Vacations and To-Do Lists

It is official.  I am on Winter Break (also known as Christmas Vacation cue National Lampoons Christmas Vacation Intro).

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In one sense I am glad to be here.  It is hard to believe that the fall semester is over for University and that this group of kindergarten students is almost halfway through their school year.  So in another sense I want to scream “I can’t already at this point in the school year! There is too much I feel I haven’t done yet!” (a post for a different time) Back to vacation…There are so many things I feel I need to complete over vacation and I am feeling a little mixed about that.  On one hand I want to spend time with my family (who I haven’t seen since this summer) and on the other I have a list of books to read for this coming semester and a few dissertation things I want to complete.  I have a few other things I would like to get done before heading back to school on the 3rd too, along with relaxing.  So here is my thought/question.  Why do people make vacation to-do lists?  Why do I feel the need to get a long list of things done while on vacation?  Here’s the other interesting bit–I know I won’t get everything on my list done and yet each vacation I make a list in my head and continue to add to it throughout the vacation!  I guess with everything (regular time and vacation time) it comes down to balance.  For those of you on a vacation (either just a few days or those with a few weeks worth) I hope you are able to find balance in enjoying this time off while also completing items on your vacation to-do list!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year–really?

Yesterday Steve and I finally got around to going Christmas shopping.  This year we have decided that we would downgrade the gifts we usually give each other because we know we have a few big purchases to make in the coming months (plus IUP wants its Christmas gift early).  So on our 1 hour trip to shopping we talked about what might be good ideas for gifts, where we would look, which family member gets the kitschy gifts…and the conversation took a change.  Both of us commented that we really aren’t in the Christmas Spirit yet.  Our house isn’t decorated, we’re just starting our shopping, haven’t done any holiday baking or cooking and we were both wondering why.  Why is it that this year we really could care less if we decorate the house?

Thinking about that question I reflected on what the media is telling us to be doing this time of year.  If you haven’t watched the clip of Andy Williams singing, take a minute and do so. I’ll wait…

Okay, you’re back.  Did any lines stick out to you?  What about “Everyone telling you be of good cheer”?  And then he starts to list all of the things we’re to be doing during this season of good cheer.  Hosting parties, roasting marshmallows, caroling (the ghost story bit I’m not sure about unless he’s talking about A Christmas Carol) I’m to be doing all of THAT in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas?

What a minute, that might just be the problem.  We no longer just get ready for Christmas from when Thanksgiving ends until Dec 24, we actually start much earlier.  In fact, the town we live in had its Holiday Tree Lighting and Christmas Parade on November 18.

Think back to this summer.  Do you remember any ads for layaway from any mega stores?  Say like KMart?  I can’t find the video but I’m pretty sure they started airing Christmas layaway adds around Halloween time.  While trying to find the KMart ad or Sears ad, I did come across some older Christmas time ads from McDonalds and Coke.  These are the ads I remember seeing when I was growing up and now watching them they almost make me tear-up.  They are just so touching.  Yes, they are still trying to sell their product but they aren’t stuffing it down our throats.  Coke isn’t telling us we won’t have a good Christmas if we aren’t have a bottle of their product on our dining room table and McDonalds message seems to be one of spending time with others and helping others out is more important than showing the food they sell.  Some of the commercials for this year include the lady for Target working out to get ready for the big sale, Walmart and their price guarantee, and then there are the stores that actually opened the night of Thanksgiving so people could start their Black Friday shopping on Thursday.

The media and stores are telling us that we need to start spending early and spend more, have your house decorated in such a way (with their products) to impress your friends and neighbors or we won’t have a happy holiday.  One store even has like a to-do list for a commercial.  It’s not wonder Steve and I don’t feel like doing much.  It’s just WAY TOO MUCH TO LIVE UP TO! So what am I trying to say.  People,it’s not about the stuff.  It’s not about being with people.  It’s not about having lights on your house, a multimedia Christmas display, and a tree in your window.  What it really is all about is something that gets lost in our society.  I started this post with a song and now I will end it with one.  Enjoy and Merry Christmas (a little early)