Attitude Adjustments, Be Kind, Egos, Emotions, Helicopter Parenting, Uncategorized, Watch, Listen, and Learn, Youth Sports

Scenes From an Afternoon of Youth Basketball

I enjoy people watching.  I love sitting back and observing mannerisms, speech, clothing, body types, how they interact with others, etc.  I never want or need to be the center of attention, so people watching is my way of learning about others. You can learn oodles with observation!  Yesterday, I went to watch my husband referee some youth basketball games.  I don’t know any of the athletes, but I do enjoy watching, for as long as my head and ear can stand the whistles and loud buzzers.  I also love watching Al doing something he really enjoys.  But some of these games bring out interesting characteristics in people!

When I first walked into the gym, it was about halfway through the second quarter, and it was pretty crowded, so I was looking for a spot to park my fanny.  A nice man saw me searching, and said, “Ma’am, you can sit here!”  My first interaction with someone there, and he was as polite and nice as can be.  I thought to myself that manners do still exist, even in intense situations, such as a youth basketball game. That was a great way to start this little outing!

I had a front row seat, and saw Al running up and down the court.  The score was pretty close (19-14), and both teams seemed to be very aggressive.  There were a lot of fouls, and they were extremely physical! I guess the boys on these teams were about 12 or 13 years old.  The win came down to the final few seconds, so most of the parents were on edge.  It was a good game, and fun to watch!

There were two ladies behind me, but I could only hear one…..she wouldn’t shut up.  She wasn’t watching the game.  She was telling the other woman all about how her boyfriend broke up with her because she was no longer his best friend, and he didn’t feel right about dating her and also working with her.  He didn’t feel like they would be right for marriage because it was too much work, and she disagreed because marriage is work, and blah, blah, blah!  I heard it all! Then at one point, she stopped and said, “I have a hard time getting to know people.  I don’t know how to get to know someone.”  I wanted to turn around and say, “Maybe if you shut up long enough to LISTEN to someone else, then you could get to know people!”  SHEESH!  My guess is she didn’t really care too much about her son’s game, and I bet her boyfriend really broke up with her because she talks too much about herself.

Other parents love to coach their child from the sidelines, which drives me insane.  If they want to coach, why aren’t they volunteering their time to do it?  They’re yelling at their child, yelling at the coach, yelling at the refs.  I can’t imagine how difficult these people are to live and work with.  I bet they’re never happy with anything, and everything is someone else’s fault. There are a couple of parents who know nothing about the game.  Every time their child got the ball, they would yell, “Shoot it!  Shoot it!” even though they weren’t in any type of scoring position, and weren’t within any proximity to the basket.  One boy mouthed off to his coach, and then talked back to his mother in the stands.  She laid into him for the whole gym to hear…..”You better remember who you’re talking to!” He was in foul trouble, but I think he was in more trouble with his mama.

Watching people with their families, and how they interact, is interesting to me.  First of all, I like to look at facial features and body types, trying to match the children to the parents, or which couples are together.  There was one family that were all built like blocks….the mother, the father, and all of the children had very square heads, no necks, square upper bodies, and skinny legs.  It was really odd……I had a hard time looking away…..they sort of looked like cubes with arms and legs.  The mother kind of led the children and her husband around like a pack leader.  They followed along behind her, and it was obvious who was in charge.  Back to her later…..

Because of the intensity of the game, the parents sitting around me were very vocal, coaching from the stands, and yelling at the refs (Al and another man).  I do get a little defensive when anyone criticizes him, but I think I’m supposed to.  In our marriage vows, we did promise to protect each other.  I think that goes for unfair criticism too!  Again, if they want to do the job, then apply for it.  See if they want to run up and down the court for up to 16 games a week.  See if they appreciate being yelled at, called names, or criticized for making the right call! Of course, some things get by the refs, and of course, they will let some things go on purpose, especially with the younger athletes.  They’re only human, and the game does need to move along.  If they called every little travel by these young kids who are still working on their coordination and control, then the games would take days to complete!  After Al came over and kissed me, they realized who I was there to watch, so they toned it down a bit.  I guess they knew better than to say anything with his wife sitting there. If they said anything after that, they kept it to a minimum.

For the next game, I moved to the other end of the gym, where it was a little less crowded, and one man sat a few feet away from me.  He had a lot to say when the game was going on about the refs, but as soon as Al came near me during the time outs, he lowered his head and played on his phone.  When the game started back up, he started his criticism again.  Coward.  It wasn’t a very exciting game because one team was really bad, and it was a blowout, so I left at half time. One of the parents from the losing team was the mother from the “block” family….the pack leader. I’m actually happy I left before the end of that game.  Al said she came to him, and verbally berated him for not making enough calls on the winning team.  She was mad that her team lost, and was very unpleasant.  It wasn’t his fault that her son’s team sucked.  The saddest thing about this is that she is a co-worker of Al’s at school.  She attacked another adult, who was just doing his job, over a youth basketball game.  Petty.  Immature.  And now their working relationship will most likely be strained.  As protective as I am of him, it’s probably best that I wasn’t there!

Watching and listening.  Watching, listening, and learning.  Spending an afternoon watching youth basketball games, and learning about people…..people I may never see again, but who show us so much about their personalities through their words and actions.

 

 

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Anxiety, Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Bewitched, Busy Minds, Civil Rights, Compassion, Coping, Courage, Empowerment, Family, Fear, Focus, Happiness, Insensitivity, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Kindness, Laughter, Laughter is the best medicine, Life Happens.....Make the Best Of It!, Loneliness, Love, Loyalty, Making life interesting, Manners, Misconceptions, Passion for Living, Peaceful Protests, Racism, Rejection, Relationships, Respect, Self respect, Support, Thankfulness, That's life, Tom Jones, Uncategorized, Understanding

Hocus Focus

I’ve had a bit of writer’s block lately.  Part of it is because I have a hard time typing with a brace on my wrist. Part of it is just because I’ve been a bit distracted with a few things lately.  I start to write, and I find myself not wanting to finish the topic because I get worried how some people might react.  I try to keep my posts positive, and try to inspire people to do their best, while maybe sharing some experiences from my life, or funny stories.  I know I shouldn’t worry about that, because I know if I’m doing the best I can, that’s all that matters.  I have a level of sarcastic humor that not everyone gets, but I can’t worry about that either.  I’ll try to give you an idea of what my mind has been like lately….

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is today……let’s keep moving forward.  Even my 1st graders think racism is awful.

Broken wrists suck.

Vertigo sucks.

I have a secret crush on Tom Jones.

Migraines suck.

Free movie passes are great.

I, Tonya was a good movie.

Catch the movie, Mudbound on Netflix……eye opening, and should tug at everyone’s heart.  Let’s not ever go back to that. Mary J. Blige does an excellent job in it.

I love Kansas City at Christmas.

I love warm weather.

My dog is the sweetest, snuggled next to me as I type this.

The Vikings had an awesome game yesterday, and I hope they go all the way, especially for my best friend’s sake…..she loves them!

Some people really take advantage, and are attention whores.

I would never have the nerve to set up a Go Fund Me account for myself…….

Therefore, medical bills and trying to get by through this really sucks.

Donald Trump sucks.  Yep.  I said it!

What happened to manners?

Why can’t people respect your time and your finances?  It’s not up to anyone else how you spend these things, and if you have the time or money for something.  I would never tell someone, “You have time for this,” or “You can afford that.”  No one’s energy level is the same as someone else’s, and no one knows what your financial obligations are.

A man complimented me in the elevator in the medical building for the boots I had on….then he asked if that was okay because he wasn’t sure it was acceptable….compliments should always be acceptable.

Work/teaching is exhausting.

Trying to get my foot in the door with real estate is next to impossible while teaching full time.  Taking my post license course now.

I don’t like one of my medical specialists…….at all.

Sometimes no matter how nice you are to people, they just won’t like you.  Be nice anyway, but protect yourself.  You can’t make them care.  Their actions will show you how they feel.  Be kind.

Seizures suck.

My family is wonderful.

I don’t get to see a lot of Al this time of year because he works at lot with youth basketball, so we spent today together.  He helped me with groceries and put gas in my car…..helping me with that wrist thing.

My kids are great…..and goofy, and I worry about them all the time.

Social anxiety can be crippling……try to smile and get through it.  I feel it every day.

Youth basketball games are fun to watch, especially when they’re scrappy little kids.

Some people are heartless.

I’m addicted to reruns of Bewitched.

Spring and summer need to get here soon. I need summer now!

So you can see……my mind is all over the place…..writer’s block, because I can’t focus on anything.  Not feeling bad or depressed….I’m just overwhelmed with a lot right now, so my mind is a busy place.  I wonder if I have adult ADD to add to the list of conditions? Maybe if I am able to reduce the stress in my life and get the rest I need, I can focus!  For now, I will rely on exercise and meditation (and Bewitched) to get me through!

I hope you all have had a great Martin Luther King Jr Day.  Did you do anything to give back? I didn’t this year.  I just don’t have the energy.  My justification for this is that I give back each day when I walk into my classroom. Every teacher does……

Get focused! Now back to studying….

 

 

 

 

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Coping, Courage, Egos, Emotions, Get Over Yourself, Happiness, Laughter, Laughter is the best medicine, Making life interesting, Passion for Living, Shit happens, Thankfulness, That's life, The Unexpected, Uncategorized

Life Happens…..Make the Best Of It!

Strange things happen to me.  It’s always been like that, especially as an adult.  No matter how odd, I try to always see the humor in it, and make fun of myself.  As I write this, I have a splint on my left arm, breaking my wrist after falling in my bedroom a few nights ago.  Excuse any typos, if I miss them.  It’s taking me forever to type this!

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a sitcom, but someone forgot to tell me that I’m the star!  When I was about 6 months pregnant with my oldest daughter, I fainted at the grocery store.  I happened to be in the baby aisle, and had just picked up a package of diapers (always planning ahead).  The next thing I knew, I was on my back, looking up, with store employees looking down at me, offering to call someone.  My feet were propped up on the diapers I had just picked up!  I was really embarrassed, but could laugh about it then and now!

A year or so after that, I went to the store, and because I lived in a cold climate, I had to walk through two sets of automatic double doors to get into the store.  I walked through the first set, completely expecting the next set to open.  They didn’t.  I stopped and waited.  The first set of doors closed behind me.  I pushed on the next doors, and they wouldn’t open.  I tried to go back out, and those doors wouldn’t open either.  I was stuck in the little entryway, between the two sets of doors!  I knocked on the doors to get someone’s attention, and some boys came over to help…..but they didn’t know what to do.  The doors were stuck.  I was stuck.  Other customers were trying to get in.  I told them I couldn’t open the doors.  Some of them acted annoyed with me, as I paced in the entryway, like a zoo animal!  The store employees told the other customers to go around to the other doors, while they got a manager to figure out what to do.  They ended up getting an electrician, and it all turned out okay…..except, I left without getting the items I went in to get in the first place because I was too embarrassed to stay!  But now I laugh….

Another time I walked to my car in a parking lot, and found a bird sitting on my gear shift…inside my car!  I left my sun roof open, and I guess he decided he needed to take a little rest in my car for a few minutes.  The dancing and screaming that followed, while I opened all the doors and tried to shoo him out must have been comical to other people in the parking lot, but I was ready to have a nervous breakdown!  Now I can laugh…..

I’ve had lizards land on my windshield while I’m driving, frogs land on my feet, bugs crawl in my cleavage while I’m at lunch with my mother in-law, stepped on mice, climbed a tree to rescue a stuck ball, but couldn’t get back down, got my finger stuck in a Coke bottle, and the list goes on and on and on!

Now I’m dealing with things that cause other weird things to happen.  Recently, I had a seizure in a crowded restaurant.  That was embarrassing, but I’m able to laugh about it….my kids are having fun teasing me about it, and what triggers them, even though it’s scary.  When I fell in the middle of the night last weekend, I think I may have had a seizure because I felt disoriented and confused.  It was dark, and I lost my balance.  I knew it hurt, but I was tired, and wanted to go back to bed!  So I did.  When I woke up later, I realized I really was hurt, and my wedding ring was stuck on my finger.  Oops!  Well, I still say that sleep is more important than getting x-rays.  I haven’t slept well since, so maybe getting that extra couple of hours wasn’t such a dumb idea after all.  My balance is off, so I bump into things.  I laughed at myself when I bumped into the wall at work yesterday.  I know I must look like the town drunk at times, but it’s just me!

Things happen.  Funny things, weird things, happy things, sad things, scary things…..just make the best of it.  Laugh at yourself.  Have a sense of humor.  Don’t be so full of yourself or vain that you can’t make the best of every situation.  My sisters and I even managed to laugh our way through a funeral once…..I’m not proud of that, but it made it memorable, and I’m pretty sure our deceased loved one would have understood the circumstances.  Try to make the best of every situation.

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor,”  Charles Dickens

 

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Compassion, Coping, Courage, Emotions, Family, Happiness, Holiday Spirit, Holidays, Kindness, Laughter, Laughter is the best medicine, Love, Memories, Negativity, Passion for Living, Relationships, Self respect, Thankfulness, That's life, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Love and Laughter in 2018

Happy 2018!  Last night, we returned from a whirlwind trip to Kansas City, where we spent the week with my family for the first time in years.  It really was a great time, even if it was cold, busy and chaotic.  That’s kind of the way my family is during the holidays….. NOT cold, but busy and chaotic!  Laughter, kids, memories, and constant activity is pretty much the norm for us.

My family is big……maybe not big by some people’s standards, but my parents were each one of 5 children, and I am also one of 5 (all girls).  My parents have 11 grandchildren, a few of them have spouses, and there is one great grandchild (my grandson). My daughter’s boyfriend has 2 children, who only added to the fun!  My sister also had two other guests, who were visiting from Japan, and they added to the fun and laughter.  Between all of the people, 2 dogs, the great food, cousins leg wrestling on the family room floor, Nerf gun fights, building train tracks on the floor, pretending to cook (and eat) the Fisher Price food, and our excursions into the city to visit the Nelson Atkins Museum (Picasso, Monet, Pollock, Warhol, etc), Union Station, Crown Center, ice skating (just the kids….not me!),  breakfast with my aunt and nieces, Al and I going out with a childhood friend of mine, and Al going out for a jazz night at Plaza III with our brother in-law, it was a packed few days!  The cold temps didn’t stop the fun!  My family welcomes everyone, and treats everyone with love and acceptance, if they are willing to put up with our noise and silliness!  This is really the first time Al has had a chance to spend any real time with a lot of my family.  He got to see first hand how loving and accepting they are.

I thought back on times when my sisters and our families would all gather at my parents each year (either on Thanksgiving or Christmas).  At times, there might be around 23 of us packed into their little ranch home in Springfield, Missouri.  Noise, laughter, children, food, games, movies, sports on TV, and just spending time together laughing and reminiscing was such fun.  Or the times when we would gather at my grandmother’s house in Wichita with all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins……times change, families grow, and loved ones leave us eventually…….but no one can take my memories.

2017 was not easy on me in a lot of ways.  I’ve tried to stay positive, and grateful for all I have, even when I’m physically struggling.  My first trip to Europe, which I was so looking forward to, turned out to be very hard because of a lot of the physical problems I was having, without knowing what was wrong with me.  I tried to do what I could, but I ended up spending a lot of time unable to enjoy a lot of it.  Once we got back, and I got a diagnosis (a benign brain tumor, called an acoustic neuroma), I had to figure out a lot of things.  I dove into information, trying to learn all I could about it.  But mostly, I counted my blessings.  It could have been a lot worse.  My emotions went into overdrive……I can cry at the drop of a pin, and I have a few unpleasant symptoms that are the new normal for me, but I started appreciating things I hadn’t even noticed before!  I also told myself I would not waste time on people or things that were negative or tried to drain my happiness.

I’ve had a lot of hard times in my life, but I’ve also had a lot of very happy times.  My big family has provided so many happy moments for me, and the memories of the love and laughter keep me going.  I always try to stay positive and not let negativity bring me down, but that seems so much more important now.  So, like every year, I will vow to keep my chin up, stay positive, be nice, friendly, compassionate, and happy.  Even though I have been presented with a new obstacle, it doesn’t change my outlook on life.  It may be a new year, but it’s the same love and appreciation that I always strive for.

The important things in life are love, loved ones, laughter, memories, and good health.  Laugh and learn to enjoy everything you have.  Cut out the negativity and negative people who don’t love you back, don’t care about you, or don’t appreciate you.  Stay positive.  Stay happy.  Enjoy the chaos and laughter in life.  Don’t waste time sitting around getting old. I’m so thankful I come from a family who loves to laugh and have fun…..it keeps us young and healthy!

It’s great to be home where it’s a little warmer, but I have some great new memories of this trip, and of my big family and friends.   Happy New Year, and here’s to a fun 2018, filled with love and laughter……curing all that ails us!

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Compassion, Courage, Egos, Emotions, Get Over Yourself, Happiness, Holiday Spirit, Insensitivity, Kindness, Love, Manners, Negativity, Relationships, Respect, Thankfulness, Uncategorized, Understanding

The Season of Giving……Year Round!

‘Tis the season of giving…….actually, I think giving is healthy year round, especially if you are giving of your time, support, sentiments, prayers, etc.  I have people in my life who I would do anything for.  I don’t give to them for recognition, or because it’s expected.  I do it because it’s the right thing to do.  I do it because I care.  Sadly, I have learned that others just don’t care as much.  I may be limited on finances, and sometimes my health hinders how much I can do, but I still try.  There are other ways of giving.  There are some people who never give, and I actually don’t understand how they can live with themselves.  There are some who give because it’s expected of them.  There are some who take advantages of others’ generosity.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “tis better to give than to receive,” which is from the Bible, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35).  I don’t want to get preachy here, but it’s something that can and should apply to all of us, even if you don’t follow Christianity.  Unfortunately, some people just don’t know how to give, or be gracious when receiving.

I have met narcissistic people, who care about nothing but themselves.  They don’t understand or care about the pain they cause by not appreciating everything others are willing to do for them, and aren’t considerate of others’ feelings.  They just don’t care.  Maybe they were spoiled as children, and they aren’t capable of appreciating the little things in life.  They always put themselves first, justifying this by saying they “deserve” to do that, or they’ve earned it.  There is nothing wrong with rewarding or treating yourself, but when that becomes your focus, over what you can do for others, then maybe you aren’t a very nice person.  People like this take advantage of those who love them, and don’t think about how it hurts.  But then…..I guess they don’t care.  They’re very selfish and Ebenezer Scrooge-like!

Don’t be a Scrooge.  Give something…..and give it year round!  Give kindness.  Give manners.  Give politeness.  Give compassion.  Give a smile.  Give understanding.  Give patience.  Give gratitude.  Give communication.  Give humor.  Give of yourself, and don’t take advantage of those willing to give so much to you.  Someday, they may not be there anymore.  Leave your egos at the door, and try to do something for someone else for a change, appreciating what others are willing to do for you.  However, if someone continually rejects your acts of kindness, or shows they don’t appreciate you or care about you, you certainly don’t have to continue giving to that person!  Protect yourself in this process!  Feeling rejection is painful, and damaging to your well-being.  Don’t be unkind, but make sure you focus where the need is.  It doesn’t mean you can’t still offer a smile or politeness to that person.

With our current political and social climate, we are seeing enough egos, negativity, narcissism, and arrogance.  There are enough Ebenezer Scrooges in the world. If we expect things to change, or we want a nicer place to live, then we need to be getting along with each other, and be the givers. Stop putting ourselves first, and think about what a difference we can make in someone else’s life just by giving a small act of kindness or compassion.  And do it year round…….make the season of giving a year round habit.

Acceptance, Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Being Strong, Coping, Courage, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Laughter, Love, Passion for Living, Thankfulness, That's life, Uncategorized, Unexpected Life Events

Just Keep Going…

It’s been 130  days since my AN diagnosis.  Since then, I’ve been through loads of doctor appointments (I’ve lost count), a variety of tests, another diagnosis of an infection in my mastoid bones (behind my ears), which seems to be resistant (I’ve been on 4 different antibiotics so far), and a seizure.  I’m now on anti-seizure meds, and a few things to try to control my headaches.  This seems to be the new “normal” for me, and we just keep hoping for the best with each appointment.

I try not to miss any work.  I’ve actually only missed 3 days out of 70 so far this year, and have taken an early leave here and there for doctor appointments.  I also go in early almost every day……a habit I’ve had for a very long time.  I know if I sit at home, I would get depressed…..something that is easy to do with any illness.  I don’t want to add depression to the list of conditions and symptoms.  Besides, I love my students, and appreciate that this is probably the best class I’ve ever taught!  I guess I need them right now.  They let me know how much they love me, and how much they care about me.  They tell me constantly that they love me, they hug me, they make pictures for me, are pretty well behaved, and they understand that sometimes I can’t get up too fast!  I told them about my recent EEG, and they enjoyed imagining their silly teacher with the 25 electrodes coming off of her head.

I don’t let a lot of people see me when I’m feeling bad.  I have learned to manage that very well.  The teacher who teaches next door to me, Tamesa, has become such a great friend.  We vent, laugh, cry, and support each other every day!  She is one of the few who sees me holding my hurting head, or can tell by the look on my face that I’m in pain, and knows what is going on, without me having to say anything.  It’s nice to have a friend/co-worker like that, but she also understands my fierce independence, and knows when I just need to push through.

I have had people ask me how I do it.  How do I keep going?  The commute? Teaching 1st graders? The work load? One of my husband’s friends in New York said in his thick NY accent, “She’s a troopah!” Well, what choice do I have?  Like I said before, I don’t want to sit home and get depressed, having no interaction with anyone.  While I might need more rest now, I still believe that I can manage this more effectively by continuing to keep busy, and keep a normal schedule. And…..I don’t want to give up my way of life.  I don’t want to get old before my time.  Young at heart = hopefulness and positivity.

I have seen people with chronic illnesses give up, go on disability, stay home, and become old before their time.  If you know anything about me, you know I have a sense of adventure and fun, and a curiosity to learn about people and places.  I love travel.  I love museums.  I’m not old enough to give up that part of myself.  I might stumble a bit here and there.  I might not hear everything, especially in a noisy room.  I might be hypersensitive to loud noises.  I might have headaches.  I might feel pressure in my ear and head.  I might have vertigo that makes life feel extra wobbly.  I might have to be more aware of the signs (auras) of an impending seizure.  I might have to eventually have surgery. But my life will not stop being enjoyable because I have a chronic illness! I refuse to give in to this.  I guess this is where my stubbornness pays off!

Over the last 130 days, I have learned so much.  I’ve learned that I am much stronger and more determined than I ever realized.  I’ve learned that I keep my balance better if I give myself more time and turn on lights!  I’ve learned that my husband is a jewel (I actually already knew this, but he has just confirmed it, as he helps me up every morning so I don’t fall, reminds me to be careful, and is understanding and supportive with my fatigue and limitations).  I’ve learned who really cares about me, and who is there to support me on this journey, wherever it leads me.  Fortunately, there are a lot of people supporting me that I never knew cared so much!  I’ve learned that naps are not only enjoyable, but they really do help!  I’ve learned a lot about two illnesses that I have, that I never dreamed would affect me.  I’ve learned to really appreciate small acts of kindness, quiet moments, fresh air, a good laugh, a walk, and all of the positive things in life.  I want to be the best me I can be for my children, who I know have been worried and scared through this.  I want them to enjoy their silly mama, who loves to laugh and embarrass them in public.  I want to be the best me for my husband, who shows me his strength every day, but I know he worries and gets scared from all of this too.

So the last 130 days of knowing what is wrong with me has been an emotional and physical roller coaster, but I appreciate what it has given me.  Things can always be worse!  I can do this…..with a few adjustments and a lot of support from those who love me.  I’m not ready to give up anything yet…..and I won’t.

Attitude Adjustments, Childhood Innocence, Commercialism, Holiday Spirit, Holidays, Innocence, Materialism, Season's Greetings, Thankfulness, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Stop With the Commercialism!

Well, I noticed it happening about a month ago……that dreaded event that sends many people on both sides of the debate into a frenzy…..some even getting hysterical and violent.  Yes, I’m talking about the Christmas decorations in stores……BEFORE Halloween or Thanksgiving! Enough, already!

Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE Christmas, and the spirit of Christmas.  My mother loved that time of year, and made sure to instill the spirit of giving and spending time with family into my sisters and me.  She never once told us that Santa wasn’t real, and I have never once said that to my children or anyone else.  Santa, or the spirit of St. Nicholas and giving, IS real. Without turning this into a religious debate, or theme, the Christmas SPIRIT is about love, family, friends, food, giving and sharing, time to be together, etc.  Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, but I have friends and family who are not religious, or follow a different religion. They can still celebrate this season because they appreciate that spirit. Yet, when we have the commercialism of the season thrust in our faces well before the season is upon us, it does make some of us want to boycott.

I understand kicking off the season during the Thanksgiving holidays.  I used to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade every year, as I could smell the turkey roasting in the oven.  As soon as it was over, with Santa making his first appearance of the season, I would help my mother and sisters with the preparations for our family meal.  We began putting up our tree during this week because my sisters would be home from college, and wanted to participate.  My mother decorated the whole house beautifully with lights, greenery, decorations, and the tree with our treasured ornaments on it……some we made when we were little, some belonged to my grandparents, and a lot were given to my parents by church members.  I have a lot of those ornaments on my tree now.  My tree definitely doesn’t belong in a department store, and doesn’t have a color scheme or particular theme, but it is FULL of love and memories of people I love, and places I have lived or visited.  I think it’s beautiful!  It represents our family, and the love we share.  It always makes me a little sad to take it down.  I look forward to putting it up every year, and decorating the whole house, but not before Thanksgiving, and don’t even talk to me about it before Halloween!

Thanksgiving deserves to be recognized more.  It does go hand in hand with Christmas, and the love of family and gathering together, but why do we skip straight to Christmas without being thankful for all we have?  My husband spent a long time living out of the country, so he missed out on Thanksgiving for thirty years.  He loves Thanksgiving! He really gets upset to see the Christmas decorations out in stores too early!  Now that he’s back in the United States, he wants to enjoy this holiday as it should be enjoyed……being thankful for EVERYTHING…….family, friends, love, good health, food, a roof over our heads, jobs, freedom, and having each other.

The commercialism of Christmas is greedy, and is killing the happiness that some of us feel about it.  Am I sounding a bit like Charlie Brown here?  When I say I love Christmas, some have misunderstood, thinking I love the commercialism.  Nope!  Nope! Nope!  Absolutely not! I’ve never been to a Black Friday sale.  I’ve never bought into having to have the latest trendy toy for my children, risking my life to get it! I put my tree up during the Thanksgiving holiday, and leave it up until New Year’s.  I’ve never felt like I have to compete with someone to make sure we have the best toys, clothes, gadgets, electronics, or furniture.  I hate going into stores during the holiday season because of the crowds. I hate seeing the Black Friday (or even Thursday) crowds trampling each other for material things, or hearing of people shooting each other for merchandise.  That’s not what it’s about, folks!  Fortunately, some stores are starting to at least stay closed on Thanksgiving, but it isn’t enough.

We have to stop buying into the corporate greed and forgetting the true meanings of these cherished holidays.  Stop buying into the greed and meaningless newer customs of having to have more and more materialistic things! If you want to keep your tree up year round, decorating for different seasons, go for it.  A lot of people do this.  But don’t shove fake spirit down our throats.  Commercialism and greed disguised as spirit isn’t spirit.  Look around you.  Be thankful for all you have.  Stop buying crap you don’t need just because some talk show host or magazine article says you need it.  Better yet…..why not carry the true spirit of Christmas with you year round?  Why not be in the holiday spirit every day, giving the gifts of love, time, patience, tolerance, generosity, thankfulness, togetherness, and compassion for each other?

Yeah…..I don’t have much faith in that either…..but I can at least try to set that example.  In the meantime, I guess Al and I will just stay out of those businesses that insist on blasting us with their phony corporate “spirit” and greed.  And no one better ever tackle me for a holiday air freshener just because Oprah said to buy one!  Call me Scrooge or the Grinch, but I’m pretty sure I have a better handle on this than those who insist on rushing the season, and forgetting what is truly important in life!  Corporate America, and American consumers need to stop making it about money and materialism. That’s not what it’s all about.