Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

08/12/2012

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Christmas Planning. (Part 2)

So last Wednesday the Irish Government hammered the living shit out of the Irish people with the sixth austerity budget in a row. And again it was the poor, the middle classes, but not the wealthy, who got their asses reamed with a cactus which had first been wound with barbed wire, then embedded with rusty razor blades. Thanks lads, we all really needed more to worry about right now…

Anyway around this time last year I wrote a short guide to having a somewhat thriftier Christmas. Well no sooner had I posted it than I started coming up with more ideas for having a happy, but affordable Christmas. Now I could have written them in a second guide last year, but let’s face it, I’m lazy, and that would have meant struggling to come up with ideas for this year. So with no further scrambling for excuses here is my second guide to enjoying Christmas without having to sell a kidney in the New Year.

Kriss Kringle: Let me start this by saying I HATE those two words. I loathe how they sound. When I speak them it’s like a pair of gnomes have climbed down my throat and are jabbing my vocal chords with ice-picks. But it is a great idea, and amongst a group of adults is a brilliant way for everyone to get a lovely gift, and save money. Seriously, if you have the option to do this, do it. You could reduce your list from say 6 gifts at 30 Euro a pop down to 1 at 50. For those who aren’t cheating by having a calculator in class (And why aren’t you cheating? Have you learned nothing over the past year of “Poor Girl” guides?) in that case you would have a saving of 130 Euro for each person in that group. Argue with the sense of that.

Boozing Up: The great thing about wine, and beer, and vodka, and delicious, delicious bourbon is that they don’t go off. (Or at least not quick enough to really matter.) This means there’s no reason, aside from self-control, that you can’t pick up those special offers on drinks over the course of the year. And in so doing save yourself a fortune on your Christmas shop. Also spreading the cost makes it far more bearable. Of course you could just not drink, but that’s madness, and crazy talk.

Sharing a Meal: I get the whole, “I have my own family now we should have dinner together, and visit ye later…” thing. Kids like to be in their own space, with their new toys. You like the idea of crawling back in to bed. You know all that jazz. But the thing is, if you all band together just for the meal, and share the costs, you can all end up saving big money, and still have a great time. Not to mention it’ll make Nanny happy. Of course you could do what I did one year, and spend the whole day alone in your apartment, watching telly, and eating reheated curry…fuck that was such a good day. Problem is it made everyone I love miserable thinking about me on my own. Anyway, ya share the costs people!

Re-use/Rebuild/Re-gift: People give out to me because I’m really careful not to tear the wrapping paper, because it could be reused. I’ve rebuilt PC’s using my MacGuyver like know-how, and my huge collection of spare parts are presents. Or given modified toys. I have even, it is true, given someone else, something which a well-meaning soul previously gave to me. They’re all valid ways to save money, and really, if you don’t use it then why shouldn’t someone else get some fun out of it?

Just frikkin’ make one!: Most of my friends have gotten pieces of chainmaile as gifts from me at some point. Usually at a point where I had zero money, but almost infinite time. I’ve also gotten beautiful gifts which were made just for me, my favourite of those being my hand drawn sketch of Pauley Perrette, the one that hangs over my bed, looking all sexy, and stuff. If you can’t afford to buy, make. I know the materials cost money, but usually for the price of one gift you can get the materials for several. And really most people will appreciate the effort more than the cost.

So that’s it, year two of my guides to a thrifty Christmas. Goddesses alone know what I’ll come up with for next years, ’cause I sure as hell don’t.

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24/12/2011

Getting through Christmas as a Pagan.

Like, I’m sure many Pagans, I find Christmas a very conflicting time of year. On one hand it means essentially nothing to me as a religious holiday, I personally hold with the idea that either all places, objects, acts, and days are sacred, or none are. On the other hand I live in Ireland, and so am surrounded by people for whom this is the most important time of year. (We won’t get into the Easter is more important discussion here. Aside from anything else, Pagan so I don’t really give a damn.) This leaves me in an unpleasant position where I can go one of two clear-cut ways, or pick a somewhat uncomfortable middle ground.

Route 1: Ignore Christmas totally, and just enjoy a few days of the year where there are decent movies on television. I did this one year, but it made everyone else in my life feel rotten, so I never repeated it.

Route 2: Fake it, acting as if it’s the most wonderful time of the…yeah I can’t even finish that sentence, and still respect myself.

Route 3: Acknowledge and honour its importance to those I care about, while hoping they return that by not shoving the religious side of things in my face.

Needless to say I tend to go with route 3. And so far it works pretty well. I use this time of year as a chance to buy/make people nice things, and not be given out to for doing so. I of course being a slightly mercenary individual welcome the chance to be given presents, and this year I can’t wait to get my hands on my new mandolin! But that’s really all it is to me. Just a day with gifts, and lots of food I can’t eat, though quite frankly in the case of bloody brussel sprouts the world is welcome to them.

But for all the welcome compromises this route contains it still leaves me feeling odd though. Not bad exactly, but I guess somewhat disconnected from things. At Christmas I always feel like I’m looking in on something that I don’t fully understand, through frosted glass. Involved as an observer, but not really a part of it all. And it makes me wonder how I should feel about all of this. Worse though it makes me wonder how it would feel to be a part of a similar event, but one that encompasses my beliefs (not bloody likely mind you, I’ve never met anyone who shares what I believe, not even amongst other Pagans.). To have a space of shared belief, or even shared ideological kinship.

The closest thing I have to this in my life is the BDSM world. But in truth, in no small part because of my views on BDSM, even there I feel like the outsider. The one looking in at the revellers within, invited but not welcome.

Maybe in the years to come this will change. Maybe someday I’ll find something like this to feel a part of, regardless of whether it’s a Pagan, BDSM, Vanilla, political thing. For a human being, a member of a species who live to build communities, belonging to something you can believe in is vitally important. Hopefully eventually something will change, and I’ll find or make an Amanda shaped hole somewhere in the world to slot into. But in the mean time I’ll just have to keep squashing myself into those spaces that do exist, even if they aren’t quite right, and dream of the celebratory space that is.

Happy what ever you believe in folks,
From square peg Amanda.

08/12/2011

My Top 5 Alternative Christmas Songs.

Now that we’ve truly begun the slide towards the international silly season, I felt it might by a good time to discuss Christmas music. You see too much of it is complete, and utter trash.  I don’t care if you’ve been dreaming of a white Christmas. We’ve had two (or is it three?) of those in a row now, and I never, ever want to see another one. I don’t give a damn if Rudolph pulls the blasted sleigh, or if he gets put down, and turned into Sunday lunch for the hungry elves. And don’t even get me started on dancing around a Christmas tree. I mean seriously who the hell has their tree far enough out from the wall that you can physically dance around it?

No when it comes to my Christmas music I find myself looking for a musical arrangement with a bit of an edge. Something that has a message to spread. And if it’s mean, nasty, speaks about mental breakdowns from being overworked, or if it even warns of the dangers of getting over the suicide of your goth girlfriend too quickly, well that’s just a bonus.

So here we have my top 5 alternative Christmas songs. Or as I think of them, UnChristmas songs. Enjoy.

5: Achmed the Dead Terrorist – Jingle Bombs.

He may be made of rubber. He may speak with a funny accent. He may even have an American guys hand up his ass. But Achmed really knows how to put the laughs into a Christmas song.

4: Corey Taylor – XM@$.

The first time I heard this song, by the lead singer of the excellent Avenged Sevenfold (Woooops, my bad, I got confused by names while writing this. In reality Corey Taylor is lead singer with the absolutely fantastic Slipknot and Stone Sour.), I genuinely found myself agreeing with 99% of the thoughts he expressed.  Because frankly I too know where you can shove those jingling bells.

3: Frank Kelly – Christmas Countdown.

Better known as Father Jack Hackett from the television show Father Ted, here Frank Kelly gives a well thought out warning of why too much generosity can be a truly awful thing.

2: Weird Al Yankovich – The Night Santa Went Crazy.

He’s over-worked, over-stressed, and now he’s massively over-armed.  Weird Al explains exactly why Santa’s workshop vanished without a trace several years ago.

1: Sohodolls – Dead by Christmas.

Look if your girl kills herself just before Christmas you better expect that she’s going to haunt you. So it’s just polite to not sleep with someone else in her bed, after feeding your new squeeze her good red wine. But if you do Maya Von Doll of the Sohodolls has a little warning for you of what to expect.

01/02/2011

Oh you have to eat them it’s traditional.

Ok to start with let me tell the world loudly and clearly that I hate brussel sprouts.  They are hateful little wannabe cabbages, that look like oversized snots and taste precisely the same as the wind they cause the appearance  of later.  At best they taste sour and unpleasant, at worst they can make me want to projectile vomit.  Which when you’re sitting opposite a beloved family member is anything but a good thing.

But you have to eat them because it’s traditional.  Because those hateful green coloured balls that make you wish you could lick your own crotch have some how become a part of our dining culture.

Why oh why do we do this to ourselves?  Year after year every last one of us sits down to a celebratory meal at some stage and eat something we either merely dislike or even loathe beyond words.  This it seems to me to be a manifestation of peer pressure in the home and in society as a whole.

Taking Christmas as a very good example we have so many foods which we tend to avoid at other times of the year.  Turkey which I feel is nothing more than a chicken on steroids but without the flavor.  Yet despite my dislike of it until only a few years ago I would eat it every year to make someone else happy.  Or Christmas pudding which admittedly I do like the taste of.  However what I do not like is the way that a few hours later it turns me into a human pebble-dashing machine.  But still for years I ate it and did my best to ignore the discomfort that always was the end result.

I know people who don’t like roast potatoes, or stuffing, or gravy or, or, or.  The list kind of goes on for a while but the thing is they’re all foods which are considered tradition and so you just have to have some.

All the trimmings and to the left of the turkey, SPROUTS!

Well I say what the hell is so wrong with a really nice homemade curry for a celebratory dinner?  Or an amazing lasagna?  Hey I know how about roast lamb chops with roast carrot and parsnips?

Just because it’s traditional is not enough of a reason to inflict hateful flavors and textures on ourselves.

Of course there is a flip side to all of this.  One day in the year we in Ireland indulge ourselves in one of the most delicious foods ever invented by mankind.  They’re cheap to make, they’re quick and simple to make.  They taste like angels tap dancing on the tongue and three good thick ones will fill you  up for hours.  We are of course talking here about pancakes.  They are nothing short of wonderful and yet I’m quite sure that most people eat them only once a year.

So good, so why the hell do we wait a whole year between doses?

This appears to me to be a reverse of the “you have to” tradition.  Where we instead of having to indulge at least once in the year are left feeling that we should only do so once a year.

Now how in the hell does that make sense?

So I here and now make an appeal to all right thinking people.  Throw off the shackles of traditional eating.  Those of us who hate sprouts lets turn to our loving family chef and say “Mam thanks but I’d rather not eat fart bombs”.

Those of us who hate turkey let us say loudly and proudly “Mam could we not have something that tastes like it’s actually rich flavorful meat this year?”

Let all those who love the yumness that are pancakes cry out to the world “I will not eat these divinely delicious savoury treats but once a year. No I say.  I will eat them many times a year and I will be happy that I did it.”

I say to you now my loyal readers and yes even to you reader who just passed through my blog by accident on the way to your favourite free porn site.  Let us all now throw off the chains of traditional eating and for once have a celebration where we enjoy every course, every mouthful and let us as one united people undo our top jean button with a relieved and happy sigh.

 

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