Thursday, January 7, 2010

Check this out

My yoga instructor and friend, Brooks Hall, writes an awesome blog. She has asked me to be a guest muse on her blog. You can find my contribution here:

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas Spirit

I find it a bit ironic that the blog post that I've been writing in my head for a few weeks about slowing down, not rushing and enjoying the Christmas season more had to get postponed. Why? Because I was rushing around to prepare for Christmas and couldn't fit it in. . .
However, it's only January 2nd and I think it still applies.
Christmas is over and it always amazes and saddens me to see how quickly everything comes down. It seems like the day after Christmas people are taking down decorations and stores (including Starbucks) redecorate and remove all traces of the holiday. It's unfortunate that we rush, rush, rush for this big day and then POOF it's over. No wonder everyone complains around holiday time. Nobody enjoys it because they are too busy rushing to get to it, then remove all traces of it as soon as the day is over. Nobody gives themselves the time to enjoy all of the hard work. Thankfully in my family, we were raised by a mother who thoroughly enjoyed the holiday season and we would keep our decorations up well into January to enjoy.
I will admit that it took me a while to get into the holiday spirit this year, but I'm not ready for it to be over yet either. I think the people that complain about the holiday season and the commercialization of it all need to remember what it was like to be a child at Christmas. Not just the fun of opening gifts, but the wonder of the lights and decorations, and the excited anticipation of the parties, and getting together with family and the joy of giving. Who doesn't remember making something special for their parents in school and how excited we were to give it to them on Christmas morning? I still love to give gifts. I truly enjoy watching people open gifts that I picked out (or sometimes even made) especially for them. We need to remember those things when we're running around like crazy trying to get things done. We need to take time to enjoy the wonder of the season.
If you think that Christmas has become too commercial, then do something about it. Don't hate Christmas and the Christmas season, just change your outlook and your approach to it.
~ You can start making your gifts and not buy (yes, pun intended) into all of the materialistic hype that goes on.
~ You can donate your time to a charity in need.
~ Donate gifts to children in need. Every year, I pick a name or two off of a Christmas tree at my church and buy gifts for an underprivileged child. Get your kids involved in this, teach them that there are children out there who are not as fortunate as them.
~ Instead of gifts (or in addition to) donate money to charity in a loved one's honor.
~ If you're running out of time, send your Christmas cards late. I love getting a few cards that didn't make it to me before the holidays. It helps extend the season a little more. I sent mine late this year and I know some didn't make it before Christmas.
~ Do a simple craft project with your kids. If you don't have kids, borrow some. I did. I hosted a Christmas sleepover for seven children (ages 4-12) a few days before Christmas. We decorated the tree, made ornaments for them to surprise their parents with, had pizza and popcorn & watched a movie. It was a really fun time and really helped me to see Christmas through the eyes of a child again. Sure, I missed out on two days of shopping, wrapping and Christmas card writing, but it was totally worth it.
Don't get me wrong, there are times that I feel stressed and overwhelmed during the holiday season, but all of the positives about it greatly outweigh the little stresses.
Let me share with you two stories that reminded me this year of the true spirit of Christmas and why Christmas should be enjoyed and not rushed through.
The first happened a couple of weeks ago when I was shopping at Target. I kept noticing a bunch of people who appeared to be together, all looking around in the toy section. I then happened to be at the checkout at the same time as the group and asked them if they belonged to some sort of charitable organization (assuming they were buying toys for needy kids). They said that they all worked together and that instead of getting Christmas gifts from their boss, he was buying gifts that they were all choosing for a children's charity. What an awesome way to put the meaning of Christmas in perspective.
The second happened just a few days ago. It was December 28th and I'm sure many people had already taken down and packed away their Christmas decorations. Much of my family and I were on our way to Jamaica. We had a layover in Dallas. We were all sitting around waiting for our connecting flight. As we were sitting there, we heard some people start to clap. We (of course) turned to see what was going on. The clapping people were all looking up at a walkway one floor above us. On that walkway was a large group of soldiers coming home from their tour of duty. The whole airport seemed to stop and everyone in the vicinity stood and clapped as every last one of those soldiers walked past. What an awesome thing to witness so close to Christmas! You had better believe that the families of those soldiers were extending their holidays past December 25th.
So, I'm pretty excited that because of scheduling conflicts, my family actually hasn't celebrated our Christmas yet. We are getting together on the 9th instead. We too are extending our season this year and I'm glad. I'm not ready to see all the decorations go.
I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.
~ Harlan Miller