Why I Fail Christmas Every Year

Those who know me well know that of all the holidays and joyous occasions to celebrate, my least favorite is Christmas. I know this makes me a Grinch, but once I see that first display of Christmas decorations (in October none the less), I’m not filled with joy or the holiday spirit, I’m immediately struck with panic and the sad realization that it’s coming.
Now that the holidays have come and gone, I’ve realized why I despise a day that so many look forward to for entire year…I always fail at Christmas. I can never get it together in time to get the gifts my family and friends deserve, I can never get into the holiday spirit because I’m consumed with the thought of braving the mall plus finding the time to go, and I basically spend the whole month of December thinking “it’s not coming, it’s not coming, it’s not coming…” while rocking in the fetal position. I set myself up for failure (which I do constantly in life…but more on that later) and end up stressed and disappointed on a day that supposed to be about love, giving, and family. Sorry guys.
December 26th is usually a day filled with relief that I survived another Christmas, but this year was different. I was not filled with relief that the season was finally over. Instead, I was filled with regret. Today, all of the gifts and gestures I should have done for Christmas flooded my mind. I thought to myself “Great ideas! Except for the fact that the holidays are over. Where were these ideas a month ago?!” The problem was that a month ago I was in such a panic and mindset that Christmas is stupid, that all of the things I could have done to make the season enjoyable escaped me. I also realized that I always do this. Every. Single. Year.
I’ve mastered becoming my worst critic and saboteur, which is something I really need to stop but that’s not the point right now. The point is this; instead of focusing on why Christmas sucks and how commercial it’s become, and blah blah blah…I could try and turn all that negative energy into positive energy and not make it all about me and my hatred of Christmas time. Certainly easier said than done, but perhaps it’s not impossible. Instead of feeling as if I have “failed” Christmas, maybe next year I can try to “win” Christmas. Winning Christmas is not buying the “best” gifts or finishing my shopping a month before everyone else; winning would be enjoying the season and helping others enjoy it. I think Buddy the Elf said it best, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear.” Prepare to be serenaded.
Next year, instead of seeing that first holiday display and turning green, I’ll focus on what to get and do for my loved ones for Christmas. Christmas is supposed to be the season of giving so at the very least I can give them a happy face on Christmas morning. I realize now that it’s selfish to get wrapped up in the reasons I don’t like the holiday when I should be focused on why the people I care about enjoy it.
And on December 29th, 2014, the Grinch’s heart grew three times that day…

2014: The Year of the City

I know my last post was about various life lessons, but it’s the end of the year again and there are a few more pearls of wisdom I’d like to share from good ole’ 2014.  This past year has been full of many challenges, triumphs, and changes, the biggest one of all being my migration from snowy upstate to the hustling and bustling Big City.  It’s been about 9 months since I moved and I’ve come to consider myself a seasoned city dweller, so I wanted to share things I’ve learned from the past (almost) year; the good, the bad, and the un-hilariously ugly.

No one in The City gives a s*** about you.

Why it’s good: sometimes you’re mad or upset and you can’t control it, despite being in public.  In some places people would probably see you and ask what’s wrong or try to help you when you totally don’t want them to.  I have openly wept on a subway and no one even batted an eye.  You can also resemble a homeless person and no one cares.  I’ve gotten on a hot subway fresh out of a spin class (i.e. sweaty and disgusting) and no one said anything.  It was great.

Why it’s bad: a woman sat on me in the subway.  She SAT ON ME.  She gave no f***s   that there was only enough room for an elf on the subway seat but decided to go for it.  As a result, she sat on me, which practically ejected me from my seat and left me with a horrible memory of that day

You will never run out of things to do.

Why it’s good: I love my former home, but there were maybe four bars to go to…maybe.  In The City there is always a new restaurant, a new show, and a new homeless man dancing for nickels so it’s impossible to get bored.

Why it’s bad: most of these things cost money…a lot of money.  And deciding where to eat can be almost impossible if every says “I’m fine with anything.” I’ve learned to narrow it down by borough, then neighborhood and even then you’re left with a billion options.

The City never sleeps.

Why it’s good: you really can get anything, anytime, anywhere your heart desires.  Wine shops that close at midnight, deli sandwiches at 3am, and not to mention bars stay open “until 4” i.e., until last man standing. Plus, everything delivers.

Why it’s bad: your millions of neighbors can also get anything they want.  You may think “it’s 10:30pm, no one will be at “insert popular restaurant.”  False.  I was once told I couldn’t get a reservation until 10:45pm.  Remember, you have millions of neighbors.  Plus the vermin, excuse me, I mean tourists.   Also, it’s loud.  All. The. Time.  Which is why I live in the boroughs.  I need my sleep.

You will never want to live anywhere else.  

Living in The City can be hard, I will never deny that.  I sometimes have a love/hate relationship with it, mainly when my train is delayed or a crazy person yells at me on my way to work, but fortunately those instances are far and few between (well, not so much for the train…damn you MTA). I still get a rush every time I see the skyline lit up at night or walk out of the subway into one of my favorite neighborhoods.  Every time I walk down a brownstone-lined block or eat a bagel I remember why I love it here.

 

A bonus mini-post…

 

You can call yourself a “city dweller” once you have completed at least 5 of the following:

Killed a bug with your bare hands

Shoved a tourist and not apologized

Shamelessly eaten a bagel on the subway

Gotten on the subway the wrong way. Twice

Pet a horse cop and not gotten arrested

Been almost hit by a cab for crossing when you shouldn’t have

Become immune to the smell and appearance of homeless people

Considered sitting in a park “being one with nature”

Rerouted your cab driver because you knew a better route

Completely stopped caring what strangers think about you


I’ve completed 6, I’ll let you guess which ones.

What I Learned as a Temp/Freelancer/Unemployed Person

For about the past year I’ve worked as a temp, freelancer, and unpaid freelancer mixed in with a period of unemployment.  There were good times (experiencing different industries, free booze at seats at a Major League baseball game, etc.) and there were bad times (endless boredom, ever changing schedules, etc. ) but all in all, each experience taught me something new and helped me develop a new skill or two.  I think what I’ve learned can apply to anyone whether you’re employed full time, part time, or not at all.  So here is it…

Advocate for yourself

…because no one else will.  If you’re not having your basic needs met or need someone to help you; say something.  Most of the time (in my experience) your supervisor has no idea what you’re doing because they’re busy with their own work.  It’s ultimately your responsibility to make sure you have the means to do your job and even if you do, it’s ok to ask for help if you need it.  You should also speak up for yourself if you believe you can contribute more.  It really sucks to be in a job where your skills aren’t being utilized when you know they could be.

Always do your best

…even if you really don’t want to.  As a temp or freelancer, it’s easy to think “I’m only here temporarily, it really doesn’t matter if I don’t *insert something you should do*”.  That’s a bad attitude and can come back to haunt you.  The six degrees of separation that exists in the world won’t always work out to your benefit; you don’t always know how other people will be able to help (or hurt) you in the future.  Don’t burn bridges by being lazy.

Roll with the punches

…without losing your sanity.  This was something I really struggled with – working at a startup and then on a freelance contract with no set hours was a huge challenge for me (plus being unemployed and having no idea what to do with myself).  As someone who loves structure, organization, and routine I was exiled my comfort zone.  Even though I hated it, I knew I had to deal with it so instead of freaking out when I had no idea what my schedule would be like for the week (or day-to-day) I just had to accept it.  It’s also very difficult to walk into a new office, with new people, and an entirely different job repeatedly and just “go with the flow”.  But if that’s a skill you can master, in any part of your life, you’ll do just fine no matter what life throws at you.

Keep your head up

always.  This is the most important lesson I learned and one of the most important things to do in any life situation.  Most situations are temporary, both the good and the bad, and it’s important to keep that in mind.  When things are good, be thankful and enjoy them.  When things are bad, persevere and remember that nothing lasts forever (except for when you get glitter in your apartment).  If you feel like you’re drowning – take a step back, take a deep breath, and think positive thoughts.  It can be so easy to think “everything sucks, I hate my life,” but challenge yourself to think about something positive, even if it’s something small.