I hope your holiday was peaceful, joyful and healthy.
Well, it seems Santa successfully completed his annual magical mystery tour. If anyone was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of him they would have noticed he was sporting a mask. Even the jolly fat man is socially conscious. Now, it’s time to look back and look ahead.
Stating the obvious, 2020 has been the worst year in 100 years. Even in the worst of times, there always seems to be a point when we can acknowledge there were actually positives. I had my moment a couple of days ago. The adjustments I needed to make to feel some flow with Covid were actually a plus. For example, I established a new routine which included early morning meditation, then going out for a walk around the block for some fresh air and exercise. I stocked up on my most favorite coffee beans since going out to coffee shops was out. I took several Zoom courses, taught a couple of courses myself. Not the least of all was connecting with friends, current ones and new ones, via various electronics. As I reviewed that and more, I felt so much gratitude and possibility.
I know we are all wearing down from pandemic living. What stands out is the resilience, creativity, generosity of spirit and how people rise up to meet the challenges of an extraordinary event.
Now it’s time to start looking ahead to 2021. I must confess that I have never been a New Year’s resolution person. This time calls for a different way of looking at the coming year. I’m still not making resolutions. What I do see as a way to get the new year going on a positive note. How about taking a look back at 2020 and list what worked for you navigating these worst of times. Then focusing on what worked for you, envision how you can continue those practices and even do more of what worked. It’s simple, yet an effective, realistic path toward something resembling normal.
Wishing you a Happy, Healthy New Year with all of life’s blessings.
Attitude of Gratitude
The longer this pandemic rages on, the more uncertainty and unrest creeps into our lives. There are, nonetheless, still avenues to well being. One antidote to feeling discouragement and discontent is gratitude. When we can find something, no matter how small, to be grateful for, negativity flees. The following from Gregg Krech at the Todo Institute is a wonderful way of including gratitude as part of decorating for Christmas.
Not everyone celebrates Christmas. So what are some other creative ways to give thanks? I know the possibilities are limitless.
“We first displayed our growing and eclectic collection of ornaments on the table, ranging from simple pre-school treasures to ornaments fit for the tree
of a Russian Czar, and then took turns selecting and hanging one ornament at a time.
But before we would hang each ornament, we’d dedicate the ornament to a specific person. We’d announce who it was dedicated to, why we chose them and
what we wanted to thank them for. A friend might get a snowman ornament in honor of the snowy creatures they made in our yard. An aunt might get an angel,
in honor of her thoughtfulness and care. The piano teacher might get a miniature piano.
The ornaments would go up, one by one, and the tree would become a canvas of love and support. Each ornament represented the kindness and generosity of
someone we know or have known.
In some cases, we dedicated an ornament to someone who was no longer alive and, in doing so, honored that person’s life and our memory of them.
We might spend 30-40 minutes each evening for 3-4 nights before completing this process. The decorating itself becomes a practice of reflection on our good fortune.
Wishing all of you peace, joy and good health for the holidays and throughout the New Year.
Revisiting Eddie, An Enterprising Elf
This is the time of year I tend to thoroughly enjoy the whimsy and merriment that surfaces. I’ve written a couple of books of elf stories about their shenanigans for my grand-kids when they were young. Every holiday season I am inclined to write another one. Due to many distractions, it did not happen this year. Consequently, I am re-posting a previous story. The message seemed appropriate as well. Hope you enjoy.
This is a tale about a little known, in truth a totally unknown elf named Eddie. Eddie was born and raised at the North Pole like all of Santa’s elves. Eddie was a fine, yet nondescript, fellow. He minded his parents and teachers growing up. When he came of age, he went to work in one of Santa’s workshops. He always did his very best with whatever was asked of him. Eddie kept his elf nose in his own business, never complained, never participated in the elf gossip. Consequently, Eddie went unnoticed by the other elves. This did not seem to bother him. He was exceptionally observant which led to his grand idea. He became so consumed by his idea that he worked up the courage to make an appointment with Santa.
Santa could see Eddie was nervous, so he provided extra marshmallows with the customary hot chocolate. Eddie told Santa that he noticed that the elves were generally a happy lot, especially when the baker elves treated them with fresh cookies. He said that he also noticed that at times there was grumbling and criticizing of each other. Then Eddie said to Santa. I’ve thought of something that might make a difference when there is nattering and complaining.” Santa seemed most interested and urged him to continue.
Eddie explained that he had learned through his observations that elves were happier and worked harder when they were acknowledged for doing their jobs well. Eddie continued to say that he also noticed that each of the workshops had a big , empty white board. Eddie said he didn’t know what these white boards were for because no one ever used them. Then Eddie launched into his big idea. “Santa, what if we turn those white boards into like a happiness board? If the manager elves and the elf workers noticed an elf kindness or an especially beautiful toy was made and wrote a note and posted it on the white board for all to see, it would make us very happy. You know, like a note posted saying elf Clem shared his best paint brush with elf Sammy.”
Santa was intrigued. He thanked Eddie and said he and Mrs. Santa would discuss it further.
To make a long story a little bit longer, Santa and Mrs. Santa had a meeting with the entire elf population. It was decreed that all of the white boards in all of the workshops would become Joy Boards. The elves shared their ideas for what to post. The elves were very enthusiastic about developing the Joy Boards. As time went by, Eddie’s grand idea led to greater cheerfulness and verve throughout the North Pole. There were very few incidents of squabbling or discontent. Due to the great success of the Joy Boards, Santa honored Eddie with a new position. Eddie became the North Pole’s Mirth and Merriment Maven. In fact, over the eons, Eddie’s offspring took up the mantle of Mirth and Merriment in perpetuity, so that the North Pole would always be a place of flourishing and well-being for all it’s residents.
There are two morals to this story.
One: A little thoughtfulness, a little consideration can make all the difference.
Two: When you seek to find the best in others, you discover the best in yourself.
Comments are welcomed.
'Tis The Season
Did you ever consider the origin of the phrase ‘tis the season’? Neither did I. We all understand ‘tis is an old contraction for it is. As you likely surmised it comes from a centuries old Welsh carol. As you likely surmised, the carol is Deck The Halls – “Deck the halls with boughs of holly. ‘Tis the season to be jolly.”
'Tis the season when lots of people are saying "'Tis the season!" It is the time of the year that is also known broadly as the holiday season.
The song functions culturally as a constant earworm for many people during the month of December. Its tones ring out from radios and store speakers.
While the song is centuries old, the phrase hasn't been around as long as one might think, In fact, it wasn't really until the 1970s that we started to see it popping up in magazine and newspaper articles.
Just a further note on the song. It was translated from the Welsh into English around 1862 by a Scottish lyricist. Some of the words went through several iterations over the decades. For example, the Pennsylvania School Journal in the 1870’s published the song with ‘Halls’ in the singular and changed the word ‘yuletide’ to Christmas. One of the original lines in the song was ”Fill the mead cup and drain the barrel.” This was changed to “Don we now our gay apparel.”
The 'fa la la la las' were influenced by Madrigals. Madrigals usually featured poetry set to music, with a composer adding "accompaniment" sections for some voices (such as fa la la).
Even Mozart used this carol to start a duet with piano and violin.
And so ends this bit of useless trivia. Nonetheless, go ahead and deck a hall or two. After all, ‘tis the season. Fa la la.
Comments are welcomed.