The Holiday Scramble
Published on December 24, 2011 by Sara Foss

In my column over at the DG, I write about the hectic Christmas season, again.

Here's an excerpt:

"As usual, I’m struggling to find time to go Christmas shopping or write Christmas cards.

It’s Wednesday as I type this, and I’ve only written about half of my Christmas cards and purchased just two presents. Since this happens every year I’m fairly confident I’ll get everything done, but that doesn’t make my 11th-hour frenzy of shopping and writing any less stressful.

But it does focus the mind.

Every time I sit down to write a card, I think about the person I’m writing to and the reasons they’re still in my life. The same is true of buying gifts. Each purchase makes me consider the recipient, their likes and dislikes, and my desire to give them something they’ll appreciate. Both activities provide an opportunity to renew relationships and reinforce bonds. Many of my cards suggest getting together in the coming year, and I’m always deadly serious."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Adults Ruin Everything
Published on October 31, 2011 by Sara Foss

I have mixed feelings about Halloween. I loved it when I was a kid, but I guess I'm OK with it being one of those things I loved as a kid, but have no interest in celebrating as an adult.

When people asked me what I was doing for Halloween, I shrugged. I was feeling reclusive, and my only plans were to catch up with my friend Kim, who had absolutely no interest in dressing up. When Kim proposed going to Valentine's in Albany to listen to music, I warned her about what we would be getting into. "It's Valentine's annual Halloween bash," I said. "I'm not opposed to going. But there will be people in costumes there, acting all goofy and stuff." "Hmmm," Kim said. "That's not really my scene."

So we didn't go to Valentine's. In fact, we didn't do anything, because it was snowing and neither of us felt like leaving our homes. But I didn't hear or see anything that made me regret my unintentional boycott of the holiday. In my mind, Halloween is really for kids.

That's why I enjoyed this piece, titled "How I Became a Halloween Grump," by Rosecrans Baldwin. In it, he bemoans how safe and saccharine Halloween has become. What was once a wild, scary and ultimately thrilling event, he writes, has been destroyed by adults, who force kids to trick-or-treat in broad daylight and never let them out of their sight. For the record, my father always drove us from house to house on Halloween, and we only visited the homes of people we knew, which I consider a pretty wise strategy. (We didn't want to die on Halloween any more than our parents wanted us to die.) But I can agree with the crux of Baldwins' argument, which is that adults ruin everything. Because they do ruin everything.


Don't Offend People This Halloween
Published on October 30, 2011 by Sara Foss

Every year, I'm amazed by the reports that inevitably surface of people thinking it's a good idea to dress in, say, blackface on Halloween. This is one of those things people should know not to do, and yet people - grown-ups! - keep doing it. Perhaps that's why a student group at Ohio University launched a campaign, titled "We're a culture, not a costume," to make people think before dressing as an ethnic or racial stereotype for Halloween.

I actually knew someone in college who proposed having a "come as your favorite ethnic stereotype" party. I tried to impress upon her what a terrible idea this was - the sort of thing that might (but probably won't) be mildly amusing when discussed privately among a small group of friends, but will become a giant fiasco - and possibly a national news story - if you actually do it. In any case, common sense prevailed, and my friend did not throw a "come as your favorite ethnic stereotype party."

Meanwhile, GOOD magazine has provided a helpful primer, titled "Time, Place and Race: What Makes a Halloween Costume Offensive?"