FACEBOOK: Upcoming Birthday

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My birthday is coming up, but rather than hopping on the Facebook fundraiser bandwagon, I’d like to do things a little differently.

Instead of asking you to throw pocket change at a charity of my choosing (top candidate = stopabductions.com), I’m asking you to keep your money in your pocket and get up off your ass — unless you’re in a wheelchair — and actually DO something to help make the world a slightly better place.

It doesn’t have to be anything major: treat a friend to lunch, or surprise them with a little gift.  Offer your seat on the Metro to someone who looks tired.  Pick up trash you find along the beach instead of posting a picture of it to Instagram.  Pick up the phone and call an aging relative, just to let them know you care.  Fact check before reposting.

Or if you really want to spend a bit of cash (and aren’t bothered by the fact that kindness is not tax deductible), try offering limited financial assistance to an ACTUAL human being in need — covering the cost of a prescription refill, hearing aid, groceries, etc.  Even if your offer is declined, the spirit of it will not go unappreciated.

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FACEBOOK: Mike Carey’s Lucifer

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MIKE CAREY’S LUCIFER is quite possibly the greatest story that has ever been told.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve reread the series (to say nothing of specific issues — #s 33, 75, & 16 being my absolute favorites), yet each time is no less beautiful and uplifting and utterly engrossing than the last. Never before have such characters been conceived and utilized in such a manner; never before has such an epic tale resolved itself in so bittersweet and satisfying a conclusion.

If you’re looking for something really, really special this Christmas season (for yourself or someone else), I heartily endorse Mike Carey’s Lucifer.

FACEBOOK: Birthday Prezzie

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My kid knew exactly what to get me for my birthday without even having to ask: The Borgias Season 3 and Nine Dragons (a book I’d been missing from the Harry Bosch series).

So the next time YOUR kid hands you some crappy fingerpainted necktie or a lopsided mug with all the functionality of a sieve, remember how MINE knows which of my obsessions keep me awake at night, and is capable of navigating his personal sla– er… I mean his grandmother… through the intricacies of online purchasing.

Cesare Borgia would be proud; he bought HIS daddy the papacy, whereas the younger, less politically-astute Juan made do with fingerpainting St. Fermin in the blood of a dead Moor. (Try wearing THAT with white and gold.)

Living Large for Less on X-Mas

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These were my child’s gifts under the tree Christmas morning.  I didn’t bother taking a sea of gifts pic because everything looks much more impressive wrapped.

My kid typically gets one big gift from his grandparents and another from his great-grandmother while Santa and I provide the rest.  The trick is to get a bunch of things they’re going to need anyway and then wait until Christmas to give it to them.  Take advantage of sales, dollar deals (socks and bath supplies), and the Scholastic catalogs from school.  I’ll typically keep some closet space year-round just to stock up for Christmas and his birthday, which conveniently fall six months apart.

This also saves me from having to do very much shopping around Christmas.  We’ve been reusing most of the same gift bags for the past 3 or 4 years.  (Tissue paper, bows, and gift wrap can be had for pennies after Christmas and/or New Year’s.)

What you see below is about a dozen or so individually-wrapped (mostly soft-cover) books, new socks and undies, a couple of every-day outfits, a new winter coat, hats and mittens, fun character body washes and bubble baths, basic arts & crafts supplies such as Play-Doh and markers (we’ll see how long those last), a few toys, and a bunch of other things I would have given him even if it hadn’t been Christmas.

Kids love Christmas, and kids love opening presents on Christmas.  Some kids (like mine) enjoy the unwrapping part most of all.  It’s totally possible to give them a ton of gifts to open without worrying about spoiling them or draining your bank account dry.