18 Songs ‘Till Christmas and A Reminder to Be Human

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One story that will always stay with me is the way someone extraordinary, a person incredibly special to me, found out there was no Santa Clause when he was a child. His out of work parents couldn’t afford to buy their children any presents, so they simply told them the truth. It was the early ‘90s and a myriad of political, economic and social changes, as well as personal choices lead to that situation. But what difference do all those reasons make to a child?… In a different part of the same town, my family (or at least my grandparents) was undergoing its own decline, but our “bad” was nowhere near theirs and so many other families’. There was a Christmas tree in our home, beautiful gifts under it, and plenty of food for all of us – enough to spare, in fact…

Some 30 years later, many things are different in our little corner of the world. And yet, disturbingly many have remained the same. In November, about a month before Christmas, World Vision Romania’s heartbreaking statistics pointed out the sad truth yet again. In rural areas, 1 out of 2 families cannot afford to buy any gifts for their children; 1 parent out of 6 has less than the equivalent of 2€ to spend on children’s gifts, and 1 out of 3, less than 10€; 7 out of 10 parents would choose to offer necessary items like clothes, shoes or school supplies instead of something which would only provide joy to a child.

Outrage was, of course, the standard reaction. Doubt and disbelief followed – that can’t possibly be true, those number must be wrong (media outlets that hyped the news and created some confusion in the way they presented everything in order to make it sound more sensational didn’t help, of course). Then a different sort of outrage was unavoidable – outrage against a useless state, outrage against unfit parents or both. Then, as everything else, it faded away, and we – especially those of us inhabiting large urban areas, went on with our lives and our own compulsive Christmas shopping. After all, how can any of that be true, when shopping centres and stores of all sorts are filled with people and merchandise flies off the shelves this time of year?

I don’t know whether the numbers are right or not; but I believe they could be, and I know there’s lots of that going on in urban areas as well. I also know that there are unfit homes and families, and the state should and could do a lot more at least for the children living in that environment, if not for the adults as well. But how does it help a child to know that their misery is a corrupt state’s fault? And yes, a Christmas tree, a toy and/or a nice meal won’t change a child’s life; but is that to say they don’t even deserve to experience at least one moment of joy, of what life should be for all children?

Like I said, financially speaking things were not always great for my family when I was a child living with my grandparents. But there was always food on the table on Christmas, there was always a tree… And every year we stuck to our little tradition, my grandmother and I – we put together a bag of clothes, shoes, toys and school supplies that I no longer needed or had outgrown and took them to a certain family in my great-grandmother’s village. Was my grandmother doing it out of the goodness of her heart? Hell no, but that’s another story; and it made no difference to those children anyway.

That’s my whole point – if we can, we should do/donate a little something to help a needy child/family, regardless of why we do it. The numbers may not be the same everywhere, but there are people in need, no matter where we live. Is it guilt, generosity, desire to show off? Who cares, as long as that decent deed is done and an innocent soul can have at least one good day a year… because yes, one good day is better than no good day at all. And here’s the thing… even if we’re not exactly well-off, even if we do work incredibly hard for what we have, but are sitting in our cosy, perhaps nicely decorated homes, behind our computers/smartphones/tablets, our belies full and our bodies warm, then we surely can spare a little something for a starving freezing child…

Stay safe, everyone, be kind and share some of the joy!

20 Songs ‘Till Christmas

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I wanted to do a December Christmas song countdown ever since I started blogging. Ideally I would have paired the songs with holiday related memories, thoughts and opinions. Perhaps I would have added photos to reflect the festive – and sometimes not so festive – mood as well… But there was never enough time and/or determination.

Well, my blogging friends, this is probably the closest I’ll ever come to accomplishing that. I’ve already shared about my love-hate relationship with the holidays, as well as the reasons behind and it and how I managed to make peace with Christmas… and with myself, regarding Christmas. Hopefully I’ll manage to share some interesting memories and thoughts this year as well, but much like when it comes to the holidays in general, I tell myself, “no pressure”… But most importantly, no over the top expectations, from myself or from others. So there will be songs, there will be photos (most of them from previous years), and occasionally there will be stories as well. Continue reading “20 Songs ‘Till Christmas”

Same Old Story

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Every picture tells a story… even the subjectively bad, uninteresting, cliché or generally “blah” ones. Every picture is a moment in time, a snippet of personal history, the relevance of which might only become clear later on. There’s also that hidden layer, one involving unknown people and who knows how many unknown experiences… Continue reading “Same Old Story”

Fall Shades #18

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I’m not sure what the story of these giant thistles (or whatever they’re called) is, but I didn’t expect to find them there. It’s not the first autumn I visit that area, but I’ve never encountered them before. While not particularly friendly in their prickly ways, they were certainly impressive, adding a wild, rugged note to the scenery. Taller than the car, taller than me, these things made for good guardians and nobody else seemed to venture close to the woods that day. Much as I tried, my photos didn’t quite manage to properly capture their size – they looked far more impressive and interesting in real life.

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Continue reading “Fall Shades #18”

Much Needed Me-Days

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Just put on that new pair of boots you so wanted, and get out! Go, take a walk… take some photos… feed the ducks… smell the falling leaves and let the cool autumn sun touch your skin. Just take a break! Just stop overthinking. Stop overanalysing. Stop obsessing. Just relax. Just be. Spend some time with you, on you. The world won’t fall apart if you do.

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More often than not, that’s easier said than done. Continue reading “Much Needed Me-Days”

Fall Shades #1

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Summer used to be my favourite season. But I’ve been reconsidering it over the past years… or rather, my fondness for summer has decreased and as I more and more often find myself jumping from “sarcastic” straight to “grumpy” over those heat and tourism infused months, I realise I’m craving autumn’s tranquil vibes, no longer feeling a need for having a “favourite season”. Continue reading “Fall Shades #1”

Colours of Autumn

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September has come and gone. Tourists have finally packed their bags and returned home. We, locals, finally feel like we have our town and our space back. But even though it smells and feels a lot like autumn, the colours aren’t quite ready to change yet. In spite of all the years I lived here, by the sea, in spite of knowing better, I still crave autumnal shades every September.

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Much like the people here, nature is also reluctant to let go of those mysterious hopes and promises of summertime fun by the sea, so leaves change colour later than in other parts of the country.

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Continue reading “Colours of Autumn”

Summer/Winter E-Book Sale

It’s summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in southern hemisphere. That means it’s time for the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale! Whether you’re looking for a great summer beach read or something to warm your heart in front of a crackling fireplace, you’ll find it here!

The sale already features over 55,000 ebooks with deep discounts of 25%, 50%, 75% and FREE.

Browse by featured titles, discount levels, recently added, and recently purchased. Use our multi-dimensional search filters to drill down to your favorite subcategories.

Be sure to visit the sale throughout the month because thousands of new titles will join the promotion each week as the month progresses.

Take advantage of the sale and download Parallel Lives, Albatross, Frames and Glass Slippers and Stilettos for free! Continue reading “Summer/Winter E-Book Sale”