Salvation Army

Feelings of the Season

In the first few minutes of the movie La La Land, you are brought back to your own struggling youth and the intensity of feelings so as part of being in one’s 20s.  It was a rush – and the rest of the movie doesn’t disappoint, if you are as big-hearted and romantic as I know most of you are!

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land

In the middle of Manchester by the Sea, you groan as you feel a pain so intense you can’t remember feeling quite that awful for another human being that you don’t know personally.  While tough to watch in parts, I felt a gift from the director and actors of this intense film about personal struggle and the work of redemption.  You have to feel this movie in this season – puts any of your own agonies in perspective.

Casey Affleck

Walking through the supermarket door I saw the bell ringer and the Salvation Army kettle.  This is a tradition that doesn’t seem to be going the way of every other tradition.  I put in a bill, not just a few coins.  One can’t look at a Salvation Army kettle and not feel blessed – truly as our parents told us “there by the grace of God go we”.

An old friend sent another less than card/email with the note: “as part of my cutting back, you are getting this message – happy holiday”.  I totally get my friend’s decision not to send cards. But somehow I wish he didn’t say it was about him – maybe an email that said “thinking of you and hoping you and Bill are great, lots of love, Bob” would not have struck me as not as self-centered and missing the point of the season.  Feel generous this holiday (the world needs holiday fun more than ever) – no matter how you REALLY feel.  Give less with joy.

Someone sent me a quick email message apologizing for taking more than a week to respond to a birthday card we sent her for her December birthday.  It was SO sweet and thoughtful – late, even the New Year late with positive thought, is more than ok and feels great.

This year we are going to a totally different Christmas celebration — a special friend asked us to join her and some of her family and friends.  After spending most of the year traveling, and not going “home” for Christmas, this invitation touched my heart.  Nothing old or traditional, but filled with love, joy and for sure laughter.  That’s the ticket – something different, with or without family is perfectly wonderful this holiday season. Show deep appreciation for those invitations – even general invites to your neighborhood association, your synagogue, casual friend or church –  and feel honored to be asked anywhere.

Though not going overboard on tons of gifts, the few we are giving are being deeply appreciated… with feelings!  We sent Cathy (my partner here at Fabulous) and Ray’s Labradoodle some special treats and she sent me a text thanking me. Now, someone’s dog sending you a text REALLY feels great.  Maybe help your cat or dog send a good text – because I know someone loves that pet as much as you do and would feel so good getting a text from them for the holidays.  Yes, feel that silly, it is good for you.  Merry merry everyone!

A more clear pic of Cathy’s dog, Lexie:

 

I’m in a Bah-Humbug Kind of Mood and it’s Time to Change My Mind

It’s the second week of December and I’m not yet into the Christmas spirit.

Ray says that I go through this every year and that I just need a few more days. Hmmm.

When you’re a kid, Christmas can’t get here soon enough. The 365 days until it’s time to decorate the tree again, watch anxiously for snow, count the days until school is out, and hope you get the presents you want seems like an eternity.

At this age, it seems like Christmas was yesterday. Wasn’t I just recently sending cards to friends, trying to figure out what to get the five grand-kids and getting irritated by loud, inane TV commercials?

cat

I really don’t want to be a curmudgeon about Christmas. It has always been my favorite holiday. I love the smell of a Blue Spruce tree in the living room, the soft glow of lights around the house, poinsettias everywhere and the chill in the air.

So why am I not in the mood for Christmas?

Maybe it’s the news. It’s certainly not easy to be happy when so many bad, sad things are happening around the world and in our own country.

Maybe it’s politics. The “race” for the presidency this year is a slow, agonizing slog… no one on either side makes me want to ring bells of joy.

Maybe it’s buying presents for teenagers. The five grand-kids want gift cards. Period. How boring.

Maybe it’s because I couldn’t find a Christmas card I liked … even though there are thousands of them to choose from.

Maybe it’s the impersonal feeling of buying things online. It’s easy, sure. But there’s no touching and feeling the gifts (one of my favorite things), there’s no temptation to pick up impulse gifts, and there’s no satisfied feeling of carrying shopping bags to the car in the crisp late afternoon air.

Maybe it’s the busy about being busy syndrome, feeling inundated with a lot of “stuff to do”.

Or… maybe it’s just me being nostalgic for the good old days.

Whatever the case, I’ve still got a couple of weeks, so here’s what I’ve decided to do to get me out of my bah-humbug mood:

  • I’ve planned three outings to sites that are Christmas-y. I’m lucky to live in Asheville NC, so one of those outings will be to a Candlelight Christmas evening at the Biltmore House. The lighted trees, carolers and musicians throughout the house are magical. In addition, an evening walk through the NC Arboretum’s Winter Lights show is part of my plan, as well as driving through the holiday lights display at the NC Agricultural Center.
Biltmore_lit_up

Biltmore House on the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina

  • I’m going to attend and enjoy several parties during the holidays, and I’m having one of my own with lots of sweets and some new holiday music.
  • I’m going to spend several hours shopping with Ray for a couple of gifts. We used to surprise each other with presents under the tree. These days, we’d rather have things we can actually use and enjoy the experience of shopping together.
  • I’m going to write holiday greetings on Christmas cards, stamp them and send them to people I like — old-fashioned as that is.
  • I’m going to buy the grand-kids’ gift cards … but I’m also going to send each of them a book chosen especially for them. I’ll feel better about sending something unique to each of them (while doing my part to keep real books in circulation.)

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  • I’m going to contribute more than I had planned to a favorite local charity before the end of the month, and I’ll put money into any Salvation Army bucket I see.
  • I’m going to reach out to family and close friends to let them know I love them.

And, most of all, I’m going to be consciously grateful for what I have – rather than what I don’t. A beautiful home, a wonderful partner, a fire in the fireplace, a Blue Ridge mountains “eye party” out my window, a healthy and happy family, great music and friends and fun times together …..

Bah-humbug? Me? Never mind!

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Cathy Green

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