Browsed by
Tag: expectations

The end of #12DaysOfChristmasMovies

The end of #12DaysOfChristmasMovies

I suppose it started on Friday when The Youngest was not at all interested in going to get a family picture taken with Santa OR The Grinch. I sort of pushed back thinking it would be a fun Christmas activity & they said, “I don’t mind taking a family photo for Christmas, I am just not interested in the Santa/Grinch part.” Fair enough.

The entire scenario had a bit of “the beginning of the end” vibes.

We first started our #13DaysOfHalloweenMovies and #12DaysOfChristmas movies events in 2020 when it was the height of the pandemic. I was looking for ways we could celebrate the seasons in the face of no trick-or-treating and, big family dinners & visits to see Santa. The kids were 10 and 12 at this point & they had just had the rug pulled out from under them: no school, no friends, no family, no typical holiday celebrations.

It worked. We watched movies, shared our reviews with family and friends on social media and a new tradition was born. People told me that they looked forward to the kid’s weird reviews of things they had never noticed about movies they loved. It was fun…for awhile.

It’s 2023 now though and the kids are 13 and 15 and have mostly gone back to a normal existence. So instead of a fun activity we do as a family, it’s slowly morphed into a chore. We have slogged through a few movies in the past week and a bit and quite frankly I wasn’t enjoying it and I don’t get the impression Mr. Tucker and the kids were either. So after a busy weekend full of whirlwind activities I announced to the family that #12DaysOfChristmasMovies was coming to an end. We were all relieved.

The Eldest pointed out that we were more of a Halloween family and Mr. Tucker mentioned that there were way more movies for that time of year anyway. He said the Christmas movies seemed to have a couple of good releases a year but that the majority felt like a slog through a low-budget swamp. Fair enough. We still will watch new movies that pique our interest (and revisit some classics!) but not on such a rigid schedule.

What worked during the pandemic when we were all home with nothing to do didn’t transfer well to kids who were older and developing their own Christmas traditions with friends.

This lengthy preamble has a point and it is this: if a tradition doesn’t work for you, feel free to change it. I spent many years rolling the holiday rock uphill like some modern-day Sisyphean Santa and quite frankly, I resented it. My mother did it, my grandmother did it, my great-grandmother did it and I am stopping it. It’s too much work and the return on investment is low. If the point is to spend time with loved ones, then that is what we should focus on, not a rigid standard of how we spend time together. The pandemic gave me a perfect opportunity to switch more things up, which I happily did & continue to do. Here is a small list:

We no longer get a fresh tree: as I became more disabled, the work fell more on Mr. Tucker’s head to drag a fresh tree home and decorate it. Last year we found a pre-lit tree on sale at Canadian Tire and we’ve never looked back. The Eldest was a bit disappointed because she loves the smell of a fresh tree, so I bought her an electric wax melt contraption and some melts that smell like evergreens. Mr. Tucker is happy, the smell of balsam fills the air and we’ve reduced our fire hazards. I do have fresh greenery in the form of a wreath that was bought from a local farm that was a fundraiser for The Youngest’s school. A little bit from column A, a little bit from column B.

We no longer host a HUGE Christmas dinner: Mr. Tucker and I are a> the only people in the family with younger children; b> the main connection between both our families. For years we hosted 11-15 people for a large family dinner. It was exhausting, expensive and hugely unappreciated. While some people helped clean and people brought things, we were constantly inundated with the odd snarky comment and the occasional heated discussion. When the pandemic hit, we breathed a huge sigh of relief and stopped doing it. Now we order Chinese food on Christmas eve to hang out with my dad, Christmas day we eat leftover Chinese food, and Boxing day my stepson comes over and he and Mr. Tucker cook an elaborate dinner together (they both love cooking & my stepson is a sous chef). Christmas is now a relaxing, calm affair.

We no longer do a children’s cookie decorating party: We used to do the Christmas cookie decorating party every year and other friends hosted the Easter egg decorating party, the Canada day party, and the Halloween potluck where we’d hangout and have dinner and drinks before heading out en masse to go trick-or-treating. Sadly, while these were great times, our kids got older and aged out and the parents also aged and didn’t want to do anymore hosting. I have some fantastic memories from those years though! We’ve instead replaced it with decorating cupcakes for The Mission’s Christmas dinner.

I stopped doing Christmas cards: I really thought I would do some this year! I have had The Eldest draw our cards in recent years but you know what? She is too busy being a teenager to prioritize that anymore. Christmas cards are also super expensive to mail, averaging about $75-$100 a year to send out 50 cards (depending on if we used Santa photos we had to pay for and how many we sent out). Again, this feels like a relief now that I have made the decision.

We focus more on Advent calendars than gifts: This is kind of a weird one because it saves us not much money or time but as a family we have decided that a small gift every day is much better than a bunch of gifts on Christmas morning. The Eldest loves a good makeup calendar, The Youngest loves a tea calendar and we all have used book calendars. I find it makes the entire month special for us.

If the holiday season is stressful and full of expectations, I heartily suggest you reject all of that (as best as possible) and concentrate on the parts of the season you enjoy and that makes you happy. I love the midwinter season: I love crafts, good food, friends & family, The Vinyl Café Christmas album and chilling out by the fire with a book and a cup of tea. So I focus on those things and spending time with my immediate family & good friends. Whether or not you do all the things or if you don’t do all of the things I guarantee someone will be disappointed, so you may as well just disappoint everyone and save yourself the work.

Is there a “Singles Tax?”

Is there a “Singles Tax?”

How the ‘tax’ on singles has people who live alone feeling the pinch

Economies of scale are clearly cheaper to manage, so in one sense: yes, there is a singles tax.

But reading through this article, the thing that really bugs me is this idea that “someone should do something” when people aren’t helping themselves. Jenn could get a roommate to reduce her costs or even get rid of her car as she lives in an area with great transit. But instead, she’s complaining about the high cost of living in the urban core.

The thing is, to live in an urban core we need to accept smaller spaces. When I was in my 20s and early 30s I always lived with roommates. We split the bills and sometimes even split food. It never occurred to me to live alone because even when rents were way cheaper than they are now, we didn’t want all of our money being eaten up by rent.

Then when I met Mr. Tucker we moved into a 510 square foot condo with our dog. It suited us just fine and got us out of the house for walks 3x a day and we spent an hour at the dog park every night after work – rain, shine or snow. We also walked or used public transit because owning a car in the city is just ridiculous. We did consider car-sharing companies but we didn’t follow through. Unless you were leaving the city on a trip, almost everything could be found in an urban centre and if we needed something outside of that, we just took cabs.

From the article:

“The average one-bedroom is now $2,458, according to a national report from in February. An apartment with a little more room and some backyard space for the adopted rescue mutt she dreams of would run her closer to $3,000 — and that’s a hefty price tag for just one person.”

In that same report however, a 2 bedroom would cost $3324 – or $1662 per person AND she could get a dog – if she got a roommate (who likes dogs). It is just flabbergasting to me that she lives in 595sq ft and is whining about how hard it is even though she has clearly not considered any money saving alternatives (get rid of the car, get a roommate who likes dogs and rent a larger place for cheaper). I respect if she chooses to live alone because she doesn’t want a roommate but she needs to own that choice and not complain about it.

There is the fundamental issue that I feel people in Canada and the US haven’t come to terms with: you are not entitled to have a lot of living space at a low cost in a great area. Of course, we all want this but it isn’t feasible because…we ALL want this!  But in order to make livable, walkable cities we all need to make concessions and one of those concessions is space.

In 1910 the average square footage of a house in the US was 800sq ft and now they are 74% larger. The average size now is $2430 sq ft. Our expectations are higher now than they’ve ever been and we want these homes at a low rate. Our expectations are really entitledness at this point.

For a comparison, our last home was 1200sq ft and our kids had to share a room because Mr. Tucker works from home and he needed an office. Our current home – a midcentury modern – is 1300sq ft and has a partially finished basement with an office and a rec room, which probably brings it closer to 1900sq ft. The bonus here is that we now have a powder room and both kids have their own rooms.

While I am coming down hard on people’s expectations when it comes to housing, there is a definite truth when it comes to food. Grocers do reward multiple buys of products which could lead to people buying things they don’t need and just letting the extra go waste because it’s cheaper. I also sympathize with anyone who is raising kids or taking care of a loved one on one income. Those are definitely challenges that need myriad policy-driven approaches.

In Canada at least, the government could get back into the affordable housing business again. This is not a party-specific issue, either: multiple governments have ignored housing issues for the past 20 years and the clever solutions that all levels of government are proposing aren’t clever at all and in many ways are increasing the problem. On top of that, we are poised to let in more immigrants over the next few years without even knowing where they’ll live.  While I definitely support the move, we need to think of how the infrastructure of this country will handle the influx.

What I think we need to accept is a tempering of our own inflated expectations. We are trying to live in a Friends world on a Roseanne budget. For our finances, our cities and our resources we need to look to places like Amsterdam with its great public infrastructure and to other European cities where they’ve normalized smaller spaces and where car ownership is just so incredibly expensive that everyone is invested in public transport and public spaces. Urban sprawl is not the solution to this issue, learning to live with less, is.