Appreciating the Holidays during the Shittiest Year Ever

By Crabby McSlacker

So the holiday season has arrived, and traditionally this is a time for joy and togetherness. Yet for many of us, this year hardly seems time for celebration.

And I know, this is a health blog, not a political blog. But I feel like I have to acknowledge the elephant in the room—the scary mean orange elephant, the angry beast who defeated the diligent, highly qualified donkey and now rules the world.

These are scary times. It feels too fake and weird to just pretend everything is normal.

We have a president-elect gearing up to destroy our democracy. Not out of malice or twisted ideology. No, Trump is not some epic villain for the ages with a sinister grand plan–he’s just arrogant. Ignorant. Entitled. Vindictive. Uninhibited. Mendacious. Greedy. Narcissistic.

Every day comes some fresh outrage, something that would have, in times past, shocked the populace, made bold headlines, brought down administrations. Yet there are never any repercussions. Well, we get funny SNL skits and Samantha Bee rants and Facebook petitions. They makes us feel better momentarily, but we’re still facing the same horrific reality a few minutes later.

Am I offending some of you pro-Trump people out there? I’m sorry.  But I’m offended you elected this racist, sexist, irrational, authoritarian, hate-filled monster to lead our country.

But hey, if you supported Trump and are somehow still willing to put up with my occasional rants, you are still most welcome here!

So what’s the health angle here?  It’s this: bazillions of studies have shown that feelings of gratitude and appreciation are good for us. Cultivating appreciation, even in the midst of political shitstorms, improves our physical and mental health, and makes us far less likely to be assholes to those around us.

So I thought I’d go first:  what are a few things that I’m especially appreciating this year as the holidays roll around?

1. I Love My Bubble!

photo: x-ray delta one
My family, friends and community (both the geographical and online kind of community) exist in that liberal “bubble” we’re told we should wander out of more often. But fuck that. I am not going to wander over to Breitbart or peruse the National Enquirer or go to a Trump rally to immerse myself in their nasty perverted take on the world.

(Of course my wife and I actually do wander outside the bubble, in a physical sense. We cross the country by car quite frequently, and just traveled through a bunch of red states right after the election. Everyone was very pleasant. But we did not talk politics.)

Anyway, the silver lining to the arrival of the Trumpocalypse is my skyrocketing feelings of admiration, affection, and appreciation for all those who are just as appalled as I am about the horrifying wrongness of what’s happening, and are expressing it in all kinds of clever and heartfelt ways.

And it’s not just an abstract appreciation, it feels emotional, even physical.  I’m reminded of the days following 9-11, when we lived in New York City: looking around at everyone trying to cope and help and pull together, and feeling a sense of unity and camaraderie in the wake of the unthinkable.

It’s weird how that “under attack” feeling can make you appreciate the good qualities of those around you.  The country has suddenly turned hostile to basic ideals we thought were inarguable. But at least we have each other. And we will resist.

2. Less Flagrant Materialism

Is it just me, or does it seems like it’s a more restrained, reflective, and simple holiday season this year than in previous years?  I’m hearing more and more people say they are going easy on presents, favoring adventures and gatherings and necessities and togetherness over Big Fat Piles of Expensive Shiny Stuff.

3. Funny Amazon Reviews

The holiday season lures many of us to online retailers, and Amazon product reviews have become a huge forum for consumer opinions.

Fortunately, these opinions are not just confined to the obvious pro’s and con’s of the products under discussion.  Creative Questions and Answers and reviews can be the source of much good cheer. And what’s not to like about good cheer this time of  year?

Check out the Tuscan Dairy Review, for example. Or Bic for Her.

Sadly, there were some hilarious reviews of  Ivanka’s Trumps boots, but after I started drafting this post they seem to have disappeared.

There’s even a Funniest Amazon Reviews list curated by Amazon, and there are some great ones there.

4. I can run again!

No, not for elected office, God forbid. I mean run as in jog slowly and awkwardly down a trail, all the while fantasizing that I’m sprinting like a cheetah.

Running has always been one of my favorite forms of cardio, and it’s exceptionally convenient if you travel a lot.  I know running is a stupid-ass thing for me to do, but I’ve missed it terribly!

It’s probably still not good for me, it aggravates my back a little, but within tolerable limits.  I stopped because of plantar fasciitis, and before that knee problems, but I seem to be temporarily able to get away with it. Yay for running!

5. Chrome Kitten Extension

Even over the holidays, it is hard to avoid being confronted by The News.

How to deal with graphic, disturbing images that harsh your holiday mellow?

It only works on some news sites, but if you use Chrome as a browser, why would you NOT want every image of Donald Trump replaced by a cute kitten?

If you download the Chrome Make America Kittens Again Extension, at least occasionally the face of the devil incarnate in a news story will be replaced by something like:

So yeah, I’m a little weird. But what are you all appreciating this holiday season? Are you in the mood to celebrate?

Gifts For New Moms

Looking for gifts for new moms this Christmas? Here are 15 ideas that would make great presents for the moms in your life!

Hi friends!

Last year I posted a Baby’s First Year Gift Guide to share some of our favorite new baby items. This year I thought I’d share some gift ideas for the new moms in your life. Because moms work hard…and they deserve nice things 🙂

Looking for gifts for new moms this Christmas? Here are 15 ideas that would make great presents for the moms in your life!

I don’t personally have all of these items…but I have tried several of them, and I can make a pretty good case for why the rest of them are good ideas! And if you’re sitting here thinking you don’t really know any new moms, have no fear! A lot of these things would be great for any of the ladies in your life – friends, sisters, girlfriends, wives etc! So take a look and start shopping!

Need a gift idea for a new mom you know? Here are 15 things she’ll love for Christmas!Click To Tweet

*Note that this post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase something using that link, I get a small portion of the sale at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting The Lean Green Bean!


gift guide


Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Film Camera – I don’t have one of these myself…but I do have my eye on it. Trust me when I say moms take a lot of pictures. If they’re anything like me, they’ll have a million on their phone but rarely get around to printing any out. This is a fun way to easily get some physical photos!
Yeti Rambler Tumbler – This mug can do double duty. It’ll keep her coffee hot in the morning (because if she puts it in a regular mug, she’ll have to reheat it no less than 5 times) and it’ll keep her water cold in the afternoon. And in the evening, she can hide some beer or wine in there 🙂
Scarf Camera Strap –   Like I said, new moms take lots of pictures. Most will probably be on her phone…but if she does drag out the nice camera, these scarf straps are a fun way to add some personality to the big camera! Pictured is this one from Etsy. You can also find them on Amazon.
Hair Tie Bracelet –  Unless her hair is too short, it’ll probably be in a ponytail almost every day to help disguise the fact that she has no time to shower anymore. These are a fun way to make those extra hair ties look more fashionable. Find them on Amazon or on Etsy.
Lululemon Dance Studio Pants – These pants are the best. I have 4 pairs and wear them pretty much every day. They’re a step up from sweatpants but just as comfortable. My “winter uniform” is pretty much all from Lulu so if you’re looking for more ideas, i’d also recommend a Scuba Hoodie (I have 3) and a Vinyasa Scarf (I have 2).
Stitch Fix Gift Card – Babies make it really hard to find time to go shopping. Maybe if she just has a newborn she could squeeze some in…but if she has more than one kid, the idea of trying to do any sort of leisurely in-store shopping is laughable. Give her a Stitch Fix giftcard so the clothes show up right at her door!
iPad/Tablet Stand – If she’s nursing, she’ll probably spend a lot of time watching show on the Tv or iPad. This stand is perfect for holding a tablet on a table next to a glider for those late-night nursing sessions.
Instant Pot – I snagged one of these during Amazon’s Black Friday sale and I’m now reccommending them to everyone. They cook stuff insanely quickly so when the new mom forgets to put dinner in the crockpot in the morning, she can still have dinner cooked in 30 minutes and it’ll taste like it cooked all day.
Ultra-Compact Portable Phone Charger – Mama will be spending a lot of time on her phone. Buy her an extra charger that she can keep in the car or diaper bag!

gift guide

Game Day Feels Bracelet – I discovered these bracelets a few years ago and love them. They have tons of great quotes to choose from, but I especially love the one I bought – “Life is about moments. Don’t wait for them, create them.” It’s a great reminder to live in the moment and be present with my kids.
Weekly Planner from Minted – The important part of this is the planner part…because mom brain is a real thing and remembering anything important is pretty much impossible. Any planner will do but I love these planners from Minted because they put a whole week on one page instead of spread across two pages, so I don’t have to leave it open like a book to see the whole week….I can just look at one page.
Wallet with Phone Pocket – When you have to leave the house with a diaper bag, carseat, kid(s) and more….there aren’t a lot of hands left for a purse. Get her a wallet that’s big enough to hold her phone too so she can just toss it in the diaper bag and call it a day.
Seaport Stitches Diaper Bag – This is the diaper bag I have and I adore it. It’s cute, it’s the perfect size and it’s held up well over the past year. I’d buy it again in a heartbeat.
Chatbooks – A fun way to print your Instagram photos into a keepsake book. You can get your mom friend to approve your request and then Chatbooks lets you design a book for her using her photos. She’ll love it..and trust me, she won’t have time to do it herself, despite her best intentions.
Personalized Necklace – When my son was born, my hubby got me a beautiful necklace with his name, birth date and a few charms on it. After my daughter was born I told him I wanted an updated one to include both of them. I love how simple and beautiful this one is.

So there you go! Hopefully this inspired an idea or two for someone on your list!


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