no rainchecks

25 11 2006

Attention shoppers. You don’t have to be at Best Buy at 3 am in the morning. You don’t have to split up into groups and communicate via two-way radios and head to every possible shopping space in the city and buy every single sell item you saw in the paper yesterday. Those people you love and who love you will still love you despite what they get from you for Christmas. As a matter of fact, if they love you, they’ll love you whether you get them something or not.

Me and the Cindy did it. We pulled out of the drive at 5:45 am this morning to head off to try to complete all of the shopping we could. So I wanted an external hard drive to back up my files and Staples® had one on sale. I figured we’d run by there and pick it up on the way to the hell that is the mall. After all, it’s Staples. Wrong. Most. people. anywhere. ever. The damn place opened at 6 and when we got there at 6:15, there must have been at least 150 people there, toting around armfuls of stuff that you’d never buy. And it was Staples for pete’s sake. Staples!! Score – Retail stores: 1. Greg: 0

The trek became the stuff that legends are made of – Target, The Mall, Penney’s, The Gap, Sears, Belk, Kohls, Dick’s, Marshall’s, Michaels, Ace Hardware, Mens’ Wearhouse. Overall not a bad day as far as the haul was concerned, and not too much $$$ spent, considering it’s the money of a Non-Profit Zealot and a faculty member of the University system.

The bigger result of the trip for me was a bit disheartening. I’m not going to bitch & moan, because I was out there too. But it occurred to me that all of that – the line standing, the early arrivals, running through stores, buying two 32-inch lcd tvs because they’re on sale and we have credit cards, the snarls, the dirty looks, fighting for parking spaces – all of it – it couldn’t be farther from what Christmas is about and we’ve all bought into it. Somehow, we’ve managed to let it all get to us. Somehow, we think we need all of the stuff that is in that magical Black Friday (what a stupid name anyway) ad and we go for it. I found myself looking at prices on 52-inch plasma TVs and there isn’t even a chance in hell I could afford one. I watched people by two, three DVD burners and multiple dvd recorders and armloads of digital cameras. I was stunned by the lengths at which we’ll go to buy so much stuff. I guess the Cindy and I had been immune to it for so long. We’d been guarded from it because we’ve done resort work for nearly 10 years. Those days that have been traditionally the Uber-Christmas shopping days were also the busiest days of the year for us to work at the resort, so we saw it on the news and read about it, but we went on our merry way working and piecing our gifts together as we went. But today I saw the horror first hand for myself.

And I was guilty of it too. I was so mad when there was something we wanted and the stores were out. I found myself getting angry at the people around me for getting things that I wanted. When there was an item (like the stupid hard drive) that I couldn’t get, I couldn’t let it go, despite the fact that I knew there’d be another one on sale next week. It was a competition to me. I needed to get to it before “they did.” Unbelievable.

So on the way home, and we were done by 10:30 (which was cool) I called my Mom. I talked about our morning and she was a little under the weather and she talked about what My sister had bought my niece & nephew. It hit me that in less than a month, I’ll be sitting at home with my family at Christmas for the first time in almost 10 years. I’m excited I’ve got some great stuff for them as gifts, but I know it wouldn’t matter. Being there to wake up and have coffee with my mom, to watch the kids open gifts, to read the Christmas Story with them, to watch the Cindy and my mom cook together, then to soak up that moment, that memory – That’s what it’s all about. Hope you have a great rest of the weekend. Take a step back, look around, and donate something to a needy kid.


22 11 2006

So how long has it been since I even wrote, huh? It’s the day before the day where we give thanks by cooking and eating more food than we should in an entire week. This is my 2nd Thanksgiving post-hospitality industry era. I’m just now beginning to see how great getting to relax and enjoy this time of the year can be. Work has ben hectic, as usual, but things were fairly quiet today, and I left a little early. Cindy, my wife was sick, and had the day off. We’ll do Thanksgiving here with her family. I’m particularly looking forward to getting up in the morning, making coffee and watching the MTDP (Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade).

I suppose we all look back at what we should be thankful for. The biggest one is the 60 or so pounds I’ve lost this year. There are still people who come in to work and are shocked at my appearance now. Some have been scared to say anything, concerned I’m sick, some are impressed. Christmas will be the first time my family has seen me since last Thanksgiving, since before the weight loss.

I’m also pretty damn thankful for our way of life now. After nearly 10 years of this being the busiest time of year for us, we’ve succeeded in changing what is important to us and improving ourselves. Cindy has really enjoyed the dog training work she’s doing. She is so good at it, and despite the extra time it takes, comes home energized with great stories to tell. I’m getting ready to step back into the mentoring world. Co-workers have encouraged me to give mentoring a teen a shot, so I’m going to try it at the beginning of the year.

How great were the election results? I’m already hoping for a Clinton/Edwards or Edwards/Clinton democratic ticket in 08. The Republicans really don’t have a chance to win it, but the Democrats could lose it. I’ll talk about that more later.

Moby is amazing, really smart and still learning. He’s been a great running partner with me, going out for all 8 miles on weekends. He knows so many “tricks” and behaviors. He starts a recall class in January. Brandy is getting older, but still has spunk. And Spencer, he’s just Spencer.

So here’s to Thanksgiving. To the turkey, the dressing (cornbread, no bread crumbs), to the family and the NFL games (despite the Lions) and to the corny, cliched practice of being thankful and telling everyone. I’ll do it. And buy into it completely. But I’ll never admit it.