In the spirit of this holiday season, I dedicate this column to all of those whose internal struggle persists to balance the notion of the Christmas spirit of giving with that of finding one-self in a sea of sadness. If this resonates for you, then I confess we are one and the same. However, today I write this knowing that and hoping that the spirit of thinking of others before yourself brings you some measure of peace and happiness as it has for me. My intention behind this is a blessing three-fold, for my children and I share the story below through my eyes to them and the creation of memories that will forever be etched in my mind and heart.
I thought long and hard about this column because it is personal, so personal that it has brought me back to a place where if only for a moment, I wish that I had the inspiration through someone else’s words to know that I own the way I think and I can change the story of my reflection. My wish is that in writing this and by others reading it, there will be cause for pause and it might just change someone’s thinking to see the holiday as a blessing, not a curse.
Every Christmas I fight this internal dichotomy whereby I am inclined to let myself dislike the season or be intentional to make the best of it. It’s easy to follow the Christ of Christmas when all goes well but when put up against a wall, the best of Christians will run making excuses. Truth is, I’m guilty as well. I, too, ran more often than I like to admit. That is, until all walls came crumbling down in 2017. I’ll spare you the details.
So how do I build new memories for myself and those I love? I want them to look back one day and smile rather than become the grump I once was about Christmas. The best way to build good memories for myself is to build good memories for others first. That is regardless of if there is something in it for me or not. Miracles happen when we intentionally respond to adversity with selflessness, love, or forgiveness. Especially when we practice this with those who can be tough to “appreciate”.
Therefore, this year for Christmas I decided to give the gift of “experience” to my children by means of letting them ride motorized vehicles. In this age of mind-numbing video games, disappointing instant self-gratification and prideful lazy entitlement, I want them to grow to love “experiences” and “learning” more than “getting stuff”. We are blessed in the world to have the outdoors as we do. So, for me it was important to get them out into the fresh air and experience nature in all its glory…
That is where “Big Toys USA” came in the picture supplying a motorized toy for each one of my children so I could get them to experience the thrill of outdoor motorized sports with: a 49cc Moto Tec pocket bike, a 49cc Sandman go-kart, and an electric-powered scooter. There are many companies out there selling these little rockets. In my 6+ months of research I found “Big Toys USA” to be far more responsive and thorough than any others, not to mention competitive.
The children’s faces lit-up when they saw these toys. Looking at them “experiencing” this adventure, they glowed. There were safety ground rules, helmets, knee, and elbow pads. I alluded to 2017 being a hard year for me, but truth be told, it was harder for my children. Spending the day outside building good memories with them was an absolute success. Sure, you say not everyone can afford getting these kinds of toys to their children. That is not the point here. The point here is that when we focus on altruistically providing experiences and memories, it is by far more valuable to others, ourselves included, than any stuff we can give or get. I can tell you of other experiences I had with the children where we simply sat at the kitchen table and colored or did crafts with glue and paper. I intentionally plant these experiences and weave these memories into their precious lives so one day they will look back and smile remembering their dad was pretty cool after all. I want them to experience the peace and joy of altruism.
After a full day of knee-scraping adventures we got back to Dane (yes I named my truck). We headed to Fran Haasch’s suggested food drive center called “FEAST” at Grace Church on Nebraska in Palm Harbor and dropped food off for the needy. This part of the day will speak louder to my children than anything else. Like Fran’s family, this is pretty much how my mom made it through. I sure want these values to continue in my bloodline.
My wish for you this holiday season is to have a merry Christmas. Let this be an opportunity to turn a moment into a memory that is good, even great. Let each moment create a page of a book that tells a story of your beginning. For tomorrow is not here and yesterday is gone. Today you can speak for, so please if anything, let it speak volumes of the miracle of kindness. Above all else, do this for you. Why you ask? Because you matter.
“Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matt 11:28-30
Written by Florida Night Train