You'll have to turn the music on this blog off to enjoy this great performance!

Tina - as electric as Elvis. My friend (Stephanie) & I like this one - I love them all!!!!

From the King of Rock & Roll to the King of Pop...genius!

Tina fires you up - Elvis keeps it going, and Ahmed takes you to 'mellow'...


Friday, November 28, 2008

Boy, today it was 'up and down' - sad news; some happy, and thought I'd leave this idea before we leave for the holidays.

This is a picture of my great grand-daughter on June 23, 2008. She lost her grandmother Jean (who died of lung cancer); this picture was taken as she was handing a rose up to 'Nanna Jean' because the family had told her "...Nanna has gone up to the sky to be with the angels..."

So, Isabella - like all children who ask no questions; who believe everything we tell them, tried to hand the flower up to her grandmother who she figured would just reach down and take it from her.

Don't we all wish we could have not only the child-like belief, but be as healthy and safe as little 'Bella' is?

Surely we think of those who didn't celebrate Thanksgiving with a full plate of delicious food; a loving family, and a home and soft bed to snuggle down in yesterday.

For me, it brought many thoughts about the needs of billions around the world; the real chance each of us can take to help out, and the sad reality that many of us are just too selfish and self-centered to really do what we can to help someone in real need - who is really suffering!

The greed and hurry of a mass of Wal-Mart shoppers caused the death of an employee; another woman to miscarry her unborn child - no 'new babe' for her, just pain and grief.

One of my son's lives where two men were shot and killed in a Toys-R-Us today; many mothers, dads, and youngsters were put 'at risk'.

Over the years, one of my traditions was to 'eliminate' Santa from the dialog when my children were very tiny. I figured if I had to tell my children that while I loved them so much but couldn't afford a Christmas gift', I'd rather they never thought Santa didn't love them enough (or abandoned them). So, my children came to believe in ME; in that belief, Christmas also was expanded to not just celebrate the birth of a marvelous young baby boy, but to know how to provide gifts not to 'our family', but to those who were poor; homeless, disabled or ill.

I'm grateful I decided to take this course of action with my own children because there has never been a 'sad Christmas' because mom or dad couldn't come up with enough money to put piles of 'gifts' under the tree for them to share. My children learned that Christmas is a 'spirit'; a feeling inside, and a GIVING NATURE that is year-round and ever-constant.

Now that I have grown grand-children; a few grand-kids still under the age of 18, and 2 great grand-children who are tiny and adorable, I'm glad there has been a similar effort made by my children to 'teach' the real meaning of Christmas; Thanksgiving - GIVING OF LOVE, TIME, ASSISTANCE, and it's all about 'giving of one's self' - gifts have become secondary or non-existent.

When I do shop for gifts, the first thing I do is buy ONLY AMERICAN MADE PRODUCTS. Part of that 'buying' process is going to bazaars; to the Indian reservation and to local businesses where the talent and efforts of 'our neighbor' manifest themselves into gifts for our family and friends.

The next thing I've suggested is to do what we now call: BYOG. Bring Your Own Gift. We all share the cost of the meal; we all help make the holiday dinner, and then to make sure that EACH CAN AFFORD THE GIFT UNDER THE TREE, we BUY IT WITH THE MONEY WE HAVE - it is for OUR SELF; we WRAP IT, and everyone gets to open a present and share 'the moment'. Nice thing too - no one has to stand in line to return the gift; no shirt is too big or too small, and EVERYONE LOVES WHAT THEY GOT!

I also suggest NOT BUYING GIFT CARDS. This restricts the recipient to 'shopping at a certain place'. If you can shell out the money for a gift card, you can 'shell out the money for a personal check'. If you have to put a gift card ON YOUR CREDIT CARD, then you did NOT save throughout the year, for the holiday. When I say SAVE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, I mean just that.

Since 1960, I've set up first a 'tea-pot' fund; then as it grew, a savings account that is ONLY FOR GIFTS. The account earns a small amount of interest; I would put in a weekly deposit (or monthly depending upon how/when I was paid). By early November I had 90% of the money I needed 'on hand', to start buying gifts. I keep a 'gift closet' - throughout the year when I find items that I know will be loved and appreciated, I buy them right then and there (on sale or NOT on sale). I never experience a 'huge and sudden expense'; I use any credit card for SALE ITEMS ONLY. The items on sale (if for a gift) have to be American made; I want the revenue and sales tax to STAY IN MY COUNTRY that I love so much.

If you don't want to 'set limits' to giving gifts, then do the BYOG idea - you automatically 'set the limit on your own gift and purchase'; it's a perfect way to handle this issue.

If you want to do a 'stocking stuffer' gift, then define what 'stocking stuffer' means (most assume it means a low-cost gift). To me, it means memories of those times when some of my sisters couldn't even afford a 'low-cost' gift. One creative sister of mine set a big brown bag under the tree; each of us got one, and we opened it up to find a 4-pack of TOILET TISSUE! She laughed; told us since we were all 'full of poop', it was a gift she knew we could certainly use. The HUMOR was worth the moment; back then the price for a 4-pack of toilet tissue was 19 cents!!! How's that for 'clever'!!!

Making your own cards; inside those cards, offering to GIVE OF YOUR TIME AND RESOURCE has a constant and loving VALUE - get creative that way.

I took an old photograph of my mother's farm-home; had that photograph turned into first class STAMPS, and it helped my mother with the cost of mailing/postage, and she also 'stuck them' in her scrapbook; a photo' album, and put a couple on tiny magnets to keep on her refrigerator.

If you're really short of cash, take the time to CLIP COUPONS not only for yourself, BUT CREATE A COUPON COLLECTION to some of those on your list. Put those coupons inside GREETING CARDS (you make them or buy one for $1.00 at the Dollar Tree), and you've saved that person the time of trying to find those coupons. From the I-net, you can often PRINT COUPONS - again, do this and use them in place of 'gift cards'.....

Go through your collection of 'cherished things' (and I have so many); pick out that collector book you have had for years - make it a gift to a 'reader' who will now love it. Make a clever card that reads: 'USED, NOT ABUSED'....and inside write a small note about why you now want to part with it.

This year all gifts were packed inside the SIMPLY GREEN tote bags from J. C. Penny's. They are beige and green, so I only had to add RED tags to make them bright and cheerful. I wrote a little poem about NOT WASTING PAPER; or KILLING TREES to make up expensive 'gift bags', and the fact we should reuse the gift tote for shopping items or storing things in our closet (there are other uses for them, but these two come to mind immediately).

Remember, it's not about the huge amounts of food and drink that are the reason we celebrate. It's not about the number of gifts and how much was spent on each one. Consider the food and gifts as 'tokens' that can be used if it doesn't create hardship on the part of those you invite to your home, or to those who are part of your family and friends' network.

Then if you really want to channel the $$$ in a way that can't be 'topped', get down to the nearest charity; 'adopt' a few families where you can buy for (as I do), and pick a date and time to deliver the gifts and food YOURSELF - that's when you realize THERE REALLY IS A SANTA CLAUS!

Okay, that's it for today - I probably won't post until after 2009 (unless something comes up that I think might be helpful to share before we leave to visit our family and friends who live many miles from where we live). So, have a wonderful 'finish' to 2008; a great 2009, and let's avoid being critical of our new president-elect who (right now) has no 'say' in anything that's happening in our country, and let's give him a COUPLE YEARS to repair and start the CHANGE that we need - what was done to our country was done over a series of YEARS by political leaders who were selfish; militant, and certainly not putting the interest and well-being of the average American (and I mean ALL AMERICANS) at the top of their list of things to address and resolve those issues and the plight of those who have little or no voice, because of the 'din' in the White House - the 'noise of corruption and the result of money doing the talking'......

As my grandmother said: "Beauty is as beauty does", and of course 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder', so figure out what is beautiful to you; become that, and appreciate it in others.

Happy 2009. Diane