I love Andy William’s song It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, and feel sad at his passing this year. There’s such an irony in how we approach The Holidays or, more specifically, how we are expected to approach them. There’s all the music – EVERYWHERE. There’s all the decorations and there’s all the expectations. Yet, many families truly struggle with Christmas and New Year’s (as well as Thanksgiving).
The reasons this time of year is stressful are many. We did a recent #DadChat in which everyone offered tips on how to survive the holidays. That resulted in the column, How to Survive Christmas, New Year’s, and the In-Laws. I’ve also written (The Ten Most Beloved Christmas Songs) and spoken about my love of Christmas music in my annual Christmas Music Radio Show Special. I think that’s enough self-promotion in one paragraph!
It’s my belief that the best and single most valuable suggestion on how to best survive, enjoy, and thrive during the holidays is to manage expectations. Sadly, most holiday get-togethers are not like in our most beloved holiday movies or TV shows. The days of the Variety Show on television are largely gone, but when I was young I remember seeing Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, The Osmonds, The Rat Pack, Judy Garland, and so many others portray idyllic holiday scenes.
“Home Alone” portrayed Christmas in a different light than most previous holiday movies, but still with an unabashed reverence and love for the season. It remains a favorite of many. My only irritation with that film was that John Hughes took MY song and exposed it to everyone. I previously had The Drifter’s version of “White Christmas” all to myself!
One of the best things to do at this time of year and, frankly, every day, is to reflect on the good in your life rather than what may be bad or missing. Obviously, many people have true hardships and problems that can’t be easily glossed over. But, I assert most of us have things pretty good, especially living in Western countries and here in the United States. Please note that I used the word, “most,” before you write me about all the suffering going on in the world.
In our family, we use every Friday night dinner, aka Shabbat, to reflect on the best and worst things that happened to us that week. We are all limited to only one “worst,” so it doesn’t become a whine-fest. This was especially important when my boys were younger. I heartily suggest this ritual as a marvelous way to share things that might not otherwise get revealed.
So, in that light, I’m going to share only my personals “bests” of the year and encourage you to do the same at one of your holiday get-togethers or add them in the comments section on my website. In no particular order:
~~ After seven years and 200,000-plus miles, I finally got a new car (well, a used-car, but it is new to me!).
~~ I drove my older son 3,000 miles in eight days, from Los Angeles to Boston, to begin his college career. I then wrote and published an e-book about the experience called, The Empty-Nest Road Trip Blues: An Interactive Journal from A Dad’s Point-of-View. It costs a whopping $2.99 on Amazon for the Kindle version or $2.79 for the PDF here at BruceSallan.com.
~~ My efforts to increase the number of visitors to BruceSallan.com worked as we doubled the number of “unique visitors” over the course of the year…and our stats continue to grow about 15% a month.
~~ I suffered no injuries or illnesses of any kind.
~~ My family also stayed healthy all year.
~~ I took up golf, at the behest of my wife – or should I say under penalty of Lysistrata – and got a Hole-In-One on about my 15th round of golf.
~~ My in-laws came to visit for Thanksgiving – for EIGHT days – and not only did I survive, I actually loved having them stay with us.
~~ The I’m NOT That Dad vlogs began and continue on a weekly basis, which has allowed me to unleash the actor, director, and editor in me!
~~ My two boys and I attended the Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco and had an incredible time. Some of it has been material included in the afore-mentioned I’m NOT That Dad vlogs (a vlog is a video blog).
~~ Our last ski season at Mammoth Mountain was wonderful. We are now moving to the Park City area for the foreseeable future.
~~ We went heli-skiing to The Caribous in British Columbia and had an incredible and safe adventure. My wife took one scary fall – actually a drop off a ledge – but was thankfully only minimally “stunned.”
~~ My writing continued to flow and the ideas kept coming. I am so grateful that I’ve always had a fountain of things to write about stirring in my ever-so-over-crowded brain.
Thankfully, I could continue this list of reflections but my word count limit has been reached. Please try to do the same and reflect on all the good in your life and let the bad recede as best as you can. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, a belated Hannukah, and a Happy New Year!