I’ll take room service

Tomorrow morning I will be checking into an all
inclusive for a 2-4 day vacation. I have read nothing but great reviews. The spacious rooms come with all the amenities, you know, big TV, cable, internet and even adjustable sleep number beds. Stunning vistas of the countryside can be taken in from the room’s floor to ceiling windows. They even offer a workout gym staffed with personal trainers. And for my shopping needs, a well stocked gift shop in the main lobby teaming with tempting souvenirs.

Included with the price, semi private waitress and room service 24/7. The menu looks so good I doubt I’ll leave the room other than my trainer workouts in the gym. I figure I’ll just take all my meals via room service. On top of all of this, I am promised a nice memory drug to forget any less than five star experience during my stay. Best part, I got a really good deal on the price. Apparently I am on their off season. Any part not covered by my government handout will be picked up by an unknown third party leaving me with just a small deductible on the room.

Stay tuned for the pics as they are sure to be spectacular. Got to get packing. Catch you on the rebound.

The Spirit of Christmas

It has become a bit of a tradition for me to write a piece about Christmas on Christmas Eve. I am usually found keeping myself awake, awaiting the arrival of my daughters and their families for an overnight before the grand opening of gifts in the morning. This year is just a bit changed in that my younger daughter and her significant other, Eli, can’t get here until tomorrow morning. None the less, we will be graced shortly with the arrival of my older daughter, her husband and our two grandchildren. Adela at not quite two isn’t old enough to believe in or not believe in Santa but Jackson is another story. At nearing five, he is testing the existence of Santa by carefully analyzing the items left in his stocking and the wrapping on his Santa gifts. We thus have to be very careful in our scheming to keep the myth in tact.

Of course, you must understand that I still believe in Santa, or at least what the jolly old man represents. It is the mystery of Christmas that can only be seen in the eyes of small children. The anticipation of weeks of waiting to see if they will in fact get the gift they had told Santa they wanted. Jackson will not be disappointed as we have plotted against him with extreme precision. We were all tasked to find out what it was he was secretly asking Santa for and we have performed with the precision of a team of Navy Seals. His Santa gifts will be there cleverly disguised from his other gifts and for at least one more year he will hold the thrill of Santa and Christmas in his heart.

We all know that eventually the Santa belief gives way to the reality of where those gifts came from, but until then we believe. It is only once we stop believing that it becomes important to realize what the gift giving is all about. You see the secret of Christmas is to give it away. Give away the love in your heart. Give away the spirit of Christmas to everyone you meet. Give yourself away at Christmas. The material gifts and the idea of Santa are just representations of the gift of giving. Jackson actually said it best the other day when he told Mimi, “I know why you got me lots of gifts. You like seeing my smile when I open them.”

I hope that this Christmas you have enjoyed all three aspects. I hope that you had someone to play Santa for. That you got the gifts you wanted and that above all you found a way to give back. If you did, then this truly was a Merry Christmas.

My Christmas wish for you is that the blessedness and spirit of Christmas stays with you the whole year through.

Merry Christmas, 2018.

I Spy

Just the other day my wife and I were looking for a quick breakfast before finishing the last of our Christmas shopping.  Cracker Barrel happened to be right on the way.  I had not been back to a Cracker Barrel in many years and in fact this was the one that my youngest daughter and I used to frequent for our father daughter breakfast “adventures”.  The moment I stepped through the door the memories came flooding back.  When she was a young girl, Saturday mornings would often find us seated at our favorite booth ready to enjoy a country breakfast and begin our game of “I Spy”.

For our early trips, “I Spy” would be played with pretty straight forward clues like “I spy a pair of old skis” or “I spy a red sled”.  As she grew, the clues became less obvious and more deductive such as “I spy something I would need to ride a horse.”  There was no end to the variations and the game stretched breakfast into a most of the morning activity.  When we had finished our breakfast, she would beg me to play a game of checkers in the big white rockers they sold to their patrons and also made available for a quick game of checkers.  We would seat ourselves by the fireplace and begin our game.  The fact that she usually won might have had something to do with my graciousness to let her win but as time went by and thanks to her improving powers of observation, she would begin to win those games on her own merit.

As I said, all of these memories washed back over me and in a moment it was as if I was back there with my daughter soaking in the visual array the walls and ceiling had to offer.   As my wife and I enjoyed our breakfast it dawned on me that the game my daughter and I had played was really an alliteration of the importance of observation.  All those years, so long ago, our game of “I Spy” was preparing my daughter to be observant.  Observant of the people around her, of the environment she would live, play and work in, of the opportunities the world would afford her.  This simple game of observation would help her develop into the successful woman she has become.

Observation is something successful people practice every day of their life.  Through observation we witness our differences and how those differences can impact our lives in very positive ways.  Our individual differences allow us to specialize and to benefit from the specialties of others.  In short we both depend on and benefit from each other’s differences.  Observation also allows us to see things as they are and then to visualize how they might be made better or to work more efficiently.  Observation allows us to recognize the opportunities as they present themselves.

I spy might be a kid’s game but its applications are a life skill.  Take time to play the game with your child or grandchild but don’t stop there.  Take the time to play the game with yourself.   Be amazed with the simple observations you make and then enjoy the feeling as your horizons expand.

“I spy a world of possibilities, can you see them?”

Santa Claus is Coming

Christmas is, in no particular order, a season of lights and decorations, gift giving, charity, Santa and the birth of Christ.  If you are like most people, your Christmas is a combination of all of these.  You likely put up a tree and decorated it.  You might even have had a little family friendly competition for the best, biggest or craziest tree.  You maybe thought about charity a bit more than other times of the year and likely put your change in the “red bucket” as you exited the store.  You have looked for the perfect gift and checked it off your list once you found it.  If you are fortunate to have children or grandchildren who yet believe in Santa, you found them Santa and thrilled at the excitement in their eyes.

I have two grandchildren and we recently did our visit to Santa and yes, the toy aisle in that department store.  In fact, I got to spend the better part of an hour watching my grandson carefully inspect each toy, trying to find the one he would add to his Christmas list.  Of course, now I need to sneak back there and make the purchase, knowing the reward will be his excitement as he opens the gift Christmas morning.  This is a part of what Christmas is and I will not diminish it with a lecture on the evils of commercialism.

Christmas is a season of sharing.  We share traditions.  We share friendship and charitable behavior.  We share the myth of Santa knowing that it is only a brief time in our lives when we choose to believe in him.  My grandson, on his way to being five years old, is already showing signs of questioning the idea.  He is testing.  This Christmas he has established that he knows what he wants from Santa but try as we will, he will not reveal his request to anyone other than Santa.  Oh, we will find out because it is our duty.  The knowledge of the truth is another piece of childhood innocence lost.  And so we will go out of our way to perpetuate the myth as long as possible.

This brings me to the story I need to share.  It is the story of my oldest daughter’s discovery that Santa was a myth.  Bailey had been holding desperately to her belief in Santa.  My wife and I, with Bailey in tow, were out doing some shopping.  My wife had stumbled onto the bargain bin of stocking stuffers and without realizing, picked out a couple of items and commented on how they would make great “Santa Gifts”.  Unfortunately, Bailey was clearly within earshot and her reaction was predictable.  Her tear stained face looked up at me and the question she wanted to ask was obvious.  We took a little walk and eventually she asked the question.  “Does this mean there isn’t really a Santa, that it’s just you and mom pretending?”  I could have tried to cover it up or maybe even lied, but the explanation was in order.  I explained to her that we were in fact Santa but that what was important to understand was that it was an honor and a responsibility to play this role.  I went on to explain that Christmas was about sharing and that Santa and being Santa was a way of showing this.  I told her that now that she knew the true intention of the myth, she had earned the right to become the Santa for the baby sister we were expecting.  She would get to be the Santa for her.  That next Christmas, Bailey did not disappoint.  Christmas Eve found her putting out the Santa treats with her little sister and even stomping around the living room going ho ho ho after her sister had been put in her crib.  Bailey never missed a beat those next few years as she added her own layers to the Santa story.

Christmas is about sharing.  Being Santa for our children and grandchildren is a chance to demonstrate the spirit of that sharing through our gifts.  We have an incredible opportunity to give from our bounty through our gifts and our actions and our willingness to share.  That is the true spirit of Christmas.  Model this spirit with your children and when they have outgrown their belief in Santa, invite them into the true spirit of the myth.

This Christmas, as you consider the perfect gift for that someone special, realize that it is the action of sharing that is the truly perfect gift.  This is your chance.  Don’t wait.  Go be Santa to someone.


I’ve Been Down This Road Before

In just a few weeks I will be repeating a process I am still all too familiar with.  Though I doubt I will experience the complications of the first time, I know the time and effort it is going to take.

I’ve managed to put this off for nearly three years, but I am about to have my second knee replaced.  Thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, and apparently a 3-D printer, this has become a rather routine surgery.  At least that is what they say.  None the less, I am not relishing the rehab and yes, in the short run, the pain that the rehab will provide.  The only bright side … I know what to expect and I think I am so much better prepared this time around.  To that end, I just returned from the preparation class.  What was obvious, was the additional detail and information this time around.

Of course all of this is still a too fresh memory.  I am committed at this point though I won’t lie.  Every day finds me questioning my decision at least once and I am in that moment, tempted to call it off.  After all, my limp is hardly noticeable and my pain, though …. a pain, is manageable.  So why do it?  Bottom line; the stiffness, the arthritic pain at night and the fact that I am feeling limited, has me believing as my doctor puts it, “why wait until it is so bad that you can’t do anything?”  I have too many things that I want to do, for me to wait until I have even less time TO DO them.  I have great faith in the surgeon and the team of professional assistants, nurses and rehab specialists that will be assisting and encouraging me as I heal and progress.  And of course there will be my coach at home keeping me focused and if I’m lucky, a little pampered.

So I know I’ve been down this road before, but I suspect the ride will be different this time.  Each experience prepares us for the next.  I am prepared for this journey and am looking forward to my new bionic knees and the activities they will re-afford me.  I was even told it could improve my golf game.  Now that is something to look forward to.

And for my friends, “Don’t cry for me Argentina.”  Shameful, but I loved the line and always wanted a place to use it.  Editorial freedom is an earned right.