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!

New Decade’s Resolutions

Just a week ago, we experienced not only the turn of the year, but the turn of a decade. People have made a huge deal about new year’s resolutions from one year to the next, and I’ve always found them quite silly considering people can make resolutions at any point in the year. However, I will admit that with the end of a decade and the beginning of a new one, it may be a good time to reflect on your last ten years and look forward to the next ten.

So, this should be approached as a new decade’s resolutions instead. If it were thought of like this by the masses, I’d have much fewer problems with the idea of resolutions, especially if long term goals are considered.

For myself, I’m looking to focus a lot more on my financial situation going forward as well as my health. If there are two things that impact my life the most down the road, it’s these. While other smaller resolutions are fun to tackle, nothing is as impactful as taking care of your body and mind while also building a solid financial base that will support you throughout life.

Regarding health, I know one thing I’ll be cutting back on this year (to prepare for the decade to come) is alcohol and candy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t drink every single day, and I’m not some sort of candy fiend who is always at the theater munching on whatever candy boxes I can get my hands on.

But still, I know that alcohol will slowly destroy my liver, and candy boxes are absolutely loaded with sugars that are not only bad for my body but my dental health as well. While they have been my little vices for the past few years, I know they haven’t impacted me too badly in the immediate here and now. But that sort of thinking is what gets you in trouble decades down the road. I don’t want to wake up one day and have some sort of heart problem or liver problem that could have been avoided back when I was this age.

I think if more people considered their health and life down the road when they made resolutions for the new year, things would be a lot less bleak. When we learn to look towards the future and learn from the past, real change occurs.

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.)