It took me a long time to realize my Christmas tree was invisible.
I would spend hours clearing space by the front window, putting away the pictures and non-seasonal objects, retrieving boxes from the garage, then sorting through countless ornaments collected over the years . . .
I’d stop to remember where I got that tiny flamingo with the goofy grin and holiday tie, the Santa posed like a rodeo rider on the back of a dolphin. I’d be thrilled when I opened the box containing construction-paper Rudolph, his crooked mouth penned by a fidgety preschooler. (Rudolph always gets the best spot on the tree.)
Smiling, I would carefully unwrap the crooked candle made of wire and plastic beads, and choke up every time at the tiny stocking labelled “FNU” (FBI-speak for “First Name Unknown”).
I’m one of those people who doesn’t buy boxes of glass balls to fill their tree. Every ornament has a special meaning or memory attached to it. I space them out so each one is properly visible and as I do, I let my mind drift back to when I shared this activity with ones now in Heaven, or those now just too busy.
It’s usually an entire afternoon of nostalgia and sentimentality, and for what? Despite its prominent placement in my front window, no one sees this tree. Continue reading That’s not just a Christmas tree you see
To set the stage, I’ve just returned from a two week trip to South Korea and I’m seriously jet lagged.
I have a miserable cold and it’s December 21. Christmas is in four days and I’ve written not the first Christmas card nor done one bit of Christmas shopping or decorating.
The weather is about to turn ugly (again). There’s a winter weather advisory in effect today and bitter cold is said to be heading our way.
But I am so grateful. And I can think of at least five reasons why. Continue reading Five good things about being sick at Christmas
On Valentine’s Day, a letter arrived in my mailbox from the little boy I sponsor in Bangladesh through Compassion International. Through an interpreter, he told me about his Christmas and what he had been able to get with the money I had sent him and his family. At the end of the letter, the translator (Timothio) noted, “He is weak in education. Please pray for him. He also prays for you.”
Imagine … a 9 year-old child in a Third World country, praying for me. I was undone. Continue reading One of the most powerful forces on earth
What do I mean by a mood sponge? I doubt you’ll find the term in any psychology textbook per se, though you may recognize it for reasons of your own. It’s a description I base on personal observations and life experience.
Mood sponges are people who tend to take their emotional cues from others, whether as a defensive tactic or a learned behavior. They measure their responses and reactions by those around them and sadly, absorb way more than their share of the negative.
I think there are reasons someone becomes a mood sponge and it’s not because they are lazy or uninspired. Maybe they’re trying to keep the peace. Or protect themselves. Or just make their lives work.
Here are some examples (names changed): Continue reading Because the Holidays Are Risky for a “Mood Sponge”
If you were to visit my neighborhood tonight, you wouldn’t have to go far before being confronted by more than one of those front yard animatronic Santas that repeatedly drop their drawers to reveal “Happy Holidays” written in script on their rears. Down the block, there’s a rifle-toting Frosty the Snowman in camouflage gear, while SpongeBob grins weirdly at baby Jesus in the blow-up manger scene close by. I live in the Midwest, but I’m sure that wherever you are, the scene is similar.
It’s all very confusing.
Christmas has come to represent over-the-top materialism, endless parties, spiked eggnog, and that ubiquitous loop of holiday songs in the background everywhere – even at the gas station. It seems obvious: Christmas has been turned into a mostly secular holiday.
But before you go getting all nervous that I am about to launch into a rant about how NOT to observe Christmas, let me assure you I have exactly the opposite intent. Here’s my suggestion for a more meaningful season: Continue reading Why It’s Time to Rethink Christmas