The Holidays buying frenzy – a culture of vultures?

Holidays,money,gifts,giving,putting the world to writes,Suzan St Maur

The Holiday Season: feeding our greed?

Given that most of us in western industrialized countries have just experienced two weeks (or so) of ongoing festivities, you can’t help but wonder how the beliefs of this time of the year have been interpreted among faiths that don’t celebrate them.

Why should they? Because, if nothing else – and here I am talking at my most commercial and cynical – the whole gift-giving period represents an extraordinarily good opportunity to sell, sell, sell. [Read more…]

Birthday jokes: well, I’m a joke, and it’s my birthday!

medium_4176990479As today – May 5th – is my birthday … I thought I’d share some birthday jokes that will give us all a few smiles…

Q: What goes up and never comes down?
A: Your age!

Q: “Were any famous men born on your birthday?”
A: “No, only little babies.”

Q: What’s the best way to get a man to remember your anniversary?
A: Get married on his birthday.

Q: What is a meaning of a true friend?
A: One who remembers your birthday but not your age!

Q: Why are birthdays good for you?
A: Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest!

Patient: Doctor, I get heartburn every time I eat birthday cake.
Doctor: Next time, take off the candles.

Forget about the past, you can’t change it.
Forget about the future, you can’t predict it.
Forget about the present, I didn’t get you one.

Artificial intelligence is a wonderful thing. I told my computer that today is my birthday, and it said that I needed an upgrade.

I like birthdays, but I think too many can kill you.

Weighing in
A couple had been debating the purchase of a new auto for weeks. He wanted a new truck. She wanted a fast little sports-like car so she could zip through traffic around town. He would probably have settled on any beat up old truck, but everything she seemed to like was way out of their price range. “Look!” she said. “I want something that goes from 0 to 200 in 4 seconds or less. And my birthday is coming up. You could surprise me.” So, for her birthday, he bought her a brand new bathroom scale.

Q:  What do you always get on your birthday?
A:  Another year older!

You know you are getting old when the candles cost more than the cake…

Don’t worry about temptation — as you grow older, it starts avoiding you.

Chop, chop
A lady was throwing a party for her granddaughter and had gone all out….. a caterer, band, and a hired clown. Just before the party started, two bums showed up looking for a handout. Feeling sorry for the bums, the woman told them that she would give them a meal if they will help chop some wood for her out back. Gratefully, they headed to the rear of the house.
The guests arrived and all was going well with the children having a wonderful time. But the clown hadn’t shown up. After a half and hour, the clown finally called to report that he was stuck in traffic and would probably not make the party at all.
The woman was very disappointed and unsuccessfully tried to entertain the children herself. She happened to look out the window and saw one of the bums doing cartwheels across the lawn. She watched in awe as he swung from tree branches, did mid-air flips, and leaped high in the air.
She spoke to the other bum and said, “What your friend is doing is absolutely marvelous. I have never seen such a thing. Do you think your friend would consider repeating this performance for the children at the party? I would pay him $50!”
The other bum says, “Well, I dunno. Let me ask him.” “HEY WILLIE! FOR $50, WOULD YOU CHOP OFF ANOTHER TOE?”

Birthday deliberations
“Look at ME!!” boasted the fit old man, pounding a very flat and firm stomach, having just finished 100 situps before a group of young people.
“Fit as a fiddle! And you want to know why? I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t stay up late, and I don’t chase after loose women!!”
He smiled at them, teeth white, eyes aglitter, “And tomorrow — tomorrow, I’m going to celebrate my -90th- birthday!!”
“Oh, really?” drawled one of the young onlookers, “How?”

small__99568043Walking on water
Johnny had long heard the stories of an amazing 21st Birthday family tradition.
His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all been able to walk on water on their 21st birthday. On that special day, they’d each walked across the lake to the bar on the far side for their first legal drink.
So when Johnny‘s 21st birthday came around, he and his friend Jill took a boat out to the middle of the lake, Johnny stepped out of the boat, and nearly drowned! Jill just barely managed to pull him to safety.
Furious and confused, Johnny went to see his grandmother. “Grandma,” he said, ‘it’s my 21st birthday, so why can’t I walk across the lake like my father, his father, and his father before him?”
Granny looked deeply into Johnny‘s troubled eyes and answered, “Because your father, your grandfather, and your great-grandfather were born in January, when the lake is frozen, and you were born in July.

Birthday gift? Nice one…
Rich was talking to his buddy at the bar, and he said, “I don’t have a clue what to get my wife for her birthday – she has everything, and besides, she can afford to buy anything she wants, so I’m stumped.”
His buddy said, “I have an idea – why don’t you make up a certificate saying she can have 60 minutes of great sex, any way she wants it – she’ll probably be thrilled.”
So that’s what Rich did.
The next day at the bar his buddy said, “Well? Did you take my suggestion?”
“Yes, I did,” said Joe.
“Did she like it?” His buddy asked.
“Oh yes! She jumped up, thanked me, kissed me on the forehead and ran out the door, yelling “I’ll be back in an hour!”

Think twice about singing “Happy Birthday”
A couple phoned a neighbor to extend birthday greetings.
They dialed the number and then sang “Happy Birthday” to him. But when they finished their off-key rendition, they discovered that they had dialed the wrong number.
“Don’t let it bother you,” said the stranger on the phone, “you folks need all the practice you can get.”

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family – from just $2.50

photo credit: Juliana Coutinho via photopin cc
photo credit: Sister72 via photopin cc

How to make it fun for your kids to say thank you

Despite being older than Methuselah, I remember the agony of having to write “Thank You” letters to relatives I scarcely knew, thanking them for gifts I didn’t really like, after the festive season. (And after my birthday, too.)

But relatives – especially older ones – thrive on the little thank-you notes that kids send them in return for their kindness, and frankly, I can’t blame them. Particularly in the case of elderly grand and great-grand parents, who often aren’t on large incomes, buying for and sending gifts to little ones is an expensive and involving activity. A thank-you note in response is the least the kids can do to make them feel appreciated.

The great Thank-You note battle

Although some kids are pretty good and quite cheerfully write nice letters to people who have sent them gifts – however inappropriate – the majority, in my experience, wriggle and squirm in the days following Christmas whenever the subject of writing TY notes is raised.

I remember that one only too well. Just when you should be thinking about the New Year and extracting the most from whatever remaining school holidays I had, I was shackled down by my parents and made to write TY letters to these relatives and friends, some of whom I had never even met. Not fair!

But necessary all the same. How do we make it easier for them? I know they should really write out proper letters, original in thought and execution, but failing that here are a few hints that might make your kids’ TY letter writing a bit easier this year.

Buy – or make – some nice Thank You cards

There are plenty of ready-made “Thank You” cards available in most stationers and supermarkets, and there are some delightful handmade choices like these, available online. But if your kids are craft-orientated they could well enjoy the chance to make their own TY cards. Origination sources include cut-outs from Christmas cards, collages made from bits of Christmas wrapping paper, or – for the inspired – original art.

If one or more of your kids comes up with a good original design, scan it and reproduce it on card so that it can be used across the board. As you know, kids are more likely to take pride in their own work and so send it on with greater gravitas to the people they should be thanking.

Tell them they don’t have to write 100s of words

The whole point of the TY note is to acknowledge and express gratitude for the gift, not write a lengthy thesis about it. Although my late mother-in-law expected everyone to comment at length about the gifts she sent us and sneakily tested us with detailed questions to make sure we weren’t cheating, she – thankfully – was in the minority. Most people just appreciate a straight TY, with love.

Get them to release their artistic flair

There’s nothing that says a TY card or note just has to consist of words. It can be a drawing, painting or other work of art that your kids will enjoy putting together. As long as someone makes it clear to the recipient that this oeuvre is intended to express gratitude for their gift, everyone will be happy. For example…

1.Bake some cookies/biscuits (or make some homemade candy/sweets) as a family activity, and send a small box of the produce with a label saying Thank You

2.Earlier in the year, suggest the idea of making Thank You gifts to your children’s school, as this might be a useful project for them to work on pre-Holidays as an alternative to making Holiday decorations

3.Take a picture of your child using, holding, wearing, etc., each gift in question, print them out, then get your child to make and decorate cardboard frames for each one with the words “Thank You” on them

4.Immediately post winter (northern hemisphere) Holidays, buy a bunch of early daffodils or other spring flowers and get your kids to draw them. Scan the result (if there is more than one person to be thanked) OR take a picture of your kids with the flowers and print that out, then send as a TY gift, getting your kids to write “TY (message) – and here’s your first sight of Spring!”

5.Get your kids to compose a short poem of thanks, type it out nicely, print it out and send.

6.Make up a collage of photos of your family featuring foremost the child who is sending the TY, scan it and send with a short TY note.

7.Make some small papier maché trinket containers out of Christmas (or Birthday) wrapping paper and send those with a TY label (paint the containers over if required)

8.And for those bolshie boys … get them to write a few lines about their favourite game/sport/other heroes, and why the TY recipients should love them too. The recipients may not quite see the kids’ enthusiasm for them but will appreciate their sharing.

Good luck!

Got Holiday money or Amazon vouchers to spend? While you’re here, stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better from just $2.50 (less than £2.00!)

 

photo credit: muffintinmom via photopin cc
photo credit: Patrick Hoesly via photopin cc

Words of wedding wisdom: WEDDING GIFTS – what do you really need?

Welcome to this series of articles based on my popular book, “The A to Z of Wedding Wisdom” … a few juicy extracts that you might like, to give you a taster of what the book can do to help make your wedding (or a friend or relative’s wedding) superbly successful.

This time, we look at…

Wedding gifts

The idea of wedding gifts in the past was a good one, when most couples were starting out in a home of their own for the first time and needed to have it equipped with everything from bed linen to furniture. Nowadays, however, many couples have already been living together for some time and have established their home. Even if they have been living as “singles,” in the run-up to moving in together they are probably wondering how on earth to fit both “his” and “her” belongings into the one place.

These days there is no obligation to expect traditional wedding gifts and instead you can ask guests to contribute to the cost of, say, your honeymoon, or a conservatory for your house, or even a new car. Don’t be shy; wedding guests are only too pleased to be guided as to what you need. There are companies that will organize this for you and all you need to do is provide the address so guests can participate. To find these, key “wedding lists” into Google or other search engine, or look up the “Wedding Guide” in your local Yellow Pages.

Second and subsequent marriages

Some people consider it slightly “bad form” for people getting married for the second time to expect anything other than token gifts. Whether this is justifiable or not rather depends on the circumstances. If a significant number of your guests will have attended your first wedding, or your partner’s, it does seem a bit much to expect them to come up with another substantial gift – especially if you and your intended have been living comfortably together for some time in an established home.

However some second wedding circumstances are not like that at all. You may have a completely different circle of friends from that which surrounded you at your first wedding. You, or the groom, may have emerged from a divorce with very little other than the clothes you were standing up in. You may be about to move into a much bigger house to accommodate the entire new step-family and need a number of traditional wedding gift items to equip it.

As for the best way to handle wedding gifts for second and subsequent marriages, let common sense prevail. If you need things, don’t feel inhibited about saying so to your guests. But if you are comfortably established, don’t be greedy. In fact if you’re very comfortably off you could even ask guests to make a contribution to a charity in lieu of buying a gift, rather as people do with funerals.

For all 174 pages of helpful tips and advice, grab your copy of “The A to Z of Wedding Wisdom” from Amazon (USA), Amazon (Canada), Amazon (UK) and all other Amazons.

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