Creating Magic

The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, if we are to follow the messages bombarding us from television commercials, festive songs, and colorful decorations.

But for many people, the holidays bring out a lot of things that are not right in our lives.

It could be the recent loss of a loved one, or the lack of finances to buy gifts that you want to get for people, or struggles with your personal belief systems, conditions such as depression or anxiety, and in my case, chronic illness.

As I’ve been pretty sick and spend a lot of time doing my respiratory Vest treatments, I end up watching a lot of television because the shaking from my vest machine makes it difficult to read or write or do anything else that requires a steady hand or steady eyes.

And I kept thinking that I still hadn’t found a gift for my husband that would give him that “WOW! this is amazing” moment that we see happen in commercials and movies and television and advertising. It’s a pretty seductive desire, the feeling of making someone so happy by simply opening a brightly wrapped box.

But that almost never happens in real life, does it?
And before allowing myself to feel like a failure, I realized how much commercialism has conditioned me to think that in order to be a good wife or sister or aunt or daughter, I have to create these moments.

But the magic doesn’t come in a box. The magic comes from our hearts’ desires to make someone happy. How many times have you made someone’s day just because they called you or texted you? How something as simple as someone opening a door for you, can make you feel that there are good people in this world who care about others with no expectation of getting anything in return?

As I have been sick constantly since August, I had to tame down any of those conditioned expectations that I was going to make someone’s world with a simple gift that I had wrapped in pretty paper and a colored bow. 

I realized that the magic that I can provide is to be able to participate in our family Christmas celebration. There have been some holidays I spent in the hospital. There’ve been some holidays when I was too sick to travel. And more lately, there are holidays when I have to save up all my energy for a week to just go “out” for two hours.

But in those two hours, I soak up every smile, every laugh, every moment that I can. Because even if I can’t last more than a few hours, the magic is in connecting with those we love. 

So whatever you have to celebrate during this time of year, remember that the biggest gift that you could give someone is a piece of your heart.

These are the people who keep me going. These are the reasons I continue to fight. And these are the pieces of my heart.


My Gifts to my Self

Birthdays. Holidays. They seem to highlight both what is great in our lives and what isn’t so great.

My birthday is always right around Thanksgiving. This year, it was 2 days later. Continue reading

Paying it Forward? Karma? Law of Attraction?

Whether you believe in doing good deeds, the power of karma, the laws of attraction, or have any other beliefs that explain how the world works, you’ll enjoy this little story.

For the past several years, we have worked with the United Way to “adopt” a family for Christmas. They identify families in need through their various outreach centers in the local community, such as shelters, soup kitchens and heath centers.

Each of those families fills out a “wish list” – there are spaces to give the age and gender of each family member, clothing sizes, needs (coat, shoes, toiletries, blankets, school supplies) and wants (toys, books, slippers, household items).  Continue reading

The Best Gifts

When it comes to giving gifts, I always follow the rule that “it’s the thought that counts.” I try to make my gifts that are in some way symbolic to each the recipient, which is why I often make gifts, find out personal preferences like favorite colors, and begin brainstorming rather early in the season about what type of gifts I will be giving to my family each year.

Homemade Gifts

Here’s a list of some of the “homemade” gifts we’ve created and given over the years:

Beaded Jewelry

I used to make and sell beaded jewelry, but when it became more of an expensive hobby than business, I chose to design items only for gifts.

Turquoise stone chips with a center turquoise pendant and sterling clasp.

Turquoise stone chips with a center turquoise pendant and sterling clasp.

Continue reading

Traditions and Memories

What makes the holidays so wonderful?

Is it the gifts? Spending time with family and friends? Going to parties, having feasts, or celebrating with once-a-year treats like sugar cookies and eggnog? There are so many reasons why the holidays bring us so much joy. All of the reasons I’ve listed above are great reasons to look forward to the holidays. But if you look a little closer, what is it about these things that bring us good feelings?

Spending time with people we love. Continue reading

A Yearly Ritual Gains New Meaning

Every year, as Epiphany approaches and the ends the Christmas season, I start feeling a little empty.

The Christmas tree has taken up the corner for a month, smiling back at me festively with lights and mementos of years past. I always feel a palpable absence the day I dismantle it and retire the ornaments to their respective boxes. Somehow, it always makes me feel empty.

Even more difficult this year will be the taking down of the Christmas Cards.

Starting with the weekend of Thanksgiving, nearly every day brought at least one new holiday greeting. Some days brought five or six. Every card immediately went up on the main entryway into the living room. This year, we had more than ever, and had to use some mind power to arrange them all. I’m a little OCD and need things to be “even,” so I sometimes would rearrange all the cards to make it look just right.

Our Christmas Card display

Our Christmas Card display

I posted this photo on Facebook and several friends tried enlarging it to see if they could find theirs, almost a “Where’s Waldo” of photos and seasonal greetings. It’s fun to see that something you took time to give someone earned a place of importance in your home. Continue reading

With a Flip of the Calendar…

Today is New Year’s Day. A day that carries a lot of expectations. Although acknowledging the New Year takes a simple flip of the calendar page, it shoulders the responsibility of literally starting over and carrying proclaimed commitments and resolutions.

Whether or not people follow through with their new plans doesn’t matter. The New Year allows us to take stock of our personal inventory – our relationships, jobs, goals and dreams. I remember the time before computers and hand-held calendar devices. I loved the feeling of opening a new daily planner, marking special dates such as birthdays and holidays, various to-do lists, etc.

During the 1990s, I remember using the Franklin Covey system to manage everything in my life. I took it everywhere I went. I still refer to it for various addresses that I had saved from planning our wedding. Even though I now use the computer and my phone for all of my calendar needs, nothing feels as good as writing out a “to-do” list. The New Year and new experiences always brought more opportunities for me to make lists.

Continue reading