If you're at all familiar with this column, you know that I've been in Africa for the past few weeks. This was my fourth trip there and each trip changes aspects of my life, my way of thinking and my attitude about life in general. And since this will be my last column before Christmas, it's a perfect time for reflection.
I have now celebrated 62 Christmases, although the first couple, I'm not too aware of, being more concerned that my cloth diapers were both dry and clean! But over the years my thoughts on Christmas have greatly changed. As we all probably know, Christmas begins with only thinking about ourselves, how many presents under the tree with our names on them and receiving, receiving and more receiving. But then we get married, have kids and now it's all about spending, spending and more spending--trying desperately to ensure our kids get everything they want and that we can buy happiness for them.
I distinctly remember one year in the early or mid 80's, how we looked everywhere for Cabbage Patch dolls. Yes, those ugly things were hit that year and all the stores sold out as soon as they came in. Sadly, there was no Internet or way to look for them "on-line," so it was trying to find which store was gonna get them in again before Christmas. If not, Christmas at the Sheda's would be a bust. We had three girls and three Cabbage Patch dolls were a must--if of course, being "good parents" was our aim. And it was!
But now as I creep into the 60's, (the age, not the year), and after seeing how many in other parts of the world live, things change a bit. It's no longer about the tangible things in life, such as gifts, presents, Christmas trees, the lights, the food and the parties. Oh, there part of the season I guess, but now it's more about a hug, a smile, a held hand, a kiss from a daughter or grand-daughter, hand-shake from a son-on-law, phone calls to siblings and everyone just being home for some part of Christmas. It's about reflecting back on some 60 Christmases and smiling at all the good times we've had. It's about getting a little teary-eyed as we think back about those "cabbage-patch" days and realize just how fast time has flown by.
It's about being thankful for living in the world we live in, (visit another part of the world and you'll see how well we have it). Christmas is about drinking that second glass of egg-nog, trying to enjoy that fruit-cake you get each year, ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, and making a concerted effort to put some money in the bucket EVERY time you walk by it. Why? "Cuz it's just a great feeling to know you can!
Ya, Christmas is now about knowing you did the very best you could with the experience and the knowledge you had at the time. It's peace, love, joy, faith, patience, goodness, gentleness, temperance and of course, kindness. It's singing Christmas Carols, saying Merry Christmas to everyone and it's sitting back and reflecting on our lives.
So, from the Sheda household and family....WE WISH ALL OF YOU GREAT REFLECTIONS AND MEMORIES AS YOU ENTER "CHRISTMAS, 2013." Make it the best one ever.
Oh, one more thing I found out, is that one can live without being inundated with all the news of the day. I never heard one sports score and actually survived. Never heard any heated arguments from Fox News or MSNBC analysts, which was truly a relief. Life actually went on rather smoothly!
That's The Way I See It.
Let me know how you see things at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 319-327-4640.