Coping: Christmas Prepping


What?  Prep for Christmas, as in “prepping”?

Absolutely, but of the more subtle dimension of prepping – the emotional side.

You see Christmas and New Years are supposedly joyous times of the year, but for many people, that’s a load of hooey.

As every Christmas rolls around, there are forgotten people everywhere.  A tip of the hat to Texas law firm Cordell & Cordell, a men’s family law advocacy firm down in the San Antonio area that is actually running commercials (on WOAI) asking people to remember men who are going through the heartbreak of divorce this year; and asking families to invite and involve the newly “singled” into their holiday plans.

I’ve been was in broadcasting 20-years and a multimedia consumer of gluttonous proportions ever since and I have never heard commercials from a women’s advocacy firm.  Maybe women are more welcome than men at this time of the year.

Been there, done that, years ago when my kids were young, so I thought we ought to have us a conversation about some of the prepping options that are available.

I always found it useful on holidays when the kids weren’t coming over to work on my hobbies.

At the time, I was living on a 40-foot sailboat in Seattle, so one year I decided to become involved in the annual “Christmas Ships” parade.  With a great power system on the boat,, it was not problem to make a 50-foot string of Christmas tree lights, hoisted aloft at the center by the mainsail halyard.  Floating blinking trees are a marvel.

It was so much fun (playing follow-the-leader) that the next night, I took the boat out, put the engine in neutral (the engine heater was welcome below decks as it was cold and showery) and I just drifted around on the north side of the 520 Evergreen Point floating bridge, knowing how much in earlier years, I’d enjoyed the view of boats with Christmas lights against the black background of the lake or Puget Sound.   It was wonderful to imagine the view from the bridge.

For me, it was one way to pass the time in a productive way.  Single-handing a 40-foot boat isn’t hard.  It’s the docking with a moderate wind that gets challenging, in the rain, and all.

There are other ways to get involved, too.

A good book, or better, a good author with a series is always a safe bet.  My favorite serial author was (and still is) Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series.  Cussler’s latest is Havana Storm (A Dirk Pitt Adventure).

Dirk Pitt, not to spoil the read, is a man’s man kind of fellow.  Collector of antique cars, a scuba-diving mining and underwater operations expert, he travels the world with all kinds of adventures. 

Surprisingly, the Dirk Pitt character didn’t translate into film as well as I would have thought.  But if you have seen the movie version of the Pitt adventure “”SAHARA BY MCCONAUGHEY,MATTHEW (DVD)” it’s still one of our favorite movies.  We drag it out every so often because the characters are characters, the music is great, there’s a plot to it and it’s just….well….Cussler-like.

His latest new character (once you’ve enjoyed at least half a dozen of of the Dirk Pitt books, is Isaac Bell who is the #2 man and head of operations for a detective agency in the early 20th century.  As such, he has one adventure set in the San Francisco area, at the time of the Great Earthquake there.  It’s in the historical grounding of his novels that Cussler really shines.

Most authors just tell a story.  But others, well they just start weaving a story.  Not Cussler, though.  He sets his stories against actual historical events that you can look up for yourself.

I’ve been debating posting one of my longer writings (like the first three chapters of my novel) just in case you have an interest….

But now, back to point:

It’s been  my observation that a lot of people don’t spend much, if any time, in solitude, any more.  There’s always a beep, a text, a tweet…one damn thing, or other, that conspires to keep up from working on one of the most important parts of life:  Internal alignment.

It only took me about one lonesome Holiday to blow through that depression stuff, but that’s not to say it’s not real and must be faced down or it will haunt you forever.  The Robert Service poem, The Quitter was particularly useful.

All of us are going to die, of that I’m nearly certain.  But I don’t see any sense in trying to elbow to the front of that line until I’ve worked out a good bit more wandering around through life.

Even things like terminal disease has a point to it, multiple moments of learning and self discovery.  I assume you know Life itself is a terminal disease, a kind of waiting room for the Hereafter.

Life  has plenty of nooks and crannies to explore and winter around the holidays is a great time to do some exploring.  Hiking in the woods with snow falling, sailing in snow, or for me being anchored our with a diesel stove going, head popped out an open hatch and seeing deer come down to the beach; exploring in the last of the light, hoof prints visible in the snow on wet sand.

Being alone, I man really alone, is not something most people do.  Why?  I couldn’t tell you but I suspect it’s because so few people really like themselves.  It takes a little bit of work and often results in personal change.

“You got to learn to respect yourself,” a black friend told me growing up.  “Do that and others will respect you, too.” 

That may seem like a minor thing to mention, but the concept in the black community (“respect yoseff”)  may be one reason why the black suicide rate runs a bit over 5% while the white suicide rate is over 14%!  It’s the mindset that matters.

You go to a shopping mall (with no one to buy gifts for, all that is done) and watch the people go by from a bench on the sidelines.  Doing the same thing in the springtime reveals that people’s shopping behaviors aren’t really any different.  People are mostly the same year-round, at least on the outside.  Holidays give us the chance to be exceptional, inside and out.

There will be more parties, of course, more drug and alcohol abuse, but that’s because average people have a way of doing average things.  Put a single man with nothing to look forward to back home, in a bar on a cold Holiday evening, and the odds of a DUI/DWI seem to escalate pretty fast.

Not that there aren’t alternatives; the world is full of opportunity, even on a Holiday eve.

Books, movies you haven’t seen, doing a little writing yourself, pursuing some aspect of a hobby, or just doing something “Christmassy” like volunteering to work a soup kitchen…it’s all part of the learning process.

So our greatest respect to Cordell & Cordell for paying for ads suggesting that any single men you know be included in your holiday plans.  That’s  a fine stand-up thing, particularly viewed by those of us who have been there, done that, and never missed a child support payment along the way.  Everyone deserves Christmas of some sort.

Adversity builds character and every parent, of either sex, who’s spent a holiday alone is probably better for it in the long run if you work it right.  It’s a time to think over values and make plans how to pass those along.  Even if opportunity comes only every other weekend.  It also explains in stark relief who your real friends are.

I wanted to mention this today in order that people might post some useful thoughts on the comment side of Urban…ideas that have helped you through a particularly brutal bout of emotional pain at this time of year.

I think we’d all agree around here that “You’ve got to be able to help yourself in order to help others.”  That’s at the core of a prepper’s mindset.  But methinks too often we tend to under-weight the importance of emotional prepping, since it is far easier to buy a fire-starter and a few cans of beans and consider yourself prepped. Uh…don’t quite work that way.

But a different kind of threat is upon us now.  The 45-59 demographic is the highest risk age group when comes to suicide, a trend that’s rising, by the way.  It’s also reported elsewhere that suicides increasing over the holidays is something of a myth, but as is noted over here, people tend to visit shrinks more, immediately after Christmas.

So with it obvious that we can all have issues this time of the year, it’s worth it up front to “get ahead of the problem.  If you can see something coming, it can be prepped for.

With our kids all off doing their own things this Christmas, we’ll be taking on an impossibly big project and push to get it done by  the end of New Years.  If the weather clears, we might jump in the plane and head west, but the big holiday project has my eye just now

Odd way to look at prepping, but all of life is between the ears, so a huge amount of prepping emphasis should be placed where?

Exactly!  And since you own that Kingdom within, it’s a good time to ask “How are things in your Kingdom?  Ready for anything that may come?”

Write when you break-even


12 thoughts on “Coping: Christmas Prepping”

  1. Hi Geo, Merry Christmas from a happy subscriber! Your wide ranging palette is remarkable. I’m a Cussler fan and “Night Probe” is one of his best, I highly recommend it.
    Looking at the Fujitsu scanner too !
    All the best!. Looking forward to my automatic renewal coming soon! DH

  2. Best yet…! Being alone again doesn’t seem so bad all of a sudden. Thanks for the wake up…Merry Christmas..

  3. Having been married 3 times (third one is now on 25 years!), there have been quite a few Christmas and other holidays that were spent alone (have no kids, no other family members). It is easy to fall into that feeling sorry for one’s self when measured against the commerciality of the holidays, especially Christmas.

    But, the sure thing remedy is to go out there and be with others who appreciate and need you. For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I have helped out in a soup kitchen and a homeless shelter. And the ones who really appreciated it were those in nursing homes who have no one stopping by those days. I would call a few days prior and talk to the supervisors so they could pair me up with someone. I would show up with flowers, some cookies and chocolates, and spend time with the individual/s. The recipients were appreciative of the items I brought, but the most cherished was the actual time I spent with them – talking to them, listening to them, being with them.

    Another event I have participated in – on Christmas eve and day, volunteers are needed at a local animal sanctuary drives out to areas of serious need and hand out dog shelters/igloos, dog beds, dog food/treats, kitty food and treats to those who have a serious need.

    So many non-profits need volunteers for those Christmas eve and day.

    • Another fine idea would be to call the local cops or sheriffs. Ask ’em if they want any “ride alongs” on Christmas eve or Day.

  4. It’s a biochemical existence. Our stories are what control our biochemicals, and our social programming determines our stories. Some people need elaborate stories with lots of various experiences to get good biochemicals. Others can just decide to pick a good story and get the biochemicals they want. In the USA especially for the white culture, generating good biochemicals will include money and resources. Among those with a culture, family and community will play a great part in their biochemical experience. Nothing in this dimension has any meaning until it generates a biochemical reaction in the brain, and secondarily the body. A person watching the sunset in Tahiti, a kid playing with an empty soda bottle or someone in a BDSM session, all have exactly the same biochemicals creating their experience.

  5. Hi George,
    Your reflections on Christmas brought to mind one that was particularly stressful to me, for a little while at least.

    As a single mother of 3 with no family or child support this particular holiday was really going to be sparse. I could choose between 1 gift for each child or a tree but not both. I chose to forgo the tree and explained to the kids why we couldn’t decorate a tree that year.

    A few days before Christmas my 2 boys age 6 and 7 asked for permission to go play awhile (this was back in the days when kids could safely do that).

    Awhile later they came in with armloads of fir tree branches, they had gone to the Christmas tree lot and asked for permission to take the branches that had been cut off of the trees the man had trimmed before being sold.

    I sprang for some colored popcorn and cranberries, we spent Christmas eve singing carols and stringing colorful goodies to decorate the house. May not have had many presents under a tree but had one of the best Christmases ever.

    We don’t even remember most of the gifts exchanged over the years but we never forget that one Christmas that was filled with the most important gift of all, laughter and love.

  6. Thanks for the book tip, George. I’ve been looking for a new series. Do you read Brad Thor? I recommend him.

    On a financial note, did you see the ruble to gold ratio??? If you had to sell, who would have the money to buy? I plan on keeping the gold dust I worked so hard to dig up in WA, but I’m thinking I might want to sell some silver dimes down the road before the prices get ‘too high’.

  7. “…but the concept in the black community (“respect yoseff”) may be one reason why the black suicide rate runs a bit over 5% while the white suicide rate is over 14%! It’s the mindset that matters.”

    Black culture tends to play the game of life a bit differently or let’s say “riskier” which probably accounts for some of the difference in numbers. Also, suicide isn’t always suicide, if you catch my drift.

    • “suicide ain’t always suicide” especially when comes to key people in banking (likely 80% of the dead banksters lately), remind me of the old “Alaska suicide.”

      Learnt about those living up there for a while in ’68”:: A man would be found tied up with his hands behind his back, a deck of cards on the table, two kinds of cigarettes in the ashtray and a bottle of hooch, mostly empty. Nearby would be a double-barrel shot gun and the victims head blown clean off. Sheriff’s ruling? Suicide. Either that or a bear got in…

  8. Hi George,

    Great column today. Thanks for standing up for men and Cordellx2.

    I’m very confused by your comment system. Is it for your own benefit, or is it available somewhere on the website? I run a rather secure system myself, but I can’t find comments anywhere, even with an open browser.

    Either way is fine, but I’d appreciate knowing if I’m getting something wrong.



  9. My brother owns a funeral home a couple of hours from you, George. They have what they term a “Holiday Crush” every year, and it starts at the end of November and ends mid-January. This has been the busiest time of year for him for the last 20 years. While suicides may be a myth, my brother can attest that letting go of life during this period seems to be more prevalent than other parts of the year.

    As another tidbit, I have noticed that women tend to suffer more or otherwise be less content with being alone than men. NOT trying to be sexist or to corral everyone into mass groupings – it just seems to me that solitary women are rare, and that those who are solitary outside of their own design tend to be depressed and less happy. I know many solitary men that are content being so, yet I can only think of one of my acquaintances that is female and content being alone. Most seem to be trying to remedy being alone, especially as the years pile on.

    Just observations…and hope everyone enjoys all of our morphed winter solstice celebrations….

  10. Don’t know if it will help a lot of folks but back about 20 years ago I was stuck on assignment in (yep!) Texas. My daughter was at college and my new wife and newer 2 year old son were up north in Illinois.

    When the folks you love and care about are not near by. . . well the distance seems greater somehow. I wanted to find a way to stay current in their lives and have them know what it was like where I was.

    Long ago I gave up stamp collecting and I have a substantial list of folks that can attest to the paucity of my written communications. But non-the-less I came up with the idea of a personal chain letter. I bought some blank diary type books and set out to write to my daughter and son (Volume 1 and Volume 2 respectively.) The prose are not legendary nor pulitzer material but I did feel better sharing my day and experiences with them AND it was a real kick to get the volumes back with their daily inputs. Mom had to help for Volume 2! :)

    To make it official I’ d go to the post office and get a stamp on the page cancelled at the town/city/burg/metropolis I found myself in. After all I’d needed to include a return envelope and postage so there was no reason not to send it back albeit in an unscheduled manner. After Y2K years later(lots of cancellations) the practice fell off as I got to spend more time at home with my family.

    Funny, at the reception for my daughters marriage to a great guy, she came over and introduced a lady to me who wanted to thank me. Huh?

    She told me that she had gone through a divorce and felt the distance between her and her son had stretched to uncomfortable distances. Yep! Was missing the more frequent interaction. She had said something to this effect to my daughter and that she wished she had a way to shrink that gulf. My daughter told her what her father had done so many decades before and she tried it. It worked. Both she and her son found a new/old time connection that could be read and re-read. And it was in the hand of the person that they each cared about, making it all the more personal.

    Very strange to get a hug from someone you never knew you had helped. It was a feel good moment for me and the answer to whether my daughter really remembered all the crazy things her Dad did.

    Maybe some one else can find a way to bridge that gulf when they’re Somewhere far from friends and loved ones. I know. It’s old school in todays internet connected world but it is WAY more personal.

    Good luck and best wishes to all those folks out there in places that aren’t where their heart is. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Coop :)

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