This is the time of year when everyone seems to be in a rush. This being the case, it may be a prime opportunity to reverse that trend and stop to smell the poinsettias. 


Something that could be enjoyable is to make a phone call to a special someone. There's a product out right now that might make the process more fun. Remember that Fisher-Price toy telephone you had when you were a kid? Well, nostalgia has gotten an update by adding Bluetooth to the Chatter Phone. 


“It looks and feels exactly like the toy you had as a kid. Its shiny plastic exterior is complete with a working rotary dial and eyes that move with its wheels. But instead of just playing make-believe, you can actually make calls with it. Calls sound crystal clear, and the dial works seamlessly too. It connects instantly to any modern cell phone with Bluetooth.” (


If this is a bit over-the-top for you, perhaps a different direction is in order. Something to consider is that every new purchase puts into motion a global chain of events. “It begins with extracting oil to make the plastic that is in everything from the gift itself to the packaging it comes in. Those materials travel from processing plant to factory to container ship, to eventually land on your front porch. Sooner or later, they will most likely end up in a landfill.” (


There may be an alternative. A New York Times article suggests you don't purchase any new presents this year. “The reasons for buying secondhand gifts are numerous. Searching for pre-loved treasures is fun, and often allows more opportunities for finding (and, sometimes, personalizing or fixing up) a very specific gift rather than the usual trendy, generic items you might think of buying.” (


This philosophy could even include creating something that would become a family treasure. A personalized Christmas decoration could mean something now and in the future. 


Here are some interesting facts about Christmas decorations. “Twenty percent of the waste an average person produces every year is made in the month leading up to Christmas Day. The average American spends $269 on Christmas decorations every year. Making your own Christmas decorations could save the average American more than $200.”


An article on has a “A Complete Guide to DIY Stencil Christmas decorations.” They note: “Making your own Christmas decorations is a great idea. It is a fun activity that teaches you new skills, saves you money, and is a fun activity for you to do with your family.”


The best part is that most of the materials and tools you'll need are things you probably already have around the homestead, like: a ruler, tape, paper towels, needle and thread, and a tape measure. See all the nifty items you can easily make at:


When you present someone with your creation, be ready for the possibility of teary eyes and a big hug. If that does happen, it's good to know what actually is the optimum hug. “According to experiments conducted in the lab and in the real world, people tend to get the most pleasure from hugs when they last for five or more seconds. One-second hugs were the least pleasurable, while five and ten second hugs were found to be equally enjoyable.”


Well, we live in precarious times, so it might be wise to proceed with caution. “In the real world, there's some evidence to suggest a hug lasts about three seconds, so the researchers advise sticking closer to five seconds than ten.” (


Creating new holiday traditions can be enjoyable and rewarding, but there are folks among us who would suggest that some traditions need to be retired. An opinion contributor at a Michigan newspaper observed: “Traditions separate us from animals, along with opposable thumbs, table manners and the lack of tails. But some holiday traditions are simply ridiculous and must cease immediately.” (


This writer did not like eggnog. “Egad, I have never tasted such a foul libation. The stuff in the dairy section should be moved to the swill section.”


Fruitcake was not a favorite either. “Stale cake with desiccated fruit dyed with carcinogens?”


I'll bet there are no Christmas lights at his house. ”Never did I dread a day more than the day after Thanksgiving when I had to adorn our landscaping with thousands of lights.  What energy company consortium is behind this?” 


Gee, what a grouch. He should go to the special Neff Zone Holidays web page at He might want to see where he rates on Santa's Nice-O-Meter. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and,cadillacnews