Grab Bag

I took a stand this Christmas and I made an affirmation that this would be the beginning of my commitment to never again play the grab bag game.  You might not recognize this game by name.  Perhaps the well-meaning people that you work with call it something else, but most likely you’ve played this game. 

During the holiday season in many offices across the country co-workers gather to exchange gifts but it’s not a regular gift exchange, it’s a gift exchange with a clever twist – everyone picks a number (the person with the lowest number picks the first gift, the person with the highest goes last), all watch as one-by-one each person opens their gift.  The clever twist is that someone with a higher number can take any gift that has already been opened, choosing to either steal someone’s gift or pick a wrapped gift.

The first time I participated in the grab bag gift exchange my mind was BLOWN.  I couldn’t believe that people would get entertainment out of watching someone find joy in a gift, only to then watch as the gift was taken right out of their hands.  Really the game is just about as fun as stubbing one’s toe. 

I can think of a lot of games that people played when I was younger that were fun to them but ridiculous to me.  A game called Smacksies from College comes to mind.  This was a particularly obnoxious game, here’s how it worked:  you had food in your hand, a guy would come up and smack the food out of your hand, and as you looked at your ice cream cone/drink/fries on the ground they would yell SMACKSIES at you. 

Lots of fun.  Definitely as much fun, if not more fun than grab bag.

DS Download:  As 2009 comes to an end my commitment to end grab bag isn’t the only resolution I’m making – oh no, for 2010 I’ve got some serious things on my agenda…things that I’ve been pondering for quite some time. 

2010 will be the year that I stop stealing my father’s socks.  I will stop “shopping” for toilet paper and a paper towels at my parents house.  I will do a better job of budgeting.  I will continue to try to be a better human being.

Happy New Year!

El Tigre

One of my four loyal readers asked me to write about Tiger Woods.  This was a topic that I wanted to avoid, but when one quarter of your audience makes a request, it’s probably smart to oblige, so here goes…

 I feel such a great range of emotions when it comes to Tiger Woods.  Because the whole thing disgusts me I’ve done my best to try and ignore the entire issue.  Of course that has been impossible.  On Friday it seemed that every major news network felt as though they were the first ones to break the news about Tiger’s hiatus from golf; every talking head speculated about Tiger’s future; and the bottom scroll of every network listed the latest sponsor to dump him. 

 As this public drama unfolds, there is an opportunity for all of us to learn valuable lessons from Tiger.  If I had to call out the most important things to takeaway from all of this, it would be that: 

  • Hero worship is a problem
  • Arrogance is any man or woman’s downfall
  • Moderation is key in any situation

Hero worship:  This is something that our culture seems to be addicted to.  We make heroes out of people that haven’t done anything that is particularly noble and then we project what we hope to be, or who we wanted to be on that person.  Don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate heroes walking amongst us.  But when I mention heroes I’m talking about acts along the lines of – donating a kidney or another vital organ for the sole purpose of saving someone’s life; running into a burning building to save people when you know that that means risking your own life; landing a plane in the Hudson river and seeing that all passengers exit first…those are heroic acts.  Playing golf, running a football, walking a runway, making music – does not a hero make. 

Playing golf, running a football, making music, walking a runway – might make someone talented or beautiful, but talent/beauty doesn’t speak to a person’s character.  As humans I think we easily get confused because we see someone and see a certain aspect of their life that we want to emulate (maybe they’re amazing at sports, maybe they make music that touches us) and then, in trying to emulate that action, we take it upon ourselves to exalt the person’s character – once we’ve done that we’ve created a hero…this is where we make the mistake.  

Tiger claimed to be the best golfer and backed that claim up with actions, but as far as I can recall he never claimed to be morally sound, that was a general assumption.  I am in no way excusing his actions – which I think are despicable – I’m just saying that moving forward people should have to earn their hero credit.  

Arrogance:  Luckily for me, Tiger Woods was not my hero – but I am guilty of assuming that he was a smart man.  I assumed that he was smart because I had heard stories of his golf discipline and thought that that discipline might have extended beyond the course.  I’m afraid that the sheer numbers of women that have come forward not only speak to Tiger’s stupidity but also his brazen arrogance. 

It would have to be arrogance right?…either that or a desperate cry for help from an empty man.  How else could the most well known athlete in the world sleep with nine women and counting, outside of his marriage, and not think that he would get caught?  Many people grow weak in their relationships, we are all human and we all make mistakes.  The public has the stomach to forgive some indiscretions because cheating (although very unfortunate) is common, however sleeping with nine + women OUTSIDE of one’s marriage is so sloppy, so arrogant, so obviously not a mistake – but calculated and pre-meditated, that there aren’t words for it.  Again, people can forgive mistakes – but sheer stupidity is harder to deal with. 

The whole thing is bizarre.  The fact that if he wouldn’t have been caught he’d still be sleeping with all of these women; the fact that he still has the audacity to ask his wife to stick by him; and the fact that she will most likely stay is just to much.  Then there’s another scary thing to think about – we’ve already established that off of the field he’s not that smart, so was he smart enough to use protection with these nine + women???  I say nine + because you know if nine have come forward, there have got to be more.

So let me get this straight (sounding like my father)…Tiger’s going to sexually engage with nine + women and have the nerve to go home and kiss his wife and his kids with that mouth??? – whew…I have to stop.

Moderation:  I’m not sure how many more cautionary examples our society needs to warn AGAINST the practice of going to extremes.  What good is it to be the very best at something, only to get to a certain place in your life to realize that you’re so empty that you’d risk throwing it all away for one thing?  In Tiger’s case it seems that that one thing was sex, and a thirst to feel wanted, and desired.  I think Tiger shows us the importance of moderately exposing a child to a variety of experiences as they mature.  Clearly, the fact that Tiger was not well socialized (having probably spent almost every waking hour eating, breathing, playing golf) deeply impacted him…but Tiger wouldn’t be the first; there’s Michael, Lindsey, Spears etc.  Even if a child thinks they want to spend every waking moment doing one thing, they should be forced to socialize, and meet people, and find some other outlet for productive fulfillment.

DS Download:  I pray for his wife’s health and that despite his numerous indiscretions that she checks out okay.  I hope his children grow up to be well adjusted people, and eventually know a father that has calmed down a great deal.  And lastly, I hope that the women that were his accomplices take some time to do some soul searching of their own.

About Believers….

I believed in Santa Claus for an absurdly long time – I was a true believer.  I believed in spite of the fact that my younger cousin used to tell me that Santa Claus wasn’t real, but that’s the thing about believers, they have blind faith, they aren’t looking for proof or statistics, they’re going with their gut.

So imagine the kick in the gut that I felt on the day I found out that Santa wasn’t real.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  For some reason, for the first time I had the need to sit down and seriously ask my mother if Santa Claus was real…I think I was eight or nine.  My mother was packing up Christmas decorations and I just walked up to her and said “is Santa Claus real?” to which she replied, “No sweetheart, he’s not.”  I cried (more like sobbed) for a while.  I was genuinely hurt, but to my mother’s credit, it was time for me to know the truth :-).

There was magic in believing in Santa Claus – yes the gifts played a large role, but believing was more so about an age of true innocence; not knowing the impossibility of a mythic figure that could visit every household in one night; not knowing the real sorrow that was in the world – that some families would go without gifts…there was innocence in believing that all was right with the world, as they say ignorance is bliss.

DS Download:  I wanted to believe in Santa so badly.  I wasn’t one of those kids that snuck around and looked for gifts, I just went along with the whole dog and pony show, and I’m so glad that I did.  My memory of how strongly I believed in Santa Claus is what makes the season so special to me now – Christmas music (especially Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song), snow, a fireplace, a Christmas tree – all take me back to a time when I believed in magic.

Although the child like belief in Christmas is long gone, the fundamental belief will never go away.  A jolly old man might not visit every family, but when a person takes the time to donate a toy or a piece of clothing to a charity, a family reaches out to an estranged loved one, or a stranger’s random act of kindness puts a smile on a lonely person’s face…these are the tiny miracles of the Christmas season, it’s what Christmas is really all about. 

– Here’s to Believers and enjoying the Christmas season.  Hopefully we’ll all find something to do during this special season that might put a smile on someone else’s face.