Perspective: Hold the Door!

Manners have always been super important to me.  I’ve tried to educate my children, in really top notch manners, but I have not been as successful as I had hoped.  I place high value on excellent manners, but I’m not sure other people do.  So I thought I would use my Perspective Group to see if I’m alone on this.

In the midst of the era of “The Woman”, I was particularly interested in one traditional action that would be classified as good manners, but in the time of post-women’s lib, I wonder, do women still like to have the door held for them.

So again, I’ve polled one representative from each age decade to see how they weighed in. Are we more alike or are we polar opposites?  Come with me to find out.

caroline in london tower doorway

“Yes, I like to have the door held for me.  Thinking that the person holding the door could be off where they need to go, but instead they are holding the door for someone, is really kind of them to do.”  ~ Caroline 10’s

Charleston magnolia wreath door

“I consider holding the door for someone a kind gesture, so if someone holds it for me, man or woman, young or old, I am always appreciative of it. I don’t tend to look into these sorts of things like some would- you know those people who like to tie in gender roles with expectations or feminism, or talks of chivalry, respect… etc etc, yadda, yadda? Let’s just say, I’m not that type of person. For me, I treat any and all simple gestures as neutral acts of kindness that are reflective of individual people. So, do I expect a door to be held open for me? No. Do I appreciate when someone holds the door open for me? Yes, as I would equally if someone simply waves, or smiles, or says hello to me. Oh, and do I like to/try to hold the door for others? Absolutely.” ~ Cristina 20’s (https://www.spatialdwelling.com/

Copperwood door

“I feel that having the door held for me, and subsequently me holding the door for others, is basic human manners. It’s a simple gesture that says “I see you”. It doesn’t take much to break from your daily rush and pause to help another person.” ~ Jackie O. 30s

Turks restarurant doors

“How do I feel about someone holding the door for me?  I think it’s great. I hold the door for everyone, every age or gender. I think it’s just a polite thing to do. In fact when someone doesn’t hold the door for me, I feel like it’s rude. Just like I feel as though it was strange “back in the day” when men would hold the door open for women but a woman wouldn’t necessarily hold the door for a man, I feel like it would be weird for a man to not hold the door for a woman now, because they might be concerned that it would offend them. Bottom line, everyone should hold the door for everyone! It just comes down to being kind.” ~Jen 40s

person holding door lever
Photo by Daria Sannikova on Pexels.com

“My answer to whether I like to have the door held open for me is a resounding YES.  The action is tops in good manners.  It says to the person, “I see you.  You are not invisible and I actually think you matter enough to help through a door.”  I get super upset when my boys (particularly my boys) charge through a door and just let it fall into the person coming behind them.  It is incredibly rude and selfish.

I think it’s particularly important for men to hold the door.  I understand that this is sexist, but men are traditionally thought of as care takers or protectors.  This belief might seem antiquated, especially to those strong women out there that feel it undermines them as women or adults, but I disagree that having the door held for you undermines you as a woman.  I actually feel like it does the opposite.  It honors you as a woman.  It demonstrates, through a very small action that you are worth having the door held for you.  You are worth consideration and thoughtfulness.  And I challenge you, what better protection can you give than to insure that those near you get in to the building you are visiting safely?

Having said that, I also believe that it is my duty to hold the door for others, male or female.  It is just common courtesy.  ESPECIALLY for a parent trying to negotiate a stroller, which is NOT easy to do, or for someone who might outrank me in the age department.  It’s about courtesy and respect for others.

I won’t give up on my boys.  There is always potential for growth.  But I stand firm in believing that it is an important tradition in our increasingly self centered society.”  ~Jennifer 50s

Dad and me wedding car

“Do I like a door  being held for me? Isn’t it strange that we would even need to think about this or question it?

I do like the door being held for me, if possible. I like making eye contact with people with a smile. I Like to hear please and thank you. Holding the door is not a feminist issue for me. It is kindness. It is looking at the world in an unselfish way. I will gladly hold the door for anyone who needs help with it, being male or female.  I believe I should hold the door for the elderly.

I think this question addresses our social interaction in today’s world. Courtesy, manners, kindness, thoughtfulness, and selflessness are needed more than ever.
Being aware of others instead of just ourselves will promote peace.

So, look up from your phone. Smile at someone. And look for the kindness around you. I truly believe you get what you look for and expect.” ~ Barbara 60s

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“How do I feel about someone holding the door open for me? I feel very grateful when that happens and I will thank the person who was kind enough to do that for me. I think this person was taught good manners. I, in turn, will do the same for other people. As you get older you appreciate these little things.”  ~Peggy 70’s

opened brown wooden french door
Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy on Pexels.com

“I definitely vote for holding the door. I like the feeling of respect. It doesn’t make me feel helpless because I hold the door for others as well. No gender preferences. My husband was a real gentleman and did it easily. It made me feel special.”  ~Temple 80s

****

In reading the responses from each participant, IT WAS UNANIMOUS!  Each of the women polled enjoy having the door held for them.  In addition, each of the women polled would also voluntarily hold the door for someone else.  There was repeated mention of kindness, manners, and respect.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.  And, should our paths cross in a doorway in the future, I hope I’m there to hold the door for you.

God Friended Me Too

I’ve had a bit of a writer’s slump the past few weeks.  Well, in truth, a slump all around.  I struggled with the post Christmas blues, the ominous presentation of a new year, the massive checked box of another decade under my belt, all nicely capped off with some unexpected health issues.  It’s been challenging….yeah, that’s what I’ll call it, challenging.

old-style-whatever-meme

I’ve made it pretty well known that I am a person who relies on my faith quite a bit.  This rocky patch is no exception.  I lean in whether I get clear responses in return or not.  I lean in.  I continue to lean in.

woman holding black flag
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Ever have thoughts that are like pesky summer gnats that just are relentless at demanding your attention?  This show, on CBS, has been one of those gnats.  Ever since I saw the first trailer of this show, God Friended Me, I’ve been intrigued, but never took the time to sit down and watch.  I’m happy to say that my kids have also been interested in checking out the show, so in the midst of my blue period, we tuned in.  I found myself smiling for the first time in a good while.  The show delivered hope to me in a way I desperately needed.  A little dose of positivity.  No zombies, no post apocalyptic world, no Trump, no Pelosi, no pressure, no stress.  Just a mental break from negativity.

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Photo by Hilary Halliwell on Pexels.com

I have found that in my greatest challenging times, service to others was always an unfailing remedy.  This show was an entertaining reminder.  Let the binge watching begin!

god friended me poster

While watching, I found myself wishing that God would just friend me already so I’d know what my next task should be.  Wouldn’t that be lovely?  And so easy!  I just follow the lead and everything gets wrapped up in a beautiful, poignant bow in 60 minutes or less.  Sigh.  A girl can dream…..

photo of a woman holding an ipad
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

But the truth takes more effort than that.  Effort.  Ugh, effort.  When one is down, effort seems impossible.  But that’s what it’s gonna take.  The bright side is, it just takes a little bit at a time to get things moving in the right direction.  I took really small steps in writing again, and here I am.  Am I feeling good about it?  Not entirely.  #truth

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m not sure what the future holds for this blog, or my Jennifer the Beholder social media presence.  Right now it’s just not feeling….right.  But I will make an effort.

Eugh-Effort

Do you need to make an effort?  Is there somewhere in your life that could use a little bit of trying?  Something you’ve been ignoring?  I challenge you (there’s that word again) to take a tiny step.  Perhaps we can rule this together!  I’ll hold your hand if you hold mine.  I’m afraid of heights, so the jumps won’t be big.  What do you say?  You in?

Perspective: Beach. Mountains. City.

The new year can be daunting for a lot of people.  I, for one, am one who suffers from anxiety and borderline depression when faced with the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Although my feelings of dread have subsided over the years, I still feel my annual let down after the excitement of the Christmas season.

In light of the potential post holiday blues, I thought I would lighten the mood a bit.  I thought it would be good for all of us to start the year with positive thoughts, energy and memories, so I asked my awesome Perspective Group to tell me what they prefer; Beach, Mountains, or City, and why?

I polled one representative from each age decade to see how they weighed in. Are we more alike or are we polar opposites?  Come with me to find out.

Liney the sand mermaid

“I would pick the beach because the beach just seems so peaceful compared to the city.  And I also feel more engaged when I’m by the beach than when I’m by the mountains.  Also there’s so much to do at the beach like you can go swimming, you can go surfing, you can build a sandcastle and a whole bunch of other stuff.  Also the beach feels like one of those places where I can just let it all out and truly let my child part run free.”  ~ Caroline 10’s

“This is tough. I’ve never been great at choosing a favorite anything, so to narrow this down to one just doesn’t seem right or, really, fair to the other two options. And really, at the heart of it, I like all three for different reasons.

The mountains for the perspective they give me and for their challenge. Every year my family and I would vacation in the mountains and go hiking. I loved the challenging climbs; the steep uphills, the mud, the rocks. What was most exhilarating was reaching the summit. Looking down and seeing how small everything below me was always reminded me of life and the insignificance of silly things I would put so much weight on. Hiking the mountains allowed me to be with myself while also being with my family. I love the opportunity to just think and the mountains always provided the best backdrop for that.

Now the beach, for me, is a great vacation. Soaking up the sun, taking a dip in the warm ocean, now that sounds perfect right about now (especially since it’s currently cold and rainy where I live). The beach is a great getaway for me. It allows me just to relax and unwind. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit and not feel the need to do anything and the beach is exactly the place for that. The beach is also one of my favorite napping places, and I lovvveee me some naps, so there’s that too :).

Overall a city is where I prefer to live. While I do love to visit other cities, much like I like to head to mountains or the beach, what sets a city apart from the others is that it is my preferred location to live. I love the options a city provides. Whether it be activities such as museums, or shopping, or great restaurants. I feel there is always something going on in a city, and while this seems contradictory to my personality since I’m a pretty big homebody, I like to know I could be out somewhere even if I end up staying home to watch Netflix ;). I like the hustle and bustle. The opportunities feel endless. And while I like being alone, I like knowing I’m surrounded by a lot of people as well. I also like the culture a city brings. A metropolitan brings so many different people to one place and I like that.

If I could have it my way, I’d live in a big city where, depending on the direction you drove, you’re no more than an hour away from the mountains and the beach. I mean, one can dream, right ;).” ~ Cristina 20’s (https://www.spatialdwelling.com/

Jackie and Jesse beach pic

“Hands down my favorite place is the beach! I love the sand, the water, and even how my hair reacts to the salty air. I’ve been so blessed to visit so many beautiful beaches that it’s incredibly difficult to choose my favorite so I’m going to cheat and name my top two. For nostalgia, I choose Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, because it’s an adorable beach town that I grew up visiting with my family every year. But the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to was in Negril, Jamaica (pictured) due to its perfectly warm, turquoise water, soft sand, and beautiful weather, plus you can’t beat the sunset!” ~ Jackie O. 30s

Jen Sphar beach pic

“Given the choice, I would go to the beach every time. My love for the beach probably has a lot to do with my childhood. I grew up on an island, a very Long Island. <3 Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world were only a 30 minute drive from our front doorstep.  From the time I was born, during the warm months and in the summer, we went to the beach.

My Grandparents loved the beach.  For my Grandfather, having been a lifeguard in Brooklyn when he was a teenager, the beach was the perfect place to spend the day; playing in the waves, building sandcastles and laying in the sun. Many of the photos I have of my childhood are taken with my parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, wearing sunglasses and beach hats, under colorful umbrellas at the beach. My affinity for all things beach-related undoubtedly stems from being intertwined with fond memories from my childhood.

For me the beach is like going home. The waves, the sounds, feeling of the sand under my feet and especially the smells, all take me back and I am instantly in my happy place. When I was a teenager, the beach was a place that I would go with my friends to get away. Or we would drive down at night when we had nothing better to do.  Now the beach is where I have made amazing memories with my own family.  It is the most favorite place that my kids like to be and we look forward to our beach vacations (having visited various beaches up and down the east coast) every summer. I can already tell that I have passed my love for the beach down to them and I hope they bring their own little families to the beach someday too!” ~Jen 40s

“I am a city girl.  Although I spent my childhood and young adulthood pining for the beach, I have evolved into a city girl.  I don’t want to live in a city, not of any significant size at least, but the city is where I want to go for vacation.  It’s where I feel my truest self outside of my own house.

I am fascinated by the engineering miracles that fill a city.  From the artistry of actual people of an ancient time creating intricate masterpiece caliber artwork and architecture, to just marveling at how folks who live in a modern high rise get their heavy furniture moved up and in. It fills me with wonder and amazement.

There’s something about being in a city that, all at once, can make me feel the exhilaration and excitement of childhood, masterfully paired with a grown sense of sophistication.

I love the plethora of shops and endless cafes and restaurants.  There is no shortage of things to do and culture abounds.  AND as side bonuses, I don’t need to worry about wearing a bathing suit or if I’m going to get poison ivy.  Win. Win. Win.   Go Team City!”  ~Jennifer 50s

Barbara Alaska

“City, Beach, Mountains!!! How to choose?  I love them all.

But choose I must. Since I live in Florida, only 6 miles from the beach, the beach is not my choice. I enjoy being in cities for short periods of time. They are exciting with so much to do, but I prefer the mountains.

Some of my fondest memories have been in the mountains. Born in West Virginia, college in Frostburg, Maryland (in the mountains of course), hiking trips in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Sequoia National Forest, and the hilly landscape of Italy, and hiking alongside a glacier in Alaska have been just a few experiences I treasure and would love to repeat. And there are new mountains to climb, I hope, in the future. I am drawn to the TV sets of Outlander, Game of Thrones (The North) and The Last of the Mohicans. The mountains and forest call my soul.

In a song I wrote about visiting memories.  These lyrics explain my choice of the mountains:

“It’s the struggle of a mountain climb embraced by pine trees’ silence, the sights and sounds of nature breathe in us new life arriving at the stony peak surrounded by God’s vision.
Awestruck in wonder at such an awesome sight. In such a busy and noisy world, the mountains help me to find the silence and peace I need. It helps me slow down and observe God’s beautiful creation.” ~ Barbara 60s

architecture art bridge cliff
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“When it comes to beach, mountains, and city, I would choose mountains. I haven’t had a lot of time in the mountains, but the times I have had there were restful and I enjoyed the fresh air. I would not want to be isolated.  I would need to have neighbors and shopping areas to go to. I would like to have hiking trails to help stay fit. I have never been a beach person and do not like big cities; too much noise and people everywhere.”  ~Peggy 70’s

french neighborhood

“I’ve traveled to some very wonderful places, but of all the places to choose, the one place that sticks in my mind is a small hotel on “Rue Clare”in Paris, France.  It was located on a busy market street.  Just imagine running across the street finding delicious fresh food tempting you.  Either the scent of fresh bread, coffee, meats and cheeses, and a wide array of fresh fruits.  Then at 5:00 pm on the dot, the markets closed, the streets were cleaned, and the street was calm and peaceful.

Right next door to the hotel was a quaint cafe with seating outside and soft music playing.  A perfect spot to end a day of sightseeing.  Another perk was that the hotel was located less than a block from underground transportation.  Most convenient for the next day’s adventure.  So I guess the city wins for me.  Cest la vie!”  ~Temple 80s

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In reading the responses from each participant, it was clear that each answer was influenced by how the environment affected our souls.  Each of us spoke to how their preference calmed them, or exhilarated them, and often brought to the surface memories dear to us.

As we are now squarely into the New Year, I hope that you were transported to your favorite earthy respite.  Be sure to share your choice in the comments.  Cheers to a Happy and Healthy New Year to All.  May 2019 bring you amazing soul reaching adventures.

And So it Goes

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I am approaching a big birthday.  Needless to say, I’m not thrilled about it.  I’ve not been one to age gracefully in that I just dread the new higher number every single year.  It doesn’t help that my birthday is coupled with the let down from Christmas and my historical dread of the new year.  These post Christmas weeks are sort of my perfect storm of sucking.

perfect storm

I’ve watched others in my life embrace and truly celebrate their annual big day.  My grandmother looked forward to every single year that she was given.  My oldest sister doesn’t give age a second thought.  I have friends who have thrown themselves celebrations to commemorate the change in decade and they get excited to do so.  I have other friends so excited for their birthday that they celebrate the whole month!

I envy these people.  I just don’t feel it.

kevin hart birthday month

I’m really not sure why this is such an issue for me.  I spend a lot of time trying to wrap my brain around my feelings, especially this year.  Perhaps that’s part of the problem.  There’s no aspect of my birthday that stands out as the defining problem.  I kind of wish there was, so I could undo that knot.

Problem-Solving

Is it the actual act if aging?  Is it the feeling of lack of accomplishment in my life?  Is it the feeling that, particularly as a mom of young kids, there really is no day just about me?  Is it the feeling that I cannot celebrate with all of the people in my life that are important to me? Is it that all of the birthday decorations associated with my age could also double as funeral decor? Or could it be all of these things?

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This year is particularly challenging for me.  It’s a big one.  I’m torn straight down the middle of ignoring it completely, but I feel the tug to make some sort of deal out of it for the sake of my children.  I don’t want my kids to dread their birthdays like I do.  I want them to celebrate each year they are given because it truly is a gift.  I want them to savor getting showered with love and getting to enjoy a day that is just for them.  And I want them to understand how to provide those moments for the people that they will have in their lives in the future.  I also don’t want to look back and have any regrets about my lack of celebration.

person s holds brown gift box
Photo by Kim Stiver on Pexels.com

So as I anticipate “the day”, I’m trying desperately to change my mindset, hence this article.  I’m telling myself all of the old cliches to soften the blow.  I’m looking to those that I envy to try to emulate their awesome attitude.  And I’m trying not to be outwardly blue.  My hope behind this article was that through expressing my true feelings, I might shed some light and lighten the mood.

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So happy early birthday to me.  As I blow out my candles this year, you can be sure that I will be wishing for this sick feeling to leave my stomach and that I latch on to every single one of the millions of blessings that I have been given, so that those positive feelings can sustain me through my next trip around the sun and many more in the future.

cheers-to-another-trip-around-the-sun-pam-vale

 

Christmas Time is Here

charlie brown christmas

“Christmas time is here.  Happiness and cheer.  Fun for all that children call their favorite time of year.

Snowflakes in the air.  Carols everywhere.  Olden times and ancient rhymes of love and dreams to share.

Sleigh bells in the air, beauty everywhere.  Yuletide by the fireside, and joyful memories there.

Christmas time is here.  We’ll be drawing near.  Oh, that we could always see such spirit through the year.”  By Lee Mendelson & Vince Guaraldi

I have fond memories of this song mainly due to the fact that it is tied to the popular Charlie Brown Christmas special.  In the days before Cartoon Network with 24/7 cartoons, DVDs and Netflix, we had only one shot a year to see this special, live on television.  One shot!  If you missed it, you had to wait until the next Christmas to get another shot.  And since cartoons were only on TV on Saturday mornings, our brains were not over saturated with animated shows.  Charlie Brown Christmas, on a major network, during prime time, was a BIG DEAL.

charlie brown christmas title

Some of my favorite childhood memories are connected with Charlie Brown.  Truth, I had the song “Linus and Lucy” played as they introduced our wedding party to our reception when Chris and I got married, and it is my ringtone on my cell.

nerd alert

So even though this song is sad or melancholy sounding, it still evokes happy feelings for me, especially the line, “Carols everywhere”.  I laugh every time I hear this line.  You see, my sister’s name is Carole.  I just imagine her running around like a crazy lady at Christmas time, so I always sing it/imagine it, “Carole’s everywhere”.  LOL!  Love you Carole! <3

Carole

But I think the line that stands out the most to me is, “Oh, that we could always see such spirit through the year.”  This is my dream.  I love Christmas time.  I love the food, the decorations, the music, the sparkle, and how people seem kinder.  I want to lose myself in this feeling every year.  I work really hard in October and November to try to knock out as much of the holiday prep as I can so that I can enjoy as much of the season as possible.  It’s never long enough.  I  wish I could lose myself in Christmas every year.  I mean seriously lose myself and never go back.  I love the warm feelings, the kind feelings, the heart warming feelings and I wish, so very much, that I could see such spirit through the year.

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But come December 26, something just doesn’t feel the same.  It’s not meant to last.  And I understand that the end of the festive vibes is probably why Christmas time feels so special.

it's the most wonderful time of the year

May your Christmas be filled with happiness and cheer.  May it truly be your favorite time of year.  May there be snowflakes in the air…enough for ambiance, but not enough to make travel dangerous or to cancel flights like in all of the Hallmark movies.  May you enjoy carols, and sleigh bells, and beauty everywhere.  May you have yuletide by the fireside and make joyful memories.  May you draw near to those you love and care about and may YOU see this spirit through your year.

Merry Christmas!
Jennifer

 

 

The Order of Things

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I had my mind blown a few days ago. It happens. Maybe not too often, but it does indeed happen. I was watching a video about Advent. Advent is the season of waiting and preparation for the birth of Christ celebrated by Christians in the weeks prior to Christmas. (For more, see my article from last year entitled “Advent”).

advent wreath

One of the speakers in the video re-ordered a common phrase that many of us have heard. (In other words, he rearranged the order of the phrase.) Astoundingly, he completely changed my perception of the phrase without changing the intent of the meaning and it blew my mind completely.

The common phrase that I’m sure you’ve heard is, “Let go; let God.” But the gentleman in the video re-ordered it to, “Let God; let go.” I couldn’t believe it. It was so simple, but the order of these words, in their new order made everything different and better!

trust fall fail

Think of the good ol’ trust fall. If I said to you, “Fall back, someone will catch you,” you might seriously wonder if someone would indeed catch you. But if I said to you, “Someone will catch you. Fall back,” that just feels more certain. It paints the image that someone is waiting to catch you even before you fall.

GAME CHANGER.

trust-fall

I began to ponder the order of things and how it really does matter a lot of the time. Most people enjoy order. It makes them feel secure and in the know. Simple examples of order:

  1. Get gas in your car before you head out of town.
  2. Get your popcorn before the movie starts.
  3. Marinate the meat before you cook it.

Some order just has to be. There’s no changing it and rearranging the order can cause chaos.

Have you ever been waiting in a long line and someone comes late and butts several people in front of you? It’s not popular to do that. Or how about someone incorrectly shelving books in the library. The order is disrupted and no one can find the books they are looking for. Chaos.

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There are even implied rules when associated with birth order. Most of the time, it’s the oldest child that is assumed will do everything first. Chaos might not ensue from this being re-ordered, but there might be some hurt feelings or bruised egos.

My point is, as a society, we rely on order…a lot. Especially my fellow A-type OCDer’s. Order reigns supreme. In our day-to-day lives, it probably doesn’t occur to most of us to re-order or rearrange any of it. But maybe we’ve been missing out?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Seeing things from a different angle or perspective can enlighten you and maybe even delight you. Give it a go. Change things up. Look at someone else’s view. Look for the unique occasions where changing the order makes things better. It could be a game changer.

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Perspective – Advice to Our Younger Selves

Often times you hear someone being asked what advice they would give to their younger selves.  I thought it would be an interesting exercise to ask the Perspectives Team what advice they would give to themselves.  In considering my own answer I realized that the advice that I would give to my younger self is the advice that I need to continue to live and follow still today.

I polled one representative from each age decade to see how they weighed in. Are we more alike or are we polar opposites?  Come with me to find out.

Caroline's younger self 2011

“If I were to give some advice to my younger self, I think it would be to not sit in a W because that now makes it harder for me to stay turned out in ballet.  It took me a really long time to learn to sit criss cross applesauce.”  ~ Caroline 10’s

Cristina younger self

“Given that I’ve only taken 20+ trips around the sun, I realize that I may not have the resume suited for lending advice. But time is a funny thing, and while I may not have more time than most, I’ve had many experiences that have helped me grow and evolve to the person standing in my shoes today. So, with that, here it goes….

Cristina, you’ll like yourself a lot at 29, and you’ll definitely be proud of who you are in this moment. I don’t really have any advice for you perse, but I will leave you with just three things; One, just start no matter what. Two, remember “everything you can imagine is real”. And three, ask your parents for fake glasses that actually HAVE lenses in them. Lensless glasses really just defeats the purpose.  🙂 That’s it. Love you little Cristina. I’m still working on making all of your dreams and wishes come true. Just know that you are who I continue to strive to be. ~ Cristina 20’s (https://www.spatialdwelling.com/

JOberholtzer throwback

“Let go of your pride. There will always be someone better and more successful than you. Life isn’t a competition. Your pride can prevent you from experiencing some of life’s great joys. Don’t let it stop you from living your life and loving others for living theirs and enjoying their successes.” ~ Jackie O. 30s

JSphar throwback

“Advice I would give to a younger me…

I would tell her how important it is to listen to her gut instinct when she feels it. I have realized that it is, very often, spot on. (This is something I still struggle with and need to remind myself of now!) I would tell her to stop worrying so much about what other people think because in the grand scheme of things, being kind and focusing on being a good friend, person, wife, mother, and daughter is all that really matters.

I would actually tell the youngest version of myself that she has anxiety and that she needs to forgive herself for having those anxious feelings. That many other people have it too, it’s an actual thing and she’s not the only one who is weird or insecure. I would remind her to try as much as possible to live in the moment and really appreciate what she has right now.  Oh, and I would tell her to STOP laying out in the sun.” ~Jen 40s

senior pic

“I would advise my younger self to enjoy the present.  Don’t worry about the past or fret about the future.  It only squanders the moment that you are in.  Life is always moving and if your head is in the past or future too long, you miss the present completely.  Life has a way of working out for the good if you just trust in your path and have patience when everything seems to be at a standstill.  Like jumping onto a moving carousel, sometimes you have to stand still for a moment to get yourself on the moving ride at the right time and in the right place.”  ~Jennifer 50’s ish (I’ll be 50 in January 🙂 )

BMazzone throwback

“Unsolicited advice is criticism. So, younger self, I will not impart advice. I will tell you what you will experience. I also hope that when this 62 year old reaches 90 she will be as blessed by this journey we call life.

You will be fine. Life will surprise you and disappoint you, but always you will benefit from either experience. Hard times will reveal your strength, your heart, and your true friends. You are blessed with many loving people in your life, starting with your family. You will never be alone because of your faith. You will be supported and loved by an amazing husband.

You will have a beautiful, loving, and talented daughter who is the joy of your heart. Your son in-law is the son you never had and is perfect for your daughter. And at this point you are head over heals in love with your granddaughter who named you Yaya.

Although you will make many mistakes they have not turned into regrets. You will count your blessings, use your talents and gifts and try to love and bring peace along the way.

So, enjoy this blessed and wonderful journey. You will be more than fine.” ~ Barbara 60s

Peggy younger self

“I am thinking of my grade school years. I was quite bashful and only felt comfortable with certain kids in my class. I tried to teach myself to be more out going and to make more friends. By the time I got to high school I had made many more friends and, even to this day, I have so many dear friends. I went to a four year college studying to be a nurse. I quit college to marry my husband of 51 years; the best advice I ever gave myself.”  ~Peggy 70’s

dad and mom engagement

“I have endless advice to give a younger self. Much is related to stupid stuff that I would learn shortly after I did that I’d never to do that again. Other things were harder to change like weight, raising kids, and the big ones, worry and fear.

Looking back at old photos of myself, I realize that I wasn’t fat at all. I really looked pretty good. I should have been realistic and never tried extreme diets that never had long lasting positive results and only left me with a lifetime of misery. While raising my children I was always hoping and praying that they would grow up to be happy productive adults. Some days I was blissfully happy at their progress. Other days I was sure they would never get along and would hate one another. I would now tell myself to chill out and be patient; that all will be well. That’s 20/20 hindsight talking.

Fear and worry is an on going trial. FEAR, an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real, and worry go hand and hand.  I’d advise myself to give it to God to handle in His own time. Definitely not easy….I seem to want to hold on a tad.  Surrendering myself was and is even now a work in progress.”  ~Temple 80s

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In reading the responses from each participant, it was clear that each answer was to correct something that may still impact us today.  Themes of patience and advice to live in the moment also were reoccurring.  I also found it comforting that, like me, the others felt that they still needed to remind themselves now of the advice they would give to their younger selves.

We are heading into the New Year shortly.  As I’ve established previously in my January 19, 2017 post “Resolutions”, I don’t do resolutions.  But having gone through the exercise, I think one goal for the new year might just be to try to live my advice now.  Take the time to consider your own advice to your younger self.  Join in the conversation and add your advice in the comments.

2nd Annual Jennifer the Beholder Holiday Gift Guide!

christmas shopping list template

I’m not sure if you have taken notice of the fact that I have not posted a new Guest in quite some time.  Although I loved the interview experience and being able to meet local businesses and makers, I found that the process of transcribing the interviews was just too time consuming for the payoff.  BUT, I still believe very strongly in the Guests that I have featured in the past and would like to continue to support them through my annual Holiday Gift Guide.

We all have a million and one people on our holiday shopping lists.  I have compiled some fantastic gift ideas for everyone on your list to help make this season’s shopping easier for you. From hostess gifts for holiday parties, to that impossible person to buy for, you’re sure to find something right here on the………………drumroll please………..  2nd Annual Jennifer the Beholder’s Holiday Gift Guide! (cue confetti cannon)

Happy shopping everyone!

ME! – I’m going to do a shameless plug of my new children’s book Are You a Baby Reindeer?  This makes a great gift for any little on your list.  Order yours at Amazon.com.

White & Red Works – Custom Furniture Maker – Jonathan has some beautiful custom wood cutting boards and charcuterie boards this year.  A fantastic gift for a couple or a SUPER hostess gift. –  www.whiteandredworks.com

Ocelot Brewing Co – Ocelot sells super cool 32 oz and 64 oz growlers. Drop by the brewery, order a flight and select your favorite beer to purchase to fill the growler. Makes a great gift for the craft beer lover on your list or a killer hostess gift.  They also carry an inventory of brewery merch.  Also a fun gift idea. Visit Ocelot’s brewery to purchase at 23600 Overland Dr, #180, Dulles, VA 20166. (Obviously, must be 21 years or older.)

ocelot growler

Flight of Fancy LLC – Promise yourself a renovated furniture piece for 2019.  An awesome gift to give to your home.  Visit their facebook page for inspiration and contact information.  https://www.facebook.com/flightoffancyx2/

flight of fancy pink and harlequin dresser

The Vintage Key – Super special handmade jewelry pieces. Excellent gifts for any of the ladies in your life and even the fellas. There are several choices of really cool cufflinks for the guys.  https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheVintageKeyByKama?ref=hdr_shop_menu

The vintage key spoon heart necklace

Shop Swatch Box – For the knitter or crafter on your list. Outstanding products shipped directly to you.  She often has boxes for kids too!  Choose from “knitting” themed boxes  (pictured) or “stitch” themed boxes.  Great as a one time gift, or a subscription with delivery throughout the year.  https://shopswatchbox.com/

shop swatch box 2

Elizabeth Shaffner Design –  From stocking stuffers to a grand gift, Elizabeth offers her new jewelry line and her awesome magnets for stocking stuffers, to full art pieces for a very special someone. Access her wares at https://elizabethshaffner.wixsite.com/esdesign

Pure Love Macaron – Custom gift boxes containing this very special confection makes an outstanding hostess gift or teacher gift.  Looking for something just a little bit more?  Work with Kim to custom curate a gift box of macarons carefully paired with other goodies.   Or add a sophisticated splash to any party with a macaron tower. Macarons are made with organic eggs, sugar and butter. Limited time seasonal flavors like Peppermint Candy Cane, Pistachio, and a play on the popular Ferrero Rocher, of hazelnut and chocolate, are on the menu.   https://www.facebook.com/purelovemacs/

pure love macaron holiday 2018

Sweet Pea Studios –  Congratulations to Sweet Pea Studios for 10 years in business!  To commemorate this amazing milestone, Sweet Pea will be offering Gift Certificates this holiday season.  For every $250 gift certificate purchased, Sweet Pea will gift you an extra $100.  Click the following link for details.    https://www.sweetpeastudiosva.com/northern-va-best-photographer-2018-annual-thankful-sale/?fbclid=IwAR3VmvSbte1ChLBDXoWX0AXGNmuJjpBL4-2EWcY9uJ2ePepCjN4deLZtxbs

Sweet Pea Studios holiday 2018

T’Kila Latin Kitchen and Bar – Gift cards are available for dining at this great neighborhood restaurant. An excellent gift for a family, teachers and coaches or the mailman! Drop by the restaurant to purchase: 42010 Village Center Plaza #170, Aldie, VA 20105

tekila logo

Beyond the Barn Doors – Although they don’t have an online store, you can shop their Holiday Show November 29 – December 2 at Fairfax Corner this year in collaboration with Undeniable Boutique! Find fantastic home accessories.  Great gifts for the home interiors enthusiast and teachers.  You’re also sure to find a terrific house warming gift for anyone celebrating their first Christmas in a new home.  For more details go to Beyond the Barn Doors on Facebook.

holiday beyond the barn door

BT Graphics’ Christmas book, The Other Side of Christmas – ‘AHA’ Christmas book you’ll FLIP OVER!

This  sweet book was awarded the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval, and nine other awards.  For a sneak peek, check out this 15 second video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmbRp4GZ9h0&feature=youtu.be

If you are intrigued by what you see, click the link below for more details on the book and other flip over products:  https://animotionlogos.com/collections/frontpage/products/the-other-side-of-christmas-childrens-book

Print

Acupuncture – As a gift?  Why not!?!  Give the gift of healing and relaxation.  Want to feel like you’ve just had a glass of wine without consuming the calories, then look no further. Contact Justin at vahealthyliving@gmail.com to schedule your appointment.  It’s an amazing way to reduce stress during the holiday rush.

The-Finer-Points-of-Acupuncture-576x360

Kathy G Designs – Spectacular holiday home décor. Excellent gifts for anyone who loves to add holiday cheer to their home.   Also fantastic options for teacher gifts! Visit and follow her FB page for daily deals and giveaways throughout the holiday season.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1994359934113298/

kathy g wreath

Stylist Kristal Eastman – Have someone on your list who would love a fresh new do in the new year? Visit LifeTime Fitness at 5900 Trinity Pkwy, Centreville, VA 20120 to purchase a gift card in the Spa.

lifespa-cat-icmasonry-spa-2134x1067-xl

Catoctin Creek Distillery – Visit the distillery at 120 W Main St, Purcellville, VA 20132 to sample and purchase a super fine bottle of spirits made right here in Virginia. Or, visit their website at www.catoctincreekdistilling.com to see other locations where you can buy their outstanding whisky. Makes a perfect gift for the cocktail lover on your list. Also makes a superb hostess gift.  Must be 21 or older.

catoctin creek

Northern Virginia Style & Living Magazine – For anyone on your list who loves Northern VA and it’s fantastic culture, dining and entertainment. Go to www.nvslmag.com and order a subscription!

nvsl 1st anniversary cover

Jessica Monte Photography – One hour one-on-one field photography lessons for $99.  Or purchase a gift certificate during the holidays that can be used for headshots, family portraits, senior portraits, etc. Contact Jessica at:  https://www.facebook.com/JessicaMontePhotography/

Texas Trey’s Chips and Salsa – Don’t go to a holiday party empty handed.  And if you’re going to take chips and salsa, why not take the best chips and salsa.  You can purchase these tasty treats at Roots 657 located at 42301 Spinks Ferry Rd, Leesburg, VA 20176

Salsa Shovels Sea Salt Front

Wellness 1st – Karie is accepting new clients at her new office! Anyone mentioning Jennifer The Beholder blog will get one FREE 30 min consult session at her new office. This special deal is good thru 1/31/19. Just mention Jennifer the Beholder to receive your free consultation.  Give the gift of health and wellness to someone you love or to YOURSELF!

Wellness first offers:

  • Food Intolerance Testing – an easy blood spot test any age can do!
  • The FIT Test – a patented, multi-pathway delayed food sensitivity test using new technology to measure both IgG and Immune Complexes; the most common food-related pathways in the body. This test measures sensitivities to up to 132 different foods and additives spanning all major food groups.
  • Genomic Testing  – The most comprehensive nutrigenomics test available to validate your specific nutritional supplement needs. 

Check out Wellness 1st Cyber Monday deals and consider a wellness reset with a comprehensive program designed just for you.  2019 Goals!!

Contact Karie at: https://www.facebook.com/wellness1stnutrition/

Full Out Fitness –  Give yourself the gift of fun and fitness with a SMASH UP class!  A unique blend of cardio kickboxing and dance fitness.  And while you’re at it, take a friend!  Beat the holiday stress by sweating it out at Full Out Fitness.  Newly located inside: Club Ed in Sterling, Va.
21680 Ridgetop Circle St 100 Sterling, Va

NEW SCHEDULE!!

Tuesday 7:00-8:15pm SMASH UP

Thursday 7:00-8:15pm SMASH UP

Sunday- 11- Noon SMASH UP

$5 a class. No registration necessary.
Monthly unlimited memberships for $30.

Nikki pic with logo

 

Kira Luca – Original artwork is a very special gift and now you can get it at reasonable prices.  Visit the shop at https://www.kiraluca.com/shop/ to pick out something spectacular that will wow anyone on your list.

Kira holding painting

Roots 657 – Need a respite from your holiday shopping at the Outlets?  Visit Roots 657 at 42301 Spinks Ferry Rd, Leesburg, VA, for a delicious bite.  While there, peruse the market for all kinds of goodies just perfect to bring to a party, or create your own soiree.  Need a special dessert too?  Pick up a house made dessert to round out your trip.  This might just be one stop shopping.  Visit www.roots657.com to preorder Thanksgiving goodies or arrange for your holiday party catering.

roots657 - building exterior

Inn at Westwood – Give the gift of a get away.  Contact the innkeepers to purchase a weekend package or gift card for a great mini vacation in the scenic Orange, VA.  You’re welcome!  😉 http://innatwestwoodfarm.com/

inn-at-westwood-farm

Lou Lou Boutique / Zest Clothing & Co. – This is a no brainer.  Spectacular clothing and accessories for all of the ladies on your list.  Visit https://loulouboutiques.com/ and https://www.zestclothingandco.com/ for shop locations or to shop online.  And don’t forget to treat yourself to a special outfit for your busy holiday social scene.  My personal favorite place to shop for party dresses.

Creme de la Creme – And for the lover of European home decor, pay a visit to one of the Creme de la Creme shops for something unique and lovely.  Great pieces for anyone on your list or fantastic hostess gift ideas.  Visit http://www.shopcremedelacreme.com/ for shop locations.

creme de la creme logo

Énergie Goods – Clothing and workout gear – Loads of opportunities to shop and save with Énergie!

Here are the holiday deals for Énergie Goods:

  • Anyone who purchases during November will receive a $30 off purchase of $100 or more coupon to be used online only in December
  • Every Friday there will be a featured outfit at a discounted rate with VERY limited quantities.  November – December
  • Black Friday 11/23- All studio locations @pulseinferno @studiobepilates @dancingmindva will have a 30% off sale for anyone who takes a class that day.
  • Cyber Monday– Surprise details!  Hop online and visit http://energiegoods.com/

engerie holiday

DIY Scent Studio – Located at 4007 University Drive in Fairfax, Va, this sweet studio allows you to make custom bottles of perfume.  Concoct a scent that draws to mind a recent trip, or wonderful memory, or create something truly new and unique.  Experts are on staff to assist and guide you.  Gift cards are available.  Or fill one of the long days of the winter break from school with your friends.  It’s a sweet smelling way to spend time together.  Visit http://www.diyscentstudio.com/ to make reservation or inquiries.

DIY Scent Studio - perfume counter

Candy Drawer Confectionary – Well when isn’t candy a good gift?  Get sweet treats for everyone on your list.  Great stocking stuffers, hostess and teacher gifts!  Peruse their website for all of their to-die-for confections. (Pssst.  My personal favorites are the Chocolate covered Roasted Sugar Marshmallows.  Just sayin’.) https://www.candydrawerconfectionary.com/

candy drawer confectionary holiday

Maison Warehouse – Home and holiday decor – Join Maison’s mailing list for event details and specials.  This shop has gobs of holiday gift options for the home interior lover.  Check out the gorgeous holiday tree displays in the shop at 21558 Stonetree Ct, Sterling, VA 20166

In-Store Holiday Event:  November 15 – 18 & November 24 – 25 – Chicks Picks by Hillary

Maison Warehouse Chicks Picks

Rhythm and Arts Center – Bring a friend to a free performance of The Nutcracker!  Sunday, December 9th at 3 pm at South Lakes High School:  11400 South Lakes Dr, Reston , VA 20191

Or how about the gift of dance lessons!!??  Go to www.rhythmandartscenter.com for details.  First trial class is free!

Also, see the Rhythm and Arts Center Dance Company perform in the Reston Town Center Winter Wonderland Parade on Friday, November 23.

Rythmn and Arts Center - Nutcracker 2017

2018 reston town center holiday parade

Cancer is Ruff – The Holidays can be a rough time of the year for some people, particularly those battling cancer.  Consider this sweet picture book that helps to lighten the mood with endearing pictures of dogs exhibiting the difficult symptoms of cancer treatment.  Written by cancer survivor, Kathy Kupka, this book delivers light hearted acknowledgement of the fight.  Purchase your copy on www.cancerisruff.com.

cancer is ruff cover

Kathy Kupka Photography – Want a sweet holiday photo of your pup?  Kathy Kupka is offering photo sessions until November 24.  Book yours today.  For more information visit www.kathykupka.com.

kupka 2018 christmas photo session

River-Sea Chocolates – The most delicious single origin chocolate!  Made with love right here in Northern Virginia.  These spectacular chocolate bars make excellent stocking stuffers or purchase a tasting collection for a terrific hostess gift.  I bought a bunch of bars to give as teacher gifts this year!  As a special holiday offering, River-Sea is putting together two bar present bundles. These bars are something really special that you can taste in the very first bite.  Purchase yours at https://www.riverseachocolates.com/

river-sea christmas 2018

Linda Hendrickson – Want a super special gift for someone on your gift giving list?  Consider a gorgeous piece of art.  Contact Linda at https://www.facebook.com/LindaHendrickson.Artist/

Linda Hendrickson Barn Raising

Java Jen’s Coffee Roasters LLC – Did someone say single origin coffee?!  Coffee is an amazingly versatile gift.  Great as a stocking stuffer, a hostess gift, teacher or coach gifts, the list goes on.  Give bags of beans or grounds, your pick.  And while you’re out shopping in Loudoun County, VA, keep your eyes peeled for their coffee truck and grab yourself a fabulously warm cup to stay off the chill.  Contact Java Jen’s at https://www.facebook.com/JavaJensCoffeeRoasters/

java jens christmas 2018

Voilà – Get help with your holiday decor or arrange to spruce up your home after you’ve packed away your holiday decorations.  You choose, but don’t pass up this great deal!  As a holiday promotion, Voilà is offering 20% off your first booking up to 5 hours. (Standard fee is $75/hr).  Contact Jodi at https://www.facebook.com/voilastyling/ to set up your session.

Jodi Cali pic 1

I hope that you have found this guide to be helpful.  Please be sure to drop a line in the comments when you find that perfect gift at one of my Guest locations or online stores.  Enjoy your shopping experience during the most festive time of the year.  And a little piece of advice….wrap as you go.  You’ll thank me later.  😉

Holiday_shopping_woman

Hey Mom! Look What I Can Do!

hey mom look beach

You know when you’re a kid and you’re constantly telling your mom, “Look, Mom! Look what I can do!” “Hey Mom, LOOK!” “Mom watch me!” Although I may not actually remember doing this, I’m sure I did as I continue to live through three children saying, “Hey, Mom, watch this!”

When we are children, we usually have a very exaggerated opinion of our gifts and talents. But gift and talents, even in their infancy are just that; gifts and talents. We are so eager to show off our skills that it is sometimes a constant verbal assault upon….well…Mom (or whomever happens to be in the audience).

hey mom im a unicorn

At some point in my life, I outgrew this phase and almost to the point of pulling a 180. That’s not to say that I was no longer proud of my gifts and talents, but I think I became aware of their true value in the context of just hanging with my mom. I think there also entered the ugly fear of failure and what failure actually feels like. The less attention I drew to myself, the less chance that someone will see that I can fail, will fail, or might fail. But again, I might have outgrown this phase, at least enough to be brave for this moment.

I’ve written in the past about my journey into blogging and writing. I still have NO idea why I thought this would be a good idea. I just knew that I wanted to do something. Something that would engage my brain and give me a sense of productivity that no load of laundry or evening meal prep could ever fill. My walk into this “career” has moved swiftly, but not too fast that I couldn’t keep up. I have been able to take each progressive step as they presented themselves and with little or no anxiety.  Winning!

one step at a time

Part of being a writer involves a lot of self promotion. I can no longer do my thing under the cover of nightfall. I must invite others into my professional world if I want to keep working in this capacity. It is a foreign process….self promotion, but a necessary “evil”.

So I have come full circle back to, “Hey Mom! Look at me!” It started with the blog. If I want readers, subscribers and followers, I have to be all…”Hey you! Look over here and read THIS!” It then moved to NVSL Magazine. Now, I was not only promoting myself, but a whole publication. This was easier! I was just a small part of a larger project, so…so, easier!

logo and mag collage

It was during an interview with the editor of NVSL Magazine that I went public with my desire to publish a book. This was a bold, BOLD move for me. I declared to the world (‘cause the whole world was reading this article….well, my whole world) that I had a goal for the year that I intended to reach. Uh oh.

Talk about scared. Now in fairness, the editor asked if she could share the information and I said, “Yes!” No one was more shocked than I. I was now accountable to all who read that article to make good on my goal intention. It became the center part of my professional life; birthing this little book.

hoping selfie

Well, I am proud to say, that for the very first time in my life, I set a professional goal and actually achieved it! Keep in mind that this is a very different goal…not one for a promotion, or to win an account, or to achieve some quota, where someone above me determines my success or worth. This was creating something from nothing and following through to production.

It has been the very best professional experience of my lifetime. I created something….I developed it, and honed it, and grew it into something that was marketable; all while staying accountable to the public via social media. Good or bad, this thing is DONE! I couldn’t be more excited.

I’m excited to follow the process. I’m excited for my inaugural holiday season with this new little book and I look forward to planning a full marketing strategy for the 2019 holiday season. (Uh oh, did I just make another public pronouncement?!  ACK!)

Just in time for Thanksgiving and during this season of gratitude, I want to thank all of the amazing people who supported me along the way. I want to thank every single person who didn’t laugh or mock my idea to complete this project, every single person who encouraged me along the way, and all of my beloved cheerleaders. Although this was a solo idea, it was in no way a solo experience. I have met the most amazing talent along the way, who I lovingly call my dream team, and I cannot wait to work with these women again.

Grateful1_large

I look forward to watching to see how this sweet book progresses and I’m already penning my next story! So for posterity’s sake, “Hey Mom! Look what I can do!”

are you a baby reindeer look what I can do

Purchase your copy today on Amazon.com.

Perspective – The Holidays

The holidays image

The Holidays are upon us!  Whether we like to admit it or not, they are coming.  Some greet this time of year with excitement and verve and some approach with apprehension and dread.

I’ve asked 7 women to share their thoughts on this topic (7 because I am #8!  I always want to play too.)  I polled one representative from each age decade to see how they weighed in. Are we more alike or are we polar opposites?  Come with me to find out.

spookley the square pumpkin

“I think holidays give you something to be excited for.  Like for example, especially when you’re a kid and you go to school, it’s AWESOME when school gets canceled because of the holiday.  But not just for that, also most holidays you get to spend time with your family and that means a lot to me.  Like you can have fun with your cousins, get to see your aunts, uncles, and grandparents and it’s just awesome.”  ~ Caroline 10’s

macys-thanksgiving-parade

“Whenever the holidays are mentioned, I feel what is most often shared are fond memories, traditions, or the rush to get everything done. While all of those things hold value for me – I have fond memories of time spent with family, I do love traditions new and old, and I, the true procrastinator, am that person rushing to wrap presents the minute before my husband opens them despite vowing to get ahead of the game each year.

What I actually love most about the Holidays is all of the anticipation and excitement leading up before. For me, the holidays are an entire season spanning from October until after Christmas/New Years. I love all of the preparation, decoration, and planning that comes with each holiday. From costume planning for Halloween, to table-setting and food preparation at Thanksgiving, to gift shopping for Christmas. I love it all.

I love the whole change of tone the holidays bring. Everyone seems happy and excited. The whole city looks and feels different and I love it. It’s a hard feeling to describe but I think one that everyone shares. It feels like magic. Like butterflies in my stomach. Like something so exciting is coming but you don’t know what. I think it’s the time of year that you can actually feel happiness in the air.  I think that’s the best way to describe it. While this feeling is probably due to a culmination of all of the reasons people love the holidays – the traditions, time with family, memories, the rush – it is this feeling I love the most. ”     ~ Cristina 20s (Blog: https://www.spatialdwelling.com/)

air supply christmas album

“Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I love the hustle and bustle leading up to it, the decorations, the sparkle, traditions, the anticipation. I’d go so far as to say that I love the time leading up to Christmas more than Christmas Day.

After losing my dad in 2014, Christmas lost a little bit of its sparkle. He loved Christmas as much as I do and I miss the traditions that we used to do together as a family.

I’m looking forward to experiencing Christmas as a parent this year. My son was born just 4 days before Christmas 2017 so I am looking forward to seeing the sparkle of Christmas through his eyes this year and for many years to come.”  ~ Jackie 30s

new year's eve 1978

“In preparation for this “assignment” over the past few days, I noticed that just thinking about the Christmas season makes me happy, and it’s not even here yet!  We were sitting in the movie theater and saw a preview of the new Grinch movie and it was an immediate warm and fuzzy feeling trigger for me.

I would definitely describe myself as Christmas-obsessed, in fact, I ordered another tree for our dining room just last week because, 1. my Christmas ornament collection is getting too much for the TWO trees we already have (one that is 9 feet tall!) and 2. I want us to be able to look at it during our Christmas dinner!

While I truly do love Thanksgiving, it is just a warm up to the season that immediately follows, and that is my very favorite time of year. (On a side note, one of the more non-traditional things we do as a family on Thanksgiving is have steak for dinner.  We realized years ago that we are not huge fans of turkey, so we, instead, have our own traditional Thanksgiving steak dinner which everyone loves.)  I love everything about Christmas; the decorations that take forever to put up but are so worth it when they are, the music – again, triggers my happy feelings (even in the commercials on TV!), and the gift buying – thinking of just the right gift for every person on my list and starting months before the big day, squirreling away gifts in the back of my closet.

I love the Holiday specials on TV, many of which we look forward to watching as a family. Every year I get another “family ornament” with our names on it along with a family photo ornament to hang on the tree.  We love looking at the ornaments as we decorate the tree, drinking hot cocoa and showing them to each other and saying, “Oh!  Remember this one!” as we take them out of the box. We make Christmas cookies in the days before Christmas and bake an apple pie, which is a family favorite.

I love looking forward to the Christmas break from school, when everyone is home and can relax and just be together. We go to church on Christmas Eve and then out to dinner, which has become a recent tradition. I love making our home and the holidays special for my family, having created the traditions that we now have and enjoy every year.  I hope my kids look back on these as special memories that they will always have in their hearts. To me, holidays mean family and there is nothing that gives me the warm and fuzzy feelings more than my family!” ~Jen 40s

the great pumpkin

“To me, “the Holidays” begin with Halloween.  We go all out in our household (at least on the inside of the house.)  I love creating a festive atmosphere for my family from the decorations and treats, down to the candles that I burn for each season, and the holiday themed shows and movies.  It kicks off my favorite time of the year where the emphasis is on giving to others and thinking of others.  I love the giant spark of creativity generated for Halloween in concocting fun costumes and decorations.

Thanksgiving.  Poor Thanksgiving.  It may as well be called First Christmas.  I mean, the commercials for Christmas start before Halloween.  And I for one, start my Christmas shopping in October for sure (Goal: Done by December One!).  I do enjoy Thanksgiving for it’s intent.  A time for everyone to take a whole day of gratitude.  To be thankful for all of the many gifts we have been given.  I find it remarkable that we live in a country that places value on that…well, at least once a year.  But is that how we actually celebrate it? I’m not quite sure.  The host jumps through hoops to create an extravagant meal that would actually feed the entire neighborhood, resulting in tons of leftovers or waste and loads of dirty dishes and clean up.  I find that there’s less focus on gratitude and more attention to football.  It definitely is lovely to spend the day with family and friends, but I’m just not sure I get it, even after all of these years.

The Mac Daddy for me is Christmas.  I loooooovvve the preparation for Christmas.  I love the shopping, the decorations, the music, the food, the sparkle, and the kindness that people tend to extend this time of year.  I love when people wish other “Merry Christmas”.  I love the anticipation of it all which, at church, we refer to as Advent.  It’s just a cozy time of the year and despite the frigid temperatures outside, the season warms me.  However, I really don’t like Christmas day that much.  All of the fanfare is over and we are left with a pile of scraps of wrapping paper, crushed up boxes, and big black trash bags.  The once festive house now resembles that cruddy black snow that we get the day after a beautiful snowfall.  And in my home, we have several family members that once they open their gifts, never touch them again.  It seems….sad.  But all good things must come to an end.  We need to spend the next 365 days gearing up for next year!

Lastly there is New Year’s Eve.  I have never been a fan.  I find it overwhelming to try to have the night of your life and the resolutions are always a disappointment.  I used to have an actual fear of the new year.  After my first child was born with a heart issue, and my father’s health, and my brother inlaw’s health began to decline, I began wanting to desperately hang on to the year we were in because we were all still together.  My father and my brother inlaw have since passed on, which forced me to face my fear of the new year.  January 1st is just another day.  No need for dread and it is quite nice to celebrate things, so I try to face the unknown year with a little less fear and a little more curiosity.

Overall, I adore the holidays.  My wish is for you to find joy in each holiday.  To have fun and make time to spend with those that mean the most to you.”~Jennifer 50’s ish (I’ll be 50 in January 🙂 )

a-charlie-brown-thanksgiving-ebook_51709-96914_1

Holidays! Hallmark anyone? I just finished watching the first of many Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. It’s October 26th!!

I am a holiday junky!  The time from Halloween to Christmas is my favorite time of year. Living in Florida, holidays help mark the seasons.  My memories of these holidays are precious. Each of these holidays, back in my day, you had to wait for.

The childhood freedom on Halloween! Trick-or-treating with pillowcases and blocks of houses; parent free. Thanksgiving! Just family, and gratefulness, and Macy’s parade. You didn’t start decorating, or thinking of Christmas, until Santa came down that New York Street.

Traditions and my faith filled my childhood with happy memories (back then we could even sing Christmas carols in public schools).  Traditions and my faith bound our family together.  I have had to learn not to hold on too tightly to traditions. In the 1980s, I got married and added my husband’s traditions to my own. When my daughter was born in 1989, the 90’s brought our own rituals and expectations. And once my daughter got married, and had her own daughter, once again we found ourselves adding new and lovely memories and traditions to experience.

I still embrace the holidays through the eyes of children. Being a primary teacher for 31 years helped me to keep a youthful heart. I love the expectations of each holiday and try to keep it simple and people focused. So, as I watch The Great Pumpkin to A Christmas Carol, sappy but loving Hallmark movies, and listen to Christmas music, I am grateful for my memories, my family get together‘s, and the anticipation of new memories and new traditions to come into my blessed life.” ~ Barbara 60s

its a wonderful life movie poster

“I am looking back at my favorite holidays with my husband and our four children. Starting with Easter; dying hard boiled eggs and hiding them the night before Easter. Making Russian Easter Bread called Buska. On Easter morning the kids would look for their Easter Baskets. The most important part was going to mass and thanking Jesus for dying on the cross.

The 4th of July: Celebrating the freedom we have in this great country. Honoring the people who died for this country. Going to North Dakota to celebrate the holiday with family and friends. Going to the 4th of July parade and watching fireworks.

Halloween. The kids getting all excited about going trick or treating. When we lived in St. Louis, the kids had to tell a joke and the person handing out candy tried to come up with the answer to the joke. My husband would go out with the kids and I would give out candy at our house. Halloween reminding us of All Saints Day on Nov. 1st and All Souls Day on Nov. 2nd.

Thanksgiving. Reminding us to thank God and the colonists who started this holiday. Getting the turkey and stuffing ready, and all the good side dishes, and of course pumpkin and pecan pies. We always had a relish tray and that was our appetizer. Playing cards and other games with the kids and watching football on TV. Needless to say we were  all stuffed at day’s end.

Christmas, the best holiday of all. Decorating the house, Getting a live tree and trimming it. Making Christmas cookies. Wrapping gifts and putting them under the tree. When we were at a Christmas party the kids decided to unwrap and rewrap their gifts. (Found that out years later.) We went to mass on Christmas Eve. The kids set the table for breakfast before they went to sleep. We opened our gifts early in the morning and the kids had fun with their new toys. Such good memories.”  ~Peggy 70’s

new years eve 1936

“When thinking about the holidays so much comes to mind…Holidays of the past, present and those that are almost forgotten. I won’t even tackle the new holidays I don’t understand.

My past holidays bring to focus the big four, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Easter. As years go by the most popular, according to retail, go back and forth between Halloween and Christmas. Thanksgiving has always been smothered between the big H and the big C.

Some less important holidays are Valentines Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, May Day, and all the prominent presidents and civic and religious leaders. Each one is popular as it usually gives most people a day off from work. My favorite as a child and the mother of my young family has always been Christmas with all its many traditions. I’ve even been guilty of making up a few new ones. I’m sorry about that.

For me, marching in the Memorial Day parade with my classmates, the Macy’s parade, and the rival football games at Thanksgiving are memorable from my youth.

Today, all of that has changed.  The death of my husband and having children scattered all over with their own traditions have created mixed emotions for me. Many people feel extremely sad with the holidays because of past experiences or a loss.  Hallmark fills an empty space in my soul and brings back, in a corny way, all of the traditions I hold dear.

I will always find great solitude in celebrating the true meaning of each one of the holidays I have celebrated throughout my life with those I love.”  ~Temple 80s

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In reading the responses from each participant, it is abundantly clear that the holidays bring about warm feelings for, and the desire to spend them with family.  If you are paying attention to the ages of each of the above participants, it is interesting to note the shift of the here and now, to the focus on the past and fond memories.  And it also seemed apparent that as the years advanced, there was also more focus on faith.

Although many agreed that the concentration of “The Holidays” is between Halloween and New Years, it is abundantly clear that Christmas is the the clear favorite.  I found it interesting that most loved the lead up to each holiday as opposed the actual holiday and was delighted that not one single person mentioned the receipt of gifts at all.  But the loss of loved ones seems to universally impact our impressions of the holidays.

The Holidays can truly be a magical time of year if you allow yourself to get caught up in the current of warmth, love, and happiness.  I wish this for all of you.  May you all find something to warm your heart this holiday season.

cheers