If we were having a pre-holiday coffee by the fire, first I’d applaud us because—who has time to have Christmas coffee?! In the mad rush of cookies, cards, presents, parties, I’d be happy we were taking a few quiet moments for ourselves.
With our Santa hats on, feet by the fire, I’d first share my bah humbug news to get it out of the way. My eldest was let go from his job, two weeks before Christmas—FOR BEING A GOOD SAMARITAN. Honestly.
He was working just before close at the auto dealership where he cashed customers out and did light paperwork. A woman my age came in hoping for someone to help get her car started. The service department was closed, the dealership was close to closing and it was dark. She told him she was more than an hour from home with a dead car. He told her he’d take a look under the hood—that while he couldn’t repair the car, maybe it was something simple. It was. Her battery nodes had corrosion on them. He eliminated it—and she was off on her merry way home. I am sure he was thinking of what he would want someone to do for his mom if I were in the same situation.
But, the dealership service manager told him he opened them up to severe insurance liability by touching her car at all (because he is not a certified mechanic). They said they had to let him go. Ugh. He had always gotten good feedback and they seemed to appreciate him. In the end, he was doing what I raised him to do—being helpful where he can be. And I am so proud he did not leave a woman alone, stranded in a dark parking lot on a cold winter night. It makes me sad that we are in such a litigious culture. When being a Good Samaritan gets you fired, where has the world gotten to? Really.
But then I’d take a sip of my Christmas coffee (my code name for coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream in it) and shake off the bah humbug. I’d tell you my youngest just earned his first-degree black belt in taekwondo after several years of training. He tested and passed next to a 55-year-old man—at only 13! This is quite an accomplishment. Younger children can earn one, but it’s a far easier test. He had to take the same test as the adults did. And the best part? In his speech about what getting this belt meant to him, he said, “Thanks Mom and Dad.” He talked about how we made him persevere even when he wanted to give up—and that he was the better for it. Made my heart sing.
As we bit into the peanut butter brownie cookies we swore we wouldn’t have, I’d tell you that this year, I’ve tried to allow more room for joy in the holidays. The past several years have been so busy and rushed that by the time we got to cookie-making, I realized I was snapping at my sons. Not this year. I passed on sending out Christmas cards and instead have been taking time to relax. As a result, it’s feeling like Christmas! As I write this blog, the most lovely Christmas smell is wafting up the stairs. My eldest and his girlfriend are baking cookies. He came over and expressly asked for one of my old recipes. I love watching the traditions start to take hold.
I’d tell you that with this newfound time to relax, I’m ignoring the cluttered kitchen island and closets. Instead, I’m watching one of my favorite old movies, “The Philadelphia Story.” Nothing beats Grant and Hepburn. I’m going to christkindlmarkets and walking the city streets strung with festive lights. Having dinner with friends. Catching up with so many wonderful people at holiday parties. Making merry.
In terms of life in general, I’m taking it day by day. I’ve thrown away my parents’ approach–I’ve stopped having a plan A, B, C and D. I’ve stopped worrying into the future. I’ve sworn off trying to anticipate what is coming next so I can nail down everything. I’ve realized the Universe keeps trying to show me I am really not in charge. So, I am happily taking a backseat and hoping the driver is an expert. I’ve realized that as a divorced working mom, time to relax and connect with people is more essential than I realized. My accountant used to joke with me, “You are a machine!”. While he meant it as a compliment, it spoke volumes about my choices. The hours I worked then were necessary to make ends meet. And maybe they still will be. But I’m trying to remember to be around people who value me for more than my latest speech or bylined article. To not feel guilty about taking time for a good book or a night out with friends. To remember Oscar Wilde’s words: “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.”
And finally, as we took our last sips, I’d ask you if you have your word for 2018. Each year, I choose a word that I hold close throughout the year. It’s better than a resolution; it’s more like a north star. I’ve not yet settled on 2018’s word but I have a few in mind as possibilities. This year’s word was “allow.” I think it was the perfect word to keep top of mind during another year of change (at least it was for a gal who used to run from change). I “allowed” quite well this year. Virtual pats on the back accepted.
Does it feel like Christmas for you this year? Is that because you’re doing something to help that feeling arise? And what might your word for 2018 be?
We can sit by the virtual fire awhile longer. Because I’d love to hear more about what is on your mind this holiday season—good or bad, happy or not. Let’s keep it real while we sip.