December 23, 2016

Appreciating the Holidays during the Shittiest Year Ever

By Crabby McSlacker

So the holiday season has arrived, and traditionally this is a time for joy and togetherness. Yet for many of us, this year hardly seems time for celebration.

And I know, this is a health blog, not a political blog. But I feel like I have to acknowledge the elephant in the room---the scary mean orange elephant, the angry beast who defeated the diligent, highly qualified donkey and now rules the world.

These are scary times. It feels too fake and weird to just pretend everything is normal.

We have a president-elect gearing up to destroy our democracy. Not out of malice or twisted ideology. No, Trump is not some epic villain for the ages with a sinister grand plan--he's just arrogant. Ignorant. Entitled. Vindictive. Uninhibited. Mendacious. Greedy. Narcissistic.

Every day comes some fresh outrage, something that would have, in times past, shocked the populace, made bold headlines, brought down administrations. Yet there are never any repercussions. Well, we get funny SNL skits and Samantha Bee rants and Facebook petitions. They makes us feel better momentarily, but we're still facing the same horrific reality a few minutes later.

Am I offending some of you pro-Trump people out there? I'm sorry.  But I'm offended you elected this racist, sexist, irrational, authoritarian, hate-filled monster to lead our country.

But hey, if you supported Trump and are somehow still willing to put up with my occasional rants, you are still most welcome here!

So what's the health angle here?  It's this: bazillions of studies have shown that feelings of gratitude and appreciation are good for us. Cultivating appreciation, even in the midst of political shitstorms, improves our physical and mental health, and makes us far less likely to be assholes to those around us.

So I thought I'd go first:  what are a few things that I'm especially appreciating this year as the holidays roll around?

1. I Love My Bubble!

My family, friends and community (both the geographical and online kind of community) exist in that liberal "bubble" we're told we should wander out of more often. But fuck that. I am not going to wander over to Breitbart or peruse the National Enquirer or go to a Trump rally to immerse myself in their nasty perverted take on the world.

(Of course my wife and I actually do wander outside the bubble, in a physical sense. We cross the country by car quite frequently, and just traveled through a bunch of red states right after the election. Everyone was very pleasant. But we did not talk politics.)

Anyway, the silver lining to the arrival of the Trumpocalypse is my skyrocketing feelings of admiration, affection, and appreciation for all those who are just as appalled as I am about the horrifying wrongness of what's happening, and are expressing it in all kinds of clever and heartfelt ways.

And it's not just an abstract appreciation, it feels emotional, even physical.  I'm reminded of the days following 9-11, when we lived in New York City: looking around at everyone trying to cope and help and pull together, and feeling a sense of unity and camaraderie in the wake of the unthinkable.

It's weird how that "under attack" feeling can make you appreciate the good qualities of those around you.  The country has suddenly turned hostile to basic ideals we thought were inarguable. But at least we have each other. And we will resist.

2. Less Flagrant Materialism

Is it just me, or does it seems like it's a more restrained, reflective, and simple holiday season this year than in previous years?  I'm hearing more and more people say they are going easy on presents, favoring adventures and gatherings and necessities and togetherness over Big Fat Piles of Expensive Shiny Stuff.

3. Funny Amazon Reviews

The holiday season lures many of us to online retailers, and Amazon product reviews have become a huge forum for consumer opinions.

Fortunately, these opinions are not just confined to the obvious pro's and con's of the products under discussion.  Creative Questions and Answers and reviews can be the source of much good cheer. And what's not to like about good cheer this time of  year?

Check out the Tuscan Dairy Review, for example. Or Bic for Her.

Sadly, there were some hilarious reviews of  Ivanka's Trumps boots, but after I started drafting this post they seem to have disappeared.

There's even a Funniest Amazon Reviews list curated by Amazon, and there are some great ones there.

4. I can run again!

No, not for elected office, God forbid. I mean run as in jog slowly and awkwardly down a trail, all the while fantasizing that I'm sprinting like a cheetah.

Running has always been one of my favorite forms of cardio, and it's exceptionally convenient if you travel a lot.  I know running is a stupid-ass thing for me to do, but I've missed it terribly!

It's probably still not good for me, it aggravates my back a little, but within tolerable limits.  I stopped because of plantar fasciitis, and before that knee problems, but I seem to be temporarily able to get away with it. Yay for running!

5. Chrome Kitten Extension

Even over the holidays, it is hard to avoid being confronted by The News.

How to deal with graphic, disturbing images that harsh your holiday mellow?

It only works on some news sites, but if you use Chrome as a browser, why would you NOT want every image of Donald Trump replaced by a cute kitten?

If you download the Chrome Make America Kittens Again Extension, at least occasionally the face of the devil incarnate in a news story will be replaced by something like:

So yeah, I'm a little weird. But what are you all appreciating this holiday season? Are you in the mood to celebrate?


  1. I love this post.
    We too are scaling back on gifts. Partly becuase we're broke (seems to be the regular thing at the holidays for us), partly because my kids are teens and don't want anything fun anymore.
    The political climate is scary right now and I fear it will be for at least 4 years. Many of us are scared and anxious, but we find each other and in that fear we find communioty and safety in numbers. We stand together and resist all of the nast bullshit going on. We have to be sure to stand up and speak out.
    I'm celebrating my loved ones, here and gone, this year. Family, friends, and community. There's always room for more love.
    Happy Holidays, Crabby. ♥

    1. Love this comment Heather!!!

      And what a great way to end it: yes, there's always room for more love.

      Hope your holidays are wonderful!

  2. Agent Orange terrifies me due to his incompetence and everything else you listed.
    As for Christmas, we've scaled back considerably with only a few things under the plant stand. We had a Solstice turkey, as is our way often. We commonly go for a drive Christmas Day, but there may be snow falling which means Mike will be out ploughing the highway. There hasn't been much this year, but there's some falling now so I consider it a Christmas miracle.
    Glad to learn you are running again.
    Best of the season to you and the Lobster.

    1. Thanks so much Leah. And I love the idea of a Solstice turkey and Christmas day drive, those sound like great traditions.

      Best of the season to you and Mike as well!

  3. I loved reading this, Jan. Thanks for leading unapologetically with 'this has been the shittiest year ever." It has. My silver lining is the pop-up, I think strong-as-steel bonds created, not just across us marching Hillaries but across, criss-crossing before-invisible communities (e.g., getting an appointment for an antique clock workman to come set up a grandfather clock at my house, the woman on the phone asked for a certain Monday in January; I said I was marching with a million women that day and she thanked me). We owe it to ourselves to know how to run resistance, stay mentally healthy, become positive again.

    Miss you two here in the Northeast. Come back soon. Until then, happy and peaceful holidays, ok?

    1. Hi Pat!!! So sweet of you stop by here and add your thoughts, really appreciate it. Just wish I could see you and Heather in person over the holidays.

      SO wish we were doing the Washington march, but logistics got complicated. There's supposed to be one in San Diego.

      Stay warm and I hope your holidays are wonderful!

  4. Looooove. Agree. Making my own Texas bubble, too.

    1. Excellent Carla! Thank you!

  5. Great post, thank you! These are absolutely scary times--very much "What fresh hell is this?" with one outrage after another: The cabinet appointments, the nuke tweets, the--oh, you know.

    Sometimes I remind myself, somewhat maniacally, that Clinton won the popular vote. He does not have a mandate.

    I loved this post without any health angle, but as cliched as it may seem, exercise and self-care will be important in this marathon of resistance to Lord Cheetoh.

    And we will resist.

    1. Love this Mare.

      And yes, you're totally right about the importance of exercise and self-care! Especially when they try to take away all our health insurance.

  6. Merry Christmas. I hope you don't give up on that novel. I'm unsubscribing now. If you ever get out from under your disdain for our president (I certainly did, for the past eight years) please drop me an email if you still have it on file. If not, meh, no worries. Again, wishing you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons.

  7. Hehe love this post! To be honest I'm really not a fan of the holidays so this year was worse than usual. I seemed to have purchased less gifts this year - or at least more gift cards. Guess I'm more worried about cheeto head getting us all blown up than people having the perfect gift.

    1. Thanks Lauren, and yeah, we seem to be doing a lot more gift cards, staying out of the retail frenzy and letting our loved ones skip the long post-xmas lines at the return counter. Have a wonderful (safe) holiday!

  8. Yup, four years of unknown and then how many years to repair that damage? That is IF we get the chance to recover from his (gag) leadership.
    We are celebrating this season as if it might be our last. There is no future to count on. We can HOPE for a future, but no one can count on it.
    So I live in the moment more and more. I don't go crazy with messing things up for the future but if I can be happy in the 'now' I try to be.
    Being a child of the 50's, I remember sheltering under my desk. I feel I might need that skill again. And heck, after the first two World Wars, the economy was great, right? GACK!
    This all does relate to health. Now, besides fighting our own inner battles we have extra worries poured on us and it gets pretty hard to stay on task.
    SO glad you are getting out to run again! It is on my to-do list for next year, starting on the first, to commit to walking 10 minutes (or more) per day.
    Sorry for the disjointed comment. I wrote a lot more and erased it. lol Thanks for stopping by my blog too. Keep in touch, ok? Luv ya! SMOOTHIES! :D

    1. #$%**^%&# damn spell checker...that is supposed to be SMOOCHIES, not smoothies....although one of those sounds good right about now. :)

    2. Loved reading your comment Sherri, always funny and thoughtful, so never edit! And the "smoothies" for "smoochies" is actually pretty awesome, and plenty of both back atcha!

  9. You know, before November, I was frequently exasperated with the wackiness that is a part of everyday life here in California. As I stumbled through my morning walk on November 9th, listening to NPR and weeping openly every time they said his name, I remembered that most of the horrible things he's going to do to the country won't affect me because our governor and the rest of our state government will make damned sure that they do not. (Actually, there's a new wall I *could* get behind - just to the east of the Sierra Nevadas and Cascades.)

    With that in mind, here's my list of things I'm grateful for:
    1. California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii: Pacific States of America for the win!
    2. My gorgeous, tolerant, brilliant husband who, even when he disagrees with me still listens when I rant about the latest news
    3. The company I work for, which happens to be on the "naughty list" from Breitbart because it matches all of our charitable contributions (including those to Planned Parenthood)
    4. Colleagues at work, even those who will be celebrating on January 20th, because we show each other respect always
    5. My online friends (like you) who write what I'm feeling so much more eloquently than I ever could

    Here's to a better 2017 filled with love, acceptance, and good health for everyone!

    1. Hi Denise, thanks so much for your list, it really cheered me up!

      There's a "funny" map circulating on Facebook in which the Pacific coast and northern Eastern seaboard are annexed to Canada, and why, oh why, does that have to be a joke? We are two unhappily married Americas, and we need a divorce.

      Other countries all over the world split up and go their separate ways when differences get too bitter and irreconcilable, why can't we do that too?

  10. Hi Crabby! Thanks for the post about what is on the mind of almost every one of us who read your stuff. We need to stick together. I'll be attending the Women's March in Bellingham because I cannot get to DC. And I am glad to be close to the Canadian border where reason prevails, and in Washington State, one of the Pacific Blue States. And I'm giving to a refugee organization that helps those in Syria. Planned Parenthood, too. I'm glad for our community. :-)

    1. Thanks DJan, both for stopping by and doing all those positive things to try to fight for those coming under fire. It seems these are insane times we live in!

  11. As a person who would have been scared no matter who won (sorry, i had to go third party, and not with the pothead, either), i am scanning news headlines in our paper each morning, then blowing past that to get to the comics and the puzzles.

    The news out of our own state is awful right now, too, so another reason to scan the headlines just enough to be informed, then go do something else.

    Other than that, i ignore the news. It's all too much.

    Hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!

    1. Messymimi, I know you are on the front lines doing so much to help those in need. In these times that's the most important thing of all. Merry Christmas to you and your family and much joy and peace in the new year.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I am a news junkie, but I can hardly watch or read it - it scares me. The thing that has saved me is an emailed news summary called The Skimm. It's hilarious and makes it much less scary, but still getting the facts.

    4. I'll have to check out The Skimm, thanks for the tip Carmen! I too struggle with how to check in on what's happening without being plunged into depression or anger.

  12. Sometime back in September I made a vow that I would not comment, Like, ReTweet or otherwise show my face on any political post, joke, or whatever until after the election, no matter whether it perfectly expressed my opinions, or completely outraged me, or made me laugh hard enough to spill my coffee. I do not feel like changing my mind and have extended this vow until the next election. At least.

    So I will start by saying I'm grateful I've never been a news junkie. I skim through my Google News page fairly quickly, not clicking on many stories (and being continually annoyed at how hard it is to find any local news online, on Google News or elsewhere, even if you dig deep in a local newspaper, which has lots of city news but little state news.) (Yeah. See how quickly gratitude ran downhill into annoyance?)

    I'm glad that you're running again and hope it works out well. In parallel news I'm grateful for finally having found shoes that my bad foot likes well enough for me actually Go For Walks again. (The bad news is they're $130 so I've only bought one pair so far. See? bitchwhinebitchwhine.)

    I'm grateful that Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice has scheduled their rally at the Kentucky Legislature on a day I have off. I can go! (There's no way I can go to Washington. It would involve flying, even if I asked for and got the day off, and then I'd be too busy having an allergic reaction to actually march.)

    Not doing much (besides work) for the holidays, though I did have a nice fire for Solstice, but Christmas and Hanukah are going to be very low key.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky (parenthesis junkie)

    1. Hi Mary Anne, and yay for new shoes and going for walks!!! (And you totally cracked me up with "See how quickly gratitude ran downhill into annoyance?" My brain works the exact same way.

      I had no idea there was such thing as a Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, that's wonderful it exists and even more wonderful that you are going to their rally.

      Hope the low key holidays are restful, tranquil, and extremely pleasant!

    2. Ky RCRC is the state level division of the national RCRC. (Pronounced "arsy-arsy.") I've been a member for maybe twenty years. You don't have to be a member of any specific religion to join, either: vaguely spiritual will do. I need to dig out my lapel pin to wear. It's a neat design combining a cross, a menorah, an Om in Sanskrit, and something that stands for Islam. Cramming more symbols in would be nice, but difficult.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

  13. On the plus side, the gallows humor has been very high quality.
    On the down side, well, there's pretty much anything you hear on the news. Or from half my family. I'm playing the game known as Surviving The Holidays By Not Talking About Politics With Family.

    1. 'Tis true Merry, that when reality turns surreal there is much dark humor to be found, and, well, it helps!

      And yes, I can't imagine what holidays are like for those whose families don't live in the same bubbles. (My one relative who would burst mine is estranged enough I don't have to deal with it very often).

      Hope you have a wonderful, warm, happy, politics-free Christmas!

  14. Hi Crabby, as a fellow very liberal type I very much enjoyed this post. I have kind of a hard time with Christmas, especially this year for various reasons. I am not in the mood to celebrate, but rather, shelter from reality a bit if I want to be really honest. That said, I am really happy to have so many wonderful friends and family, a good job, a great trainer at the gym, a nice roof over my head, three kitties... and a partridge in a pear tree. :) xoxo

    1. Hi Amy, I hope your holidays were wonderful and it's great to hear you have so much to be grateful for even in these scary times!

  15. So happy to hear from you - I love having some vocal, voice-of-reason friends out there on the interwebs. Although truthfully, I've unfriended some real ones and hidden the feeds of others, so I am in a good bubble now. It seems like there are a lot of us who need a bubble, unfortunately.

    Happy New Year to you and the Lobster.


Thanks for commenting, Cranky Fitness readers are the BEST!

Subscribe to comments via RSS

(Note: Older Comment Threads Are Moderated)