Friday, December 23, 2011
Although this is not truly a Christmas story about me and my children, it could easily have been -- and I loved the story enough to pass it on!
The "W" in Christmas
Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.
I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.
Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.
My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting Season for a six year old.
For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant."
I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his Teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the Presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.
So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot to sit down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.
As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by
their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose
to perform their song.
Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the Holiday as
"Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly suprised by its bold title.
Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red
sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.
Those in the front row- center stage - held up large letters, one by one, to
spell out the title of the song.
As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the Letter
C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his
portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."
The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a Small,
quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down - totally
unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".
The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake.
But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly
holding her "W".
Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until
the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.
A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.
In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the
holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our
For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:
"C H R I S T W A S L O V E"
And, I believe, He still is. Amazed in His presence... .humbled by His love.
Again, HAVE A BLESSED CHRISTMAS SEASON!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
AAA has a 12-step program, so perhaps it would be a good idea for living a healthy lifestyle to have a 12-step program. Something to fall back on when we get off track.
STEP 1. Drink 8 glasses of water daily. Perhaps your milk, tea and juices could count as part of the 8 glasses (8 oz. each).
STEP 2. Exercise for 30 minutes each day. This could be a workout at the gym or a brisk walk. The idea is to get out there and MOVE!
STEP 3. Watch the amount of sodium you are consuming, over 2500 mg and you will tend to be plagued with "water retention" or "water weight."
STEP 4. Total calories are important, but make sure you have balanced your nutrients correctly. If your range is 1800 to 2300 calories per day, that doesn't mean it can be made up of ice cream and cookies!
STEP 5. Healthy Lifestyle covers many aspects of your life. Personality is important, so be friendly and outgoing, smiling is actually healthy! And, it keep you from getting depressed.
STEP 6. Surround yourself with friends who are supportive. When you are around people who drag you down, you cannot maintain motivation and energy.
STEP 7. It is important to write down things going on in your life, or keep a journal. It is so easy to get off the track, and suddenly you find you are gaining instead of losing.
STEP 8. Set goals for yourself and keep track of where you are. For example if one of the temptations in your life is eating out (restaurant food tends to be high in fat and sodium) then have that as one of your goals. Only eat out once per week, and monitor the places you tend to frequent, as they are not all equal. Many restaurants now offer healthy menu's where you can see the amount of calories and fat you will consume.
STEP 9. Even if you've reached your goal, never go back to your old lifestyle! This is not a "diet" you are on, it is a new way of living. To be healthier, feel better, look better and have more energy, it is a lifestyle you need to maintain.
STEP 10. Get the proper amount of sleep. That doesn't mean 4 or 5 hours. It is important to get as close to 8 hours each night as possible. And maintain that schedule even on week-ends. It is good to keep your body in the habit of the same routine daily.
STEP 11. Watch the amount of alcohol you consume as it has loads of calories, plus it could affect your judgment about what to eat.
STEP 12. Be sure to allow "me" time for yourself, and don't forget to indulge in your favorite treats from time to time. Portion control is the main thing to watch for. A bite or two of almost anything will not hurt you, but a whole BAG of cookies will.
Good luck with the 12 steps -- and thank you, Catlady, for helping me out. This will give all of us a plan for 2012.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
It may be an ordinary walk with your pet to some people, but if you look at it through the eyes of Love and Optimism it becomes a walk through the land of miracles!
As we start our walk through the park I see a leaf slowly fluttering to the ground and I'm reminded of the miracle of the four seasons. I love autumn with the display of beautiful leaves turning color. We never really have what you'd call winter in Phoenix, so we are more of a 2-season area.
As we get near the play area I see a toddler taking their first precarious steps toward the mother, who is anxiously holding out her arms, and urging her child forward. But no, they didn't quite make it this time, and as she falls down on that greatly patted bottom of hers you see the quivering of the lips, the tears forming in the eyes, and you remember the miracle of your own children when they were young.
The next thing we came across was an elderly woman sitting on one of the benches which are scattered around the park. Amber loves the chance to sniff around a bit, so I decided to sit for a minute and chat. Perhaps that moment of friendship was the highlight of the woman's day. At the very least I learned more about one of my neighbors.
There is an old saying that "You can look around and think there is no such thing as a miracle or you can look around and know that "everything" is a miracle." I prefer the last choice!
Friday, December 16, 2011
Christmas time is for the children in us -- you've all got the "child" still in you somewhere, even those of you who won't admit it. But I think as an adult who never had the thrill of believing in Santa, never had the thrill of Christmas decorations and seeing gifts piled under the tree -- I think the fact that I lacked all of this as I was growing up, it made me appreciate all the Joys of Christmas even more now as an adult. I look forward to the time I can set up my tree -- from Halloween on it is all that is on my mind.
I drag out the big box containing the tree (and now it's all pre-lit, no more tangled lights to sort and worry about) -- I plan what my theme will be this year, and as soon as neighbors won't look at me funny, I hang the wreath on the door. Luckily they can't see my tree, so I can put it up as early as I please (unless we have company coming). I have one theme that is all teddy bears with maybe a few bulbs. Another theme is for when I'm feeling sophisticated and elegant. That's when I use gold, silver and crystal (makes a beautiful tree) and the other is when I use mauve & gold and lots of angels. All the themes are gorgeous and I love them all, it just depends on the mood I am in when I decorate.
Today is the 16th and it seemed a good time to travel to the other side of Phoenix (Mesa) and see the gorgeous light display that is featured by the Mormon Church. I had lived in Mesa at one time and used to drive by and see their full-sized camels all lite up and was very impressed, but I had no idea that they had an entire visitor's center, and a garden area behind that where decorations abound aplenty! One room is devoted to nativity scenes and that alone was worth the trip. I saw a beautiful nativity set from Germany, and while I could not lift any of the statues to see if it was Hummel, I was sure it was (I happen to have the identical nativity set myself) there was Armani from Italy and also a beautiful one of Lladro. Then when you went into the garden/patio areas you saw a very large square pond, lined by trees and flowers. All was alite with purple/red/green/gold and a multi-color of lights. There were decorations that I have never seen in any other displays.
So here I am, filled with Christmas cheer and Christmas Spirit and wish all my friends could have been with me tonight so we could have poked one another and said, "Did you see "that one" and ohh'ed and ahh'ed to our hearts content.
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