Keep the Christmas Spirit

At times, days and weeks go by before my dad ever comes to my thought. Lately I have had strong remembrances of family, my mom, dad, and grandma. Usually it comes stronger at the holidays, especially thoughts about my dad. For some reason he loved Christmas. The funny part is I am not sure he did much to make Christmas happen in my house. My mom bought or more likely made our gifts, staying up many all nighters to get them done in time, wrapped them, and put them under the tree often at the wee hours of Christmas morning. She made the cookies, desserts, and homemade gifts for friends and teachers. To top it all off, she also made a meal for Christmas eve, our Christmas morning breakfast, and a big meal on Christmas day. I think my dad was into the decorations. The Santas, elves, sleighs, and nativity scenes.

In January, my dad will have been gone for 15 years. We put up our Christmas tree on Sunday, and somehow I have convinced Chris to keep white lights in a tree outside our living room window year-round. My dad would probably smile knowing that I am trying to keep that Christmas spirit. I think about him as I watch my niece grow up and wonder what it would be like for him to have his first grandchild coo and crawl all over him. Next weekend he would have been 73. I see him (when I notice) as I walk down our hallway of family photos. I am pictured at my niece’s age, head full of curls and he, covered with a beard in the late 1970’s. I think about him when I find a favorite childhood book and remember my reading to him. Those were those moments when I remember he was most calm and patient.

I wonder at times what it will be like when I have kids of my own, and how many times I will wish there was a contact in my phone that said: Mom and another that said Dad. Would they text with me? Would they meet up with old friends on Facebook? It is so hard to know, they have been gone for so long that I no longer know who they would have grown to become. Yet, I will do what I can each year to continue the Christmas spirit in my own way, however it may feel right each year. Whether that means to dote on my niece who does not have my mom and dad to dote on her, or whether that means to donate toys to kids in my community.

What I think my dad wanted was to feel apart of something bigger than himself. We can all do that in so many differing ways, all keeping with the Christmas spirit of giving.

A desire to connect?

As a blogger, there are a few blogs that I frequent either daily, weekly, or whenever a post is published. I find inspiration in the ideas shared, the writing style, and sometimes just like reading a memoir might jog your memory to a special moment in your past so do posts from fellow bloggers. I found Shauna Niequist’s blog last year after reading her book: “Bread & Wine.”

I then wrote a blog post sharing the Blueberry Crisp recipe from her book. I cannot count how many times we have indulged in that fine dish. I need to make sure I have more blueberries in the fridge as it is the perfect fall treat, and it has been a little while since we had it for Sunday dinner just as Niequist does.

Niequist’s post on October 13 titled: “Using Technology to Connect” hit home for me. Specifically this line:

“Because scrolling isn’t the same as connecting. And connection is what we’re longing for.”

Oh how often I feel that when late at night I peruse Facebook or Instagram and scroll, sometimes in a mind numbing and voyeuristic way. What if instead of scrolling and scrolling, I chose to contact that individual and tell them I was thinking about them? Earlier in her blog post she says:

“When I feel the impulse to scroll through images and updates about other people’s lives, what I’m finding is under that impulse to scroll is a desire to connect.”

I have to agree. Why do we get so addicted to social media? Is it to see and be seen? Is it to connect? What aspect of our lives have we lost because our first means to communicate is sometimes the most disconnected from human interaction. It is the sterile, lifeless, cold version. If we want to bring life back to our worlds and share warmth and support in a time of need then stop scrolling, pick up the phone, go next door or down the hall, and connect.

Be sure to go back and read Niequist’s post. It might just change the way you think today.

Are we all a bunch of drunk three year olds?

For some reason the thought of bickering three-year olds is making me laugh. This showed up on my Facebook feed. Maybe because it is not too different from squabbling that happens at work, in meetings, or a bunch of folks at a bar – drunk. First watch the video, then we can discuss.

 

It is hilarious to me, because when I am tired, or wiped out I often cut words out of my sentences, and somehow Chris understands what I mean. Such as: “I hungry” or “I not child” (which means do not treat my like a baby). My favorites from this video are: “Say sorry.” “You poked my eye.” “Oow! You poked my heart.” “You are not real. I am real.” Maybe by real he means right? I think the one I want to take with me is, “Say sorry.” I may just have to use that with Chris when I am mad or sad at him: “Say sorry.” It is cute and endearing right?

And… to think that they are only talking about the rain… while one looks like she is picking her nose, the other is whispering to try to get the boy to listen. I wonder if we were all able to see ourselves in meetings, or interactions throughout our day and we saw how we acted, would we laugh just the same?

“You okay?” “You poked my heart.”

“You get what you believe.”

Sometimes Oprah just nails it. I saw this quote from Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook over the weekend. There was one of her big mega events in New Jersey and author Elizabeth Gilbert joined her for the event. Oprah said:

“YOU DON”T GET WHAT YOU WISH FOR; YOU GET WHAT YOU BELIEVE.”

Wow. That really made me think: Do I wish for things, or do I believe in them? Then my mind goes in a few ways. See, I have had a lot of anxiety going through my thoughts these last few days. I have had this flu bug thing for literally an entire week and when you get slow and spend a lot of time on the couch, your brain slows down. For me that means I think about each and every little thing, but in slow motion. All the events happening in the next few weeks, and all the things I have to do for those events. Both in my professional and personal life. Let me just say that it is a lot. To get it off my chest, I shared the list with Chris on Saturday night. In between blowing my nose, coughing, and snuggling into my pillow and blanket.

My mind then wonders — if you get what you believe does that mean that you think something bad could happen, then it will? Or is this just specific to good things? While I do not have an answer to that question, Elizabeth Gilbert later shared this on the same Facebook thread:

“Lay your wishes aside for a spell, and look deep into what you believe about yourself. Make sure your beliefs about your own life are anchored in greatness, in holiness, in worth, in grace, in joy, in excitement —in internal certainties rather than external circumstances. Because that belief? That’s where you’re heading, no matter what it may look like on the outside.”

So — then I should err on the side of leaning towards the good. I should be excited for what is before me, regardless of whatever might make me anxious at that moment, or about what I anticipate. Instead, believe it all to be good. Believe in my own worth, in my goodness, and greatness.

Believe it to be better than I can ever imagine.

My kind of challenge

While I was somewhat fascinated by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I was actually more curious about the viral nature of Facebook and how quickly it spread across the Internet, and then it faded away. There were definitely pros and cons to the entire initiative. It sparked interest, and knowledge around ALS, but it also prompted folks to not be happy about the use of water when the state of California is in the middle of a water shortage, and there are plenty of countries in the world that need water. Interesting? Yes. Responsible? Maybe not.

So when I recently was tagged to do the Gratitude Challenge, at first I was like, ‘Ugh. Seriously… another thing?’ (Sorry, Whit). Honestly, I did not have time to think about something like that. I had quite a few full days, was away for the weekend, and knew I had another full work week ahead of me. I sat on it and did nothing instead. Of course I was not agonizing over it, but in the back of my mind I thought this is actually a good thing. If social media encourages us to share what we are grateful for, then that is a good thing. How often do we reach out and tell someone who we care about how much they mean to us? How often do we stop, breathe, and think about all the good in our lives? The Gratitude Challenge on Facebook is to share 3 things you are grateful for 5 days.

I am not a Pollyanna, but I am definitely one to make lemonade out of lemons. I have had my fair share of shit happen in life and I think you have two choices: Whine, complain, and think poor me or find a way to deal, look on the bright side, and be grateful for what you have in life. Of course, I might initially whine and feel poopy about the hand I was dealt, but once I get the ranting out of my system, I move into solution mode. What we often forget is that we have WAY more than we can ever imagine in life.

Kudos to whoever started the trend and is sharing grateful ideas, thanks, and positive juju across Facebook. That is something I can support, and it reminds us of all the good in our lives.