Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!

Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
How to make Christmas an Experience to Treasure

How to make Christmas an Experience to Treasure

Posted by martin.parnell |

A couple of weeks ago, Sue and I were chatting to our friends, Leesha and Lau about the upcoming Christmas holiday. Leesha told us that, this year, she had made an “alternative” Advent calendar, for their children, Oasis and Zion. Instead of the usual candies or small gifts, each pocket contains a fun “experience” for them to share. 

Some of these include:  decorate the Christmas tree, bake Christmas cookies, wrap Christmas gifts, sing Christmas songs or watch a Christmas movie. Although they are things they would have probably done anyway, I thought it was a great idea.  Putting them in the calendar makes all of these activities special and they are all things they can do together. 

It got me thinking about the way in which so many  people tend to think of the holidays as a time when they have to spend vast amounts of money on “stuff”, just to show someone how much they care.  Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate that often we can give someone a gift of something that they really do appreciate, maybe something they wouldn’t go and buy for themselves. But, how often do we have to rack our brains to think of something, when the person we are buying for doesn’t really have a great yearning for anything in particular? 

Our son Calum was recently visiting, from England and was asking what he could get us for Christmas. To be honest, we couldn’t think of anything, so, for our Christmas “gift” he took us for a meal at the Bavarian Inn, in Bragg Creek.  We sat by the fire, enjoyed great food, some good German beer, the conversation flowed and we experienced the sheer joy of spending time together. It was a wonderful evening and left us with fond memories of the last night of his visit. Personally, I think sharing a memorable experience with those you love is priceless.

Why not give it a try. You don’t have to take them for a fancy meal, it could be something simple like going to the movies, hiring some snowshoes and heading into the outdoors, or a day of baking cookies to give as gifts. 

You could extend this idea to your business colleagues. So much money is spent on work –related Christmas parties, which can be enjoyable, but means a lot of people have to find and pay for a babysitter, pay for a taxi to get them safely home, the list goes on. So, why not, instead organise something that is more convenient, perhaps a trip to the movies for a film whole families can enjoy or give a gift that would be really appreciated, like a basket of Christmas goodies or a nice bottle of wine. 

Alternatively, if you are the boss, why not tell your staff that, this year, instead of parties and gifts, you will donate to a charity on their behalf – now that really would be in the spirit of the season. 

Whatever you choose to do. I sincerely hope you have a wonderful time in the company of those you love.

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Good resolutions are like babies crying in church. They should be carried out immediately

Charles M. Sheldon, social reformer
A New Year's Resolution to Take Up and Give Up

A New Year's Resolution to Take Up and Give Up

Posted by martin.parnell |

This may seem a little premature, but I’m sure there are some people out there who are already giving some thought to their New Year’s Resolutions. It would be great if we could all do two things – take something up and give something up. 

Taking something up could be really fun and exciting, a time to meet new people, improve your personal well-being, and spend time with family and friends, maybe all of those. Perhaps you’ll start doing regular exercise, calling home once a week, getting outdoors every day, reading all those books you’ve got piling up. Setting a challenge and achieving it can really make you feel good and give you that sense of satisfaction. 

Giving something up may prove to be more challenging. There are, of course, those things that most of us have resolved to give up at one time or another. Many people will decide to give up smoking, regulate their drinking or something less challenging like avoid buying those tempting chocolate bars at the grocery store checkout. 

But there is something else that I feel could make a profound difference in the lives of many people, but it would take a concerted effort. 

Just imagine if everyone who still persisted in the activities of drinking or texting while driving decided to give them up? If you are one of those people, why not make that your New Year’s Resolution?  Stop trying to convince yourself that you can text, talk on the phone or have another drink and drive safely. You know you’re only fooling yourself. 

Don’t risk getting stopped and having to face the fact you’re a law-breaker. But, most importantly, don’t risk your life and the lives of others, because you think you know better. 

Remember, while most of us will enjoy a wonderful holiday season with those nearest and dearest to us, somewhere, not too far away, will be a family left distraught and devastated, not just this year, but for all the years to come, because one of their loved ones is no longer with them, due to the reckless actions of someone who couldn’t resist that drink or checking their latest text. 

So, to carry on that Christmas spirit of giving, if you or someone you know is still persisting in ignoring the law, ignoring what common sense is telling them and still pursuing these reckless activities – give them something. Give them food for thought and ask them to read this blog. It’s just a little thing, but who knows, it might just make them stop and think. 

Happy Holidays and a safe New Year.

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For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Embrace the New Year by Setting Goals that will make it Great

Embrace the New Year by Setting Goals that will make it Great

Posted by martin.parnell |

I have been thinking about how I might inspire readers of this blog to look upon the New Year as a chance of opportunity, a time when we can all embrace the challenge of the upcoming year, before complacency sets in. Whilst pondering this topic, I came across the following passage ...................

“Make New Year's goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you're interested in fully living life in the year to come. Goals give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level. Goals give our life direction.

What would you like to have happen in your life this year? What would you like to do, to accomplish? What good would you like to attract into your life? What particular areas of growth would you like to have happen to you? What blocks, or character defects, would you like to have removed?

What would you like to attain? Little things and big things? Where would you like to go? What would you like to have happen in friendship and love? What would you like to have happen in your family life? What problems would you like to see solved? What decisions would you like to make? What would you like to happen in your career?

Write it down. Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your time, and write it all down - as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose. Then let it go. The New Year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.”

- Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go: Daily Meditations on Codependency 

I did think about trying to put these ideas in to my own words, as they pretty much exemplify what I had been thinking, but then, why would I need to? Why not, instead, let me give credit to someone who has put it so eloquently. 

New Year is merely a few days away and will be upon us before we know it, so why not give a little thought to what you would like to be thinking, in twelve months’ time, when you look back at 2017 and consider what sort of year it has been for you? 

If you can motivate yourself, it can be a great opportunity to inspire others to do the same. 

Wishing you all a very happy, peaceful, fulfilling year ahead.

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