What does Christmas Mean to Me?

Choose Today to be Happy

So yesterday, I got some great news, I won a contest on Facebook from OzTent USA.  They asked “What does Christmas Mean to You?”  Here’s what I told them:

“Christmas is about recognizing the good in all of us; the celebration of religious holidays together with family and friends by our sides.  It is giving our time and money to others less fortunate, it is recognizing that everyone celebrates differently, it is about traditional meals and gifts, smiling faces and love for each other.  Whatever your tradition, make sure you include someone new, someone in need and someone you love, that will make Christmas a happier time for all.”

When I wrote that, I was thinking about all the Christmases something wasn’t quite right, the year Kayla didn’t get anything she wanted; the years we traipsed to my in-laws and sat like cardboard waiting for the “family” Christmas to be over – each of us with our orange and candy in a brown paper sack.  I thought about ringing the bell for the Salvation Army this week and all the people that will be better served, not just by my hours, but the hours of all the volunteers all over the country.  I thought of the traditional food we put on the table, a repeat of Thanksgiving because it’s my favorite meal to cook.  I thought about all the people who don’t cook great meals, because they don’t know how and where do they go?  I thought about those with no one to spend Christmas with and realized, once again, how lucky I am.  We may not have everything, but we truly have it all.  Our lives have turned out to be the best I could hope for.  There is love in my heart every day, there is a kiss and a cuddle and acknowledgement and all the things I was missing when I hadn’t figured out who I wanted to be.  I no longer go to church and celebrate the birth of Christ as I once did, but he is in my heart as I approach the world with as much kindness as I can muster.  I don’t exchange gifts with anyone, but take great pleasure in sending gifts to the kids and grandkids, and cards to our tribe.

My life is not perfect, it is better, it is lived, with love and laughter, with smiles and tears, with gratitude and joy.  I am so lucky.

 

Another Lucky Day

bellringingI had the best day today!  For years, I have been trying to connect with the Salvation Army so I could be a bell ringer.  One year we were in a small town in Montana, you had to travel 60 miles to get signed up; the next year we were in California, another place with a lot of red tape.  Today, we are in Moab, Utah – one phone call, and I was a bell ringer.  My first shift was today, and how much fun it was.  I want to get voted friendliest bell ringer, so I smiled big and spoke to everyone. Of course, they don’t actually elect a friendliest bell ringer, so my real purpose was to bring a little joy in to everyone’s day.

For two hours, I spoke to everyone going in and out of City Market.  It’s the only decent grocery store in town, so everyone goes there.  For 28 straight days, six hours a day, a bell ringer stands in front of the doors.  Everyone in town has plenty of opportunities to donate, so it is awesome when they do on your shift.  The collections in those bright red buckets stay 90% in your local community.  They help so many locally, this is the biggest fundraiser of the year.

On top of meeting lots of strangers, I ran in to someone I have known for almost 20 years.  Back when my son was about 12, I was sitting in one of many awards assemblies at the middle school, the man sitting next to me was soon to be Superintendent of Schools in my home town – and his son was one of my son’s best friends.  The first words Scott spoke to me were, “I think we’ll probably spend a lot of time in these bleachers.”  His prophecy was correct, we watched the boys earn awards for a zillion different things over the years until they graduated.  Scott is now the Superintendent of Schools in this little town.  I had no idea!  It was great to talk to a familiar face.

I’ve got another shift coming up on Sunday, I am looking forward to that.  Find your place, people, find a way to give back and enjoy the process, I know I got far more out of today than anyone giving, and probably more than those who will receive, too.  I love my life!

 

Being Nice

Slide5It’s that time of year when every one is focused on being nice, doing random kindness acts for strangers.  I love this time, when everyone is focused on others.  I wish it carried forward.

I have been trying to do my share lately, not sure I’m pulling it off, but I’m trying.  Here are some things I’m sharing:

I have five people that I am coaching through a series on how to live a healthier life.  Eating better, how to shop, how to eat – this isn’t a diet, this is a lifestyle change. (if you are interested, drop me a line at shelleyontheroad@yahoo.com)

I have another five people that I am facilitating sharing good, healthy recipes with. (another choice, I would love to share with you)

I sent 24 books each to my grandchildren’s homes to help them count down for Christmas.  I love the gift of reading.

Next week, I get to be a bellringer for the Salvation Army, something I’ve wanted to do for years.

Everyday I’m looking for one thing I can do for others, are you doing the same?

My goal in life is bigger than this though, I want to help others find their gift, succeed in whatever they choose to do.  I’ve got talents, just trying to figure out how to use them for good.  And my secret on how to focus on the good?  Sometimes, you have to turn off the media hype and live the life you choose too.

I want to thank the coaches that are helping me be me – Jerrilyn Knight, Wendy Lipton-Dibner, Trisha Hammer, and Chris Brogan.  I am learning a lot.

Happy Holidays to all of you!