December Birthdays Aren't All That They're Cracked Up To Be

December Birthdays Aren't All That They're Cracked Up To Be

Three reasons why December birthdays are the worst.
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In my nineteen years of life, so many people have told me they are jealous that my birthday is in December. This is the weirdest concept for me, because I have never once liked when my birthday is, and I’m sure my fellow winter babies agree with me.

It’s such a hectic time of year, with Christmas and finals and New Year’s, and I can’t think of gift ideas for anyone else, much less myself. Honestly, this year the only thing I want for my birthday is to get an A on my astronomy final, but sadly, no one can give that to me as a present. Believe me, there are many reasons why having a December birthday isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

1. The weather sucks.

It is so cold in December, so it’s hard to enjoy your special day. Throughout my life, many of my birthdays were snow days, so I couldn’t even see my friends at school. It’s also usually snowing too hard or the roads are too icy to drive anywhere, so I can’t do anything fun.

2. Asking for gifts is hard.

By December, I’ve forgotten every gift I’ve ever wanted in my entire life. People always ask me what I want for my birthday and Christmas, and I can’t think of a single thing. It’s such a weird phenomenon, but it happens every year.

I have no reason to get gifts the entire year, and then suddenly I have so many reasons for presents, and suddenly my mind is blank. I have a lot of sisters, and I’m supposed to tell each of them two gifts that I want? Impossible. (For the record, I know this isn’t a real issue, but it’s still difficult. I feel like an ass if I tell people I don’t know what I want, because that makes their lives harder. This December birthday thing is too hard.)

3. It’s too close to Christmas.

This is my biggest issue with having a December birthday. It’s not that you get shafted when it comes to getting two gifts from people because I totally understand that money is tight around Christmas.

My problem is that you only get presents once a year. Do you know how many winter clothes I have? I have so many sweaters and boots because that’s what I get every year for my birthday and Christmas. The thing is, I have NO summer clothes, because I have to buy them myself, and like every other college student, I am broke as hell.

I would LOVE to have a summer birthday and be able to get presents at two different times of the year. And I wouldn’t have to think of everything I’ve ever wanted in one month. Also, birthday pool parties? I’ve never gotten the chance to have one, and I’m pretty upset about it.

If you have a December birthday too, you feel my pain. It’s a crazy and stressful time of year for everyone, and adding a birthday on top of it all just makes the whole month super hectic. But I guess on the positive side, happy birthday to all of you with December birthdays! May we survive this month together.

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Here's Why You Shouldn't Donate to The Salvation Army This Holiday Season (Or Ever)

No, I’m not a grinch or a scrooge. I’m just a member of the LGBT+ community that is tired of seeing my community suffer at the hands of organizations that are supposed to help us.
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The holiday season is upon us, bringing mall Santas, twinkling lights, and the well-known bell ringers with their red buckets stationed outside busy department stores. The Salvation Army is a mainstay in the memories of our childhood holidays. I remember a number of years where my parents would give each of my sisters and I a handful of change to put in the shiny red bucket as we walked into Wal-Mart to shop for our family Christmas dinner. On the surface, the Salvation Army is an organization with good intentions of helping the less fortunate, especially during the holiday season. However, a quick Google search exposes the organization’s discriminatory practices.

The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian denomination and an international charitable organization. Their mission statement, as stated on their website, reads: “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

Despite their insistence of nondiscriminatory practices, however, there have been several instances of discrimination, specifically against members of the LGBT+ community. In July 2017, a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn, New York, was found by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) to be discriminating. Three other centers in New York City were also cited as being discriminatory. Violations within the four centers included refusing to accept transgender people as patients or tenants, assigning trans people rooms based on their sex assigned at birth instead of their lived gender identity, unwarranted physical examinations to determine if trans people are on hormone therapy or have had surgery, and segregating transgender patients into separate rooms. The NYCCHR had been tipped off about the mistreatment, and testers from the commission went to the cited centers and found clear evidence of the mistreatment. One of the clinics told the testers outright, “No, we don’t [accept transgender patients].” Another clinic’s representative said, “People with moving male parts would be housed with men.”

This isn’t the first time the Salvation Army has discriminated specifically against transgender people. In 2014, a transgender woman from Paris, Texas fled her home due to death threats she received related to her gender identity. The police told her, “Being the way you are, you should expect that.” She went to Dallas and found emergency shelter at the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center, run by the Salvation Army. The emergency shelter allowed her to stay for 30 days. Towards the end of her 30-day stay, she began looking for other long-term shelter options. One option many of the other women staying in the shelter had recently entered was a two-year housing program also run by the Salvation Army. When the woman interviewed for the program, she was told she was disqualified for the program because she had not had gender reassignment surgery. The counselor for the program later claimed there was a waiting list, but it came out that two women who arrived at the emergency shelter after the transgender woman had already entered the program. The transgender woman filed a complaint with Dallas’s Fair Housing Office, which protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. She was able to find other housing through the Shared Housing Project, a project that aims to find transgender people with housing who are willing to support those without.

The Salvation Army’s Christian affiliation drives the organization’s statements and beliefs. The church has a page on its website dedicated to its decided stance on the LGBT+ community that seems to paint a nice picture. Their actions, however, tell a different story. There have been several accounts reporting the Salvation Army’s refusal of service to LGBT+ people unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships, or, in some cases, attend services “open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.” The church claims it holds a “positive view of human sexuality,” but then clarifies that “sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage.” This belief extends to their staff, asking LGBT+ employees to renounce their beliefs and essentially their identity in order to align with the organization. The Salvation Army believes that “The theological belief regarding sexuality is that God has ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman and sexual activity is restricted to one’s spouse. Non-married individuals would therefore be celibate in the expression of their sexuality.” Essentially, gay people can’t get married. Unmarried people can’t have sex. Therefore, gay people are forbidden from being intimate with one another. This is unfair to ask of any employee, especially considering that one’s relationship status does not interfere with how well anyone can do their job.

If you are still looking to donate to a non-homophobic and transphobic organization this holiday season, here are some great pro-LGBT+ organizations with outreach similar to that of the Salvation Army:

  • Doctors Without Borders: medical and emergency relief
  • Habitat for Humanity: homelessness and housing
  • Local homeless shelters: search the National Coalition for the Homeless’ website for shelters near you!
  • Local food bank: find your local food bank through Feeding America here.
  • The Trevor Project: a leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT+ young people ages 13-24.
Cover Image Credit: Ed Glen Today

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It's Time To Celebrate The Holiday Heroes We Hardly Speak Of

It's time we stop taking these men and women for granted.

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For the hardworking employees of FedEx, UPS, DHL, TNT Express, etc., there is no such thing as a holiday vacation. While many US families take several days to weeks away from the office/school to build gingerbread houses, go skiing, and put up the Christmas tree, delivery men and women strap on their winter boots and head to the trucks.

There seems to be a sort of luxury to holiday gift shopping the 21st Century - we simply search what we're looking for, click 'purchase', and wait for the item to arrive at our doorstep in 5 to 7 business days. If we're really in a pinch, we can opt for "express shipping" which delivers your package THE VERY NEXT DAY for an extra fee. However, because of these conveniences and advancements in modern-day society, deliverymen are suffering during the holiday season. In 2017, UPS drivers had been asked "to work 70 hours over an eight-day period" just to keep up with the rapid influx of packages and letters. Shockingly, this increase in overtime could not cover the number of parcels needing to be delivered (even with the extra employees they hire during the holidays), so office workers were required to do some delivery.

UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said "several hundred" office employees have been assigned to various operations roles, from sorting packages to assisting drivers as seasonal helpers, over the last few weeks.

Accountants, marketing assistants, and custodial staff were left to use their personal vehicles to deliver packages, often being asked to "change clothes and go to a local site that day or the next day" for fear of being recognized. Additionally, to compensate for a large number of packages on daily routes, UPS drivers had no choice but to work during their break-times. This forced many employees to drive hungry, exhausted, and in pain from a lack of bathroom breaks. Some employees even admitted to carrying empty water bottles in the trucks so that they could relieve themselves without having to venture off route and decrease productivity. One FedEx employee described his daily tasks as exhausting in quoting, "My body is completely destroyed. I am so afraid of getting injured and not being able to work."

Trust me, I know that online shopping is a gift sent from the gods - it's often cheaper, easier, and quicker than going to the mall. It also provides an abundance of job opportunities across America, employing 374,000 workers in just UPS alone. Thus, I am not encouraging you to cut back on your holiday purchases, but instead, show a little respect and kindness towards your local delivery person. They have families and presents and decorations to worry about, too. But most importantly, they're human. Whether your parcel arrives a day late, your delivery comes slightly damaged, or the item you had ordered wasn't what you expected it to be, do not take your frustration out on the drivers. Perhaps, spread some holiday cheer by keeping your rabid dog inside when the truck pulls in front of your house (lol), greeting your deliveryman with a smile, or by offering some treats to get them through their day.

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