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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Best Medicine: Gratitude

Oh the holidays.  Here they are. Like it or not.

As much as we'd all like to live our own little Kay Jeweler commercial, the fact is, the holidays can be a really tough time for many. The shopping, the cooking, the caroling, the bourbon, the expectations.

No one told me when I was wrapping my little bundles of joy in the hospital and becoming a mom for the first time that I was now in charge of Christmas Joy for the rest of their lives. A burden even June Cleaver would surely reach for the vodka under the sink to bear.

There is good news. The best medicine for the holiday blues ....... drum roll please,    wait for it ........


Yes. Now you know why Thanksgiving comes before Christmas.

The act of gratitude has proven to be the highest mood elevator. Gratitude has more impact on your overall mood and body chemistry than any other mood, even love. Which is a good thing because most of us can be a little hard to love during the holiday season.

So take just a nano second, or a minute, or the entire day and focus your thoughts on something you are grateful for. Wedge in a little something something into the craziness of the day.

Start small.  Maybe pulling your sorry hind end out of bed today deserves a pinch of gratitude. Or maybe you've been so covered in hurt and regret you forgot to see the light in your child's eyes. Or maybe the wine is just really good this year.

Whatever you've got. Use it. Take your medicine today and savor the gratitude. It might get you through the next round called Christmas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas Through my Seven Year Old Eyes

What I would give for a holiday that captures the magic of Christmas through my seven year old eyes. When the month lingered and lallygagged and would finally erupt into a mound of excitement I could barely stand. When the house was filled with smells and sounds and secrets that spelled Christmas. When the Sears Big Book Christmas Catalog held all that I could have ever dreamed of.

When everyone I loved would curl up in their respective beds, or corners or sleeping bags under the roof of my grandparents farmhouse. Where my uncle would make me a part of his grand scheme and in the middle of the night we'd creep down those creaky wooden steps and sit beneath the tree. Rattling, poking, shaking. I remember then that it was less about the gift inside and more about being the chosen one to go on this great journey into the night.

Grandma's house wasn't fancy, like those farm houses in Pottery Barn catalog that I've spent a lifetime trying to replicate. I should have spent this lifetime trying to replicate the spirit of Grandma's house.  Sure Grandma and Pop had their share of stubborn farmhouse spats but in both of their hearts was love.

It was sometime before I realized that two of those I called "uncles" weren't really related at all. They were young men that had been invited or simply asked if they could live in the farmhouse because their families couldn't or wouldn't provide them a real home.

On Christmas morning, the house was filled with those expected and anyone that had no Christmas tradition of their own were welcomed in.  My grandmother would always wrap a few spare gifts for "boys and girls" that found their way to us on Christmas morning. My uncles would often find a spirited holiday party to attend on Christmas Eve, it was the 70's after all, and anyone that had no one would be a part of us.

Anyone that dated or married into our family found their way to our house on Christmas Eve night to awake on Christmas morning in the farmhouse. I always believed that we were the Golden Ticket of Christmas.

Just last week one uncle said, "Hey, remember the year I brought the bum home for Christmas."  Of course! That was my favorite. We would now refer to them as "homeless" to be politically correct but on this Christmas morning, the bum had found a home and a new flannel shirt and grandma's homemade noodles.

After all the surprises had been revealed, I'd belly up to the kitchen table with it's best holiday plastic table "cloth" and feast on the Christmas breakfast tradition of chocolate chip cookies dunked in milk, while the rest  would sit around the wooden bowl full of nuts and pile their shells beside me on the table talking about the latest and greatest adventure on the farm and all was right with the world.

I miss my seven year old self. I wish she would come over and play today. I wish she would climb up on grandmas couch with the Sears Big Book of Christmas and circle the best stuff and put a star beside the grandest of them all. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dear Jesus,

Dear Jesus,

Did you really want me to spend the month of your birthday at the mall?

Please reply soon, I feel the dread coming on.