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

Are We There Yet???

Good morning! It’s Hump Day! I hope your day is off to a great start.

My day started of pretty well. I’m finally seeing some steady progress in my weight loss. Granted part of that was from being sick over the weekend, but even after two days of solid food, it’s still moving in the right direction. Now, if I could just speed things up a little! I can put weight on over a single meal. Sure would be nice to lose it that fast.

Patience is not a virtue many of us can place at the top of our list of attributes. Not if we’re being completely honest. We want what we want, and we want it now. And we let the world know if it’s not right there waiting for us.

Which is why none of us wants to call Customer Service, because we know we’ll have to listen carefully for six options, then sit with a phone glued to our head listening to elevator music interrupted by timed reassurances that our call is important and if we hang up, we’ll lose our place in line. Have you ever called when they’re experiencing “unusually low call volume”? Yeah, me either.

I’ve often wondered if anybody watches the video cameras in a fast-food drive-thru line. You know, something that will show the facial expressions and steering wheel tapping as people wait for food that somebody should have had ready before they even got there. And then you finally pull up to the window they ask, “Can you pull up a little? We’re waiting on your fries.” Yeah, so am I!

We’ve become accustomed to these inconveniences. It’s just a part of life, and we’ve learned that complaining doesn’t do a bit of good. Besides, if you complain too much, your food may arrive with a little extra “flavoring.” So, most of us just sit there and silently grumble to the people sitting in the car with us who have nothing to do with the fact that they just turned on the fryer.

But I think most of us are the least patient when it comes to our goals. Whether that’s weight loss, building a beach body, climbing the corporate ladder, or building a business, we all want results. And we want them now. Seriously, what is taking so long? We’ve been working at this for a whole month! Where are the results?

We’ll talk more about some of this in the coming days, but I think it’s important first to agree that we really have become spoiled in terms of instant gratification. I see people standing in the lunch room at work reading the instructions on their microwaveable meal. “Seriously? Four and a half minutes?” Yeah. Instead of the half-hour it would take you to prepare it at home. Relax.

We get to experience each minute of life once, and then it’s gone. We only get one chance to enjoy each of those minutes and, like all the time we spend sitting on hold just to hear the dreaded, “Our office is now closed – please call back tomorrow”, we can never have that time back.

Here’s an idea. Slow down a little. Anticipate some of life’s delays and find some alternatives. At the very least, find something constructive to occupy your time. Instead of pacing in front of the microwave, make a new friend. While you’re sitting on hold, read a good book. Instead of fuming at the drive-thru, turn up the radio and sing loud enough to bug the crap out of everyone else in line. Just me?

Sometimes, we all need a little diversion. When I was on the road doing comedy, I spent hours every day driving to the next show. But it wasn’t until I got off the interstate and took the slower route that I really began to enjoy the drive. I saw things that I thought were part of a bygone era. Drive-in movie theaters, roadside motels, antique cars and trucks in roadside lots, and some of the nicest small-town diners in the world. And you know what? I got my food almost as fast. Go figure.

It’s all about taking time to enjoy what’s around us instead of bulldozing against what’s in front of us. The line will move. Our call will be answered. The weight will come down, and we’ll eventually see progress toward our goals. But the moment we get frustrated and give up our place in line, it all goes away.

Patience is a virtue. That doesn’t mean we don’t keep working toward our goals. But more often than not, the results will come in their own time. Our task is to be there when they do, ready to enjoy the moment and press on toward the next one. It makes the time go faster, and it makes each little success feel that much better. Give it a try.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved