Christmas Thoughts

Old 12-12-2008, 06:34 PM
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Default Christmas Thoughts

And they are mixed.

My daughter needs a new laptop for college. I will be getting her one from the Dell Outlet but we wanted to look at screen sizes, colors etc. to make sure she got what she needed.

So we went to CompUSA and the Best Buy last night around 7. At both stores we were able to park right by the front doors and there were not many folks inside.

Today I met my wife at the mall to buy our son some things. Again we were both able to park right by one of the main doors, the food court was not busy, and the mall (the "best" and usually one of the busiest mall in the Jax area) was relatively quiet.

So I suspect the recession is kicking in and results from retailers could spell bad news in the New Year. Of course on-line shopping, with the discounts you can find there, may be the way people are going this year.

This just two weeks from Christmas.

So what I saw concerned me somewhat, given that we live in a consumer driven economy, but more so because a lot of small businesses rely on this time of year to get into the black.

The reason I have mixed feelings is that I wonder if, because of the recession, will those that celebrate Christmas actually have a more blessed Christmas this year?

Our children are aware of the issues with the stock market and our 401K and other investments. We have had lots of dinner conversations about problems families are facing - such as children being taken out of our youngest's school because they can no longer afford even a Catholic education. That the school is pushing it's scholorship fund more to try and cover some of these families.

Each year we ask them to put their "Santa list" on the fridge, and we have noticed that the lists this year are more subdued - even though they know we are still doing well and could afford the "full" Christmas. Our son didn't even give us a "Santa List."

The lists that are up there contain items such as clothes, CDs and sports sneakers. Our eldest even told us that her friend was selling a used beach cruiser bike for $50 and she would like that as a gift!

Tonight we wrapped our Angel Tree gifts and all the children helped. We had a family consisting of a single mother and six children - all girls. The wife and I listened as our kids chatted. While I won't share what they said, their comments did make me think about posting this.

I am starting to strongly believe that this Chistmas will be a quieter one commercially, but more spirtual. And therefore much more rich.

I'd be interested in what you folks are seeing and feeling?
Old 12-12-2008, 06:47 PM
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Our malls in the Atlanta area are packed, maybe more than usual. The economists are saying that maybe total number of unit sales will be up, but possibly the total gross sales dollars will be down. More number of sales but smaller purchases. I guess we will see.
Old 12-12-2008, 09:45 PM
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Your kids will live through this recession and will gain a lifelong appreciation of how unimportant commercialism is to their beliefs and their relationship with their parents/family. Every generation that's been through this stuff comes out the other end better for it.

No parent in their right mind would trade all the crap at Circuit City/Best Buy under their tree for a return to health of their sick child. Every parent want's their kid to make the proper choices of friends. We all desire for our kids to appreciate the education they get from school.

It's good for kids to see the ups and downs of the world around them. My kids wrote us off completely in their teens. (Now 20 and 22) Now that they are very young adults, and are attempting to acquire the skills of the grown world, they see that all the abundance of their youth is meaningless compared to job and education. They still want all the stuff. But now they are able to see it doesn't make them anymore independant than they wish to become.

What my kids really want now, is for their mother to make them the traditional dinner, and the usual gathering, and feel they are part of the family they are ready to leave.

Don't think twice about other people's economic woes. They don't matter spit compared to the lifelong relationship you and they should continue to develop.

In the long run they'll think more highly of their parents for who they are rather then what they buy.
Old 12-12-2008, 09:47 PM
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Merry Christmas.

(no stirngs attached)

Big Al
Old 12-12-2008, 10:22 PM
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Menzies, I have read many of your posts over the last few years, and disagreed with 99% of them, but this post overshadows all of the others in my mind. You have managed to find what is most certainly a priceless bright spot in the world as we know it. I hope and pray that all members of "Generation Y" will learn as much as you children have from the worlds current situation. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
Old 12-12-2008, 10:52 PM
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nope. I have spent 14k since november on christmas presents. Dad has spent about 19k. I need to cetch up. Always a tradition between me and him to see who spends the most. Got my mother a diomand neckless with matching earings. Got my dad a new 60" Panasonic Plasma screen that will be professionaly installed by our local audio outfit. Got my bro diomand audio speakers for his ride, got my other siblings two carts full of toys from toys are us. Got the GF lots of clothes and some stuff from Victoria Secret that im hoping she will wear for me , and if I can pull it off, an 09 CTS for her for christmas, then I should win the battle.

I have to say this is our most extravegent chirstmas yet, cause business is still going good becuase our target folk are also very weathy and you know their not affected as much by the recession either. Places are still crouded as hell here too.

I have spent alot, but hey, its for the good of america, right? and not 1 penny has been more than a month over due on my credit cards. All of them are payed off as of last night.
Old 12-13-2008, 02:17 AM
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I think a lot of people are going to feel a little squeeze this year, unfortunately, I think next year will be much worse.. I'm not an economist by any stretch, but this is my fear...

rollin thunder - 12/13/2008 1:52 AM
................I have to say this is our most extravegent chirstmas yet, cause business is still going good becuase our target folk are also very weathy ................
Do you feel better now? Take some of your money and get a little tutoring, your grammar and spelling are at 3rd grade level at best.
Old 12-13-2008, 07:26 AM
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Menz has put into words what I have been looking for. I dropped a few hints around to the family, about how this year would be a great year to get back to the basics of what the holiday really means. I think my words went unheard. I see freinds co-workers stressing out big time to try and figure out how they can swing it with all the extra expense we see for the holidays. It gives me a cold feeling. Too bad we can't see how important it is just to be healthy, and able to be with family.
I'll all for staying home, popping some corn, and just being warm and together. Looks like my plans will be on the back burner as nobody seems to be even trying to slow themselves. I'm disappointed that they are having such a hard time letting go of the commercialism.
I think I'll just go fishing like I used to as a kid---peaceful solitude one way or the other.
Old 12-13-2008, 07:44 AM
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We have scaled back this Christmas. One of my siblings' spouses has been unemployed most of the year, our adult kids have all dealt with layoffs, hour reductions, and who knows what's around the corner for any of us.

We asked our kids to not buy us any gifts this year and told them that we'd be spending more moderately this year than in years past. My two siblings and I drew names for ourselves and our spouses this year instead of everyone giving to everyone.

Menzies, I think you're right: Just the other night my sister and I were talking about how it's easier to focus on what Christmas is all about once we step off the consumer treadmill. Her boys are 9 and 13 and she's definitely seeing a difference there.

Pastor Rick Warren's new book "The Purpose of Christmas" is a great read for those who want to spend some time reflecting on the meaning of the season.
Old 12-13-2008, 08:48 AM
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ISLANDER11 - 12/13/2008 1:22 AM

Menzies, I have read many of your posts over the last few years, and disagreed with 99% of them, but this post overshadows all of the others in my mind. You have managed to find what is most certainly a priceless bright spot in the world as we know it. I hope and pray that all members of "Generation Y" will learn as much as you children have from the worlds current situation. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
I am with islander 11.... I wonder Menzies have you been to WalMart or Sams lately, they are busy as He!!.....
Old 12-13-2008, 09:05 AM
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Rollin Thunder, I will deliver a new CTS to you! I even have a CTS-V in stock. Gm employe pricing also thru december.
Old 12-13-2008, 09:06 AM
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God Bless our men and women in the armed forces laying it on the line and prayers to those and their families whose mothers, fathers, sons and daughters have paid the ultimate price for this GREAT COUNTRY.
Old 12-13-2008, 11:10 AM
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Menzies - 12/12/2008 9:34 PM
I am starting to strongly believe that this Chistmas will be a quieter one commercially, but more spirtual. And therefore much more rich.
Beautiful post. Your children have learned and will continue to learn that "things" are just "things". Its nice to find a bright spot instead of only seeing the "gloom and doom" in our economy.

We haven't exchanged gifts in our family (immediate or extended) for abut 8 years -- that was the year my sister and I bought each other same exact thing. It was hysterical and we each kept our gift - it brings a new laugh every year. Rather than 'things' we spend the money on holiday meals; I wouldn't trade those meals for any "thing" the money could have bought.

I enjoy my "stuff" too, believe me ... but I know I can do without those "things" MUCH easier than I could do without the people I love.

Merry Christmas !

Old 12-13-2008, 12:11 PM
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I think everyone should blow off Christmas this year and instead go with Kwanzaa because no one outside of the black community knows what the hell it is. We can make Kwanzaa into anything we want it to be. That way we can keep Christmas intact just the way we know it and love it for when the economy returns.

Old 12-13-2008, 03:48 PM
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Hey Menzies,

None of our capitalistic woes have any thing to do with Christmas anyway. Until I got to the end of your post, I thought you were going elsewhere with the message.

Try this one on for size, a good read for the season. Long, but refreshing........

Christmas 1881

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their
means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were
genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him
that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from
It was Christmas Eve 1881.

I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me
because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd
wanted so bad that year for Christmas. We did the chores early that night
for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could
read in the Bible. So after supper was over I took my boots off and
stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the
old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't
in much of a mood to read scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead
he bundled up and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had
already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too
busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear
night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come! on, Matt," he said.
"Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight."

I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas,
now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I
could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of
anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I
knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them
to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat ,
and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave
the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what. Outside, I became
even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already
hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going
to be a short, quick little job. I could tell. We never hitched up the big
sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the
seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was
already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled
around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I
followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help
me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with
just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be
a lot bigger with the high sideboards on. When we had exchanged the
sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of
wood---the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and
then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting.

What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked,"what are you
doing?" "You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen
lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so
before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd
been by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "why?" "I rode by just today," Pa
said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a
few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he
turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I
followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the
horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading,
then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of
bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait.

When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and
a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?"
I asked. "Shoes. They're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks
wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got
the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a
little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to
think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards.
Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was
still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split
before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that,
but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and
candy? Really, why was he doing any of this?

Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us. It shouldn't have been our
concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded
the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes
to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said,
"Who is it?"
"Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?" Widow
Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her
shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front
of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all.
Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp. "We brought you
a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the
meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.
She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There
was a pair for her and one for each of the children---sturdy shoes, the
best, shoes that would last.

I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling
and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She
looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.
"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said, then he turned to me and
said, "Matt, go bring enough in to last for awhile. Let's get that fire up
to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back
out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and, much as I hate
to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing
those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing
there with tears running down her cheeks and so much gratitude in her heart
that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy filled my
soul that I'd never known before. I had given at Christmas many times
before, but n! ever when it had made so much difference. I could see we
were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started
giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked
on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She
finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord himself
has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one
of his children to spare us." In spite of myself, the lump returned to my
throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in
those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see
that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never
walked the earth, save One.

I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and
me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it. Pa
insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when
they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I
guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make
sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave.
Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to
him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their pa, and I
was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to
invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey
will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if
he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about
eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt here,
hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two older
brothers and two older sisters were all married and had moved away. Widow
Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say,
"'May the Lord bless you,' I know for certain that He will." Out on the sled
I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the

When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know
something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and
there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite
enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back
came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking
that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning
to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the
woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to
do. So, Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those
children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again.

I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it.

Just then the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given
me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the
radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, whenever I
saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and
remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that
night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me
the best Christmas of my life.

Merry Christmas to all.
Old 12-14-2008, 08:28 AM
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With all the posts I have, this is the first out of General boating or electronics....
We started moving away from tangible gifts about 4 years ago when we moved from Illinois to Florida. We talked to our families and simply expressed that we had what we needed and bought what we wanted. We would much rather "do things" with our families than "buy things" for our families.
Our first summer here, we bought airline tickets for all of our nieces to come and spend 10 days with us. That was their Christmas/Birthday present for the year. Both of us have siblings that have their issues and we do our best to try and show the kids the other side of life. We were worried that the kids would feel left out on Christmas Day so every year we send a card with pics from their trip. This has been a huge success not only for the kids but for us as we so much enjoy their yearly visit (been doing it 4 years now).
I just bought tickets for my mother-in-law to visit in late January. My mom and dad will be making appearances this winter as well and Christmas will be time spent with them.
Kathi (wife) and I will be spending 3 days kayaking in the Everglades, thats out present to each other. So far, there are and may be no wrapped presents under the tree but it has nothing to do with the economy. I cant remember what my wife got me for my birthday 5 years ago but I do remember that trip to the Keys!
This spring was my fathers 70th birthday. We have been talking all my life about a father-son trip so I bought tickets for him and I to go to France for two weeks. It was the most amazing trip of my life not only in the destination but I learned so much about my father spending two weeks with him as an adult. To think I could have missed out on that opportunity so easily because life gets busy would have been truly sad.
I would encourage everyone to look at alternatives to wrapped packages under the tree. A family trip, taking your son on an offshore charter, camping, etc...
I think people are slowly learning that "things" come and go but family, friends, and memories are far more valuable.
Old 12-14-2008, 09:20 AM
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:31 PM
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hey menizes glad to here there are still famlies that hold moral values to highest level. We as a family have been in touch with people's needs and give a good bit of money to local food banks. Our adoupted koren girl is helping raise the awareness at school and it is working. I went to parochial school and then I think it was 100.00 a year good luck with the family and health to you all.
Old 12-14-2008, 03:53 PM
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Just what the hell are those funny colored rats?

Menzies, we (you and I) would never, EVER, see eye to eye on many things. Let your kids grow up in the economics that they are living in. (live within your means) We (spouse and I) were out and about even with the ice storm up here and the $$$$ is flowing like $hit thru a tin goose.

We buy what ever we want thru most of the year. This year we made and have spent a solid comitment to others in need. It's doubtful any of them own a boat.

I'm not a dumbocrat, I love guns, and suport our troops. Go figure.
Merry Christmas

Don't get a warm wet feeling after this. It's open season in the CC for you.
Old 12-14-2008, 08:05 PM
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Mist-Rest - 12/15/2008 7:53 AM

Just what the hell are those funny colored rats?

You know when you bring home a big family sized buck of chicken from KFC!?! Well, it ain't really chicken. It's those things. Fried, they taste just like chicken.

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