26 December 2009
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Creating Christmas Memories That Will Last
Creating Christmas Memories that will last forever
Can you remember what you got for Christmas last year? How about the year before? Some of you who have a great memory probably can, but for some of us, that may be a stretch to think what we got 365 days ago.
It’s not that we don’t value what we got, it’s just Christmas seems to be getting pretty ‘routine’ and after a while, the gift goes right into the closet or on the shelf with everything else. It gets lost in everyday life.
Here is another question. Do you remember what you gave for Christmas? You probably remember more of those than what you received. You probably can remember what their face looked like as they opened your gift. But, do you think they remember?
Did you know in the United States alone $66 Billion was spent last year during the Christmas season! Some economists, like Joel Waldfogel from the University of Pennsylvania say that about $12 Billion of that which is spent at Christmas that someone doesn’t want or if it is a gift card, it gets forgotten about. That’s $12 Billion lost.
Think about what $12 Billion could do for all of those around us. It could help out our world community, our world family. However, we are blessed with a lot of wealth and goods on our continent that we can afford to have $12 Billion just get lost. It sure seems like Christmas shopping is very ineffective.
I challenge you to go speak to your grandparents, and also challenge your children to do the same, and ask them what Christmas was like for them. Most grandparents would mention the memories they had as a child. How they had next to no money at all, but the company and the fun they had together as a family is what made Christmas so wonderful for them. Or how there was some random act of kindness by an anonymous gift giver on their door step and this meant that they could have a gift to open in the morning, or a Christmas turkey to eat.
Some of the ways to create Christmas memories is by giving to those who are less fortunate. There are two ways to give; either knowingly, by directly helping someone or by donating anonymously to something like the Empty Stocking Fund.
Getting out of your comfort zone by volunteering usually creates more memories than something that is easy and comfortable. Go out and volunteer with your family at a soup kitchen, or help deliver Christmas hampers. Those acts, and many other acts of kindness will make the difference in someone else’s life. Creating a lasting memory not just for you, but for your children as well, leaving them with a Christmas memory that will not be forgotten.
Those are the gifts that don’t get placed on the shelves and lost in daily life.
14 December 2009
Help your spouse and make a wishlist
As seen in the Battleford's Regional Optimist.
Christmas is on it's away, and if you are anything like me, you still have lots of shopping to do.
I love Christmas shopping, because, well, I usually forget that I was shopping for someone and end up shopping for myself.
It is easy to shop for my daughter, for my mom, and sisters. But what I dread the most is shopping for my wife.
Shopping for a spouse can be so difficult because there is so much at stake. Think about it, especially men, if you bought her the wrong size shoes, dress, pants, the wrong perfume, or just plain bought her something you thought she’d like, but she really didn’t, you have just offended your spouse. We can all see the face of disappointment and disgust that says “you got me THIS for Christmas.”
There is a way to prevent this embarrassment. That is to create a wish list for your spouse. Put items down on a list that you would like to receive for Christmas, and make sure you show it to and give it to your spouse. Sure it may take away the surprise of opening up gifts, but at least you will get what you want. Plus, you will avoid the surprise of opening up something you don’t like.
Please, please know that there is no such thing as the “perfect” gift. It doesn’t exist. All that does is create stress and anxiety. Plus, imagine if you bought that “perfect” gift and you got that disgusted and shocked look, you will feel like you failed. So, both of you, don’t expect the perfect gift, and don’t expect to give the perfect gift.
If you do say to your spouse, “surprise me,” expect to be surprised and also accept the gift no matter what. You asked for a surprise, and you will get exactly what you asked for.
Also, avoid hint dropping. That is, loosely pointing out something you would like for Christmas. Such as saying “I’d love something that would keep me warm,” to you that may mean a new fleece jacket. However, to your spouse that may be a blanket with sleeves, a portable fireplace, a foot warmer, or a coffee maker.
Even if you have subtly told your spouse what you have wanted through hints, they will most likely forget it or it will get lost in translation. Your spouse can’t read your mind either, you need to let them know what you would like for Christmas.
That’s why it is important to make a list and give it to them. So Honey, I would like a Wii Fit, pants, the new Harry Potter movie, and the Carmen Rasmussen book. Thanks.
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07 December 2009
Christmas an Opportunity to Surprise Others
Christmas is close and coming. There is usually a different feel around Christmas time.
I feel that Christmas means so many things to so many people. Also that it has many different names across the world. But I think it can be broken down into one word: Love.
I have always loved Christmas stories. It helps serve as a reminder of the way Christmas once was, and what it can mean for us today. A story also helps bring out the true meaning of Christmas. As such, I want to retell a tale that I heard. I think you will like it.
This story is the experience of Lee W. Maloy who served as a Merchant Marine for the United States during World War II.
It was Christmas Eve in 1944. His ship was approaching the Straits of Gibraltar, heading for the North Atlantic to get to the United States and then to arrive home.
It was a stormy night at sea. The sea was covered in white caps, making it nearly impossible for them to see anything on the horizon. Let alone a submarine’s periscope that was trailing behind them. Naturally, of course, the men were thinking of home and of Christmas, not noticing some of the small details they would have seen on some other day.
Maloy and others eventually saw the plume of the periscope appear off of the port side and knew that the submarine couldn’t be more than 100 meters away. There was no time to ready themselves for a fight or to even protect themselves in some way.
The submarine was already on them. Target in sight. The submarine raised out of the wavy sea. The enemy had them. They knew it. They waited for their destruction.
What happened next, Maloy will never forget. The U-boat started flashing a light. It was Morse code. M-E-R, it began to spell, R-Y-C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S. Merry Christmas! Than just as fast as the U-boat had appeared it sunk back into the dark wavy sea and was gone.
They all stood there transfixed on what had just happened. The spirit of Christmas, the spirit of love had prevailed.
May we all let Christmas be a time of forgetting ourselves and our grudges, and a time to help and love others to create peace in our lives and theirs. Maybe then, with our kindness and love, we will surprise those around us.
23 November 2009
Learning to say I am sorry
In the wake of public affairs, such as John and Kate, USA Governors, and David Letterman it is vital to learn to say sorry.
Saying sorry is not just saying, “I’m sorry.” It is not the time to blame either. An apology is taking responsibility for any hurt that you may have caused. It also does not matter if the hurt caused was intentional or not.
For example, let’s compare intentionally pushing someone off of a cliff to accidently nudging him or her off. The outcome for the individual is the same in both situations; they have fallen off the cliff. Of course, when it is an accident, we like to make excuses that it wasn’t our intention, it was an accident, it wasn’t our fault.
However, this doesn’t make the person who fell off the cliff feel any better. You need to say sorry, and apologize for what you are sorry about. “I am sorry that I pushed off of the cliff.” That’s it. Even if it was an accident, you need to own your actions.
Many of us will say the simple apology, but add: “If you weren’t standing so close to the edge, it wouldn’t have happened.” Saying that transfers the responsibility to the person you are apologizing to. When really, it was your actions, or careless actions that caused harm to the individual, which you need to be responsible for.
Now, to the person who is accepting the apology. Does this mean that you can now trust the individual? No. No! You do not have to trust this person. They need to now, through their actions, earn your trust. Continuing with our example, this means you do not need to be around edges with this person, even if invited.
An apology does not reinstate things to how they were in the past. What it is, is an admittance to falling off of the path of trust, and an commitment to bushwhacking your way back onto the path.
As people see that you are owning your actions via apology, and by your efforts to earn back trust, people will begin to trust you again.
One other thing. Never ask why. That is, never ask why they did what they did. Such as, “Why did you have an affair?” There is no answer to it that will make you feel better. They were being stupid, silly, or arrogant. It was a lapse in judgment.
Of course, apologies could be avoided. The only way for that to happen is to be accountable for your choices. Think before acting. Know the consequences for your actions. It is better to prepare and prevent than it is to apologize and repair.
If you do need to apologize, remember to be accountable for your actions when you apologize.
13 November 2009
Meet the challenge to change for the better
As seen in the Battleford's Regional Optimist
Imagine a room full of screaming adults with 80’s and early 90’s music blasting, and even the occasional new hit. They are dancing and cheering.
Now imagine being a 14 year-old walking into that room. The words “crazy” and “silly” may cross your mind. You may even feel embarrassed because this is an awkward situation.
Welcome to Challenge Day at John Paul II High School. Three days full of chaotic adults acting as teenagers while teens are staring in amazement.
I was privileged to attend all three days. Let me tell you that I had no voice by the end of it.
What does all this singing and dancing do? Well, oddly, it creates a safe environment. Think about it. By my dancing as crazy as I want and can, it shows that I am comfortable, real, and not trying to play a stiff role. Also, by my encouraging other youths to do the same, it creates an environment where you can be yourself.
By creating such a safe environment, not only do youth act themselves, they also say things they’ve never said before.
Is your house a safe environment? Can your spouse talk to you about anything? I mean really talk to you about anything? Or do they have set roles that must be maintained.
How about your children? Can they talk to you about anything? Or are there certain topics that are taboo, and everyone has to wear a forced smile?
Well, is there room for improvement? Of course, there always is. In every family there is room for improvement.
First, you need to notice what needs to be changed in your family. Acknowledge it. Write it down, and let others in your family know what is going to change. This is so you can be held accountable.
Second is the choice. That is, you have identified what can be done better, so what are you going to make it better. Think of an action that you can do to substitute the current behaviour, routine, or function.
Lastly, after acknowledging what needs to be changed, choosing something to do about it, you must act! Again, tell your family. A goal is usually not met if it is just one made up in your head. The more you tell, and who are willing to hold you responsible, the more likely you will be to follow through with this act of change.
By doing this, noticing, choosing, and acting, you can be an advocate for change.
The City of North Battleford has such a group that creating change in the community. We meet at JPII. Come check it out and be part of the change in the Battlefords.
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