"Sleep, hugs, kisses, love, friends, family, memories, smiles, laughter and fun. The best things in life are free."
The countdown to Christmas is on and I am happy to say that the bulk of my shopping is done. Just little things and the wrapping part remain, so I am pleased at where things stand for now. Every year I try to think creatively and choose a nice variety of gifts for my family that are not only what they would like, but are also memorable as well. This year I hit the jackpot with the "early" Christmas gift for my daughter Shannon I purchased. It was tickets to a Hunter Hayes concert which was so incredible that she said "Nothing could ever top this!" He actually came out on a small stage five feet away from us and performed for part of the show which was so amazing! A tall order for next year to try to match or beat this gift, but at least I have a whole year to sort that out! The look on her face at the concert was worth every penny and as a mom it is so heartwarming to see your child having a moment he or she will forever cherish. With so much emphasis these days on the gifts we buy at this season, it got me thinking about the incredible gifts we have that money can't buy. They are precious things or people that we may at times take for granted, but I would like to bring them to the forefront at this time to remind us of how fortunate we are. When it comes to gifts that money can't buy as they say in The Sound of Music "these are a few of my favourite things."
~ Special People ~
Cherish your family members and special friends. You honestly do not know how long they will be in your life. It is so easy to become comfortable with those we see on a regular basis that we fail to let them know how much they mean to us. Once they are gone you do not want to have any regrets. My Gramma and Grampa Sudds were incredible people. Not only were they amazing relatives, but I also considered them dear friends. We would talk for hours about all the latest news in all of our lives over a cup of coffee or bowl of fresh berries from their farm, and I always left their home feeling refreshed by their company. I miss them terribly, but know that I cherished our relationship that we had to the fullest. I regret that my kids never knew them as when they passed away Tyler and Shannon were too young, but my grandparents live on in the stories I have to tell about them. Look around you and let people know they matter. People need to hear it and you will feel so happy that you put a voice to what you often think about someone.
,~ Good Health ~
If you are in good health be so grateful. Many people this holiday season are not so fortunate. I am aware of many families who have family members who are battling serious illnesses and are in a deep sense of uncertainty about their loved one's futures. I have experienced this in the past with family members as well and it is a very stressful and sad way to live. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. Value yourself enough to take steps to be well and stay well. Experiencing a state of wellness is something many people dream of, so if you are in good health this season, thank God. When I find myself complaining about some minor ailment, I am suddenly reminded that so many people are dealing with terrible health issues and I am mindful to be thankful rather than complain.
~ Employment ~
It doesn't take long to realize that without financial income, we would be in a very bad way. We have experienced unemployment in our home and know the stress of living on a very tight budget. Many people are out of work and are dealing with the reality of not knowing if they will be able to pay their bills each month. If you have employment be grateful. Some of us have dream jobs. Some of us have decent jobs and some of us have what we might deem as the worst jobs of all. No matter what category you fall into, know that your job is supporting your family and assisting to meet their many needs. If your job is difficult, dissatisfying or inappropriate for you, pray for a new opportunity. In the meantime be thankful for where you are right now because every job provides an environment where we can really learn something if we are open to it.
~ Precious Memories ~
Memories are keepsakes of the heart. I have many precious memories of Christmas growing up with special Christmas pageants at the church, Christmas Eve at my Aunt Bev's house and sharing special times with my family. Many of those family have passed on, yet my memories will always live on. Take a stroll down memory lane from time to time and reflect on all the positive you have experienced. It will warm your heart, bring a smile to your face and remind you of how much you have to be grateful for.
~ A Forgiven Heart ~
The most important gift money can't buy this Christmas is a forgiven heart. Not only is it important to offer and receive forgiveness from each other, but it is vital for each one of us to experience God's forgiveness. Many people feel they have to work for God's love. Many struggle with feelings of unworthiness. They feel if they are good enough, or try hard enough that maybe just maybe God will love them and allow them entry into Heaven one day. Christ came as a baby to offer us the free gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins. God wants to give each one of us a clean slate and a fresh start and all we have to do is ask. There is nothing that we could do to make God love us any less or any more. The free gift of a forgiven heart is offered to each one of us and I can't think of a greater time of year than Christmas to experience this life changing gift that money can't buy.
So this Christmas in the midst of all the store bought gifts, look around the room and notice the special people at your table and reflect on all that you have been blessed with that money can't buy. There is so much more to appreciate and counting your blessings is a wonderful thing!
Little Lesson Learned: Many of the most wonderful gifts we have on a daily basis are absolutely priceless. Let's make a concious effort to appreciate them!
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
"Have yourself a Merry little Christmas.
Let your heart be light.” ~ Hugh Martin
The Christmas season is here once again and amongst all the wonderful aspects of Christmas comes also unfortunately the stress of the hustle and bustle associated with this time of year. Let’s see, there are of course gifts to buy, which then leads to gifts to wrap, cards to send, trees to put up and decorate, parties to plan and attend, cookies to bake, and the list goes on and on! As a matter of fact, I am getting a little tired just writing the previous sentence! To my relief, my tree is finally up and decorated. As we have an artificial tree, I usually make a point of getting it up early November. That so did not happen this year. Our tree went up in stages and for a few days it stood in the corner, partially assembled, and undecorated taunting me every time I passed it by. My students excitedly asked me if my “tree was up yet? “ When I answered “yes and no,” they were a bit confused, but I had to explain in the corner partially done is not considered “up” unfortunately. So needless to say I am glad it is done, and I do really enjoy the calming and cozy atmosphere a lit tree provides. I can use a little more of that type of atmosphere right now, and I don’t think I am alone!
Christmas carols are all over the radio and amongst the favourites you often hear is “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” yet when things get hectic, it certainly may not seem so. It is really necessary to find the splashes of joy that are around you. Splashes of joy were evident in my classroom this week and came via something unusual: ugly sweaters. My mom brought some ugly Christmas sweaters in for my son as he needs one for an upcoming party. I asked her to show the kids as we are studying holiday traditions and I thought Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties would be a funny tradition to discuss. The kids got a real kick out of the discussion and several students excitedly modelled the sweaters in an impromptu fashion show. The priceless thing about it was these kids loved the sweaters and asked to wear them most of the day! Those tacky, overly festive, much too big sweaters brought those students so much joy it was impossible not to laugh and feel the joy with them. Who would think that something so simple could make their day. Also I purchased four chocolate advent calendars and each day four different students gets to open the doors and receive a seasonal chocolate. This too has been embraced with great excitement as they anticipate whose turn it will be next to open a door. A little splash of joy, but something that means a lot to them.
It is a great feeling to focus on giving rather than receiving and it really brings the joy of the season to reality. Sometimes when you hear of sad situations some folks are experiencing this season, you can be provided with a unique opportunity to be a "Secret Santa" to someone and that is so rewarding. One year a teaching colleague of mine told me a story that really broke my heart. She said that her kids had a Christmas party at their daycare center that they had signed up for. The reason they had to sign up was so that Santa would have enough presents for all the wonderful boys and girls. My friend eagerly signed up her kids and they were so excited to see Santa and receive a little gift. Here’s where the story takes a tragic turn. Many families did not sign up, but came any way. This put the daycare center party in a very difficult position, because they were running out of presents quickly. As my friends kids finally made it to the front of the line, Santa wished them a very” Merry Christmas,” but sadly said he was “so sorry but he ran out of presents.” Seriously! Not his fault at all, but my friend said her kids were devastated. She tried to explain to them any way she could about the mishap but there was no comforting them. Heartbreaking! I shared this sad story with my daughter and we made it our mission to “right this wrong.” We went out and purchased gifts for my friend's kids and sent them off to her school from Santa Claus. With the gifts, “Santa” apologized saying that he found these gifts in the back of his sleigh after the party and he was so sorry about what happened that day! My friend put out a thank you email to whoever was “Santa” and shared how it meant so much to her and her kids. My daughter and I were so excited to do this and to hear it really touched them was a bonus. Splashes of joy had filled our hearts and theirs!
Joy can come in the most unusual places if we are looking for it. Even Charlie Brown from the Peanuts Gang struggled during the season to find the joy of the holidays. He did find joy eventually through the help of a group of friends and a tiny tree that needed a little love. You see Christmas joy is not linked to dollar amounts. We do not find true joy in getting the latest this or that necessarily, but it is really about others around us. We can bring joy to others through so many little things. A hug, a smile, a card, a word of encouragement, or a listening ear can all go very far during this busy season.
I was given a homemade piece of apple cake this week that was delivered with so much love, I felt it. I was given a little gift of special hand lotions left on my desk by another dear friend with a special note this week too. As I often get very dry and cracked hands this season, it was so very much appreciated and very thoughtful. We are going carolling with my class door to door in the school before the Christmas break. The students are really on board and we have been practicing a lot. You know how Buddy the Elf says “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear!” That is our goal and I hope by doing this it does spread some splashes of joy to those rooms we visit.
The Christmas season has just begun and the joy splashing possibilities are endless! I hope you are able to be on the giving and receiving end of something that brings you a splash of joy in an otherwise routine, and typical day. This is the whole reason why Christ came as a baby in the manger. The angels said on the night of His birth that they brought tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, not just a select few. I pray that you will have the joy of the season with Christ by your side this Christmas. The lyrics of a Christmas song say it so well. “May the joy of the season surround you, as the flame of His love keeps you warm. May you be overflowing this Christmas, with the glorious gifts from above.” This is my sincere wish for each and every one of you!
Joy to you all,
Psalms 71:23 ~ My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praise to you – I whom you have delivered.
Little Lesson Learned: In all the craziness that sometimes come with this time of year, make a conscious effort to seek, receive and give joy. It will mean so much to you and others.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014