Are You a Grinch or Not?…

th[7]It is the Sunday after the biggest shopping day of the year and retailers are literally holding on. The shelves have been totally wiped out, employees are tired and the managers, well, they are just praying that they will make it till the end.

Company Leaders are wringing their hands waiting to see if they made their numbers for the big weekend. Some already know their stores made it while others are trying to figure out how to get you back into the store to buy, buy, buy.

If they can not get you into the store, they  bombard your email with cyber Monday deals. Go, shop online, from the comfort of your home. Slip into your favorite slippers and enjoy a cup of coffee while being hit from every pop up ad to buy, buy, buy….online.

Online shopping is easy, convenient and fun. It is a wonderful way to enjoy shopping without actually going to the store and who in their right mind would want to fight those nasty crowds! People are so rude these days. The only rudeness one may encounter from shopping from home is the occasional interruption from a child who whines about something they may not be able to have right away. Even that is manageable; just shut the door.

Here’s the Thing…how much shopping do we really need to do? Seriously, how many gadgets do we really need and don’t most of the Christmas gifts we buy end up in the landfill? How many ties, toys, electronics do we need to consume?

There seems to be a familiar sound rumbling in the air from all of you,

“What a Grinch you are! You need to get into the Holiday spirit.”

Really! Maybe the meaning of Christmas, yes, Christmas is about time together. The time spent trying to make cookies, buying a pretty tree, decorating that tree or just sitting and enjoying friends. Then, maybe, a small gift of love, friendship or just the joy of giving can be exchanged between all of you.  The gift then becomes a symbol of giving, gratitude, or love for another.

Do not miss the point here. Buying gifts is fun but when did it become the main attraction? Why do we allow commercialism take over the simple beauty of a wonderful Christmas holiday and make it a buy, buy, buy holiday?

What do you think?

Are you a Grinch or did you just yell at your kids to,

“Shut the Door, I’m  shopping?”





Remember the Titanic?…

When we got on the train 3 days before Christmas, we anticipated that things were not going to go according to plan. It was as if we knew somehow we had to adjust and be flexible in our upcoming adventure. Our plan to have Christmas on a river cruise down the Donau River seemed to be a good idea at the time we booked. We really gave no consideration to the challenges we would encounter, I know how crazy was that.

So, when we got on the ICE train in Nuremberg, Germany with 4 heavy luggage pieces it seemed only fitting that the reserved seats we had were occupied. Explaining in broken German that we had a right to be in the seats was not easy to three other weary Holiday travelers. Some things reach across all cultures, cramped Holiday traveling, yelling and certain hand gestures. Bless the heart of our fourteen-year-old daughter who seemed to be able to express calmly that we reserved the seats. After displacing other travelers to standing room only, we sat down and began to wonder what have we done.

Outside the weather was stirring and when we arrived in Passau we had a vague idea of how to get to the Boat. We were to pick up a shuttle at the station but there were no signs, no shuttle bus and well, we started to resort to finding anyone who may have the same tags that we had on our luggage so to see if they knew something we did not. Finally a shuttle arrived and after a series of gestures, broken conversations we did make it to the ship. Our vacation was about to begin…Hooray!

When we finally got on the boat, unpacked and explored the cabin, we were smiling and happy. Then, I opened the cabin curtain to look out over the river and saw how fast the river seemed to be traveling. The current was very strong and I began to wonder, was this normal? My “what if” thoughts started to kick in.

There is something about cruise directors and staff, they know how to keep you calm by just smiling. They are well versed in making sure you are happy and having a good time. The thing is, when you do not know the language, you focus more on body language than words and they seemed a bit nervous. I figured it was all okay and we waved goodbye to the dock and started down the river. We were to begin our cruise to Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava, Melk and back to Passau, so many places and so much fun.

It was the huge jolt to the boat in the middle of the night that made me bolt from the bed. I was not really sleeping as the boat seemed to be having a “little problem.” Two German words I learned from the announcements over the loud speakers. A seasoned boat person I knew that this was not good. I do not get sea sick but the boat was swaying so much that I began to rethink how this trip was going to go and wondering if we were going to make it thru the night. Our daughter had kidded about the Titanic and I told her, “it is a river cruise, we will be fine.” I think I may have underestimated the power of the Donau.

I once again pulled back the curtain and looked at the river. Since we had to anchor the boat we were swaying back and forth as the river debris was racing passed us. Another cruise boat was anchored near us and from the looks of how it was straining its anchor line I knew we were barely hanging on and wondering what would happen if we lost our anchor.

I did not sleep at all. I was trying to figure out the best way to explain to my teenager that maybe she was right, maybe we had boarded the Titanic but I was not ready to admit it quite yet.

As we approached morning, we found out by the cruise staff that we in fact had a hole in the boat as river debris had caused damage and we were not going to make it to our first destination, Vienna. We were docked safety at some small town along the river and “Do not be alarmed but we need to repair and gain permission to continue down the river.” I have to say, writing it here in English does not give justice to how the conversation went. We figured it out by watching the Captain talk to the emergency crew that had boarded the boat.


My husband started to say, ‘Well, we gave it a try, we may need to look over that travel insurance now.” I was not ready to admit maybe this adventure was over our head and packing up was a good idea. Instead of throwing in the towel, we decided to check out the small town along the river. It was adorable and offered some wonderful views of the river. By the time we got back on board, the boat was cleared to continue.

Maybe by boarding the boat under calmer conditions the trip seemed to take on new meaning.

Here’s the thing… Life is full of adventure. This one was going to change us forever we just did not know how much  and the river was going to show us.

When One Goes Down, They All Go Down…

The day began with my teenage daughter telling me that her 2-year-old computer decided to go blank. She no longer could use it.

“See”, she said holding it up as evidence. The screen was blank with little lines going up and  down the screen.

I shook my head. Knowing that I had no idea where the warranty was or the receipt.  Thinking that maybe we really did not have one anyway.

“And, I have a paper due next week.” Her eyes big, wondering what was she ever going to do.

Me, I was thinking about the photos, documents and everything else that was  now lost forever. I sighed deeply thinking back to a past summer when she had spilled chicken noodle soup all over the keyboard and screen. I had triumphed over that small disaster by taking a blow dryer to it and drying the keyboard. This time, I could see it would not be that easy.

We all knew that the computers would not last forever but really, when do you ever take such a thought seriously? Me, not till the thing is dead and gone. From the looks of the computer, it was dead and most definitely gone.

It always seems to me that these sorts of technological malfunctions always seem to occur right before the Holidays. I am not sure but I really am starting to believe it is a conspiracy against my pocketbook. That all computer companies gather around and decide that the shelf  life  of a computer will always end on or about December.

Though it can be difficult to swallow the purchase of a new computer, it is truly to my advantage, or so I rationalize, that I will get a holiday bargain for it. Some sort of dollars off, percentage off or buy this and you will get this offer will be afforded my way.  Making me feel okay with this large purchase that generally never includes all the programs you need and therefore, you hear the continued draining of your checking account.

So, off we go to the PX or otherwise know as, “the only place to get an electronic device” and shop the 5 computers that are available to us. We find the best of the lot; middle of the road in price and leave. And yes, it was marked down $70.00 for the Holidays.  It took us all of ten minutes to find the one among the 5 that we liked.

It was not long before my daughter and I were having a “discussion”  about who in the family would use it, where we keep it and most definitely no eating or drinking near it; we did get the warranty. I think in some small way we were bonding over the purchase of the new computer. We were so happy about the purchase and even got all the programs that it needed…included, no extra charges. For us it was a simple install and not long after getting it set up she was navigating around all her favorite sites.

I sank happily into to the couch thinking thank goodness that should be all for now.

Shouting from the other room I hear my husband shriek, ” Hey, my computer is all messed up.” Thank goodness I know they have more available at the PX and they are on sale…for the Holidays.

When the Frig gets Old

The refrigerator door handle broke. Yep, it came right off  and I was thinking, “Hooray, now we can get a new frig!”  Our refrigerator is old, very old BUT as I was reminded  by my husband it is running fine.

Like all of our appliances the frig has a government sticker on it displaying the type, year and DO NOT Remove government property.  While adjusting my glasses, I tried reading the blurred writing on the label and barely made out the year. When I finally did, it read it has been here since 1980. That is a longtime.

Time has a way of wearing things down and though this refrigerator is running fine it does run rough. The handle that fell off was rusty and the pieces somehow would need to be glued back to the metal surface of the frig. I knew the handle would eventually fall off  because every time you opened the frig, it would wiggle more and more. This refrigerator definitely had character.

This got me thinking, a lot of people have been in and out of its doors. This frig has stored meals,  provided a place for holiday cookies, cakes and I will bet a few turkeys and Christmas roasts. I can even imagine a few ice packs been pulled out from its freezer to take care of a bruise or two. Maybe a new refrigerator would not be such a good idea after all.  This one may just need a little bit of fixing.

When Housing came they took the handle and told me they would see if they could repair it, see if there were parts for it. He did say that, ” This one may not have anymore parts available. We may need to get you a new one”  He told me he would be back in the morning. I told him I hope he can find a way to “fix” the handle and let me keep the refrigerator and all its uniqueness.

After all it is still running fine.