Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘holidays

Holidays, Schmolidays: A Rant

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I read an article online about a young woman who planned a “Friendsgiving” dinner (Thanksgiving dinner, with friends), but no one showed up. Her boyfriend, thankfully, asked a lot of his friends to show up instead, and the food and drink she’d so carefully amassed and cooked was consumed.

This article was frustrating to read, in more than one way.

First off, if you have friends, treat them like gold.

In other words, do not stand them up. Do not forget to call if you’re going to be late (or can’t come at all). Do not do what happened to this poor young woman, as it’s beyond rude.

Second off, if you have even a smidgen of empathy, you need to realize that how you treat others shows how you, yourself, should be treated.

So, if you can’t be bothered to let a friend know that you aren’t able to be with them…or if a long-distance phone call is planned, and you aren’t able to make it…or if there’s some other reason that keeps you away from their presence after they’ve made so many plans, there’s something the matter with you.

And I say that knowing full well I, myself, have had to beg off plans at the last minute due to health concerns. (In fact, I wasn’t able to be at my father’s birthday celebration yesterday because I had a migraine. This cost me a chance to see my sister and niece, too.)

I was ill, so I texted my sister and made my apologies. That was all I could do. (My father doesn’t text, and doesn’t understand it. I knew my sister would tell him, and she did. I’ll try to make it up to him later, if I can.)

So, if I can do it through a migraine, what is everyone else’s excuse?

This poor woman was expecting at least ten friends to show up (by how many place settings she had sitting out), and none showed. Not one person had the decency to call or text her, either.

That’s just plain wrong.

The only good excuse for not being able to let someone know what happened to you if time was planned (online and/or off) to be with you is a quick trip to the hospital, unconscious. (I might reluctantly accept a work emergency, too, depending. Might.)

Third off, why must people be so obnoxious?

Life is really hard right now. We have the pandemic, which goes on and on and on. We have the holidays, which are tough, especially for people grieving a new loss (or even an older one where the loss was huge and heartfelt).

(In fact, I wrote a blog post called “Please Remember Those Who Grieve During the Holidays” years ago, because I felt it needed to be said. But as always, I digress…)

And people who’ve lost loved ones who mattered deeply and desperately to them deserve to know that other people care. That other people are thinking about them. That other people do understand their losses, at least insofar as they have themselves gone through various losses.

So, if you have good friends, cherish them. Do not take them for granted. Do not stand them up on Friendsgiving. Do not treat them like they don’t exist, or don’t matter.

Pay attention. Stay in their lives. And think beyond your own concerns about others, because that’s truly what life is all about.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 27, 2021 at 2:57 am

Continuing On, Independence Day Weekend Edition…

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Folks, we’re about to hit July 4th — Independence Day — in the United States. That’s a major holiday, where we normally have fireworks, music, and parades.

Not this year, though.

This year, due to Covid-19, Independence Day is going to look a whole lot different. There will be no local concerts (and very few, if any, live concerts in the United States). There will be no parades. And in most of Wisconsin, there will be no fireworks.

In fact, we’re going to have a repeat of last year’s fireworks on local TV. And, perhaps, some repeats of concerts as well. (No word on if anyone’s going to show a repeat of the various parades, though it wouldn’t surprise me.)

It doesn’t feel much like a holiday, to my mind, because we are lacking all of those things. Plus, there have been so many deaths due to Covid-19 in the United States that it’s hard to be festive anyway.

But we must continue on, and do whatever we can. Live our lives, help others, read books, listen to music, continue to do whatever we can to further our pursuits (in my case, music and writing), and refuse to surrender to the despair and anxiety that seems to pervade the United States right now.

We’re also dealing with a heat wave in Wisconsin that isn’t helping. (It’s humid, hot, and nasty, with poor air quality. Definitely not my cup of tea, and I don’t think it’s something most people would want to deal with if there were any other options.)

Because of all of that, I wanted to make sure I reminded everyone to do the following five things:

  1. Be kind
  2. Stay hydrated
  3. Eat when it’s a bit cooler, so it has more likelihood of staying down
  4. Work smarter, not harder
  5. Give yourself a break now and again, the way you (hopefully) do for others in similar situations.

If you can do those five things, you’re going to be better off in the long run as well as the short run. And it may remind you that this, too, can be overcome. (But it will take time, and most of us — myself included — are not patient.)

What’s your plan for Independence Day? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 2, 2020 at 2:35 pm

Holidays Are Hard, AKA Christmas Ramblings

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So, the holidays are coming. And they’re tough to take.

You see all the folks rushing here, rushing there (sometimes literally; today I saw a horrific car accident on the Interstate, and was very spooked by it), and you wonder what all that rushing is all about.

Then, there are the Christmas movies. The Christmas music, everywhere you go. (Even at the casino/hotel last night, where I was enjoying a rare night of R&R, I heard all Xmas music, all the time. I actually would’ve rather heard the 149th rendition of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” which is not exactly my favorite song in the world, than that…because at least Britney is being honest.) The Christmas sales. The Pajamagrams. The Vermont Teddy Bears. And all the other ads you see, most especially for jewelry…

Everything is about conspicuous consumption. (Gag.)

Or about the assumption that every family is perfect (news flash: they aren’t), and that Christmas can make miracles happen out of even the most dysfunctional situation (and dysfunctional people). And while I want to believe that’s true (I know miracles can and do happen, for example), I don’t think it’s as easy as the movies make it out to be.

Look. Call me a curmudgeon. (Please.) But as I’ve said before, holidays are not about presents. They’re about presence.

As in, showing up, paying attention, making memories. Those are the only things that matter. Not how much you spend.

So, this may be an obvious take, but holidays are hard. We’re confronted with all we’re not, and we’re told we must aspire to be things other than what we are.

When you see stuff like that, or hear stuff like that, or think things like that, step back and take a breath. Then, realize that all you can do is take it moment by moment, give yourself permission to have human feelings (and human failings), and keep trying to do whatever good you can, wherever you can.

That’s what I’m going to try to do this year.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 8, 2018 at 12:53 am

One Curmudgeon’s Opinion (a Halloween PSA)

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It’s Saturday, October 31, 2015…All Hallow’s Eve, or as we Americanos call it, Halloween (with or without the apostrophe between the two “e’s,” my recalcitrant Editor Voice insists I point out). We in the United States tend to think of Halloween as an excuse for dressing up, revelry, eating a lot of candy, and (if you’re over 21) drinking a whole lot.

In other words, it’s all but a bacchanalia for adults. (Kids, mind you, are engaging in much more sedate enjoyment — they dress up, their parents make much of them, they get immortalized in pictures that will embarrass them for the rest of their lives, and then they take their candy-booty home.)

Was Halloween always like this? No, it was not.

“But, Barb,” I can hear you saying. “In my lifetime, it’s always been this way!”

Ah, but before your lifetime, things were different. And centuries ago in the Western World, Halloween was much different.

Why? Well, holidays, like words, elide over time. So a holy time, where spirits once were said to walk — good ones, mostly, but beware of the bad ones! — is subsumed into revelry and near-bacchanalia.

This annoys me, mostly because I figure if you’re going to have a bacchanalia, you should admit it to yourself and be done with it.

But the commercialization of Halloween annoys me even worse.

Look. I like candy. I even like to dress up — though for me, dressing up mostly means I wear concert black attire when playing my instruments — and have been known to throw a good party, complete with liquid refreshment and plenty of vittles.

But I don’t like it that every advertisement you see, starting in midsummer, is for candy. You have to stock up for Halloween, you see, or it’s bad for the kidlets. Because heaven forfend, we cannot possibly allow those kids to go out and not get candy on the one day of the year they’re allowed to ask for it from strangers…that would be inhuman!

In other words (in case you missed the sarcasm), I have a problem with every advertiser on the planet trying to make me out to be a bad person if I don’t buy a humongous stockpile of candy to give out to the kidlets on Halloween.

Anyway, I tend to observe Halloween in the older form — I think about my deceased loved ones, wonder if they can indeed break the walls between the worlds, and hope they’re doing well (as I believe the soul is eternal, they must be alive somewhere in the cosmos).

But if you observe Halloween in the newer form, please do me a favor: Don’t drink and drive.

In fact, do me two favors: Don’t text and drive, either. (Especially don’t drive drunk and try to text; that is a recipe for disaster if I’ve ever heard one.)

In other words — enjoy yourself, but be safe. And watch out for the kidlets during trick-or-treat time.

(This concludes today’s Halloween public service announcement.)


As for a CHANGING FACES update: I am about three-quarters of the way done with my work. I will continue to work on it, and hope to have it in to my publisher in another week or two. (I feel like I’m wrestling alligators — big ones — but maybe the longer I go, the better I’ll become at alligator wrestling. Such is my hope, anyway…)

Oh, and as for book reviews? I’m hoping to review a couple of books next week. I may actually review them first here at my own blog, and later review over at SBR…we’ll see. (Books in the queue include N.N. Light’s PRINCESS OF THE LIGHT and PLANTING THE SEEDS OF LOVE and Rysa Walker’s TIME’S DIVIDE and TIME’S MIRROR, plus several books by E. Ayers.)