This is absolutely amazing. Please take 4 minutes to sit quietly, eyes closed and let the message pour over you.
This is absolutely amazing. Please take 4 minutes to sit quietly, eyes closed and let the message pour over you.
First of all, you need to understand that I am not a shopper. If faced with a few free hours my first inclination is not to go to the mall. I shop when I need or want something specific. Even when I go, I shop, I find, I buy. Knowing this you will naturally understand why I have never found it necessary to get up before dawn on the Friday after Thanksgiving to go buy stuff that surely I will find during my Christmas shopping ritual. While I do approach Christmas shopping differently than normal shopping, it’s never been worth it to me to get up at some horribly early morning to shop. I enjoy Christmas shopping for the loved ones on my list and finding the ultimate gift to fit the person.
Except for this year; I’m writing this 48 hours after the experience because it has taken me that long to recover. You see, my husband wanted a new computer for Christmas and we were considering one for Cole as well. We shopped it online Thanksgiving night and found that a local store with low, low prices were having a doorbuster sale starting at five in the morning. Five in the morning, did I love my husband enough to get up at four thirty and go out in the cold for the purchase? Yes, I do. So I printed the ad and set the alarm.
The alarm went off and I got up, brushed my teeth and washed my face grabbed the ad and left. When I turned on the car the radio was playing Christmas music. I thought “how cool, this could be fun.” The neighborhood was quiet. It was an easy drive to the store with the low, low prices. Then I turned onto the road to the store, came over the rise and there before me was a sea of cars. I had never seen so many cars in the parking lot. They were even parked at the gas pumps and the pharmacy drive-through. Remember the sale was to start at five, it was four fifty-five when I pulled into the parking lot.
I parked in the back of the store, grabbed my ad to go in find the computers choose the one I came for, buy it and leave; as you can guess it didn’t turn out that way.
I walked into the store to immediately see checkout lines a mile long. It was just then seven minutes after five how were their carts already full! There were people everywhere hauling big screen televisions, clothing and toys. There was a kiosk of movies that looked like a beehive swarming. I tried to get a peek but decided to stay focused on my mission. To look around and find my route to electronics I saw faces of people not filled with Christmas joy or the joy of buying the cool presents for those they love. Children were crying. I saw blank stares and intense glares at anyone who would get in their way. I was in over my head. Weaving and bobbing through the aisles, I found electronics and laptop computers.
There I was — chaos all around — staring at an empty case. I kept looking at the ad in my hand and the case and no computers appeared. A woman standing next to me had a computer in her arm. I asked which model it was. It was, in fact, the one I was looking for. She was very helpful to tell me that those computers were being distributed down in hunting and fishing.
To get to hunting and fishing I had to navigate through toys. When I looked down the main aisle through the forest of games and toys and parents running amuck with lists, I reaffirmed my mission and purpose and headed straight through. On the other side, I found a cashier, a long line and a pallet of computers. When I asked if this was the line for the computers I was told yes, but I needed a voucher. A voucher? I was pointed to a worker a few feet away who was handing out the vouchers. Great; I go ask the lady for a voucher. She told me she didn’t have anymore. Didn’t have any more? The sale started less than fifteen minutes ago? How could they have been out? I thanked the lady. Looked at the line that I would not have a voucher to join and made my way back through the store.
I considered other shopping when I came to my senses and looked around at the crazed shoppers. I had to leave the mayhem and craziness. I just wanted to go home. Where were my ruby slippers? Driving home, I kept recanting the whole experience. I didn’t understand what all the hubbub was all about. There was nothing fun about my experience. To see all those people with full carts you would have thought they were giving everything away. I really wanted to say to someone, “you know you have to pay for all that.” But I guess they knew that.
This was not the Christmas spirit, it was retail mayhem. Inutsonut so. This was no way to launch into a season of silent night holy night. This experience needed to be trained for, it wasn’t for the casual shopper. Someone should have warned me.
I may have to pay a little more for that one “must-have” item. There was nothing about that experience that helped me feel the Christmas spirit. And I’m pretty sure anything I would have saved I would have spent with my therapist getting over my PTSD (post traumatic SHOPPING disorder).
P.S. — It’s been several years, still the thought of early morning black Friday shopping gives me a stomach ache. As long as I don’t feel any absolute need to make a specific purchase I can go out in the afternoon just for the fun of it.
Sunday evening it occurred to me that we would be going straight from Thanksgiving into Christmas. Like within a week. The first weekend in December my father and his wife are coming for their Christmas visit. Given that they will be staying with us and we will be hosting the entire family for a Christmas celebration I needed to make a list.
Actually, there are three lists. Groceries for Thanksgiving week, groceries for the week of their visit and the other “to dos” I want to make happen for it to be a wonderful time. By December 3rd my house will be completely decorated for the holiday and there will be cookies baked. That’s the goal that getting all the things on my list marked off will accomplish. Reviewing my plan and lists something was missing. Something was nagging at me that I needed to do. What was it?
The AHA moment hit when I laid my notebook and pencil down. As I let go of my plan, I realized I needed to be sure I took time to be grateful and enjoy the planning AND the doing. No matter how many things get marked off the list, my dad won’t care and my family won’t notice. It will be preparing my heart for the holiday and the time together that will be the most important thing to do.
Yesterday was November 6th. I was in the car alone driving. Having full control of my radio button-pushing habit, I cruised to 106.9. Let me set the scene. It’s Friday, cloudy and balmy, and about 70 degrees. The sun was fighting to come out. And what to my listening ears should sound? Christmas music, of course.
I’m from Kentucky. Here it’s just as likely to be warm or mild as it could be snowing at Christmas. But I was raised on Irving Berlin and George Baily. At least get me past Thanksgiving and into a hint of cooler weather before you blast me with songs about kissing Santa Clause and jingle bells rockin’.
The whole thing was like when Coke attempted to whoo us with clear Coke. It just ain’t fittin’.
The first Bible verse I remember having to memorize is Isaiah 9:6 which reads:
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NIV)
It was the first year I was in a Christian school (6th grade) and we memorized this verse to be presented at our Christmas program. I don’t remember what songs we sang, but I remember the auditorium, where I was standing and how wonderful it felt to have one verse of God’s word tucked away in my heart. Our class was small and many of the others students had grown up memorizing scripture so this wasn’t new to them. For me it was like opening a treasure box.
Over the years that followed, I memorized many other verses from the Bible; some motivated by grades to be earned and others memorized out of hunger and thirst for the Word. Many I can still quote. But Isaiah’s words were planted in an eager young person’s heart and have never left. These seeds that were planted took root.
At Christmas, I am reminded of the awesome miracle in Christ’s birth. I am also reminded that his birth was the beginning of a 33 year journey that includes the hardest times any human could imagine and the most glorious moments that only God could ordain; all of which was revealed to me with Isaiah’s words.
I went to the grocery Tuesday (yes, two days before Thanksgiving). My primary purpose was to pick up the fresh turkey we had ordered. Admittedly, there were a few other items, but nothing major. As I walked in there were people exiting with heaping cart loads of groceries. The store was abuzz with shoppers. There was a hustling energy much like gift shopping on Christmas Eve. It made me wonder if Thanksgiving was a surprise to these shoppers much like Christmas is to those who shop the day before. Or instead of shopping early, they chose to just wait and risk the possibility that the cranberry sauce in a can might be sold out or the pumpkin spice might be gone. Just wondering.
Truly friends we have much to be thankful for in this life. We are rich in friends, family and opportunity. There probably will not be any shortage in the grocery you find yourself in tonight at 10 p.m. (there is always that one key ingredient that was forgotten).
It’s the most wonderful time of the year [the song is in your head now, isn’t it]. The mindset most people have around Thanksgiving and Christmas is something we should embrace all year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see people focused on being thankful, giving to those in need and spending time with family. These are activities that we need to put in play throughout the year.
How much different would your day be if you started, perhaps on your way to work, thinking about all the good in your life? You may come up with one thing or 20. Either way, thinking on such positive meaningful aspects of our life can only do one thing, warm our hearts and lift our spirits. I’m not suggesting the Pollyanna approach, you may have a delightful ride into work and get there only to find the same personnel issues, budgetary problems, or deadlines not being met. This state of mind isn’t meant to have us living in la-la land. It’s merely a manner by which we will approach our day and all that it holds both positive and negative.
What if those who post daily thankful messages in November do it in May (half way between)?
What if we worried as much about the homeless and hungry when they can’t escape the heat as when they can’t escape the cold?
How would this new mindset change ourselves? Our world?
Think about it.
Today is October 30, 2014.
My first email this morning was amazing. It was from the Franklin Covey Company informing me that my 2015 planner had been shipped!! [Please note, I will not be running down the street in Steve Martin new-telephone-book-style when it arrives, but I might just do the Snoopy dance in my foyer.] This along with the fact that I have to go to Staples today for some paper clips, ink and envelopes makes me smile. It’s like back to school day for a forty-something year old!! Of course, knowing my new planner is on its way and that it’s the end of the month moved me to examine the current state of the 2014 planner.
The fourth quarter pages were inserted with the previous months being removed. Then I ventured to review my 2014 goals pages. Not too shabby. Several items checked off while others will move forward into 2015.
This all may sound juvenile to some, but come on, we are all grown up and completely responsible for our commitments to raising a family and bringing home the funds to care for them. We must have those moments in day, week or month that just let us experience child-like excitement.
What stirs your child-like thrill? Don’t have one? Go find one, they can be located on the playgrounds or neighborhoods when the ice cream truck music wafts through the air. Or when the first snowflakes fall and the snow day announcement comes. This high level thrill can also be found when that ONE gift is opened at Christmas or birthday; the thing they never thought would arrive. Or find yourself outside a school on the last day at the last bell. You’ll see the excitement that drifts from our scheduled behavior somewhere in our mid-twenties.
Give it a listen and let me know if you don’t find yourself a little happier in your heart.
Linus and Lucy piano Peanuts theme song Vince Guaraldi
All the best,
Among young parents there is a growing number who have adopted the “we aren’t going to lie to our children” approach to parenting. This feeling is hovering around the issue of Santa Claus and his friends, the Easter bunny and Tooth Fairy. This mantra makes me wonder about how far this “honesty” goes. There are times when it is not appropriate to tell children the FULL truth. Many times we skirt the question, knowing they are too young for the answer. Where do babies come from?
What made me really think about lying to our kids was that there is no Santa Claus at Christmas and Easter bunny at Easter. Let me say here that I believe that Christmas and Easter were the most important events in human history. Both turned the hope of the world to the Eternal.
Ok, so the Easter bunny is a little odd, but Santa Claus comes from a real story of a priest who made sure that the hungry were fed. He did so out of selflessness and in anonymity; modeling our Savior’s example. I don’t understand why letting a child believe in this saint visit them for a few years is so wrong. And why not mix a little wonder in a time of miracles? Why not let a child know the fun of Christmas while learning the reverence?
If we aren’t going to lie about Santa, Easter bunnies and tooth fairies, then do we take away playing pretend and imaginary friends? There is no tea in that pot, you know. And the cookies taste like nothing because they aren’t really there. Really, you didn’t steal my nose… no imaginary friends; and oh, and Elf on the shelf isn’t really running around the house wreaking havoc. Where do we draw the line between truth and imagination with our children? Where is the light-heartedness and dreaminess of childhood?
Maybe Santa and the Bunny do add something else to Christmas and Easter that needs to be managed with children. Making sure they don’t outshine the birth of Jesus; and certainly being naughty or nice shouldn’t be the threat of the month. But if handled in the proper perspective, they add a little something to the holidays and a child’s innocent heart.
Reality and truth will come along soon enough and shove playing pretend, imagination and fantasy to the background.
Think about it…
So it’s December 29th, time for true confessions. How many of your gifts did you return or exchange? Did any gift make it to the re-gift closet? You know the obscure gift that you can’t return because there is no telling where it came from; probably a re-giftJ.
Let’s just establish that re-gifting is perfectly acceptable. Why waste a perfectly good item just because it’s not useful to you? You have to be careful though, to re-gift to the original giver of the gift can be disastrous! Not to mention embarrassing for both. Here are a few thoughts on re-gifting. When you place the item in the re-gift closet put a post-it on it with who gave it to you and when. Additionally, don’t break the seal or “factory” wrapping. Before re-gifting, be sure to dust it off well and be sure there aren’t remnants of wrapping paper or a card stuck to it.
I did not receive anything that needed returning or exchanging this year. What is really great is that those who gave me gifts did so based on what they know and love about me. This to me is the number one rule in choosing a gift – know your recipient. There is as much excitement in choosing the perfect gift for someone as there is in receiving the perfect gift. While I don’t mind when someone gives me ideas, it is also a blast to choose something that I know the recipient will love, but may not have thought to ask for it.
Many of us have everything we need. When we have the opportunity to choose gifts for those we love, why not take a few minutes to really think about the other person. What could you give them that they would enjoy and might not otherwise buy for themselves? The gifts I received this year were all very thoughtful; obviously those giving me gifts thought about me and what I would like.
The art of gift giving is one that I think is fading to that which is easy – the gift card. The gift card is good because you are thinking about the other person, but we have to be careful to not let this be our default. Take some time. Make your gift meaningful.
The art of packaging or wrapping gifts went down a slippery slope with the advent of the gift bag. For some, the gift bag was their salvation and a relief in the pressure of giving a gift. My mother makes wrapping a gift and the bow on top an art form. She pulls the color-coordinated ribbon around the package and then ties a big pretty bow on top. Then she spends a few more minutes making small adjustments to the bow to be sure it’s perfect. No doubt a beautiful package shows the recipient that love and care was taken not only in choosing the gift but in preparing it for giving.
In full disclosure, I did purchase a couple of gift cards this year because I didn’t plan well and ran out of time. This just gives me a head start on these two gifts for next year.