26 December 2009

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Creating Christmas Memories That Will Last

As Seen in The Battlefords Regional Optimist.

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

As seen in the Battleford's Regional Optimist.

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.