Last-Minute Valentine's Day: Literally the Least You Can Do for the One You Love

Don't show her this if you want to keep her expectations low.
You want to be romantic. You want to give the love of your life something special, make her day. But you're kind of an idiot. You don't plan ahead and you're not exactly the most thoughtful guy on the planet. Plus, you're cheap.

Well, you're in luck, bozo. There are plenty of places to pick up some crap for her before it's too late. No one understands why she keeps you around. Even she probably doesn't fully get it. This is your chance to remind her that, sure, you're a jackass, but you're a jackass who got her something for Valentine's Day...against all odds.

Here are some fast, cheap options that might actually not be the dumbest thing you ever bought her, but close.

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UPS Christmas Delays Hit Home in Houston

Better late than never.
At about 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve, I could wait no longer. With family members set to descend on my house within two hours, it was time to get the final gifts wrapped, especially those for my mom and that side of the family as we would be exchanging those before dinner. Unfortunately, my mom's gift -- a nice single coffee maker -- had yet to arrive. I ordered it a week earlier from Amazon, but shipping had been delayed via UPS despite my Prime membership.

So I wrapped the filter that had been delivered several days earlier. It was a sad little box that would find its way under the tree, but at least it was something.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one with this problem. Both UPS and FedEx struggled to get packages delivered by Christmas and many people didn't get their gifts on time.

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Photo With Santa Turns Into "I Do" for Homeless Couple

Courtesy HCSO
The happy couple with Santa and his helpers.
Christmas can be tough when your budget is stretched thin. Now, imagine being homeless. Sometimes, all you have is each other. Such is the case with one happy couple, who ran into Santa outside the Harris County Sheriff's Office dispatch center where he had been with SCSO Chaplain Virginia Howell visiting with employees. The couple asked to have their baby's photo taken with the jolly fat man, but another request surprised Howell and St. Nick.

Apparently, the couple was homeless, but trying to get married. They couldn't afford the $40 fee and were making their way to the courthouse to see out someone who would hitch them for free. Howell offered to perform the ceremony on the spot at no charge.

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Old School Christmas: 9 Gifts That Got (Get?) Kids Out of the House and In Better Shape w/Video

Even Capt. Crunch rode these bad boys.
Since the advent of video games, kids have increasingly spent time inside huddled around game consoles. Even for an older guy like me, I grew up with Atari and early handheld video games that were pretty damn addictive, but nothing like the sophisticated games out today that not only look amazing, but give players the ability to interact with each other.

As a result, Christmas gifts are almost entirely focused on electronics or things you do inside while sitting down. From cell phones to video games to tablets and other sophisticated computer technology, sedentary pursuits are where it is at for kids.

When I was growing up, despite the emergence of video games and personal computers, there were still a large number of activity-based toys that were a huge part of Christmas for kids. Maybe if we brought back a few of them, kids would spend a little time outside...and not just playing with their new remote-controlled cars.

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Five Reasons Cyber Monday Is Greater Than Black Friday

Avoid a beat-down by a Walmart rent-a-cop next Black Friday.
Each year since the advent of e-commerce, online sales have slowly grown and begun to outpace in-store purchases at the holidays. Some people prefer the hectic nature of buying at a store on Black Friday. I've known people who actually enjoy getting up at 4 a.m. and standing in line.

There is also the question of the digital divide that still exists in America. For the many who have bank accounts, credit cards and electronic devices for purchasing gifts for our families, there are just as many without those things, who need the store experience to pay with cash.

However, now with mobile devices so readily available and a variety of payment options opening up to everyone, it's no wonder Black Friday is starting to lose some of its luster. For me, it's never had any and here's why.

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10 Reasons to Be Pissed Christmas Is Over

Is there anything more depressing than hearing a Christmas song the day AFTER Christmas? It makes me want to punch Nat King Cole in the face. When we reach the moment that is literally the furthest away from Christmas we will get every year, there's a sort of resigned melancholy that resonates with those of us who truly enjoy Christmas. Some rejoice (check my earlier blog post for reasons), but many lament the passing of another year and the hibernation of a certain red coat-wearing fat man.

If you are glad it's all over, consider these reasons to be sad. If you feel nothing, Scrooge, I can't help you.

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10 Reasons to Be Thankful Christmas Is Over

After a full-blast Christmas season, most of us are worn out to the point of exhaustion. The time spent with family, the commercialism, the "sounds of the season" and the gluttonous embarrassment of feasting are enough to drive anyone to drink, which you probably also did too much of this year for a variety of reasons. Well, buck up there, son. Christmas is over.

And if you really, really love Christmas, as unhealthy as it may be -- donning the Santa hat in July is disturbing, not cute -- no need to be depressed because there are plenty of things to be thankful for now that Rudolph is back at the North Pole.

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Last, Last-Minute Christmas Shopping: Five Gifts from the Gas Station

Photo by Philosphygeek via Flickr
Like Santa's workshop, only it smells like mushrooms and everybody looks like they want to hurt me.
You pop out of bed on Christmas morning. You've been asleep for a couple of days thanks to that crazy ass holiday party at the office. You crawl out of bed and remember that you need to be at your mom's house in a couple hours for lunch and merriment. As you reach the bathroom and strain your eyes into the mirror, a horrifying, god-awful thought enters your brain. You didn't do any Christmas shopping.

You race around the house looking for things to re-gift. You start thinking up creative excuses -- you've taken a vow of austerity; you've turned against capitalism; but what about starving children in Africa! You know none of this will fly. You have to get something. You realize EVERYTHING is closed with one exception: the gas station.

What the hell can you get at the gas station? Well, here are five things to consider.

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Last-Minute Christmas: Ten Odd Gifts from CVS to Solidify Your Standing as Resident Black Sheep

Every year a whole bunch of you (you know who you are) wait until the last minute to buy Christmas gifts. You scramble and go crazy trying to get everything done just in time to see the disappointed look on the faces of your relatives as you reveal your latest holiday blunder. Let's be honest here. This is not laziness. It's passive aggressiveness. You buy odd little doodads for everyone because, well, as George Burns once quipped, "Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit another city."

This year, just dispense with the charade and do what you've always wanted. Get some gifts that will really freak them the hell out. Bring that crazy out into the open and give it a nice deep breath of fresh air. Kill that damn pink elephant and stand your ground as the weirdest damn gift giver north, south, east AAAAAAND west of the Pecos (hat tip: Yosemite Sam).

Best of all, CVS is there to help. Check out these ten offerings from the local drugstore. Not only will it weird out those old biddy aunts of yours, but you can do all your shopping on the last 30 minutes of Christmas Eve. It's a Christmas miracle!

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The Five Best Houston Neighborhoods for Viewing Christmas Lights

I'll admit I'm a sucker for a good Christmas lights display. When my parents were not terribly interesting in stringing lights from the house, I made plans. I used graph paper to map out the entire house and figure out what lights would go where. This was a big deal in my world as a kid. Even today, I like stringing lights and looking at impressive displays by others.

While I may not light my house like Clark Griswold, I admire those who give it a shot. The neighborhoods on this list definitely go all out when it comes to lighting the holidays. So, pop on the all-Christmas station in your car (or do like I do, and make a mix of Christmas jazz) and take a drive to soak in some holiday cheer...and perhaps get a sunburn at night.

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