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The holiday Season is Upon Us!

Since we are kind of coming into a new season, and by new season in the sense that the holidays are coming up. We are past Halloween, Thanksgiving will be here in a day and then we have Christmas and New Years! So time and money and energy and everybody's stress levels are at a peak. So I just wanted to talk about gifts, buying junk, materialistic stuff, experiences and managing your time and energy.

So the first thing I want to say is, I was having a conversation with a gal last week and we talking about junk and how our society now is just so full of stuff. We just have too much stuff. I always find myself decluttering and it's just like "where the hell did this stuff come from?" How many of this item to do I have? I feel like I have 18 of everything and I have tons and tons of unnecessary stuff in my house. And I always have to remind my family when it comes to holidays, that I don't want gifts. And I mean that in the sense that gifts kind of trigger me, because I feel like that when I was younger my parents, my mom in particular wasn't around as much as she would have liked and so she always tried to buy my love. So it was like "oh here, I see you, next time I see you I'm going to give you this big basket of stuff. I always got baskets of stuff. And now I'm like triggered by baskets of stuff.

So now some people give me shit because my daughter doesn't have a whole lot of toys, but she doesn't need a lot of toys. When we play with her we read books, we color, we paint or we're outside actually doing things. We take her to the playground, we play with the dogs, sometimes we just go for a walk or have tickle fights. We don't have a ton of toys and THAT IS OKAY! You guys, you don't have to be constantly buying the latest and greatest stuff for yourself, or for your kids or anyone for that matter. I feel like we really get hung up on this immediate gratification and we always want to impress the Jones'. And we have to do this and this so that we have this sort of status with everybody else. We always want to have the most elaborate Christmases and most elaborate Thanksgiving dinners. And I just feel like the more shit be buy, the farther we get away from the true meaning of what these holidays are. And that is EXPERIENCES AND SPENDING TIME, actually real time. Not time on your fucking phone or in front of the TV watching football, or whatever else it is. And no offense to those people who do watch football, I mean I get that it can be a family thing. But I have almost no interest in just randomly scrolling or playing on electronics or watching TV.

I want to interact with people I want to have experiences. Because if you think about it; think about when you were younger, do you remember specific toys that you had? No! Chances are you didn't. Well maybe you did because you didn't have any toys, like for me, I played with sticks, and rocks, and like 18 million chickens. We just didn't have a lot of toys.

I do remember one gift in particular. I think I was in 4th grade and it wasn't even a toy you guys! I wanted this coat, this winter coat. Even just saying this is like how sad is that? I was a 4th grader and what I wanted for Christmas was warm winter coat. If that doesn't tell you something about my childhood, I don't know what will. But I always had hand-me-downs, always. I never had the newest and latest and greatest of anything. And maybe this is where this whole conversation stems from on experiences vs. like buying shit. I remember that we were at a store, actually it was the Burlington Coat factory in Minnesota. It was like the coolest place ever, everybody was getting their coats from this store. I had always shopped at like Goodwill and Walmart, or sometimes JC Pennys. That was just where we were at in our lives. We didn't even get to look at the real racks we had to go to the sale racks or the clearance racks and if it wasn't on sale, we couldn't buy it. I remember the year I saw this coat, it was a big blue puffy Ralph Lauren coat. It was royal blue, it was a big fluffy down coat, if you remember when those were in style. I actually think they are coming back around. I see fluffy down coats all the time. I was just in awe of this coat. I made the mistake of trying it on and I made the mistake of trying it on and I just fell in love with it. You guys, I'm like 10 years old, what 10 year old falls in love with a coat? I was kind of a weird kid, did I mention I played with dinosaurs instead of barbies? Just a side note.

Obviously I didn't get the coat that day, it was like $200 and back the 90's that was a shit ton of money for a coat. Hell, it still is a shit ton of money for a coat. I just knew I wasn't going to get it, so I put it back and I was really upset about it but I didn't say anything about it. Because I never showed emotion, I always kept everything bottled up, even at a young age. It was being vulnerable? Nope! What's that? You can't let anybody know that you have emotions, even at 10 years old! So fast forward, this is like the one Christmas present that I just remember so vividly and if you guys don't already know that's what I'm going to tell you,is that year for Christmas, I don't know quite how my mom made it happen. But she bought me that exact Ralph Lauren, big, blue puffy coat and I will never forget it! But it was the EXPERIENCE! That the coat gave me. I felt worthy, I felt like I could have new, nice, fancy things. And I never let that go. I attached myself more or less to the experience of having that coat, rather than the coat itself.

To give you more examples, just think of when you were a child, or any specific time in your life, your wedding day, your graduation day, or any of these big events. Your sweet 16, or apparently now they are doing period parties. Maybe you're one of those people who had a period party? I don't know. But you don't really remember the gifts, you remember the people who were there and the experiences you had. Same thing with your vacations or family trips. You remember the experiences more than you remember any of the materialistic junk. It's just junk. And chances are you don't even still have those toys. Obviously you don't still have the toys from when you were a child, and if you do, maybe you're a hoarder? or maybe you need to listen to one of my decluttering modules? or maybe I need to hook you up with the show hoarders and have your house gone through?

But what I"m trying to say is, don't get hung up on how much stuff you have to buy this year for the holidays. Whether it's Halloween and you think you have to buy this $200-$300 costume and buy bags and bags of candy. And it's wait a minute, no, why don't you make an experience out of it and have a fun creative night and make your costumes? So me and my husband aren't super creative, but we don't like to buy, well I used to be somebody who would buy a ton of unnecessary shit, but recently or in the last few years I have shifted my mindset on buying junk. So I don't really do the Halloween costumes anymore so this year, because my husband is a manly man, and is growing out his beard. And oh my, you guys! These men and their beards, I tell you what. It's worse than women and their makeup! He oils it, and combs it, and has special shampoo and conditioner and it is so funny watching him pamper this stupid beard. But whatever, if it makes him happy, I'm all for it. So he had this idea-This year, could be we be lumberjacks for Halloween?!?! I'll be Lumber Jacks and you and Oaklyn can be Lumber Jills! So I said sure, that sounds like fun! So our entire Halloween costume is not going to cost a lot and it's not because we don't have the money, it's because we want to make an experience out of it. He's working really hard on this beard, so why not have our whole Halloween theme be around this freaking beard? It's so funny to even say it!

So we had to go shopping for stuff for Oaklyn, we had to get her jeans, little boats, and a red flannel. We're all wearing black stocking hats and work boots. Just ya know, some plastic hatches or saws, who knows what. But it's not going to cost a whole lot. I think the total investment was $50-60. Whereas like now kids costumes start at $50-60, unless you get lucky and get one for like $20. So what I'm saying is there's an experience created around this Halloween for us. We aren't getting hung up on oh we have to have the best Halloween costume, no it's what works for us and our family. We're going to go trick or treating and have fun tons of fun.

Same thing goes for Thanksgiving, I think it's so funny because I used to get so worked up for the holidays and being around family! Trying to make sure that I impressed everybody and everybody was happy and I had all the food to accommodate everybody, and blah, blah, blah. And I'm not kidding I would go buy a brand new freaking outfit just to wear on Thanksgiving and for what? So I could cook in it? So I could shove my face full of every freaking piece of food I could find to where I can't even fit in to what I'm wearing? So the last few years, I was like ya know what? Fuck it, I'm gonna wear yoga pants and a cute top and I'm not gonna dressed to the nine's because who am I gonna impress in my own living room? Nobody! I'm here to spend time with family, I'm here to be present, and that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to remember the experience. Not how I looked or how dishes I got. I think we just get so in our own heads about how we have to impress people.

The last time I hosted Thanksgiving, I don't think I even made a turkey because I don't even freaking like turkey! I don't like turkey! If you want Thanksgiving at my house, there wont' be a turkey! How do you have Thanksgiving without turkey? Easy, just don't cook a turkey! We still get together and give thanks, that's the whole purpose, right? The other thing is, I hate dishes! You know what I did instead of using of busting out the super nice fancy dishes? I donate my dishes to Goodwill and bought freaking paper plates! Easy clean up, spend more time with family! Sounds simple, right? Do you think anyone remembers what the dinnerware looked like? No, do you know what they do remember? That the food tasted good and we had a fun time. That's all they're going to remember.

So just think of that when you are shopping for Halloween costumes, shopping for Thanksgiving food, and the day after Thanksgiving, don't even get me started on that! I enjoy the rush of a sale and going out and it's almost like an event- stay up all night! Find all the sales! The last couple years, my husband and I have gone out and we buy things for the house, we don't even buy Christmas presents! I feel like there isn't a whole lot of purpose or thought behind those day after Thanksgiving presents. It's just buy shit that's on sale and figure out who it goes to later! Really, you didn't put any thought into that gift and therefore it's just junk and has absolutely zero meaning.

So when my husband and I do day after Thanksgiving shopping, we buy shit for ourselves and for the family. So we've gotten flooring, vacuums, TV's, washer and dryer and all of these things that during the year are normal price and day after Thanksgiving, they are super discounted. So that's what we use the day after Thanksgiving for. Every now and then we will buy something on sale if we were already thinking about getting it for somebody. But by no means do we do all of our Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving. I think it's just a total cluster fuck and a waste of money if you are just mindlessly spending money on things just because they are on sale, what is the purpose?

So that brings me to my next thing. Christmas. I could talk for hours on experiences vs. junk. So just keep in mind when you're out there doing your Christmas shopping; I know there's some of you crazies out there who already have your shopping done, me on the other hand, I don't typically start until after Thanksgiving gets here. But I wanted to get a leg up here on all of you that get your shopping done early. Just remember when you are doing your shopping, what it is you are buying and why you are buying it. If you can exchange that thing, toy, item for an experience. Whether that's tickets to a theater, or waterpark or gift certificate towards a vacation, or buy somebody a weekend getaway, whatever it is. Think of experiences and what experiences you can provide for that person. Or maybe you go look at Christmas lights and start a new holiday tradition. My family used to buy gifts for everybody. Everybody had to buy a gift for everybody! and you know how many gifts that is? A whole shit ton! It's a whole lot and I don't like it and it's a lot of money. And half the time, the stuff you get, you don't even like! Does this person even know me? And the answer is no, because they come around 1 time a year, and that time is Christmas. So they're just guessing. So they probably just googled, "what does a 30 year old woman want for Christmas?" And then boom it comes up with something that is totally not me because I'm not your typical 30 year-old-woman, I'm not very materialistic, I don't want all that shit.

So what we do now is play this dice game. Maybe some of you have heard of this, feel free to steal it if you haven't. We have a total split family, my parents are split and my husband's parents are split and then both of their parents are split so we just have family up the ying yang. So for most of the family gatherings we do this dice game. So you have 2 dice and everybody buys a handful of gifts, and the limit is $20 per gift. Sometimes people will go in on a bigger gift and double up to spend $50. You buy a male and female gift and everybody buys gifts for the kids. So it cuts down your gifts to less than half of what we used to have to buy. So after dinner or Christmas Eve night, I typically do a pajama box with hot cocoa or booze, whatever is appropriate for that person and that will be the one gift for anyone staying with me. And then we do the dice game.

The dice game consists of everybody putting their wrapped presents in a pile, and we all sit around in a big circle, the fireplace is going, Mariah Carey and Elvis in the background, singing their Christmas music, because who doesn't listen to their music on holidays? If you don't then we can't be friends.

So we set a timer and depending on how many people are participating, it's usually 5 or 10 minutes. We pass a frisbee around with 2 dice in it and if you roll doubles you get a present and we keep doing until all the presents are gone. Then we countdown and open all at the same time. Because there is nothing more BORING and time consuming than taking turns watching each person open presents one by one and taking picture after picture, come on! Maybe it works for you, but it doesn't work for me. I do not have the patience to watch people turtle unwrap their gift and then we all oooh and aww at their gift. Anyway.. so we all unwrap at the same time and then bundle up our wrapping paper and have a wrapping paper fight and it's pretty hilarious. Try not to get any in the fireplace and burn the house down. It's a ton of fun, it's an experience! It's cheap-o wrapping paper but it is so much fun. In the end, nobody even gives a shit about the gifts because it's the dice game that's fun and the wrapping paper that's fun. I can't even tell you what I won in that game last year. I think I ended up keeping (because we do gag gifts too) a plunger, a 12 pack of toilet paper, a pair of pliers, a flashlight, it's all just fun stuff. I think we even put in a box of tampons one year. It's the game and the paper that's the fun part.

Now we re-do the dice game, this time you can steal a gift! And that's when it really gets fun! I am super competitive so I'm always "I want to steal the gifts!" It's so funny because it's just going back to the experiences. I don't even remember what gifts I stole, I just remember how competitive I am- I don't care what gifts they are, give me all the gifts! Im gonna win this freaking game! My husband and I are both super competitive so we team up and strategize- you go after that gift, I"ll go after this one! It's so funny!

You set a timer this time, and for every time you roll a double this round, you get to steal a gift. And all the gifts are up for grabs this round. It does doesn't matter who's it is, if you want it, it's yours. It's so much fun and I just remember that so much more than any of the stuff. So I just want to say to you, your kids, your family, everybody around you, remembers the experiences, they remember how you made them FEEL. They don't necessarily remember the stuff, I mean sometimes like I said, you might have a big blue puffy coat walk into your life and you'll never forget it. But that's rare. Do you know how many hundreds of gifts I've gotten over the years and I remember about a handful of them, and that is the one that sticks out to me. None of the rest of them, I mean I"d really have to sit here and really think hard about what gifts did I get when, what did they mean to me and who gave them to me? I remember that one

gift in particular, but other than that I remember the experiences, the family. So I just want you to focus on the experiences, the feelings, that you will have this holiday season- all the way from Halloween to New Years. Focus less on impressing the Jones' and all of the family members that you only see once a year because they are going to judge you, and to that I say, fuck that! Focus on you and what makes you and your family happy. What makes you happy! Because ultimately you have to live with you, nobody else, so setting those boundaries before the holidays even happen. Hey guys, this is how Thanksgiving is going to go at my house, feel free to come, if you don't like it, don't come. And leave it at that. Maybe not say it so dickhead like me, that's just kind of how I roll. Actually I say it in a loving way, I don't normally say it like that. These are the guidelines, this is what's happening at my house, if you don't like it, then don't come. Sorry. Have your own Thanksgiving, have your own Christmas. Host it yourself and then you can have it your way. Set those boundaries and expectations before the day even comes. That way people know what they're walking in to- and repeat yourself often! Remember what's happening at Christmas, over and over! So then when the day comes, you can find the peace and the calm and the time to actually enjoy your day and not have this super stressful day where you want to run and hide and cry in a closet like I did, kind of holiday.