Five Things Friday Vol. 82

This last week felt very productive. I finally got started on my holiday to-do list and it felt really good to check things off — like ordering gifts (for people overseas), getting our holiday cards ready to be sent out, and most importantly baking Christmas cookies last weekend. I used to enjoy putting little packages together for people far away but you can’t really do this anymore (at least for overseas friends). Postage has become ridiculously expensive and customs regulations have been tightened to a point where a “gift” package can’t have a value of more than 45€, so you can’t even send one big package with multiple things because then the recipient has to physically pick up the package at the customs office and possibly pay important taxes on the gifts. It takes the fun out of sending anything anymore. Sigh.

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Sorry, I didn’t want to come here to complain but this really puts a damper on my holiday spirit. And on top of that, the world is just such a heavy place right now. While I try to focus on the good things in my life and be thankful for everything I have (like access to food and water, a warm place to sleep at night, etc.), it’s hard to ignore the sadness around us. Plus, a few friends have been traveling to Germany for Christmas and while I am so excited and happy for them, I am also a tiny bit jealous. I always miss my family more than usual around this time of year (but I can’t help to also just be thankful that they’re safe where they are).

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I am happy to report that I’ve at least managed to watch one Christmas movie so far (and no, it wasn’t one of the classics but one on Amazon Prime that a friend on Instagram recommended. I just wanted to watch something that I hadn’t seen and it was a nice Christmas romance with a Groundhog Day vibe. It’s with Mark-Paul Gosselaar who I might have had a tiny crush on back in the days of “Saved by the Bell ” LOL ).

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I almost forgot that I promised a little end-of-NaBloPoMo giveaway for all participants who commented on my blog post from November, 30. I apologize. But I have now determined the winner of the gift card. To be transparent, I included 15 comments by individual participants in the drawing and the random number generator spit out the number 10.

The 10th comment of people who participated was from Kae and I’ll be sending her a gift card of her choice (Starbucks or Amazon)*. Congratulations to you, Kae! Keep an eye out for an email!

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A couple of good things this week: I swapped Christmas cookies (and some office gossip) with my coworker when I went to the office yesterday and I got to take some Peloton holiday rides with friends this week. I also received a few more holiday cards (THANK YOU!) and a couple of packages that I did not order, which I assume to be Christmas presents from far away friends (so they’ve been put under the tree for now). I can’t believe Christmas is only a little over a week away.

How are you feeling this week? Are you on top of your holiday stuff, or just muddling through like me?

*This giveaway is not sponsored or paid for. The gift card was purchased with my own money.

  1. Ahhh I literally cannot believe that I won another giveaway!! I won on Elisabeth’s blog recently too and this is BLOWING ME AWAY because I never win anything!!! Ok, it’s settled, I’m heading to Vegas next week to strike while the iron is hot. 😅

    I totally hear you about the gifts and overseas thing. My mom’s love language is gift giving, and it kills her to not really be able to easily send gifts to my nieces and nephew in Ireland. It’s just insanely expensive. I usually end up ordering on Amazon UK now for them, which works out ok, I guess, but eliminates the ability to see something cute here and send it. Anyway, just commiserating because it really is frustrating!

    1. So excited for you that you won not one, but two giveaways :) Yay!
      And thank you for commiserating. The mail situation is very frustrating and I can imagine that your mom would love to spoil her grandkids in Ireland. Sigh.

  2. Team Muddling Through Here! I find myself randomly thinking of gifts here and there with no overall organizational plan.

    Your complaint about international gifting is legit. One of our chores for year end at work is to come up with a list of gifts that we’ve given to employees each year and to pay all of the taxes on both the employee and employer side. I’m not one to complain about taxes normally but it’s ridiculous. The company gave all of our employees a gift box with chocolate and wine…in some countries it’s not taxable and in other countries the taxes are close to the amount of the gift. And yes Germany is on that list!

    1. I am glad I am not alone muddling through!
      I am sorry you also deal with the international gift sending situation… even if it’s through work. It’s just ridiculous if you ask me.

  3. Oh, the issues with mailing things overseas would be so discouraging! And I completely understand how the holidays really emphasize feelings of separation from friends and family. Do you have plans to chat via phone or video chat for the holidays?

    1. Oh yes, we always do a FaceTime Call on Christmas Eve when all of my family is gathered at my sister’s place… it’s “almost” like I am sitting at the table with them (except for that I am not able to taste the delicious food ;))

  4. Postage and sending things just in Canada is outrageously expensive! I had a tiny little item for a girlfriend in Calgary and the lady at the post office told me it would be cheaper to send it in a fixed-rate box. I thought, how could that be? It was a tiny bubble wrap envelope THAT I BOUGHT AT THE POST OFFICE. Well, they were right. It was $25 to send the bubble wrap envelope and $20 to send the box. FOR A TINY ORNAMENT. The ornament itself was less than $10, and that’s just in Canada. I cannot even imagine what it is to send items internationally. So I totally get it. I ordered a few things from the States and having to pay shipping and exchange rate and then customs duty on top – so expensive!!! Thank you for allowing me to rant about it here.

    1. Oh man, that really sucks that mail even within Canada is so ridiculously expensive. I mean, it kinda blows my mind that you can drop of a package at the post office and they’ll carry it all the way over wherever you send it, but the price for it has really gotten out of hand. Sigh. (And rant away, I am glad I am not alone with the frustration.)

  5. Bah humbug to mailing gifts! I’ve never tried mailing things internationally, but can only imagine how expensive it is. I bought my brother an item from his Amazon wishlist that was mailed from Kentucky to Alaska, and it got delayed in Customs. Customs, for US to US gift? I don’t get it. Perhaps it went via truck, so had to go through Canada? I don’t know. I’m not sending any packages of little treats this year. It’s too expensive and I’m just not in the mood. You’re right, the news is a LOT. It’s so dark.

    1. An Amazon package from Kentucky to Alaska got delayed in Customs? What?? I am telling you they make it way harder than it used to be!!

  6. The gift mailing issues really put a damper on the fun of sending things to others! I opted to have the gifts for my niece and nephew shipped to my sister and she will wrap them. And one sister did the same for her kids’ gifts to my kids. It takes some of the fun away.

    I had the day off yesterday so did all of our wrapping. So I feel pretty ready although I need some stocking stuffers for the boys. But otherwise we are ready.

    1. Yeah, I only order gifts and have them directly shipped in most cases (unless I see a person in person, you’d otherwise also pay for shipping twice. It’s sad, but not worth it.)

  7. International mail is So Hard. I’m sorry it takes some of the magic out of your holiday season.
    I have gotten a fair number of holiday cards, but I imagine there is going to be a flood in the next week and I can’t wait! Yay for mail!

  8. I can’t believe how much mail costs, now. Even sending Christmas cards adds up FAST. Ordering all the cards, then the stamps? I don’t send many packages at all, so shipping doesn’t make a huge difference for me, but whenever I DO send a package, I’m gobsmacked by the prices. That said, I have a small business mailing card that does give me discounts and automatically provides free tracking and some insurance…so I shouldn’t complain too long and loud since I do actually get a better deal than others. Oops.

  9. I can’t believe how difficult it is to send present overseas now! That must be so discouraging for you. :( I know how hard it is for you to be away from family and being able to give them hand-wrapped gifts was a way to assuage that sadness.

    I feel mostly prepared for Christmas! I don’t have to do TOO much so that helps.

  10. Lostage is getting more expensive everywhere. Soon letter writing will become a luxury.
    Cookie swaping is such a great idea. More flavors and more variety. I just need co-workers.
    I am sorry you can’t see family this year over the holidays. Hope you are finding joy in all the other little things. I am struggling this year to feel any kind of Christmas spirit. I guess some years are different.

  11. That is ridiculous about the mail, San. I am so sorry. Shipping direct to someone may work but it’s not the same as picking something out, wrapping, and mailing it. It just seems to add to the distance, in a way.
    I hope you are connecting with your family soon – even virtual connections are a (small) something to hold on to. <3 Take care, my friend.

  12. The postage and duties challenge is absurd, especially for people just trying to send stuff for Christmas. I’m so so so sorry that you have to deal with that, especially when it’s a way that you enjoy staying connecting to home. I recognize I’m super late on this front, but I hope you had a good Christmas all the same. Sending you love and peace. <3

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