Tag Archive for 'holidays'

In defense of the oft-misunderstood scrooge

This is Jim’s traditional Christmas column.

Some say I’m a scrooge. They might be right.

Here are three exhibits (some say excuses) in my defense of this indictment:

1. The early part of my career was spent in retail. Retailers know what that does to your holiday spirit. There’s a syndrome for everything else; why not one for retail survivors? Let’s call it PTHSS: Post-Traumatic Holiday Shock Syndrome.

2.  Since I don’t wait until the holidays to give someone a gift, I just don’t get all worked up about holiday giving. Not that the ladies mind getting stuff all year (let’s not lose our heads!).  It’s just that they want me to be giddy about giving at Christmas-time. Giddy? Bah! Humbug!

3. As an avowed and devout contrarian it would be antithetical for me to feel obligated to do what everyone else is doing. And if there is one thing that has become part and parcel of the holiday season, it is obligation. For example:

a) If someone gives my significant other and me a last-minute Christmas gift, “Other” feels obligated to reciprocate. I don’t. I’ll do something nice for them in March.

b) After the Christmas cards have been sent, if an incoming card is received from someone not on your list, do you rush to get a card out to them? Not me. Maybe next year. In “The World, According To Blasingame,” giving should be voluntary, not obligatory. In fact, to a scrooge, not reciprocating is endearing.

It’s not that I don’t like the holidays. As a Christian, this is an important time in my faith life. As a capitalist, the importance of holiday spending to our economy is not lost on me. But I just don’t care for what we self-absorbed humans hath wrought on the holiday season. And if that makes me a scrooge, guilty as charged.

So on behalf my misunderstood brethren (this isn’t politically incorrect – apparently, there are no female scrooges), let me clear up a few things:

1. Scrooges can be lovable, huggable, and yes, even cute.

2. It’s a myth that all scrooges are skinflints; some are actually quite generous. But their generosity isn’t obsessive, isn’t tied to a calendar, and doesn’t come with giggles.

3.  Scrooges can be quite caring and compassionate, without saying, “Bless their hearts” over and over.

In order to influence an acquittal, I offer two challenges into evidence; one for me and one for us:

I challenge myself to be more receptive to, and tolerant of, the silly parts of the holiday season, and those who perpetuate the silliness. But please, be patient; the mill of a scrooge grinds slowly.

I challenge us to be more generous, loving, thankful, and spiritual all year long – not just during the holidays. Imagine what would happen if we all practiced peace on earth, goodwill toward everyone, every day. It might sound something like this:

“Let’s help those people right now. Yes! In the middle of July!”

Write this on a rock … Peace to you and yours. Shalom.  Salaam. Que la paz este con ustedes.

An official day for small business owners

Labor Day began as an idea in the mind of a 19th century labor leader — some say Matthew Maguire, others say Peter McGuire — who cared greatly for a very important segment of the marketplace, its workers.

Regardless of paternity, such a day was first celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, when members of the CLU took an unpaid day off to demonstrate solidarity and, of course, have picnics. And ever since 1984, when President Grover Cleveland’s signature designated the first Monday in September as Labor Day, it’s been an official federal holiday.

In 1898, Samuel Gompers, then head of the American Federation of Labor, called Labor Day, “the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed … that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.”

Alas, entrepreneurs aren’t organized like our union brethren — probably because we’re too busy making payroll. There is no single Small Business Day officially decreed by the U.S. Government. No Entrepreneur’s Day set aside to honor the few who do so much for so many; a day to picnic and party down in honor of the real heroes of the marketplace, small business owners.

There actually is a small business week when the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes the “creme de la creme” of entrepreneurs in America. But it’s not an official “Day” and it’s not always the same week each year.

Small businesses represent over 98% of all U.S. businesses and produce over half of the U.S. $17 trillion GDP.  Plus, we sign the FRONT of the paychecks of over half (70 million) of all U.S. workers.

Let’s see: Big deal on Labor Day — no Small Business Day. What’s wrong with this picture?

So, what’s the answer? Let’s celebrate Small Business Day in a way no other national holiday has been established: on a Sunday — actually, the second Sunday in August.

Sunday is preferred because that would create the least payroll expense. August is the month-of-choice because that’s when politicians are home on recess. This way they can practice casting their pearls before we small business owners in preparation for eating barbeque and sucking up to unions on Labor Day.

To paraphrase Samuel Gompers, small business owners deserve a day for which these signers-of-the-front-of-paychecks can look forward to when their rights and wrongs would be discussed; that the small employers of our day may not only lay down their challenges for a holiday, but during which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.

Write this on a rock … Entrepreneurs unite!  It’s time we had a day to honor small business owners.

Be thankful

Americans punctuate each year with the Thanksgiving holiday as a way of perpetuating a 390-year-old tradition begun by a rag-tag group of our forebears. That first time, in 1621, thanksgiving day wasn’t the proper noun it became. It was just a day set aside by a few dozen humans who risked everything, actually lost most of it, were hard-by to any number of dangers that could cost them the rest, but still felt compelled to be thankful for what they had.

Regardless of where you live on planet Earth, let me leave you with a list of things to think about. This is not my list. When we’ve published it before in this space with attribution to Anonymous, some of my readers have attributed it to Mother (Saint) Theresa, which suits me just fine. I’m thankful I found it and have the ability to pass it along.

Be thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means you have enough to eat.

Be thankful for the mess you clean up after a party, because it means you have been surrounded by friends.

Be thankful for the taxes you pay, because it means you’re employed.

Be thankful that your lawn needs mowing and your windows need fixing, because it means you have a home.

Be thankful for your heating bill, because it means you are warm.

Be thankful for the laundry, because it means you have clothes to wear.

Be thankful for the space you find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means you can walk.

Be thankful for the lady who sings off key behind you in church, because it means you can hear.

Be thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning, because it means you are alive.

And finally, here is mine: I’m thankful for small business owners - the most courageous and most important modern-day pilgrims I know. 

Merry Christmas!

Inspiring words for the coming year

As you know, I often weave my thoughts in this space around a statement someone else has made, or idea they have proposed.  Occasionally, like today, I find something where I have nothing to add, and just want to pass it along.  Below is such a piece.

Photo via Wikipedia Commons

ANYWAY

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.  Be honest anyway.

What you spend years building, someone may try to destroy overnight. Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Do it anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.

It was never between you and them, anyway.

Indeed.

RESULTS: How involved will your Thanksgiving travel be?

The Question:

How involved will your Thanksgiving travel be this year?

64% - Just staying home
13% - Less than 100 miles
15% - More than 100 miles
5% - Planes, trains and automobiles
Jim’s Comments:
As you can see, two-thirds of you are staying close to home. This is down from the same poll last year, which showed 83% were going to stay home.  One reason for this difference could be that gas prices are almost $1 lower per gallon this year than last.

Regardless of how you celebrated, I hope you had a good holiday and got back home safely.




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