Everyday Inspirations


~ small inspiration ~


On Wednesday Angie wrote an adorable post about holiday thank-you cards.   

I was supposed to help her with that. I was supposed to do my part -- make my share of cards, take pictures, help gather content. But I couldn't. I had had the day off work, so I should have felt well rested. I should have had all day to work, but I didn't. Instead, I went out holiday shopping and let the UTTER MADNESS get the best of me.  

Confession time: I really don't like holiday shopping. At ALL. You probably either completely understand why I feel this way or don't. That's how holiday shopping works -- it's kind of like how people feel about cilantro. You like it or you despise it. There isn't a lot of in between.  

Now, to be clear, I'm not some sort of Grinch. I love the holidays and I love giving gifts. In fact, I'm sitting on quite a few right now that I can't wait to pass out to my loved ones. I get completely giddy when I think of the looks on their faces when they open their presents. I also love receiving gifts. It's a fun tradition. But the older I've become, the more I just. can't. stand. the. craziness. that comes with gift giving. Which brings us back to Wednesday.

Every year I vow I will do all my shopping online. In November. In my pajamas. Yet there I am again, standing at the asylum they call the mall, winding through the throngs to find one more thing. I'm side-stepping the mom wrangling eight children and 45 packages, jumping out of the way of the people who wander aimlessly from window to cart to window, forgetting that, during December, walking to the right side of the path really doesn't count (how silly of me). I'm deliberately avoiding eye contact with the man from the lotion cart, the one who keeps calling out, "Ma'am? Ma'am?" I hear you. I don't have time for you. I have to get out.  

It's best for me to have another person with me in these situations. The week before I had Dan. My rock. The one who calmly put his arm around me, steered me through the maze, and reminded me that after the mall I get to have a hamburger with BBQ sauce. But on Wednesday I was alone and all I could see was the complete chaos of hundreds and hundreds of shoppers looking for something -- anything! -- that could be a gift. I pass a store with the words "Seasons Greedy" sprayed across the window. And that I remember that damn commercial they've played 100,000 times that tells me no one wants a SMALL gift. Why on earth would you give something as silly and insignificant as a NECKLACE or a BOOK when you could give a LEXUS?  

By the time I got to my car (after dodging the psycho in her minivan who was determined to get to Sears before I was done using the crosswalk -- my mistake, of course), I was completely on edge. I went home, ran hills until the anger somewhat subsided, crawled into bed, and read. I sent Ang a text saying NO NO NO WAY could I work on a holiday post at the moment. And, like the rock star partner that she is, she covered for me. (Love you, Ang!)  

By the way, enjoying the "small" inspiration for today? I can't help the length of this thing anymore. The words... they have a mind of their own now. Ah, catharsis!  

The next day I came home from work in a good mood and began making my half of the cards. I had a vague idea of what I wanted -- simple, cute trees on the front of a simple, cute card. As I started creating, I found myself deliberately picking out paper, colors, and patterns that didn't match. I began assembling my little trees with one simple rule: If it doesn't look like it should go together, it's going together. I was surprised by how light my heart felt. I loved these sweet little unmatched trees. I loved them for their individuality and for their simplicity. I loved how there was nothing about them that was "perfect," yet they were so frickin' adorable.

The entire time I was working, I was thinking about the previous day and how I had let the materialistic madness of the season get the best of me during what should be a time of love and joy. I started letting my mind wander to Christmases of my childhood. I remembered a few gifts: Barbie's Dream House; a Backstreet Boys CD I had wanted really, really, really, like, badly; and, for some reason, this awesome Dream Date board game, complete with pink telephone to call your prom date (come on, captain of the football team!). But what I remembered more than anything were the smells, sounds, and feelings that come with Christmas morning in my home. The scent of cinnamon rolls, coffee, and bacon. The sound of two dogs chewing on rawhide bones (it's the only way to keep them out of our way). The excitement of seeing our house decorated with lights, bows, and garlands. The look of pure joy and complete love on my parents' faces when their two small children woke up on Christmas morning and they knew the magic could begin.  

It brings tears to my eyes because that is what the holidays are about -- love, family, friends, and the memories that stay with you year after year. It was a lesson I needed to remember, one that helped me realize what is most important. Sure, gifts are fun, but December is really for remembering the many, many blessings that make up your wonderful, unique life. It's a time to thank the people who love you.  

And so, today, a thank you to my parents, who have always adored my brother and me, who made sure we always had magic in our lives, and who gave us the necessary tools to call on that magic when the world gets a little crazy.
Allison G
12/11/2010 05:26:46 am

I completely agree with you Ash on this!! I also love the whole gift giving and showing my loved ones what they mean to me, but over the years it's gotten totally out of hand. So this year I've really scaled back on the decorations, and especially the presents, and I'm quite happy about it. I did the majority of my shopping online this year and it was sooo much better than dealing with the crowds. I've been to the mall a couple times and I don't remember it being that crazy over the past few years. I would love to start a new tradition of just getting together with my loved ones and do something fun instead of a present. I think it would make for better memories and wouldn't have to worry if your gift will end up at the DI.

Allison G
12/11/2010 05:28:53 am

PS. I love those trees!! Very cute!

12/12/2010 09:06:57 am

Thank you, Allison. I really appreciate this sweet note. I love how you've scaled back your holiday. Like anything else, I think it's too easy to get caught up in having more and more and more. Problem with that is the more we have, the more we want. I've definitely learned that the biggest trick to life is discovering how to be happy with what you have today (which can definitely be tough some days).

I love your idea of a special get-together with your favorite people, sans gifts. My mom and I were discussing this the other day. It can be just as fun to use the money we would have spent on gifts to help a family in need, go on a small trip, or have a nice meal (or all three!).

Lots of love to your and your loved ones this season. :)


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