It's that time of year again...time to buy co-workers you don't know very well mugs with cheerful sayings on them or bland lotions or candles for the Holiday Work Party/White Elephant Gifting Season.
Sure, other more optimistic or generally less grinchy people than your friendly neighborhood Citizen Reader might call this the "holiday" or "Christmas" season. I just call 'em like I see 'em, folks, and a lot of what goes on at this time of year looks like sending holiday cards and pictures to relatives you don't know (my favorite is my annual one from a random friend of my mother-in-law's with whom we once shared an awkward Christmas Eve meal in an Applebee's, when we had to add a bit more to the tip to make up for our Baby Boomer parents' Scrooge-like frugality) and buying stocking stuffers for work get-togethers.
But I'm a capitalist born in a capitalistic system, so of course I have something to sell you too. Know anybody who enjoys British TV? Not only would I like to meet them so we could discuss all my favorite Brit shows and actors and gossip (like why is Matt Lucas co-hosting The Great British Baking Show holiday specials rather than Alison Hammond?), but if you need to buy a gift for them, might you consider either of my books on the subject?
First there is Bingeworthy British Television, a guide I co-wrote with my British friend Jackie Bailey to give you synopses and the entire run times of more than 100 popular British dramas, historical dramas, miniseries, police procedurals, and sitcoms, which Amazon currently has priced at $15.49 (the cover says $19.99, so you will look like you splashed out even more!). Also included are recommendations for hundreds more programs. Make 2024 your Year of British TV!
This past year I also published a new book of word searches and crossword puzzles based on British TV and slang. That book is titled The Best of British Television: Word Searches, Crossword Puzzles, and Fun Facts, and is currently priced at $8.95 (perfect for Secret Santa gifting when you don't want to go over $10 per gift).
Likewise, if you are looking for excellent charitable causes, I have a few favorites to suggest. 2023 was the year I pledged never again to give to institutions, but rather to give directly to indviduals. In that vein, here's some ideas I had. They all go through GoFundMe, which I realize is not perfect as a fundraising platform, but the individuals in these appeals are all worthy of your consideration (I believe).
Shannon is a writer at Medium and Substack who I have followed for a long time. She has had a lifetime struggle with undiagnosed Lipedema and Lymphedema and has more stories to tell than I can bear about unsympathetic and clueless and unhelpful medical personnel who don't know anything about her complex and debilitating diseases and who basically just keep telling her to lose weight. I have donated to her before and she is always very transparent about the very important health and activities of living items she uses such donations for. Mostly I just like her and I have a lot of sympathy for others who have been ignored and belittled by health care professionals. That's happened to me too, on a much tinier scale, and it makes me very angry.
In the fall of 2023 some poor woman was just trying to live her life in Madison, Wisconsin, and somebody horrifically assaulted her in a way that will impact her the rest of her life. This could have been any one of us, because even when we try to be safe, sometimes we women have to walk around by ourselves in the world. (I know. The fucking NERVE of us.) Please donate to this woman; her fight to survive this attack is far from over.
I have written twice now about Tesla whistleblower Cristina Balan and her brave struggle against Tesla and Elon Musk for nearly a DECADE now. As if fighting to restore her work reputation and be compensated for numerous years when she has been unable to work in her chosen field (because nobody hires whistleblowers) wasn't enough, she was also diagnosed with cancer last year.
Cher Scarlett is another whistleblower I've written about who went up against Apple (for trying to discuss wages at the company with other workers) and who, of course, is now finding it hard to find another job in tech (because, as noted above, nobody hires whistleblowers). She has legal fees to pay and is having difficulty working in her field, simply because she dared question her Tech Company Overlords.
After all that, let me just say, whatever you celebrate this season, if anything at all, I hope it is a very peaceful and healthy and happy one for you. As always, thank you for reading. Here we come, 2024.