend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day with her family. There will probably be a time when everyone gathers together to open gifts. Perhaps there are a few gifts from you that you want her to open first. Let that happen then after everyone is done unwrapping the gifts, announce to everyone that there is one more gift to open. The excitement in the room starts to build; what could this be? You pull out the ring, grab her hand and propose in front of her family. I cannot imagine a better Christmas memory than that one. Of course if she is really shy, that might not be such a great idea of putting her on the spot.

If I were to ever propose to someone, I would want it to be during a very special time for both of us. Doing what I just suggested would be Christmas memory of all time, not only for you guys, but for her family as well. Perhaps she grew up in that home and the proposal would only add to many memories of that home. I want to wish all guys who are thinking about popping the question this Christmas season the best of luck and congratulations.


The pain of being single around the holidays

For most of the year, being single is not that bad. There is that endless freedom that one enjoys without having a partner.  Freedom to have control over your life and the great feeling of not having to worry about pleasing someone else. However, being single does have some drawbacks and the holiday season seems bring those drawbacks out in full force.

The other day, I was listening to a radio commercial for a jewelry store. I was thinking to myself how great it would be to surprise my gal with a great piece of jewelry or even an engagement ring for Christmas. Then a sad reality set in. I have no gal to buy for this year. Nobody to exchange gifts with or send romantic Christmas cards to. I suddenly felt very empty and lonely inside. I am sure other singles feel the same way. Sure there are other people in your life that you buy presents for such as your family members and friends. But there is just something very special about shopping for that very, very special person and love of your life.

Typically around the Christmas season, a person spends a lot of time out and about shopping or going to Christmas functions, family gatherings and parties. It is almost impossible to escape people during the season. It is a very empty feeling to attend a company Christmas party by yourself. You look around and see all of your co-workers along with their partners having a great time and that lonely feeling starts to intensify. It is like you do not belong. Couples are mingling with each other and here you are trying to fit in. I have to admit that I often avoid social situations where I know a group of attached people will be. I feel like a total outsider in those situations. The same can be said at those family gatherings during Christmas. You may see your siblings at the gatherings with their spouses and sometimes you may be the only single sibling without someone.

The ultimate cruelty with being single during the holidays is when you suddenly became single through a breakup or divorce shortly before Christmas. It is a supposed to be a season of joy and happiness, but how can someone be happy when they just got dumped? I have a great deal of sympathy for those newly divorced people during the holidays, especially those with children. In many cases, the newly divorced people are not with their children during the Christmas season and that has to hurt a lot. 

I hate to write such a negative post like this, but depression among single people is very common around Christmas time and the New Year. I am currently a single person, but I look at the bright side. I do not have to lose sleep over what I am going to buy for my gal because I have NO gal so that is nice. Plus I am free to go wherever I want for Christmas. No more arguing or planning over whose parents to see this year. I can enjoy my family’s continued Christmas traditions. And just maybe, my co-workers might bring some hot,nice single women friends of theirs to our Christmas party. Hmmm!













Remember the poor on Christmas

While watching the news on the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as Black Friday, I happened to notice a very stark contrast between a couple of news items that popped up. The first one went into detail about how much money people in this country were projected to spend this year on Christmas and how it compared to last year. People being interviewed for this report talked about some of the new material things that they were looking to buy such as those new Galaxy phones and so on. A story appeared shortly after of an organization who have been putting on Thanksgiving dinners for the poor and homeless for years. One of the guests of the dinner was interviewed, a middle-aged man who has been homeless for a few years now. It dawned on me right there how sometimes our country has its priorities mixed up, especially around Christmas time. We are so entrenched by all these sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday that we often forget about those poor people who are homeless and have to work hard just to find their next meal. Many people in this country as far too consumed at this time of the year thinking about trying to please some loved one or ones with the latest trendiest gifts. Trying to help some poor family during Christmas is probably the last thing on our minds.

In this day and age, many families are struggling to make ends meet and simply do not have the funds necessary to buy Christmas presents for their families. Imagine telling your children that they will not be getting any Christmas presents this year because money is very tight right now. The children go to school and hear their classmates talk about what their parents might buy for them and what they really want for Christmas. A terrible empty feeling must set in for these precious kids.

I challenge anyone reading this post to consider budgeting some of their money to help some low-income family buy Christmas presents during this holiday season. The company that I currently work for always sponsors a family in need during this time of the year. I cannot even begin to tell how great of a feeling it is to know that our contributions helped make a family’s Christmas very enjoyable. We have received numerous letters throughout the year from grateful families who tell us how much it really meant to them and their families.

If you go out shopping during this season, chances are you will probably run into one of those Salvation Army bell ringers at the front entrance. Just putting in a small amount can go a long ways in helping somebody out during Christmas. There are countless other ways to help donate money as well. One just has to look online for ways to donate money or gifts.

I do not work for any organization that picks up Christmas donations. I just see so many opportunities out there to help the needy and poor. Many of us are blessed with more than we really need. Christmas is more than just a holiday about Santa Claus. It a religious holiday where Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. In his many teachings, Jesus talked about how we should help the poor. What a great time to honor his birthday by helping those less fortunate people. They say that it is much better to give than receive; there is no better time to give than during the Christmas season. Knowing that your contribution helped make a family’s Christmas is the greatest feeling in the world.



A Christmas present for many Americans

The last 5 years or so have been very tough on many Americans. Paychecks are simply not covering the continuing rise in prices of just about everything. A person almost needs to take out a second mortgage in order to go grocery shopping! I need to shell out 5 bucks just to buy a pound of hamburger; that is completely absurd! In addition to rising grocery costs, we are paying more for non-grocery items that we normally buy like toothpaste and cosmetics. Gas prices just a few years ago were the highest they have been in years. Health care costs keep on skyrocketing with no end in sight. To go along with the rising costs of living, people’s wages have remained stagnant and in some cases been decreased. The median family income has gone done in the last 5 years. Well just when things appear to be spiraling out of control, a ray of hope has emerged that will go a long ways in putting more money back into people’s pocket.

If anyone has noticed, gas prices are dropping like crazy in the last few months. A few weeks ago, I stopped at my local station to fill up and had to do a double take at the price listed on the pump. $2.44 a gallon? There surely must be some type of mistake! Remember a couple of years ago when gas was $4 a gallon and many experts were predicting it to go even higher? Never in my wildest dreams did I see prices coming down this far! I was jumping for joy when gas was suddenly below 3 dollars a gallon! It now appears to be headed lower than 2. For people like me who live a large metropolitan area, the drop in prices is a huge boost to my finances. I am now paying about 50-60 dollars less per month on gas than I did about a year ago. This is an economic stimulus that will work unlike those government economic stimulus packages that just transfers money from one part of the economy to another. People all across the country will not have to shell out so much of their take home pay on gasoline and have more money to spend on things like Christmas presents. In addition, businesses will certainly reap the benefits of the lower gas prices. Many will see lower operating costs and this will definitely improve hiring.

The price of oil has dropped to some of the lowest levels in years. The fact that we have increased our production by nearly 50 percent since 2008 has played a key role in lessening the demand for oil and thus the lower prices. It is refreshing to see that we are using our resources and technology to become more energy independent. I just hope the politicians in Washington see how our vast amount of resources can be a gold mine of opportunities and good paying jobs for years to come. Let’s beware of those crazy, phony extremists who claim we are damaging the earth by using some of those new methods for extracting energy. Their claims are totally misguided and foolish. Our emphasis on energy independence is something that can help us prosper for years.

I want to give a shout out to those who are making this TRUE economic stimulus come alive. Your reasoning and planning is making life so much better for millions of Americans by putting more money into our pockets just in time for Christmas. This is one present that we can all enjoy.

Things I like and do not like about Christmas

In just a few days, people around the world will celebrate another edition of Christmas. It is my favorite holiday of the year without a doubt. In fact, I would be willing to guess that I fit in with a majority of people who just love this time of the year. It is indeed a very special time for many people. My list of things that I love about this holiday far outweigh any negatives. Yes, there are some negative things that I have about Christmas. So without any further delays, let me get started.

The Negatives:

1. Stress.  I find the few weeks leading up to Christmas to be the most stressful and busiest of the year. On top of your regular duties like work and other stuff, you have that extra shopping to do and figuring out what gifts to buy for people. There are many Christmas social events to go to, office parties and so on. Many people unfortunately are just too busy in their lives to enjoy this time of the year. I always try to take some time off around Christmas to relax and enjoy the season.

2. Corny Christmas songs.  Don’t get me wrong, I love good Christmas music but some of the worst songs ever are Christmas songs like that “Mommy kissed Santa Claus” or “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas”.  Those songs bring serious pain to my ears!

3. Dicey travel.  Winter weather and traveling are not always compatible. The most stressful part of the season can be traveling to and from your destination. Believe me, I have had my share of travel stories during the Christmas season.

4. Crowded shopping malls.  There is nothing worse than being trapped inside some crowded shopping mall when it is nearly impossible to get from point A to point B. Or when you have to wait in line forever in the checkout lines only to be given some fake greeting by an overstressed cashier.

5. Life’s downers are magnified.  Some people have lost loved ones shortly before Christmas and those losses tend to sting a little more. An example would be the Newtown shootings of last year. Or maybe a relationship ended and you are down in the dumps. Seeing everyone happy around you is difficult to take.

6. The end.  I think most people feel a little down when Christmas is over. The buildup for so many weeks, then it is all over. I know I feel a little down when I give my final hugs to my family and head back home.

The Positives:

1. The family gatherings.  My immediate family lives out-of-town so those gatherings are very special to me. It is also a joy to spend time with my nieces and nephews during Christmas and watch them open their presents. One of my favorite things is to watch my youngest nieces and nephews open their presents and watch the joy and happiness on their faces.

2. Great food.  If you’re trying to lose weight, this is not the time to do it. There are tons of goodies to choose from and great meals. A typical person gains about 5-10 lbs during December.

3. The church services.  It just does not seem or feel like Christmas unless you go to one of the many church services on Christmas eve and day. I am really touched by the music during those services. It is a great way to celebrate what Christmas is all about, the birth of Jesus Christ.

4. Old time Christmas music and movies.  I could listen to classic old-time Christmas music all day during this season. Another way  that I get into the mood for Christmas is to watch a good Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel. They always have a great selection of Christmas movies on during the Christmas season.

5. The presents.  As I have gotten older, I really do not care about getting presents. I would rather give to someone more needy than myself. But I really enjoy getting that unexpected extra amount of cash from Santa or my employer.

6. The family traditions.  Nearly every family has some sort of family tradition on Christmas. My family has always started off Christmas by going to the first Christmas eve service followed by a meal before opening our presents. We gather again on Christmas Day for another great meal and get together. Other families have a much more sophisticated approach to celebrating Christmas. If you have a new, young family, it is time to start some new traditions and start developing some memories that will last a lifetime.

Those are just some things that I would like to share. I wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas and may this be one of the best and most memorable Christmas’s ever for you and your family.


The silly war on Christmas

The other day, I was reading a story about a supposed ban on calling a Christmas tree, a Christmas tree. So what would you call it? Well of course a holiday tree! Apparently, a few people objected to using the word Christ in describing a particular tree. That is just one example of a growing and quite frankly, ridiculous attack on the season of Christmas. Other examples include banning the use of the phrase Merry Christmas. Employees of certain stores are told not to say Merry Christmas; instead they are supposed to say Happy Holidays. And last but not least, some people object to having a nativity scene on any public land or public school children singing Christmas carols.

Christmas is supposed to be a religious holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ. It is not just about Santa Claus. I know some people hate anything that has to do with Christianity and will try to undermine the true meaning of Christmas. If you are one of those people, that is fine. You are entitled to your own beliefs in this country. Nobody is going to force you to sign a Christmas carol with any mention of the word Jesus in it. Or look at a nativity scene in front of a government office building. The great thing about this country is that we are not forced to follow any type of religion or have any type of belief system. However, another great thing about this country is that we have freedom of religion. When you start taking away my right to express my religious beliefs, then I have a problem with that.

To be honest with you, I think these efforts to diminish the true meaning of Christmas are very insulting to Jesus Christ and Christians all over the world. Imagine if it was your birthday and someone wanted to buy you a cake at a local grocery store. You give instructions to the person working in the deli to include the words “Happy birthday, your name” on the cake. The deli calls back and informs you that they cannot put your name on the cake. It is against their policy. Imagine how you would feel? I would feel like dirt!! I just got severely disrespected on my birthday. Jesus must feel the same way when people try to take his name out of his birthday.

Fortunately, this problem does not seem to be a major one in this country. Those anti-Christmas people are definitely in the minority. The Christian faith is the dominate religion in this country; over 80 percent of people name Christianity as their religion of faith. Those who want to take the Christ out of Christmas will lose. The numbers and support are heavily against them. I still do not understand why people get so upset and want to raise such a stink over calling a tree, a Christmas tree. How is referring a tree as a Christmas tree harming anyone? Or putting up a nativity scene in some public area? If that offends you, then we are sorry but there are things that offend Christians as well like having a billboard advertisement for a strip club posted alongside a freeway so people of all ages can see.

I would encourage but not force someone who wants to take the Christ out of Christmas to maybe take a minute or two to really study who’s birthday it is on Christmas. I strongly believe this man is the greatest man to have ever lived. If you dead set in your views on Christianity, that is fine. You can really enjoy your Christmas as well. Nobody is going to force you to go to church. But stop trying to take away the religious freedoms of millions, okay? And Merry Christmas to you and your family.