Making Christmas Magic

Today I am making Christmas Magic!  I finally feel, after many years, that I understand exactly how to do that for my family.

You see for many years I was under the misconception, much like the Grinch, that Christmas did indeed come from a store. If there were every single thing every one asked for under the tree, and the house was ready for a photo shoot, I had succeeded. There are many happy memories from those years, but there was also a great deal of stress and time spent focusing on things that with hindsight and wisdom truly didn’t matter.

Also, I was in a predicament of my own making in that I didn’t want my kids to experience the insanity I grew up with where the stress to have everything done was sometimes at the expense of holiday spirit. In not wanting them to be forced into elf like servitude to achieve the perfection I did it myself – a sure recipe for resentment and at least one emotional break down per season!

What I have learned over the years from trial and error, and from truly listening to what my family looked forward to for Christmas, is the following:

  • knowing the top three things someone truly wants for Christmas is more important than ordering the entire catalog.
  • asking what everyone wants for holiday treats and Christmas dinner is so much more satisfying for all than preparing a Martha like feast and not having everyone ooh and ahh, or worse tell you they didn’t like it!
  • I cannot share decorating the tree, but I love company so that someone can listen to the stories of our family as told through the ornaments.
  • my family doesn’t really care if the house is decorated to rival a department store, but they do mind if I am crazed – I do what I can do with no stress
  • I have pared down my Christmas card list to people we are in touch with or want to reach out to over the holidays – I now enjoy writing our messages of love & joy rather than feeling as if I am working on an assembly line

Although these changes may not seem earth shattering, they have made a tremendous difference in our lives.  I am so looking forward to being together, to sharing time and to creating new memories. Our home is full of love and laughter and open to friends and family to join us.

Today I am making Christmas Magic – my heart is full!


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Rick Perry, Ben Brantley and Human Rights Day: Some Thoughts About Our Best Uses of Time & Talent

In a last gasp for air in a presidential campaign  that is obviously going down for the last time, Rick Perry thought that his last, best hope was to rally the troops who rise to the cry of hate speech. Vote for me, I’ll make sure to make life a living hell for anyone that doesn’t see things the way we do and believe in God in the exact same way we do. Seems like a great part of the message of acceptance, love, understanding and peace hasn’t quite reached this group of so called Christians.

In a totally unrelated story the New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley, after writing a positive review upon the opening of Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway, chose to revisit the show and publish a second article that seemed to straddle a line between a witch hunt style outing and self loathing reminiscence of gay stereotypes and iconic gay performers. What struck me was not so much the “is he or isn’t he” questioning, which frankly is old and so  much more tabloid than New York Times worthy, but the Rick Perry like connotation that if in fact a performer is gay that is something we are entitled to know and publicly brand them for. This finger pointing style seems to equate being identified as gay to be equal with being identified as a criminal, or as Mr. Perry feels, something to be stamped out.  As it would be a fairly time consuming task to visit Broadway shows identifying performers who may or may not be gay, I am curious as to why Mr. Brantley felt the need to do so with this particular show.  A curious choice for someone with a position held in high esteem, one that not only cast a negative shadow on the writer but on the publication he represents.

Today, December 10, we celebrate  Human Rights Day, marking the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 63 years ago. “It is a day that belongs to the global movements to fight for fundamental human rights and freedoms” as stated on the Global Poverty Project’s site. While the concept of human rights is global in scope encompassing issues too numerous for many of us to comprehend, we all have the power to use our time and talent to identify and work on human rights issues that exist within our own communities. Perhaps really paying attention to politicians and what they profess to stand for before supporting them or casting a vote, perhaps writing a letter to the editor stating that attempted outing and inferences of sexual orientation are unacceptable to you as a reader.

In honor of human rights day decide to stand for something, large or small, and add your voice to others who are not willing to accept these behaviors any longer. Find a way to make your time and talent count:  volunteer with an organization working toward making a difference, take the time to think about what you do stand for and work toward making a difference in whatever way you can, take a minute to post on facebook or twitter about Human Rights Day or any movement, issue or organization that can use your support.

Perhaps if more forward thinking people speak up, and put their words into action, more small minded people who have ruled the bully pulpit too long can begin to be silenced.



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The “Present” of the Holiday Season

As the holiday season is now in full effect, many of us find ourselves in a struggle between making this the year where we find the spirit of peace in the season and the year where we complete the Seasonal Olympics in record time.

There are so many things that we do because we are supposed to, so many gifts we buy because is it the latest “must have” and so many cards we write to people who we really don’t maintain relationships with. We allow ourselves to buy into (in many ways literally) the competitive nature of some holiday traditions – from decorating to baking, from shopping to entertaining – often cranking chores out as if we are on an assembly line rather than enjoying the tasks of the season.

Perhaps this year you can make a concerted effort be mindful about what the season means to you personally, and to those you love. Really think about what has created your best memories from holidays past and choose only to focus on those things. The one or two cookies everyone loves, the favorites from the holiday feast, the trip to see the tree in the city or the quiet night of watching mushy holiday movies (fa la la la lifetime!). When we take the time to give thought to what truly matters so much of the clutter falls away.  It becomes easier to let go of the shoulds and concentrate on the traditions – both new and old – that truly matter.

By letting go of the holiday drama we make room for new opportunities to share the peace, love and joy that the season is meant to bring.  Not the kind that is bought or manufactured, but the kind that comes from counting our blessings and sharing time with those we love.

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