Bucking the Boxing Day Trend

Alternatives to the Boxing Day shopping trend

Do you go shopping on Boxing Day? Battle the crowds for a deal? Talk shopping strategies with your family over Christmas dinner? Camp out overnight to be the first in line for a bargain? Or perhaps you work on Boxing Day.

Not me. For as long as I can remember, I have been “anti-boxing day” in the sense that I refuse to step into any kind of store on Boxing Day. I figure there is nothing I need that badly that can’t wait another day! When I was a retail store owner, I also had my own store closed so my staff and I did not have to work the day after Christmas. I know some store owners that used to have their Christmas dinner early in the day then head down to get their store ready for a big sale on boxing day! No thanks.

So, if you want to join me in bucking the Boxing Day shopping trend, here are a few suggestions for other ways to spend the day.

Other Ways to Spend Boxing Day

  • Go for a walk – enjoy the company of family and friends as you go for a quiet walk in a local park or wherever you choose.
  • Play with your kids – Odds are your kids received some Christmas gift that they would enjoy sharing with you! Play with Lego, play a board game, put together a puzzle. Your kids will remember the time you spent with them and have fond memories of Boxing Day for years to come.
  • Go tobogganing, skiing, or skating – if you live in a snowy place, grab your woolies and hit the slopes or head to the rink!
  • Visit friends and family – to me, this is what the holidays are all about; cherish your time together.
  • Visit a neighbour – do you have a neighbour who may not have any family around for the holidays? They would probably enjoy a visit.
  • Visit a senior’s home – sing a song, play some cards, read a book! Many seniors would love to have someone visit with them.
  • Watch a movie – pop some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy!
  • Read a book – curl up with a good book and relax.
  • Bake – enjoy a day where you do not have anything else scheduled and bake some cookies or other goodies with your kids (or someone else’s!).
  • Make turkey soup – make it a family event with everyone helping.
  • Volunteer at your local food bank or soup kitchen – giving back to the community helps those who may not have as much; an added bonus is that it feels good!
  • Host a party – if you went somewhere for Christmas dinner, why not invite people to join you for a get together on Boxing Day.

Essentially, I encourage everyone to do anything other than shop on Boxing Day. If enough of us were to do this, maybe all those retailers who have their employees working on Boxing Day will instead give their employees two days off in a row at Christmas time to make their own memories!

How do you spend Boxing Day? If you could do anything, what would it be? Tell us in the comments below!

Bullies Need Help Too

Often the focus of anti-bullying campaigns is the victims of bullying (and that’s a good thing!). But did you know that the bullies need help too?

Some people are just nasty and exhibit bullying behaviours (or worse). They like the feeling of power and of being ‘above’ someone else. They take joy in taunting others. Some see nothing wrong with their behaviours and think they deserve to be ‘on top’.

Others have become bullies as a result of their experiences in society. Perhaps they were bullied themselves, or maybe they found themselves marginalised for any number of reasons. These people need help and understanding. These people could benefit from help now, or would have benefited from help in their past.

Does society fail some people time and time again? Yes, it happens. Is it an excuse for their bullying or violent behaviours? No. But it can give us some insights and understanding. It can give us knowledge to help in the future.

Societal changes need to occur — more help for troubled kids early on (starting in Kindergarten if need be!) and supports in place for youth and adults who need it. Mental health programs. Anti-poverty initiatives. We are all part of a larger community – we all benefit, even if we are not a direct recipient of any of these programs. We need to stop thinking of social programs as a drain on our societies, and realise that they can save our societies.

It isn’t an easy fix and will take time. Get involved. Talk to your friends and neighbours. Talk to your politicians. Be the change you want to see!

Tips for Helping Bullies

For more on bullying, please visit www.nobullies.ca

Conceiving Family

I had the great pleasure of watching a new documentary today called “Conceiving Family“. The film chronicled four couples through their journey to build their family. All four couples spoke of their desire to be parents and the love they want to share with a child. They spoke of the options they considered — including surrogacy and donor insemination — and how they came to their decisions to adopt — domestic, overseas, special needs, private and public. They share their anxiety, frustrations, challenges and finally their joy of realizing they would be parents.

Did I mention these four couples are gay? Oh yeah, the couples in the film are all same sex couples. How does that make you feel?

There are thousands of children, from newborns to teens, in need of a permanent family. However, there are still a lot of barriers to gays and lesbians adopting a child. Interestingly, the number of gay and lesbian households that are choosing to have a family is rising exponentially. In the USA, the Child Welfare Information Gateway says there are between 8 and 10 million children are being raised by gay parents — An estimated two million Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual people are interested in adopting.

I went looking on the internet for some information and statistics to write this article. Aside from objective information, facts, and figures, I found a lot more.

One website says: “The implications are severe. With the acceptance of two homosexuals as joint parents, the family is torn from its traditional and God-inspired balance of a mother and a father both giving of their commitment, love and essence to the children.”

Wow. I didn’t realize that just being a heterosexual couple automatically makes you a great parent! Phew, that’s a relief. No need to worry about those parents — we need to focus on the torn families that will surely result from same sex parents.

This was just the tip of the iceburg, and frankly, although I knew there was a lot of opposition to same sex couples having children, I guess I didn’t think it would be so hateful.

Interestingly, one of the couples encountered simular beliefs. The Christian Fundamentalist foster parents who had cared for the children that one couple hoped to adopt expressed fear that the children would, “grow up to be gay” with parents who are “going to hell for their sins.” I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who may wish to watch the film, so you will have to see for yourself how this turns out.

There is a lot of prejudice out there regarding same sex couples and whether they should be allowed to adopt a child at all. There are others who say that sexual orientation doesn’t matter, as long as the child will be in a happy home filled with love. There are also people who find themselves somewhere in the middle.

The film is enlightening, entertaining, humorous, and also pulls at your heartstrings. Some will rejoice in the message; others will be uncomfortable. I recommend the documentary no matter what your beliefs.

Facebook Controversy

When do you speak up and when do you walk away?

For so many of us, Facebook is a great way to stay connected with family, friends, and acquaintances. A place to discover different worldviews and discuss a variety of topics. A place to share thoughts, photos, and little bits of our lives.

Recently I expressed a different opinion from a friend on a topic she posted on Facebook. I am a bit outspoken about my opinions. I endeavour to be respectful, stick to the issues, and have meaningful debates.

I ended up being called negative, snooty, “high and mighty” and always think I’m right, and sheltered. We have been on opposite sides of issues before.

So, I went back and reread my original comment. I tried to look at it from her side. Maybe my comment was a bit flippant. That wasn’t my intention, but the written word sometimes comes across differently than the writer intends.

Based on our history, I replied that since it was apparent that we wouldn’t be able to have a discussion on controversial topics, I would no longer read or reply to those. And then I logged off and went about my day. I chose to walk away.

Since it was a public post, others jumped into the conversation (most of which are people I don’t even know). Many disagreed with her viewpoint, and from what I gather responded strongly, partly fuelled by the earlier parts of the conversation. The original poster sent a private message to one of the respondents. This made it’s way to me.

Here it is.

poor little retarded fat girl stay off my page your age is showing

poor little retarded fat girl stay off my page your age is showing

How did she think this was ok? How many other messages did she send? How often does she do things like this?  This is when I do feel “high and mighty”. This is in no way acceptable.  How many people receive messages like this every day? How many stay silent? This is when I feel I need to speak up.

Eventually she deleted all the replies. When I became aware of the situation later in the day, I was appalled. I then saw that she named me in a post, blaming me for the controversy and calling me a liberal (as an insult), and a bully.  I gave no response. I chose to walk away. By the next morning, that topic was deleted as well.

I’m sure there are many of us who have had similar experiences online. How do you react? Fight or Flight?

I feel compelled to talk about it. To share the experience. To draw attention to what goes on behind the scene. Bringing it out into the open sometimes can help others know that they are not alone if they ever are on the receiving end of such vitriol.

This was all a good reminder to me that:

  • If you don’t want to hear different opinions, don’t post controversial topics. Not everyone will agree with you, and some may let you know it.
  • There are those that, no matter how politely you state your opinion, will see it as an attack on them. They are unable to differentiate between the issue and the personal.
  • Sometimes it’s best to just ‘walk away’.
  • Don’t feed the “trolls”. Sometimes the best response is no response.
  • People are not always what they appear to be online – some are kinder than they are in person, and some are nastier.
  • There are a lot of good people out there who will jump in and try to stick up for someone they feel is being attacked.
  • If you feel a strong emotional response to something you see, take a deep breath, and really think about if you want to engage in a conversation or argument.
  • Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma, mom, or children to see.

It’s ok to disagree! It’s not ok to belittle, call people names, or send hateful messages. Ever.

Taking the Dis out of Disability

Imagine the birth of your baby. You anticipated the baby’s arrival and dreamt about how life will be when he or she is born. You love your baby with all your heart, even before birth. Now, imagine your baby is born with a disability. Imagine further the doctor or nurse wanting to take your baby from you and send him away before you even hold him. Sound unbelievable? Not so long ago, if someone was born with a disability, the family was encouraged to send them away. It was viewed that disabilities were something to be ashamed of and families couldn’t possibly be equipped to care for someone with a physical or cognitive disability. So, our society built special homes and schools and locked people away in institutions.


A few brave souls determinedly said “no, I will not send my child away”, but they were the minority. There was often no help, support, or understanding for them from the community.
I do not for one minute want anyone to think I blame the parents who did send their children away. For the most part, they were told, and believed, that what they were doing was for the best for their child. I have spoken with some of these parents and know the heartbreak they went through. I have also talked with some of the grown children who were raised in institutions, and know their story too. I have not heard a story yet of a happy childhood in an institution. The stories are ones of neglect, abuse, loneliness, and hopelessness.

Changes Still Coming

Thankfully, our society has changed, and these institutions are no more. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Talk to 10 people about what a disability is and I bet you will get 10 different answers! Ask them about the place of people with disabilities in our society, and that’s when things get even trickier.

There is still a lot of fear and misconceptions surrounding many types of disabilities that people face. There are still children at school who will call a child with a learning disability “a retard”. There are still adults who call someone in a wheelchair “a cripple”. There are those who feel that the disabled have no place in our schools or workplaces. People with disabilities are often the victims of bullying and feel lonely and isolated. Many pity those with a disability.

Look at Abilities

We need to take the dis out of disability and look to what abilities people have! Just because someone thinks or processes information differently, or because they move through the word differently does not mean it is a bad thing. It is just different and we need to embrace the differences in all of us. Look at the person first, not the disability.

When it comes down to it, people with a disability just want to be loved and accepted for who they are – is this any different than what you want for yourself or your children? With compassion and understanding, we can make it a better world for all of us.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

‘Tis the season! At your home, the stockings are hung by the chimney with care…. the nativity scene is on the fireplace mantle…. but someone at the supermarket wishes you “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. You grumble and wonder why the heck can’t people just say Merry Christmas! Political correctness has gone too far!

We live in a multi-cultural society. People celebrate many, many things this time of year, not just Christmas. Some people embrace more than one holiday or celebration. Others, while only celebrating one, are curious and like to learn about others beliefs and traditions.

Many employees are required by their employer to use a specific greeting with their customers. Cut them some slack! Imagine working (and more often than not for minimum wage) and having people grumble at you all day just for wishing them a happy whatever! When did a simple greeting become such a political statement or a religious battleground?

If someone wishes me well with any kind of greeting, I say thank you and wish them the same. I am not offended any time someone offers me a kind word. If that offends you, I really think it says more about you than the person who offered you the greeting.

Try it! Even if you don’t like or believe in what they wished you, smile, thank them, and wish them the same. You will surely put a smile on their face and instil some “goodwill toward men”. Isn’t that all a part of what the season is about?

So, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Festivus, Happy Kwanzaa, and a Wonderful Solstice – or even just a nice day! Peace and love to you and  yours.

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