Doing Holidays Differently

It’s always weird for me to say that I’m looking forward to a holiday such as Valentine’s Day, but this year has got me stoked for it. And no, it’s not for the reasons you would really think about (i.e., “love” or “dating”). Rather, I’m stoked because one of my favorite musical artists is dropping their 4th full length album. And it’s been 4 or 5 years since his last record, so it’s sort of a big deal for my partner and I.

We’ll be celebrating by hosting a small listening party on our record player in our apartment. Not many of our friends like his music, but that’s what is going to make it so much fun (and so special). Those that are there will absolutely love it, because it will be the first time we all listen to his stuff.

What’s fun is that we own one or two records of his on vinyl already, so we’ll be adding this to the collection that we have stored in some old cardboard boxes underneath our home entertainment system. In fact, I think it’s about time to upgrade our storage system from those very cardboard boxes. They’ve served us well over time, but I think it’s about time we get something more fitting for our collection that is growing (and becoming filled with rarer records worth more).

So yeah, Valentine’s Day will be quite special for us this year, if only because we’re doing something we never have before with a handful of close friends. I think that it’s these sorts of experiences that define how you handle life. Rather than buying into the entire idea of Valentine’s Day as a holiday where you’ve got to buy all sorts of candies, all sorts of chocolates, some cards, some stuffed bears, and some sort of nice “fancy” dinner for the person you like . . . why not do something more in line with your tastes and interests? I just feel like too many people let others (companies or people) decide for them what they’ll be doing on any given day. Holidays are especially bad about this, because people feel like there’s only one way to celebrate a special occasion.

Perhaps I’m getting off on a rant about this sort of stuff that doesn’t really matter though. In reality, everyone is going to be doing the same old thing they always do on Valentine’s Day, no matter how compelling my argument may come off to them. So, for what it’s worth, I hope this resonated with you more than the next average lemming!

A Valentine’s Surprise

People all across the United States are already making reservations for February 14. They are buying little gifts, pre-ordering flowers, and purchasing new outfits for their little date night. It does not matter if this is your 2nd date or your 20th year of marriage, most people really get excited for Valentine’s Day and what it means to them.

Valentine’s Day is not an important holiday for my partner and me. We value showing our love every day rather than picking a few days a year to show our love to each other. Little things matter more to us than anything else. My partner shows me love by doing the dishes even when it is not their turn. Taking the dog out alone when I do not want to bundle up and join. He does my laundry when he knows I am running low on work clothes for the week.

Big, fancy dinners do not excited us. Actually, we would rather prepare our own meals at home because we really enjoy cooking together. Food is a big part of our lives together. We have completely changed our diets to better fit our ideals and beliefs. One surprise I have considered for Valentine’s Day is candy boxes of chocolate. We really enjoy chocolate, but have to hunt to find chocolate we can actually eat. So loading up on candy boxes for a few months would definitely be worth it.

But the best plan we have come up with is waiting until AFTER Valentine’s Day to purchase our candy. Fifty percent off candy for getting it one day later? Absolutely. It really helps that Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year. The candy will go on sale on the weekend! Just in time for our weekly trip to the grocery store. We just have to be sure to be quick because I’m sure everyone else has the same idea we do.

There are so many different ways to show someone you love them. Do not get sucked into society’s way of thinking that only specific days are for showing love. Little trinkets or meaningful notes are nice on Valentine’s Day, but they are more appreciated on a random Wednesday in May. We should value our time together no matter what time of year it is. I say get the discounted candy the weekend after, order some take-out (or cook your own meal), and just enjoy your time together.

The Year of Fifty Boxes

Every year my mom has nine Christmas trees up before December even comes around. I guess you could say Christmas is her absolute favorite holiday. Each tree is a different size, shape, color, theme, and even position. That’s right. She has an upside-down Christmas tree. Well, actually, that one is just a year around a tree that is displayed all year long. The decorations just change according to the holiday: Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, Halloween, etc.

It brings her unrivaled joy to decorate her entire house. And seeing her with that joy plastered on her face brings me unrivaled joy. I’ve learned from her to feel for others’ emotions more than I ever have before in life. And because of that, I can experience her joy with absolutely no effort at all.

But I digress (and often!). With all of those trees come along cardboard boxes to store all of the ornaments. Oftentimes, people don’t think about the effort needed in putting up amazing holiday decor. Not only do you have to dedicate time to put it up (and when I say time, I mean like at least two weekends for my mom)–you have to dedicate just as much time to take it all down once January rolls around!

There are some hobbies out there that I just can’t get into, but for whatever reason, decorating for the holidays isn’t one of them. Perhaps it’s because my mom instilled a love in me for the holidays. Or maybe I see her work so hard during the winter to make her house look pretty, and it just inspires me to put forth effort in my own life. I’m not really sure what to make of it, but it’s one of those qualities you find in yourself (of your parents) that you end up loving more than you’d ever realize. Why would anyone want to truly spend their time working on their house in their free time in the freezing cold?

Because they want to, of course! Whether it’s the gorgeous and shiny ornaments you think of when you hear the word “Christmas” or all the cardboard boxes associated with storage, there’s something beautiful about people finding exactly what it is they love to do and going hard at it. You can’t fault anyone in life for pursuing a passion of theirs. Because no matter how they got there or why they love something, the fact of the matter is that they love it.

Prepping for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is under a month away! Without fail, that holiday seems to roll around quicker than almost any other on a yearly basis. Perhaps it’s because February is one of the most forgettable months of the year (it’s actually number one on that list, in case you were curious), meaning it’s one month that will always seem to come around quicker than the ones you actually care for.

Or, perhaps it’s because all the annoying couples come out of the woodwork during this time of year. And as we just said, the things you really don’t care for or don’t want to see are always the events or periods in time that seem to come back the quickest annually. Meanwhile, days like your birthday are also exactly 365 days away each year, yet they take forever to arrive.

Nonetheless, whether you buy into this holiday’s hype and apply it to your annual schedule or not doesn’t make a difference when it comes to this holiday making its return. Even if you try to be a recluse around Valentine’s Day, it will be inevitably forced down your throat every February, just like the tongues of the very teenagers that businesses are marketing their goods towards. So even if you’re happily in a relationship or a lone wolf jaded by the world, the pinks and reds and abundant hearts will find their way into your life some way or another on this February 14th.

So why not take part? At the very least, do it for your friends and family. You don’t have to feel the need to go out and buy extravagant candy boxes or plush animals for your favorite cousin or your best friend. Nonetheless, why not use the holiday against itself and celebrate in the name of true love? Love for your friends, love for your family, love for humanity. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll enjoy the process if you go out and shop a little for the ones who mean the most to you, even if you do happen to be single and don’t buy into it all.

Candy boxes and huge stuffed bears or not, Valentine’s Day can be a bit more than the superficial holiday that everyone claims it to be (myself included). It all just depends on your perspective, and if you can shift the way you see everyday things, you can change a lot in your life for the better.

Vinyl Collecting Can Be Expensive

Recently I started to look into collecting vinyl records from some of my favorite bands. And don’t get me wrong, I know there are vinyl collectors out there growing in numbers with the resurgence of the medium, but there’s a difference between picking up standard pressings of records from some bands you sort of know and what I plan on doing. (I don’t mean to say this in some sort of elitist way, to be brutally honest. I suppose I’m just wanting to whine about the price difference in the records I’ll be collecting!)

You see, I wish I was going to be going after standard black wax pressings of my bands. But since I had to fall in love with a band that does a lot of alternate pressings that are quite rare, well, my wallet is bound to suffer over the next year when I start chasing down some of these albums.

It’s not just the fact that the alternate pressings exist. It’s the fact that they’re released in batches of 100 or 300 in a way to make them extremely rare. Only those quick enough to order them right away will get them brand new. Otherwise, you’ve got to look around on the aftermarket to pick up some of the coveted variants. And trust me, seeing some records go for over $150 on ebay isn’t the most fun thing when you really want that album.

I did discover that some people are fans of trading records though. So it gives me incentive to go through some of my cardboard boxes full of my partner’s dad’s albums from the ‘70s to see if there are any gems hidden within. At the very least, I could trade away some of the albums he didn’t want and we don’t care to listen to in order to snag some of the rarer albums from my favorite bands.

It’s a good thing we did decide to pack away a good portion of the records he gave us in some old cardboard boxes. We don’t necessarily have room for them, but we placed them in a few boxes in the back of our coat closet. They stay out of the way and aren’t in trouble of collecting any dust, meaning they shouldn’t lose any of their quality or conditions. So, lucky for me, I said “Yeah sure, I’ll take those” when he asked if we wanted any of his old records. Looks like it’s paying off now!