Monday, December 11, 2006

5 Fast Gift Ideas for the Holidays

You undoubtedly have five minutes to spare these days, period… time to read a lengthy newsletter (and no time at this end to write one!)

So here goes: five fast gift ideas for the Holidays:
1)Give away whatever your local school or orchestra or sports team is selling. They’re most likely raising funds for something significant. Our youth symphony is selling specialty coffee to raise money for our trip to Vienna in the spring. Nuf said.
2)Give soap. Everyone needs it. If it’s difficult to find (as is pure olive oil soap), your friend will love it all the more.
3)Give gift cards. Rather than just sending hard cash, gift cards read “I have given thought to something you might like.”
4)Give home-baked cookies, pies or cakes. I recently baked a few pecan pies and took them to dinner parties. Wow! They were such hits. Simple.
5)Give your time. Offer to spend an afternoon with a friend or with her toddler. Read a book to a nursing home patient. Sit with someone in the hospital.

Spinning off last week’s Newsletter (Simplify Simplify Simplify), this is my M.O. for the Holidays. Based on the dozens of email responses of the week, it appears that I’ve struck a chord.

Keep it simple. Easy. Fast.

Next week: a wrap up on the year…as well as the highlights of our upcoming QuinceaƱera!



Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Simplify Simplify Simplify

Quick Rocket Mom Newsletter. Too many cookies-to-bake-gifts-to buy-photos-to-take-cards-to-address-parties-to-host. Did I mention laundry?!? Behind in that, too…

Busy month. OK. So let’s get serious. And get real. For the first year EVER, I am sticking to my guns to follow the motto I have never been able to live by. You guessed it: “Simplify Simplify Simplify.”

Officially gone are the shipments of eighty out-of-state Christmas packages, endless lines at the post office and department store cash registers, toys for tots I hardly know and expensive gifts for friends who need not. I have resolved to spend my time, energy and money, instead, on those friends and relatives in my inner circle who have cared enough about my family during these past few years…and who have stayed in touch through thick and thin. Call it (almost) reaching fifty (and finally reaching maturity.) Call it getting a reality grip (of sorts.)

I have decided this Christmas to help those who need help and put “on hold” those who do not.

So I will spend time in the hospital with my friend whose daughter is fighting the ugly disease of leukemia and I will sit on that park bench whether I like it or not because that is the bench that has been put in my earthly path. I will bake cookies with a six-year-old because she wants me to spend some time with her at Christmastime (yes, Heather, that would be Rachel). I will have coffee with aching friends experiencing loneliness and isolation. And I will host a party for my closest friends and neighbors because when life got really icky for us, these folks came through with shining colors.

This Simplify Simplify Simplify thing might sound harsh…but life seems quite short to me these days. So I have officially changed course and I am giving you official license to do the same. I have decided to honor charities that hit an inner nerve of mine but not those which don’t; laugh and cry with those who have done both with us over these past few years but not spend my time with those who have no clue at to what we’ve been through; and love deeply those who have remained in our family funnel through thick and thin but filter out those who have blown us off. Sounds harsh, huh? Nope. It’s a reality check. And, truth be told, Christmas is a time when the rubber hits the road. When you truly get what happened in the little town of Bethlehem a couple thousand or so years ago and you have chosen to celebrate it ecstatically. I totally get that. And I want to share that joy with you. But what I don’t get…and I will no longer let myself get sucked in to…are those things that have no relation to the message of Christmas. Things that look great on the surface but that don’t really count.

So I will love my neighbor and love the sick. Help the hurting and help the little ones come to Him.

The rest of it? Almost all of it over the top. Out of season.

So when I run out of time, out of energy, out of steam and out of conviction…which I have already done (and it’s only the first week in December!?!).... well…it’s just going to have to wait. Until January.

That’s what that month is for. Right?!?

I send you all my best at Christmas. And to my house for a long cup of coffee and to celebrate the season. And friendship. And the gift of Christmas. And the things that really matter. You know who you are. Why you’re in my life. Just show up. On Thursday morning, the 21st. 9:30. Come and break bread with me around my table. Laugh and cry with me. Share with me, truly, in the real message of Christmas.

All blessings to you and yours,