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Family

Woman fed up with wasteful holiday 'giving' proposes a new way to celebrate the season

"Gifting in America has become insane. So I’m changing my ways."

christmas shopping, christmas gifts, materialism

A woman buying gifts for her nephews.

After becoming fed up with the material nature of the holiday season, a Redditor who goes by Somanycatsinhere, shared how she is putting her money towards things that matter rather than mindlessly buying gifts. Even though everyone's situation differs, the post is an excellent reminder that we don’t have to give someone a store-bought gift reflexively. Instead, we can focus on getting something they actually need.

“I’m over buying gifts to be thrown away or donated,” she started her post. “I decided I’m done.”

The Redditor explained she usually visits her family a few weeks before the holidays for a joint Thanksgiving and “Early Christmas” celebration, and this year, she took a different approach to gift-giving.

“I made a visit to my sister with my 3 amazing nieces. … The kids have everything they can need or want: toys and clothing-wise—and it’s all so overwhelming. The kids don’t even play with most of it. It’s just piled up everywhere,” she wrote.


​So, instead of buying them more toys and clothes, she opened up a college fund for each niece, who receives a monthly amount “gifted” to them at birthdays and Christmas.

The woman's sister is having financial difficulties, so she got her something super practical. “Took my sister to the store and told her she could fill the cart with household items and groceries for her and her husband's Christmas present. Laundry soap, paper towels, toilet paper, groceries, etc. She loved it!” she wrote.

For her nephews who have everything, the poster gave them gift cards for their annual trip to Disney.

The woman's extended family “throws nothing away” and collects “everything,” so the Redditor got them to agree to a family Christmas trip instead of exchanging gifts.

The post received over 150 comments from people who shared their approach to giving gifts during the holidays. Many who responded said they prefer to buy experiences for their family members instead of material objects.

"I gift experiences. Like membership to a batting cage for my nephew or a season pass to the zoo. I suggested horseback riding sessions or archery lessons for my daughter and some kind of jump park or karate class for my son," Savvymama30a wrote. "I've also started buying more "experience" gifts than physical items. I've gotten gift certificates for massages, fancy restaurants, and concerts or shows for my parents the past few years," Purplezara added.

During these challenging economic times, practical gifts can be a huge help.

"I think, slowly but surely, people are coming around to this way of giving. As a practical person, I thoroughly appreciate being gifted things I’ll actually use,” Yourdailysugarcube wrote. "When I was younger and newly on my own, my mom would gift me bulk items from Costco like paper towels, garbage bags, etc, and while it isn’t glamorous, it saved me a lot of money. I really appreciated those gifts!"

Ultimately, the holidays are all about spending time together, expressing gratitude for one another, and embracing the things that truly matter in life. Everyone has their love language, but this Reddit poster seems to be on the right track by focusing on giving people gifts they can use instead of something they’ll stick on a closet or get rid of at a yard sale.

Health

Psychologist explains why everyone feels exhausted right now and it makes so much sense

Psychologist Naomi Holdt beautifully explained what's behind the overarching exhaustion people are feeling and it makes perfect sense.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

It seems like most people are feeling wiped out these days. There's a reason for that.

We're about to wrap up year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it's been a weird ride, to say the least. These years have been hard, frustrating, confusing and tragic, and yet we keep on keeping on.

Except the keeping on part isn't quite as simple as it sounds. Despite the fact that COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc, we've sort of collectively decided to move on, come what may. This year has been an experiment in normalcy, but one without a testable hypothesis or clear design. And it's taken a toll. So many people are feeling tired, exhausted, worn thin ("like butter scraped over too much bread," as Bilbo Baggins put it) these days.

But why?

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Modern Families

My family just flew to three European countries and home again for $149 per person total

Here's how we traveled from the U.S. to London, Athens and Vienna and back again for less than the cost of one domestic flight.

Photo courtesy of Annie Reneau

My husband and kids sitting on Ted Lasso's bench in Richmond, U.K.

Our family of five just got back from a nearly 3-week European vacation—three different cities in three different countries—and we only paid $149 cash per person for all of our flights combined.

It sounds too good to be true, but it's not. It sounds like there's got to be a catch, and there is, but not like you might think.

Welcome to the world of travel hacking, where if you learn to play the points and miles game well, you can take vacations you (or at least I) never thought possible.

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All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


Photographer James Balog and his crew were hanging out near a glacier when their camera captured something extraordinary.

They were in Greenland, gathering footage from the time-lapse they'd positioned all around the Arctic Circle for the last several years.

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Family

Woman's rant to have less mom influencers on social media is so spot on

"Most of us are not living these aesthetic perfect lifestyles."

@elledotmo/TikTok

Woman calls for less mom influencers on TikTok

The curated perfection of social media—where every room, outfit and activity feel plucked straight out of a Pinterest board—can be a soothing escape from the messiness of real life.

But let’s face it—it’s easy to get oversaturated in this type of content. And after being constantly inundated with spotless kitchens and flawless faces and endless matcha-favoring morning routines, the aspirational easily becomes aggravating.

The rise of momfluencers can be a prime example of this. Sure, many mommy bloggers offer really helpful tips, product suggestions and doses of inspiration to their followers. But at the same time, they do push an ideal that doesn’t acknowledge the messy, chaotic reality that most moms experience everyday.

And that is exactly what one mom is fed up with.

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Joy

People share different thoughts on what makes someone a good friend

The responses show that we prioritize different things in our friendships.

Photo by Sam McNamara on Unsplash

Friendship is an important part of leading a fulfilling life.

According to an October 2023 Pew Research Center report, 61% of adults in the U.S. say that having close friends is an essential part of living a fulfilling life—a far higher percentage than those who say the same about being married (23%), having children (26%) or having a lot of money (24%). The research also found that having more friends is linked to being more satisfied with friendships in general. Approximately 81% of people with five or more close friends share they are "completely" or "very" satisfied with their friendships, while 65% of those with one to four close friends say the same.

But what does being satisfied with friendship even mean? What earns someone the label of "friend"? Or more importantly, what does it mean to be a good friend?

We asked our audience what makes someone a good friend, and the responses were interesting. Naturally, there were some common themes, but people also had some diverse ideas about what's important in a friendship.

Some people shared short, sweet lists of traits that are essential in a friendship:

"Caring, loyal, kind and completely non-judgemental." –Annika B.

"Trustworthy, loyal, supportive, flexible, patient, understanding. Caring." – Jonathan S.

"Kind, helpful, supportive and honest." – Marjorie M.

"Conversation and laughter. Kind and caring." – Kathleen M.

"Unconditional love, laughter, and honesty." – Molly H.

"When you are a better person with them than by yourself. And kindness ❤️" – Gillian N.

"They know how to really listen without judging." – Bernadette C.

two women sitting on a couch laughing

Friends laugh together.

Photo by Surface on Unsplash

Others offered a bit more detail:

"Being able to pick up where you left off even if some time has passed and it feels like no time has passed. Someone who will give you straight advice, but love you even if you don't follow it." – Melissa O.

"Someone you can talk honestly with, belly laugh with, but also just sit in silence with…knowing they just get you." – Lori T.

"Someone non judgemental who loves you even when you’ve struggled to love yourself. Someone who loves you unconditionally despite your flaws." – Sue H.

two people hugging

Friends comfort one another.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

"Kind, supportive, dependable, wants to spend time together, someone you can laugh and cry with. There on your important days, and in your time of need. And you have to be all those things for them in return." – Della D.

"They get you, allow you to be who you are, laugh with you, cry with you, no matter time or distance - you just pick up where you left off, they back you up - even when you’re not there to defend yourself." – Zan M.

"Honesty, kindness, understanding, ability to disagree without anger, trust, willing to tell each other hard truth with love, forgiveness." – Deborah H.

"They fill a need you have. There are many different kinds of friends. Childhood friends ,School friends, work friends, church friends etc...they all play a special role in your life." – Elizabeth B.

two women with their hands over each other's eyes

Friends don't judge.

Photo by Sam McNamara on Unsplash

And finally, some people offered specific details and personal anecdotes about their friendships:

"Sharing common interest and really caring about each other. listening is very important not just speaking to each other. My best friend of 60 years passed away a couple of years ago and I cannot tell you how much I miss her and her nonjudgmental friendship." – Carole J.

"Someone who supports you publicly and tells you hard truths privately, who cheerleads your successes and empathises your lows, who trusts you and you them. Who loves you flaws and all - but all of this you reciprocate in being a good friend. Time flies together and even after months apart you pick up like it was yesterday. Who you want to tell your big news too and your bad news too first." – Elsa P.

"Has great sense of humour, shared interests & values, compassionate, empathic, kind, doesn’t try to 'fix' me, doesn’t minimize my lived experiences as 'not so bad,' able to listen without judgment, and allows me to be there for them." – Linda H.

three older people walking arm in arm

Friends are there through thick and thin.

Photo by Philippe Leone on Unsplash

"I don’t know, sometimes they just love you, even when you don’t want them too. You have to acknowledge them, they don’t ask for anything just want to be with you. I have a 30 yr friendship because she didn’t give up on me. I came to realize she was more forgiving and accepted me for just me. She’s not too kind, sometimes selfish but she’s there, when you get older you also accept and understand no one is perfect and if you get mad at everyone you might wind up without friends we start dying off or in old age homes. We are who we are, just love each other flaws and all. Annoying things find a way to keep friendship, not awful bad things. You guys know what I mean." – Ney C.

"Someone who knows they can call you at 2 AM, and you can do the same. Someone you house and dog sit for, whose dogs come to greet you when they hear the garage door open and who happily sit on you. Someone that refused to let you pay for Lyft to get to chemotherapy appointments, but took you each time, checked on you afterwards, brought food knowing that you didn’t feel like cooking, visited to talk about all kinds of things, and just was there for you when you were feeling the considerable side effects of chemotherapy." – Yaca A.

We all need people in our lives we can depend on, share our joys and sorrows with, and support in return. And if we have a hard time making friends, we can always rely on the wisdom of preschoolers to remind us of the basic building blocks of friendship.

Internet

A story about 'lemon pie' is taking the internet by storm and leaving readers in tears

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@sappoop/TikTok, @finneyfrog/TikTok

Reader reacts to "lemon pie" story

There appears to be a growing trend on TikTok: heartbreaking slice-of-life stories, told as a slideshow. These usually mimic a text conversation between two people caught in a vulnerable moment, showcasing something quite moving and profound in the mundane.

Take for instance the “orange peel story” which went viral only a couple of weeks ago. It follows two college students post break-up, one of whom still has feelings for the other. A tender exchange encourages them to believe that they will find love again.

Now, there’s a new story making the rounds, and it’s every bit as touching.

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