Chores and Responsibility

Any time I think of the chores that need done around my own household, my mind wanders back to a time when I was young, had no true responsibilities or jobs, and only had to do a few chores a week for my parents. Sometimes I get caught up in wishing that was my life again because of the freedom and lack of care in the world. But then I realize I wouldn’t truly have the “freedom” I now have to do anything I’d like whenever I like.

Still, it’s a point in my life worth missing with how little I had to do. School was easy. My home life was great. And I had a lot of free time to do whatever I wanted. I sometimes wish I still could explore my options in my free time now, but things are a little more rigid when you’re an adult.

Chores, though, gave me character. And there were a few in particular that I think instilled a sense of ownership and responsibility in me more than other chores ever could have. Those chores? Well, read on.

Picking up the house.

This was likely the most common chore I carried out and one that the house needed the most on a daily basis. I got pretty good about carrying a few cardboard boxes around the house with me to pick up loose items and clothes. This helped me to save trips walking from one room to the other putting things in their rightful places. Of course, if you wanted to use something else besides cardboard boxes, plastic totes would suffice. We just didn’t happen to have any.

Mowing.

What better way to give a teen responsibility than trusting them to run power equipment? Obviously this is something that I was taught to be extra careful with, even if it was a riding mower. We never had hills on our property, so it was as safe as could be when mowing. Still, it sort of made me feel more like an adult every time I cut the lawn.

Washing dishes.

Working as a dishwasher when I was 16 kind of ruined doing dishes at home as a chore when I was younger, if only because I felt like my life was consumed with dishes. So, I learned the art of compromise and would often trade my brother chores in order to get out of washing dishes. That typically meant I would end up sweeping the house, but if it meant not doing dishes, I was all for it.

Does Anyone Truly Like Wrapping Gifts?

Wrapping gifts is one of those tasks that everyone sort of knows how to do, yet only a few truly enjoy the process. I mean, even if you went around and asked everyone you knew if they enjoyed wrapping gifts, the majority may say they like it, but their answer is always tied to liking it because they like giving gifts. Conflating the two usually means they wouldn’t just go out of their way to wrap gifts for fun unless there was a gift inside, meaning that enjoying the process is typically dependent on giving the gift.

And trust me, I’m one of those people who will flat out tell you that I’m not a fan of wrapping gifts. In fact, my partner and I decided this year for the holidays that we would just go out on a mini shopping adventure together and get things we thought the home needed. And I put emphasis on the word need here, because we’re trying to cut back on our expenses of gifts and things that are considered extra.

Still, I understand that I’ll still be wrapping some gifts that we got for my parents and her parents this year. And so, the dreaded process still looms.

I have noticed, though, that wrapping things is so much easier when you’ve got quality packaging supplies. If you choose to skimp on the materials, however, you’ll be met with a poor attempt at wrapping simply because the tape doesn’t stick well or your scissors weren’t sharp enough to make a straight cut.

So, if I had any advice to impart on you about wrapping gifts, it’s to go out and get some top notch packaging supplies. It may seem like a decent amount of money spent only on wrapping, which can be discouraging, but if you think about how you’ll get years of use out of your supplies, the expenses almost seem negligible.

Make sure to get things you know you’ll use, though. If you end up picking out different colored sharpies and fancy scissors that cut a certain pattern, reevaluate if you’ll actually use them. There’s no point in having much else outside of strong, adhesive packaging tape, a solid black magic marker, sharp and reliable scissors, and the best boxes around. (Of course, the boxes can be grabbed up for free depending on where you look. Just be sure to say no to weak, old boxes that look like they’re falling apart.)

The Subscription Craze

Since the early 1900s, our culture has become incredibly engrossed with the entertainment industry. Both producers and businesses alike have capitalized on making big bucks off of entertainment, ranging from sports to film and live concerts and more. Of course, consumers eat this stuff up, as it’s a way to get away from the daily life and do something that they enjoy specifically. Thanks to everyone’s niche likely getting some love from entertainment in some capacity, you’ll never be left out no matter how weird or unique your hobbies are.

In this age, Netflix has completely overhauled what entertainment is like. Considering how huge film was not that long ago (and don’t get me wrong, it’s still big) and even how big of a fad video stores were for renting movies and episodes in a series, things have become drastically different in a sudden wink of an eye.

So, this has caused everyday people to have gained a huge amount of convenience in such a service. And boy does it show. People are much more likely to stay in and watch something on Netflix than actually go out to a film or rent something from a store (let alone buy anything new). Instead of buying expensive popcorn and candy boxes at the theatre, they’re much more likely to buy cheap popcorn and cheap candy boxes from the store to bring home for a binging marathon.

And this all happens from the comfort of your own home. Talk about Netflix absolutely hitting gold on a business model. What’s super great for consumers is how affordable a monthly subscription to Netflix is. They’ve priced their product so perfectly that people can’t help but talk about how cheap it is rather than how much of an inconvenience it is on their wallet. (Of course, people fail to include their monthly internet bill in the conversation when talking about Netflix despite that being 3 to 4 times as much.)

What’s quite telling is how this subscription model has taken over in other industries, too. People want the convenience of not leaving their home and not paying that much. And auto renewal payments just make the cycle even more simple, which is all the average consumer wants.

I’d say within a few years we can even start to expect things like craft beer subscriptions where something new comes to your house every month, giving you a wide array of options to try out and see what you like. This is just the nature of our society in this time.

Halloween Handout Alternatives

As society moves forward, we’re beginning to learn more and more about different diets, food allergies, and other dietary restrictions in kids, adults, and seniors. This means that restaurants have a heightened awareness of food labels and labeling their own menus, and it also means taking specific orders very seriously and to the exact point. Any single mess up could mean the business is sued or worse: a patron could become severely ill or even die from mishandled food.

A lot of people have taken up arms in this new era, considering some of these dietary restrictions as needless or extra, and they’re quick to point the finger at political correctness. Whatever it is, being PC has caused scores of people to get offended by having to be more careful about what they say and how they say it. I’m guessing it’s because everyone seems to hate change, and having to change up the way they speak for the sake of others (oh the horror!) has caused them some sort of distress.

Nonetheless, back to dietary restrictions. With Halloween here, I told my partner that it would be great to offer some sort of alternative to handouts given on Halloween night. Since so many different candy boxes are full of too much sugar or have dairy products or even tree nuts in them, it’s better to err on the side of caution and hand out little crafts or stickers instead. Since nonfood items can still be enjoyed, there’s no worrying about what kids may have certain allergies to certain foods.

So, instead of handing out jawbreakers and milk chocolate bars and an assortment of candy boxes, I think we’re going to be content buying a hodge podge of little stickers online off Etsy, and we may even knit our own little spooky ghost figures or bats. I know a lot of kids look forward to the sweets they get on October 31st, but considering they’ll get plenty of candy from other neighbors, I feel better knowing I didn’t cause some unwanted food reaction while also handing out something memorable to the kids.

See, being aware of food allergens and dietary restrictions isn’t hard at all. All it takes is some thoughtfulness and willingness to switch up the norms to accommodate others. I don’t see why this is such a big deal to so many people, but I have a sneaking suspicion it all rides on having to go out of your way to help out another person. And that, for some reason, is too hard to do.

Gift Giving is a Weird Concept

At some point in the past few years, I started to realize how full of fluff and fake niceties a lot of social events (especially those “celebrating” something) really are. Perhaps I’m a pessimist when it comes to talking about such things, but I’ve either grown jaded to things like birthdays, or I’m just starting to see such events for what they really are.

Don’t get me wrong. Holding birthdays for family members or kids serves its purpose quite well. The problem is that people still expect to be coddled on their birthday into their late 20s, and I just don’t jive with that mentality by any means. At some point or another, you’ve got to realize that a birthday is merely a day we’ve been conditioned to view as super special. And the whole idea of gift giving? That’s a bit extra.

Now, let me take a step back to talk about why I feel so strongly about these things. Honestly, I feel it all starts with the idea that we “owe” someone else a gift on their special day. This is where I have a huge problem, simply because this implies that we shouldn’t treat this person well the other 364 days in the year.

“Oh but I do treat my friends nice throughout the rest of the year!” Do you? If you honestly do, that’s great and how things should be. By all means, still get them a nice gift this year since you guys have a great relationship.

But for those of you who feel like you’re obligated to get a friend a gift or that getting them something will show you care about them… I have news for you: that’s not caring for a friend, and they don’t want your gift if you feel obligated to spend on them.

I mean, really, I just find the whole idea of spending money on certain items and wrapping them up in cardboard boxes to be kind of weird. It’s not something we do in our everyday lives, but if it were, well, then a birthday gift wouldn’t be so special. It would be just another gift. This is pretty much the embodiment of the whole “live everyday like it was your last” mindset. The more we place some special importance on a single day in the year, the less likely we are to treat every day as amazing and special.

So there you have it. I don’t “hate” birthdays. I just find the idea of shelling out money for gifts only to put them in cardboard boxes with a nametag to be overall pretty petty. Why not do this every month for those you love?