Christmas Cheer

DAY ONE 2012

Mike was at home, and I only went one place during the day, so at first we didn’t have much opportunity to do the Dec. 1 suggestions. On the plus side, while I was out, I did not steal anything from the store I went in despite ample opportunity to do so.
In the evening, Mike & I pulled out coats to donate to the Share the Warmth campaign, and made a list of places they can be dropped off.

Jack,who blesses anything laid down by also laying down.
Jack,who blesses anything laid down by also laying down.

Then we took our toys to the Cops,Kids & Toys benefit at our local pub. Even though it is not the Common Ground anymore, we picked this toy benefit site in honor of my mother,Jinx. We donated a newly purchased pretend carpenter tool set, and a previously owned but still in the package set of collectable (barely) action figures.
There weren’t many people at Oasis, but we dropped off our gifts and decided to raise a toast to my mom. Clay, who was there in Jinx’ day, was still behind the bar. A cute little waitress brought us a menu, and even though we had ordered take out somewhere else, we looked at it. It is a pretty good selection, and Oasis being the closest thing we have to a local business, we resolved to eat there on the way home from work someday. Meantime we ordered a crab cake appetizer to go, because the the waitress could have been our daughter/niece-there were only about six people, none eating, and she still had the Perk turned on full.We tipped generously all round and left.
To top it off, on our way home from take out we stopped to cash in a winning scratch off ticket. I thought $3-4 bucks, but it was ten! I bought $5 more in tickets, and am holding the other $5 for Christmas needs as yet undiscovered. And Mike held the door open for somebody. Success!

DAY TWO 2012

Today I am writing a card to my mailman,Jon, and putting the $5 we won in it. We have the best mail service ever. If you send something to the PO Box we use for business, they just deliver it to our mailbox so we don’t have to drive down there. When Mike was feeling under-employed, he almost applied for a job-wouldn’t he have been a great mailman?. We never go in without hearing or spreading some local gossip with our postmistress Robin and whatever customer comes in. Now they are closing the small post offices, and Robin and the other post persons get moved around to the different small towns around here. Lately our postmaster has been Cam from Modern Family.


No instructions from The Angels, so I took a line from Day 2 and collected some cans of food to donate. The trick is not just giving away things like adobe peppers in chili sauce…

Unfortunately, I haven’t found any collection sites on the internet yet, so I tweeted an inquiry. Ha ha.


Seeing Day 3 instructions on Day 4, I feel I got a pass…Today it was in the upper 60’s, and I spent all of it weeding and mulching my own garden! No good deeds were done, except to plants, and even then only the ones I like.

Mike has been taking care of our elderly cat, and drove into town to get his medication, so I think some good karma was generated anyway.


Yesterday Em and I worked together, so I bought her dinner and we had a good chat. Not sure who was being most charitable to who! Meantime Mike was at home, paying a whole lot of attention to our wobbly old kitty.

Day today: We are pretty religious recyclers and composters, so for Day 6 we are going to tip the garbage guys. They never spill our garbage, and if we forget to put a tag on a can, they take it anyway. Mike held the door for a woman at Lowes, and she said, “Thank you! Chivalry is not dead!”


Today it seemed like my every small attempt to give was stymied-until I realized it was ME that was being gifted! I had the door held open for me twice, and when there was no one at the return to give my bottle refund to, I saw that there was a refund slip left in the machine! At that point I gave in and was on the receiving end. And when I got home, I won a $1 scratch off and received a warm hug from Mike (credit to him on that!).

I resolved to be grateful, and touched, and more forgiving to those around me, in return. And so I was, for one day at least.


Mike cleaned out the end hall today, and he found an actual unopened “Mad Libs” game. A toy to donate!

As for the Day 8 suggestions, I came up with an even better version of the shopping online one. The Alternatives Gift Fair is still going on, so I had fun donating a little bit to multiple cool local causes as took my fancy.

Here’s who got a few bucks from me:
Cancer Resource Center (natch!)
Friends of the Library (I love libraries!)
Community Science Institute (we can all be citizen scientists-plus this was my anti-fracking plug)
Habitat for Humanity (I did a little volunteering with them, but not recently enough for Xmas Karma)
SewGreen (I think this is an awesome skill everyone should have, and I wish I did!)
SPCA (per Jacks request)


Okay, we definitely did #1, and maybe more than once…
I feel we have maxed out the toy thing, so we will do #3 and donate to a charity.
As we are big fans of the Dalai Lama, and like to use his words to inappropriately bludgeon each other with during arguments (see #1), one of our favorite charities is International Campaign for Tibet.
Here I go!

DAY TEN 2012

Ithaca yard 20121209

Today Mike & I donated to pet shelters at two of the places we went. At the train yard (don’t ask), we met an older fella who was also there to look at trains, and stopped to have a long chat. You are not supposed to go in train yards or take pictures-national security,you know-but you can’t stop rail buffs that easily. We told him to check out Owego, and discussed how the electric plant is opening and they will soon be hauling coal. Mike also had a very nice chat with the Eagle envelope delivery guy.

During our massive house rearranging, I pulled out some foam camping pads we no longer need, due to Mike thinking we don’t have children at home to camp with us anymore. In spite of the obvious absurdity of this, we began to look for a place to donate them. Pet bedding seemed like a good bet, and I even found a local blogger making beds for feral cats and contacted her. This being an iffy possibility, I was so happy when my mom’s old friend Judy called up. After a fine chat about Jinx and the old days, she agreed to take the pads for the kennel she owns.


Mike picked up trash, and had a jolly conversation with a telephone company employee. I went to town to say Happy Birthday and bring a present to a friend even though I am a chicken about driving after dark. At home, Mike sent her an ecard. Driving was fine, but more importantly, I got a chance to do an interesting thing. The get together was at a local bar, and also present was an acquaintance who it turned out was also having a birthday. He’s a very politically engaged person, so thinking quickly I pulled out my Buy Local Challenge card (another good deed item BTW) which already had to stamps on it and gave it to him. When it’s all stamped, he’ll have a chance in a raffle. Then we spotted the democratic loser of our congressional race, Nate Shinigawa, whom the birthday boy really wanted to discuss politics with, but was too shy. Not a problem! I dragged him over there, and took the opportunity to tell Nate how excited we had been about his candidacy, and that I hoped he would run again. Then I left them to chat, two good deeds with one stone.Finally, I offered to babysit someones new baby if they ever needed it, but again, hard to say who would be helping who…


I bought tickets from Jyl for a Suicide Prevention raffle, twice as many as I usually would. Otherwise, I’d have to say today was pretty slow…


Today I donated some stuff to Significant Elements (Historic Ithaca). I also asked the Historic Ithacawoman there a lot of questions and got entered in a raffle, so it wasn’t a great sacrifice.
Later I talked a long time to the guy from Greenpeace who was signing up members. I didn’t sign up-not comfortable handing out credit card information on the Commons-but he did mention something I hadn’t thought about. For organizations that are trying to make a political point,like Greenpeace, being a member is better than just donating, even if it comes to the same amount. “Number of members” is what gives them clout. The same must be true for organizations that look for funding from grants & such. I will be taking this into account as I consider my charitable donations this year.
I also made a point to write Christmas cards, really write in them, to people I have been out of touch with.


Along the lines of use & reuse, I exchange one batch of used books for for another. I donated when I checked out at Petsmart. And I sent a Christmas card to someone I barely know who helped me out once.


My winter CSA share is a bit too much for me and Mike. Today I made arrangements to drop off soem of those veggies each week to a a single friend, for whom any size share is too big. (Check out this NRDC report on food waste in the U.S.)


I got a couple of coupons for free things today, and I either passed the coupon on, or got the free item and gave it away.




Today I picked up trash along the side of the road. I confess to not picking up the cigarette butts-that’s a whole ‘nother days work!




Today Mike and I sent a card to thank the vet who helped Jack, and included a photo.


This is just a story, topically appropriate in a disturbing way…

The bartender was tiny, dark,tattooed Goth, animated and chatty. Just my friend & I, there to toast the solstice, and a couple of guys at the bar. The door opened and a little boy and girl, maybe eight and six, came in, followed by a large blond woman. They had on Santa hats, and carried baskets bedecked with ribbons and full of small, decorated objects. Just inside the door, the woman called out ” Does any body want to buy…” Girl scout cookies? Candy bars for a charity? “…chocolate covered pretzels so my kids can buy presents for each other?” The patrons frozen for a moment, then we all leaned forward, compelled.
“No!”, said the bartender sharply, and the woman began a swift retreat with the girl, the boy following reluctantly. But one of the men said, “I’ll buy one”, and the little boy cried “Wait! Ma!’ .A pretzel was sold, but on the way out. There was no chance to meet a childs eye.

Afterwards, the bartender told her story.

“I saw her picking up butts outside earlier, her kids tagging along, and it just sets me off. When I was a kid, Winter solsticemy dad, who was a junkie, used to take me around to stores and set out jars with my picture on them, asking for donations for his sick kid .  I’ve only recently talked with my mom about this-she was really young when she had me, and I was young when I had my son. My dad had lots of scams, and me & mom never saw any of that money. I can’t even bear to see my son with my ex when’s he’s out busking.”


I was so pleased to find a place to donate games-Friends of the Library. We have a huge book sale here in Ithaca a couple of times a year. People come from all over to go to it.
I also went around in a one car open Subaru dropping off gifts, mostly hung from doorknobs, which is extra fun. Finally, I bought stuff with a gift certificate Mike & I got for Jade & Nolan-bagels and jelly bellies.


When faced with a huge, stubborn, opinionated family like mine that’s spread all over the country, deciding what happens for the holidays can be a month long negotiation. My mother has four siblings, two of whom live in different states in opposite directions. With my brother in Canada, one cousin in NY, another with his wife in Wisconsin, another in Minnesota, and me in another city in NY, pretty much whatever happens, a large majority of us end up traveling.

To make the decision a little easier my mother and her siblings have been rotating planning Christmas. Sometimes it means getting everyone to go to that sibling’s house, like 2 years ago when we invaded NC. Other times it means everyone travels, like a few years ago when we booked half a beach hotel in Florida to visit my step dad’s family.

This year it was my mom’s turn and…

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