Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Whack on the Side of the Head Wednesday: Bah Humbug!

Winners from yesterday listed at the bottom of today's post.

Maybe it's because it's hump day.  Maybe because Richard is out of town and I am left flying solo on dinner, baths, tantrums, getting the kids dressed, finding shoes... the whole nine yards.  Or, maybe it's because it is Christmas time and, as invigorating as the holidays can be, they always leave me a little tired.  Whatever the reason... I'm feeling sluggish today.

This should give you additional insight into my mood... 

The only thing I can think to Whack today are problems.  Christmas... the most commercialized, celebrated, ridden-with-possibility topic, and chock full of fun-whacking-potential (gift ideas, packaging, decorations for the home, or family traditions), and the only thing I can think to whack is the thing that makes me want to say "Bah Humbug."

So here it is... I have family Christmas shopping down to somewhat of a science.  Richard and I establish our budget, generate a list of all family and friends for whom we would like to purchase a gift and then divide the money out accordingly.  This is where the "J" (organized and a little fanatical) side of me comes out.  I establish an envelope for each person, containing the designated allotment of cash.  Cash from one person's envelope never mixes with cash from another person's envelope, including change!  We operate in cash only for holidays, so when the cash is gone it's time to stop Christmas shopping...

Or so it goes... theoretically.  I'll tell you what throws me off every year!  The important, but somewhat extraneous people who deserve a special something, but for whom I consistently either (a) do not plan ahead and/or (b) do not have a good gift idea.  Either way, it inevitably leads to my over spending.  I'm either purchasing the gift at the last minute (always costs more) or I'm overcompensating for my lack of gift-buying-ingenuity.

Who exactly am I talking about?... Teachers and the director(s) at the boys preschool; the mail delivery person; the men who pick up our garbage twice a week; my housekeeper; acquaintances who I see daily (Starbucks crew); and friendly neighbors.  These, to name a few.  I'm sure you have your own list brewing of people who fall in this category.  As noted earlier, to overlook anyone of these people would not be o.k.  They are members of my immediate community and I want to spread holiday cheer, letting them know they're appreciated.  The question is... what can I do that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, but is more thoughtful than a gift card?

Come on von Oech.  Don't fail me now.  Today, of all days I need a serious dose of whacking.  So, what does von Oech have to say?...

Get support.  One reason gypsies have a good healthy record is the role the family plays in establishing a positive health environment.  When a gypsy gets sick, it's common for six or eight others to accompany her to the doctor.  Such family participation provides not only a support system for the ill member, it also creates a high expectancy for getting well.  Similarly, it's easier to be creative if your environment both supports and expects new ideas.  What support systems can you create?

Wow, this feel fortuitous.  A day when I am clearly dragging and I get to ask what support systems I can create?  Serendipity or prophetic?  Hmmmm....

Anyway... back to the issue at hand.  Christmas treats for the important people who comprise your community that are neither bank-breaking or impersonal.

Well the first thing that comes to mind is all the talent right here on this blog.  We have Heidi the Beader; Wendy the Wine Glass Charm Maker; Beekayroot the Photographer; Peggy the card maker; cspgradstudent the Decoupager; Cassie the cookie baker; Cheryl the Genius Mosaic Artist; Stacie the bag maker; Kat who is clearly going to town whipping up all kinds of Christmas treats, based on her Monday comment; and who knows what I'm missing.

What's a co-op?  

Is that the kind of thing where we all come together, pitch in what we have, and everyone leaves with more than they came with?  Maybe that's my solution.  Put a lump sum of money in a caddy (contributed by anyone interested in participating).  Then, that money could fund projects by our community artists.  In the end, each participating person would contribute "x" amount, but walk away with "x" number of unique Christmas gifts.

I guess a natural question could be... "Claudia, why the community approach?  Why not just contact the artists and place your own orders... now, not on December 15?"  Truth, I'm not sure.  I guess I assume when an artist makes time to sit down and make something like beaded jewelry, cards, wine glass charms, etc... it's more efficient and therefore beneficial to make multiple items than it is to fill my lone order.  I think this is what the Industrial Revolution was based on.

So that's my crack at today's whack.  But...  Instead of having everyone whack my Christmas dilemma, how about each of us uses von Oech's principle to whack the thing most likely to make you say, "Bah Humbug".  This way, we get to learn more about each of your holiday experiences and, in the process, generate a variety of creative solutions. 

Coincidentally, just one day after celebrating an increase of 35%, over the projected 5,000 readers in 77 days, we had one of our slowest days ever... including weekends.  Maybe everyone was busy doing their Christmas shopping.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  

The good news is you would never know by looking at posts that yesterday was slow.  We had a record 87 posts - naturally the majority were loyal, high-achieving readers who - like I - couldn't bear the idea of not hitting the aspiration 77 posts.  Thanks, everyone for playing along yesterday.

Cassie and Lori R. were the winners of the Pickle in a Hay Stack contest, meaning they will each receive a Christmas present from me (in July).  Cassie found the original pickle, located on May 29 and Lori's pickle was posted on April 22.  

Now for the lucky winner of the chocolate chip cookies containing 1,765 mini chocolate chips.  I tried to switch things up a bit by NOT simply having you guess a number from 1-77.  Instead, the idea was, the person posting the comment corresponding to the number in my head, would be the winner.  Now for the number.  Was it... 22, my volleyball number as suggested by Maureen?  65 the year I was born? 3 the number of boys I have? 13 the date of my anniversary (November) and the residence hall floor on which I was an RA for a number of years?  Lucky 7, the date of my birthday?  Or maybe 42, my age? No, no, no, and no.  The number was 18, the date of my father's birthday (July), my mother's birthday (August), and highlowaha's inaugural post (February).  Congratulations...

Stacie was also our 100 Pounds of Popcorn Winner

Signing off until tomorrow... 

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