December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays from Cranky Fitness! Plus, Very Last-Minute Gift Idea

photo via James Vaughan

By Crabby McSlacker

Whatever winter holiday you celebrate, and whatever your favorite traditions are,

photo via James Vaughan

let's hope it was, or is, or will be, a lovely, peaceful, and joyous occasion! I'll be very curious if any of you are willing to share what your winter celebrations are like.

I've been blogslackin' again, but not just due to the buying-a-new-house-on-a-whim shenanigans. I'm back to working on my novel again. (Yay?)

But not being around as much as I used to be, I've been really missing everyone. You guys rock! You are part of my community, part of my family even, and I know exactly how weird that sounds. And so before I start the whole New Year's Resolution Let's Kick Ass in 2016 yada yada yada stuff, I want to sincerely wish you all the happiest of holidays. 

As you may know, here at the Crab and Lobster household, we are not religious. Nor do we believe that there is a  jolly fat guy in a red suit who circumnavigates the globe distributing presents with the help of flying reindeer. Thankfully, we have no children to indoctrinate with any improbable Christmas myths either. Because isn't that a weird cultural tradition when you think about it?  "Let's all lie to our kids about Santa Claus until they get old enough to figure out that we're full of shit. So when it's time for those "stay in school" and "don't smoke" and "be nice to everyone, even the unpopular kids" lectures, we'll have absolutely no credibility!

But again, no kids here, so what do I know?

So anyway, we celebrate "Christmas" because that's what we both grew up with. But it's a Christ-free, Santa-free, low key version of Christmas. "Christmas Lite."

It's mainly about connecting with family and friends.  And hell, let's be clear: it's also about desserts. And Presents. We've tried to be grown-ups and skip the over-eating and the presents part, but as it turns out? We like stuffing our faces with sweets and getting and giving presents.

Every year we say: "let's not do anything about presents this year!" "Let's not eat a whole bunch of cookies and cakes and candies until we're ready to explode!" And every year, we are totally lying.

Fortunately, we both grew up with the "open presents Christmas morning" tradition, not the horrible alternative, the jump-the-gun, Christmas Eve unwrapping.  I know this is customary in some countries and cultures, but WTF? You wake up Christmas morning and the holiday is already over? No, no, no, a thousand times no! That's just wrong. (For us!) 

We also drag Christmas morning out as long as possible. One person, opening one present at a time. Everyone watches and exclaims. Even if we are just opening gift cards for retailers we have specifically requested ahead of time.

This year, we are more geographically far-flung than usual, which is a bummer.  But we are hoping to have a happy Skype-mas and share the present unwrapping festivities via the interwebs.  (Fingers crossed).

But Speaking of Christmas Presents...

Do you sometimes find it hard to buy something that is useful enough not to be a total waste of money, yet not so everyday-useful as to be a bit... unexciting?

No, actually, they don't.
photo via James Vaughan

I can not recall the last time I fondled my vacuum-cleaner.
photo via James Vaughan

Or maybe you just want to buy yourself a present? But one that would actually reduce suicidal or homicidal ideation during a stressful holiday season?

Well, some of you may be ahead of me here, because as you may recall, I'm a big fan of Rick Hanson's programs, and his awesome Foundations of Well-Being Program is on sale if you sign up before January 1st! Plus, there's a 30-day money-back guarantee if you sign up and then flake out.

Am I an affiliate? Hell yes! But the reason I pimp for Rick is because he is insanely smart and helpful, not because I get an occasional check. I get tons of affiliate offers (God knows why, for an almost-dead blog, but whatever) and I turn 'em all down. Because apparently I'm too stupid to be motivated by money.

I could go on forever about what a great resource the program is, because not only do you get Rick's presentations, there are guest speakers, activities, quizzes, forums etc, plus a monthly live Q&A. 

This stuff really works: you CAN rewire your brain for more happiness.  But gosh, guess what? It takes a little practice, and consistency, and effort. Most people find that without some kind of structured program, it just doesn't happen.  

(Note: if you plug "Rick Hanson" in the search box at Cranky Fitness, you can read a scary, almost stalkery number of posts singing his praises. To sum up, Rick is (a) brainy (b) warm (c) funny (e) humble (f) pragmatic (h) straight-forward (i) entertaining and (j) a hell of a nice guy.

Could you, or anyone you love, benefit from a program like this? Then get a move on, and if you pay for the year upfront before January 1, you get a big discount. More info at the Foundations of Well-Being site.

Of course I can't find my affiliate log-in info, because I am a disorganized nincompoop, and waited 'til the last minute to put this post up. So if the link doesn't work, bear with me, I'll figure it out when Rick's peeps are back in the office. Just let me know if you try to sign up and it ain't happening. Also, I'm not exactly sure how you gift it. There's always the endearing home made gift certificate approach, right? And then you figure out the sign-up thing with your recipient once it's not a surprise. (Or heck, there may be a gift option, but I can't get very far in the sign-up process to test it because I'm already signed up).

Oh, and in other business news, I just wanted to alert and remind anyone who's thinking about going to the Prevention R3 Summit in Austin with me that it's coming up before too long: it's January 15th and 16th.  Remember when I blogged about the R3 Summit? It's a women's health summit with tons of speakers, demonstrations, etc, and now they've added Joan Lunden to the line-up too.  Maybe a little motivation for any New Years goals you may be contemplating? But our discount code has changed, it's now PVNR3SDCRANKY1. (But I'm NOT an affiliate on this one, just attending for kicks and possible free food).

So what do you guys do to celebrate (or not) the winter holidays? Any other good very last-minute gift ideas?


  1. I missed you, Crabby! I do not celebrate the holidays and find it extremely peaceful and relaxing. No gifts, no visiting, nothing at all. I did purchase some celebratory dips to be consumed tomorrow and although I am not looking forward to the discomfort after eating things that don't agree with me, they will taste good going down.

    The Santa Claus thing is funny. My son always knew Santa was not real, but that never stopped him from putting out cookies, milk, and carrots. He even rigged up an alarm system one year to catch the big guy in the act.

    Have a lovely holiday and enjoy the Skyping! Eat, drink and be merry!!!

    1. Thanks so much Kimberely, and I hope you enjoy your peaceful relaxing non-celebration! (And the dips!)

      And yeah, it's cool the way kids can believe and not believe in magical things at the same time; it would be nice to do that more as an adult!

  2. Desserts are the main feature of ALL holidays.

  3. So I had to get off the iPod and onto something with a keyboard. As I have often said "Unitarians celebrate Everything!" (I am not one, but my best friend is, so I have plenty of observations to back this up.) I celebrate Solstice, mainly, but that includes the tree with all the lights and shiny light-reflectin things. I'm almost always working on Christmas, so that's a low-key meal of turkey and all. I celebrate Hanukkah in a haphazard way (depending on when it falls I will add one more string of lights to my house every night of Hanukkah) with plenty of latkes and applesauce. I have rarely celebrated Diwali, and only with people who knew more than I did about it, but I would like to add it to my collection. I tried out Kwanzaa and found it a stiff formal sort of holiday. Perhaps if you have children you're trying to inculcate the virtues in. Solstice always involves a fire, even if it's too warm (this year was in the sixties) and changing the seasonal decorative plate on the mantel.
    Some years ago I quit giving presents. I'd always been one of those disgusting people who is finished shopping in October, and I loved wrapping things, and then one year I just got bored. I did presents a few more years and then told everyone I was quitting. It's blissfully peaceful that way.
    When I was little my parents made sure I knew Santa was pretend, for all the reasons you list, and I'm sure I got just as much fun out of him as my friends who believed (or who pretended to believe). My mother, when she was explaining that I must not let the secret out to other children, specifically said she wanted to never ever lie to me.
    So I have quite a mishmosh of holiday traditions.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

    1. I love that you celebrate all the more interesting holidays, solarity, a very creative approach to the season! Sounds like a lovely mishmosh.

      And I never even heard of Diwali! I need to get out more. :)

    2. Mary Anne, that all sounds lovely!

    3. (I don't know how to make it a live link.)
      When I was living in Lexington, KY the international student organization usually had a Diwali celebration on campus.
      Celebrating light over darkness with lots of food: surely every culture came up with one of these.
      Mary Anne in Kentucky

  4. When my kids were little, we were honest with them about how Santa was a lovely myth, and we would pretend he was real, especially in front of children who truly believed. My kids never did let the cat out of the bag and ruin it for any other kids, they loved playing pretend.
    One family i knew always had gifts on Christmas Eve because Dad published the local newspaper 365 mornings a year. By the time he came home on Christmas morning, it was time for church, so they would do the gifts the night before.
    We get to go to NOLA with the whole family for the usual feasting/gifting/picking oranges in the Grandparents' back yard.
    Happy Christmas!

    1. Oh, and i almost forgot. Last minute gift idea, a good umbrella. Where we live, everyone could use one in the car and one in the house, and a spare because you brought the one from the car in and forgot to take it back out with you!

    2. Wow, I'm impressed by all the honest parenting going on; we got fed the Santa story as did all our friends.

      Hope you have a wonderful time in NOLA Messymimi, sounds like a great celebration.

      And umbrellas! Yes! Because no one buys the really nice sturdy ones for themselves, we all wait until we're caught off guard and get the cheap kind that turn inside out if you look at them funny. Great idea!

  5. I see an elf ate my comment. Dang. Anyway, we sacrficed a turkey on the Solstice and then opened our presents this morning. My plan for the leftover turkey is pizza for tonight. I think I may dub it "The Solstice Slice." Or not.

  6. Hi Crabby!
    Happy celebrations to everyone! We're having a quieter one since most people are out-of-town, and with kids mostly doing their own thing. It's nice and peaceful. Chef son sent us his handmade chocolates that were absolutely killer.

    We scored a last-minute Xmas eve gig, so my wife and I played music at a party with the traditional Italian seafood barrage, which we were also able to take part in.

    Funny you should mention Rick Hanson... I loved his Hardwiring Happiness, and I've been making an effort to use those very good ideas lately.

    Excellent gift tips above! I forgot that those are just the things that everybody wants!

    Glad to hear the novel is moving again!

    All the Best,

  7. Happy Christmas, Crabby! We always did Santa for our kids just because it was fun. I think they figured it out at a fairly young age, but they requested that we keep it going (along with the stockings that "Santa" fills) because they just like it. So we do - why not, eh?

  8. We were just too busy with friends and (very) extended family for me to find this until today, and even today was the annual Audubon Society Christmas count, so I spent 10 Hours wandering around with binoculars and a telescope.

    We usually have a big Christmas Eve dinner at my sister's followed by Christmas morning at a daughter's house. This year, dinner was at our house, 17 people, so lots to do. Then we generally bring a Christmas lunch to a friend who can't get out easily. For me, the holiday is fun & I feel lucky to have so many people to hang out with. But like you, Crabby, I have never had any religion in my life so it's just a fun family time. Unlike you, I could not sit still for that one at a time present ritual! My husband's family did that & the one time we celebrated at their house with young children, it took so long the kids (1, 4 & 6 years old) got impatient & wandered away from quite a few unopened toys. So we just plunge in.

    Oh - Santa? I honestly don't remember if my kids,ever really believed in him. I never would have told them he was real, but I also would not have bent over backwards to be sure they didn't. They seem to have figured it out when they wanted to.

    It's great to hear your novel is underway! Happy new year to you, and to everyone here. It really does feel sort of like a family.

  9. Happiest of New Year's to you and the Lobstah!

  10. Hanukkah was spent with family - back in my old haunts. My younger son was here with me for a couple of days at Christmas.

    I did do the Santa thing with my boys but they were bright kids and didn't buy into it for an exceptionally long time. It's a time of magic for kidlets and they knew that, looking back... and still trusted me, and know right from wrong. :)

    Happy New Year to you and the Lobster. :)

  11. Of course, the Christmas mythes are fiction pieces of human mind, it goes without saying...but what is the purpose of all of them - that is the question! To make us closer and "dreamsful" at least at this short period of time!


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