Use a Little Magic to Beat the Stress This Season

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

I’ve been admiring all the pictures people have been posting of their holiday decorations and kids sitting in Santa’s lap. Some are smiling, some are in a trance, and some are crying their eyes out as they look for any path of escape. After all these lectures about stranger danger, their parents tell them, “Go sit in that fat man’s lap and maybe he’ll give you a piece of candy!” Brilliant.

We did it, too. The whole experience. We tell them this figment of our imagination is watching their every move all through the month of December, just watching for them to misbehave, so he can divert all their gifts to a more deserving child. As parents, we think maybe it’ll help them try just a little harder to be good. To the kid, it’s just one more set of eyes watching their every move.

I remember my mom telling me we would get so wound up in the final weeks before Christmas, we were almost sick with anxiety. The more we’d try to behave, the more we’d misbehave. It’s like tying a person’s hands and telling them it’s a good thing their nose doesn’t itch. Within seconds, they’ll be scratching it against anything in sight. Be sure you’re not standing too close when that starts.

My grandson is having a hard time with the whole “be good” thing this year. The little boy has a heart of gold, and can be the most lovable child on the planet when the mood strikes him. But he can also be the most determined, defiant little demon you’ve ever met. And, I’m finding that the closer we get to Christmas, the more unpredictable that behavior becomes.

It’s not the child. It’s the pressure. It’s the memory of every act of disobedience in the past several months, and the knowledge that, if Santa truly has been watching, nothing he can do at this point will ever make up for it. And as soon as that sweet mood yields to the slightest misbehavior, it’s just one more reminder that he’s probably not getting anything this year. Is it any wonder they misbehave?

We can see it in kids. And, thankfully, we usually do something to defuse the situation and reassure them that they really haven’t been that bad – that even Santa can forgive a few indiscretions. But who reassures us? After all, we tend to react a bit differently to the stress of the season as well. And any time you react, there’s a 50/50 chance it won’t be completely positive.

This is a time when people are at their best. They smile a little more, they sing happy tunes, they let the old woman with two items get in front of them in the checkout line. It’s also a time when road rage is at its highest all year. People fight over parking spots, they blow their horn and flash indecent hand gestures, and swear like a sailor simply because the car in front of them is going too slow.

And that’s before they even get inside the store. I’ve actually seen people swipe a prized gift out of someone else’s shopping cart – not because the store was sold out, but because it’s there and they want it. Period. And if you want to see the Christmas spirit turn into seething disapproval, let the person at the checkout ask for a price check or struggle to find a credit card that’s not maxed out.

This should be the time of year when we’re a little more patient, a little more gracious, a little more excited. It’s a time when we find hope in things we normally wouldn’t notice. We see the magic in a young child’s eyes and can’t help feeling a little of the magic ourselves. It’s a time when we revisit the innocence of youth one more time, if only for a fleeting moment.

Yes, this is a season that can bring out the best or worst in people. It’s simply a matter of how we approach it. Slow down a little. Park a little further from the store. If somebody else insists on being miserable, don’t let it affect you. This is your holiday, and you’ve waited for it all year. So have the kids. So, make the most of it. In a couple more weeks, it’ll all be a memory. Make it a good one.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Magic Never Goes Away – Just Keep Looking

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. The white stuff started falling out of the sky yesterday evening and it’s still there. Looks like a couple of inches, and that’s about as close to accurate as I’ll get, because anything more would require that I step outside and actually see how deep it is. That’s not gonna happen. I only look stupid.

I remember a time in when snow was cause for celebration. It was magic. A white blanket over God’s not-so-green earth. A new playground. Sledding and ice skating and all those fun things we used to do. My dog is in heaven. He runs around the yard with his nose to the ground, bulldozing a trail through the snow with every step. It’s something new, and he’s making the most of it.

Yet, half a century later, it’s not that magical anymore. Sledding has been replaced by trying to stay on the road, and ice skating is what you do getting from the house to the car. And let me tell you, the ground gets a whole lot harder when it’s cold. Emergency rooms throughout the area will treat more broken bones today than they have all year.

It seems to work that way with a lot of things. Think back to the first time you rode a bicycle. That was a day of excitement. Nothing in your life could measure up to that one proud moment. Then you fell, but it was worth it. One day the training wheels came off and you were in heaven. Then one day you wanted to borrow the car and Dad said, “You have a bike.” It didn’t feel so special then.

I know people who still love to ride. In fact, I have a friend who spent more on his bike than I spent on my first five cars combined. I live in an area where old railroad trails have been converted into bike paths, and you can crisscross the entire state without riding on a single road. Not to say that stops people from riding on the hilliest, curviest country roads they can find. But that’s another story.

Think about your first day at work. Not this job – your very first job. For one in three adults, that first job had something to do with food (I use the term loosely). You stood in front of the mirror, brushed your hair, admired your uniform and name badge, then proudly walked down the street for everyone to see that you were now among the gainfully employed. Then you found out why they call it work.

It’s even that way with kids. You hold them in your arms, before they even go home, and can’t imagine how you ever got this far in life without them. They’re precious. They’re adorable. Every sound, every facial expression, every movement of the hands (and bowels) is special. First they crawl, then they walk. And then they turn two and leaving for work is once again a source of excitement.

I think most of life works that way. You work for a promotion, and a year later it’s just another job. You move into a new home, full of excitement, but before long it’s just another house. You start a business, full of excitement, and then one day you find yourself just going through the motions. You stand at the altar with your best friend in life, and ten years later you’re just paying bills together.

Don’t get me wrong. All of those things are awesome, and if you look hard enough, there will always be enough moments of excitement to remind you why you wanted it in the first place. But looking for excitement, by itself, usually leads to problems. What we should be looking for are goals. You’ve accomplished what you set out to do. So, what’s next? Dream a little. Together.

Dreams are the ultimate use of our imagination, and imagination is the first step in every worthwhile thing you’ll ever accomplish in life. Don’t focus on what is – imagine what could be. What if? Those are the two most important words in any endeavor. What if this job leads to bigger things? What if you added a sunroom to the house? What if that snow were actually a sunny Gulf-coast beach?

And what if all the years leading up to this day were just some sort of rehearsal for what’s yet to come? What if your very best days to this point were just a teaser of what lies ahead? What if you stopped saying “what if” and did something about it?

For every one of us, the future begins today. We can either find the magic we once saw in simple things and turn it into even greater things. We can enjoy what we’ve built to this point or build something even bigger. And if we can simply get out of our own way, we can find the same excitement in each moment that we did the first time we experienced it. It’s up to you. Make it count.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved