Thursday, December 15, 2011

The advent calendar

There are two things that I distinctly remember about Christmas time when I was growing up: the Ray Coniff singers and the advent calendar. Luckily, there are several radio stations that play Christmas music 24/7 so I get my fill of Ray Coniff, and we do have an advent calendar to help get us to Christmas. But the calendar at our house has left me wanting. It's not horrible,it's cute. It's a snowman with little pockets where a miniature snowman can rest from day to day on his way to the big 25. Sometimes there is a candy waiting inside the pocket, and sometimes, like this year, there is a small note explaining some act of kindness to perform for someone else that day. My kids seem to like it alright,and somehow the snowman continues to move down the line, but to me it is a sorry excuse for an advent calendar. First off, it's a snowman. Talk about political correctness. For all we know, we could be counting down the days to the winter solstice or New Year's Eve or the first day of spring. Yes, there are little pictures on the pockets displaying Christmas-y things like wrapped presents and candy canes, but I just don't like it.

You see I'm spoiled because growing up we had the best advent calendar around. My mom made it out of felt, fabric and lots of glitter. It had a large christmas tree sewn against a felt backdrop, and below the tree lay a calendar with an ornament pinned on each day. Before the sun even rose in the sky, whoever's turn it was, would unpin the glittery felt ball or red and white striped candy cane or stocking, and pin it to the tree. Then we'd take one of the felt dates stuck to masking tape which had been re-stuck with whatever tape we had lying around, and place it on it's appropriate spot on the calendar. To see the tree fill with ornaments, and watch the dates spread across like an army of little number ants gave me twice the thrill. The anticipation was almost more than I could stand!

When I ask my kids about getting a new one, they seem uninterested. "We love our calendar," they tell me.

I squish my nose up in confusion."But it's just a snowman," I remind them. They don't seem to mind.

When I travel home and see the homemade felt calendar of my childhood with the glitter nearly gone, the felt coming up in places, the taped numbers smudged and barely sticking, I wonder what I saw in it myself. Yes, it was a simpler time, but that calendar had seemed magical to me.I stare at the little ornaments and felt-made presents for hours. My kids think it looks homemade and old-fashioned. They're right, I guess,I sigh.

Lucky for me,I still have the memories. And when you think about it, it wasn't about the calendar, really, but the season itself that made people more merry and gay. And no matter what the advent calendar looks like or what famous person is singing "Winter Wonderland" the spirit of the season brings it's own pixie dust of magic over whatever decorations you adorn your home with. And each time you admire your tree or the shiny ornaments or move--as in our case--the little snowman to the next pocket thereby bringing you one day closer to Christmas, a spark lights in your hearts. That's the magic of the season, the whole reason the Grinch was able to grow a heart at the end. It isn't about the packages and boxes and bags!Or the tinsel and the lights, but about the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ that brings us joy and peace in this season no matter what kind of calendar you have. What a wonderful and beautiful message of hope!

I still want a new advent calendar. I don't think one like I had growing up would be that hard to make. I would change a few things to make it a little more ergonomically friendly, but I can't help but think anything would be better than a snowman counting down the days till Christmas. But that's just my opinion.

According to Mr. Snowman we are over half-way there. So Merry Christmas everyone. And may each of us remember the real reason for the season.

Friday, December 2, 2011

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. "We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson

I saw this quote today and thought it was worth sharing.

We all have fear, or at least most of us do. I have a lot of fears. Fear of yelling at my kids right when someone rings the doorbell. Fear of calling people on the phone. Fear that I will spend too much money at the grocery store, or Macy's or Target or TJ Maxx or any other store. Fear that no one will read this blog, or read my books. Fear that no one will like my books. Fear that those monkeys on Wizard of Oz will come into my room at night and whisk me away to their evil castle and then throw apples at me all night long.

Anywho, the point is this: I love to act. I love to write. I love to sing. And for the past 17 years I have avoided most of these things out of fear. Fear that if I go to an audition there will be someone better, prettier, thinner, taller, and just flat out more talented than myself.

Well, guess what? Of course there will be...but so what? I went to an audition today with all of those thoughts tumbling around my head and guess what, there was a very pretty woman dressed similarly to me and let's just be honest, she was all of those things. A tall toothpick with an amazingly gorgeous face. And there I sat feeling inadequate, plain and under-qualified. But I didn't run out of the room. I stayed, did my part and left feeling pretty darn proud of myself.

Something happened this year. I turned 37 and I shed some skin. That skin that keeps us from failing, but also holds us back from succeeding. I grew some thicker skin, too. It's called, "I like me as I am." So I took an acting class, auditioned for a student film, and even got a part in it! Since then I've been involved in several other projects and I can see more in my future. I had fun today. I'm glad I went, and whether or not I get the part isn't as important as conquering this paralyzing fear I have had for many many years.

My advice for tonight? Do something crazy. Shed some skin. I didn't say clothes, mind you, I said skin. Keep your clothes on. This is a family show, after all.But there is something to that old adage that underneath all those clothes we are all naked. Helps to keep things in perspective as far as feelings of inadequacies. (I don't mean that in a dirty way of course) Come on, you know what I mean!

Happy Weekend.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ode to Idaho. My home sweet home

I saw this on Facebook this morning and had to send it on out. Since my upcoming Novel, "The Sand Bar" is based in my hometown of St. Anthony, Idaho I couldn't help but laugh at this very accurate description of life in the Gem State. It was originally written by Jeff Foxworthy as a description of Alaska, and some fine folks could see how it was an accurate description of Idaho, so they did a little tweekin' and passed it on to us. Enjoy.

1. If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't work there, you live in Idaho.
2. If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you live in Idaho.
3. If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number, you live in Idaho.
4. If 'vacation' means going anywhere south of Salt Lake City for the weekend, you live in Idaho.
5. If you measure distance in hours, you live in Idaho.
6. If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you live in Idaho.
7. If you have switched from 'heat' to 'A/C' and back again in the same day, you live in Idaho.
8. If you install security lights on your house and garage but leave both unlocked, you live in Idaho.
9. If you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you live in Idaho.
10. If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit, you live in Idaho.
11. If the speed limit on the highway is 55 mph --you're going 80, and everyone is still passing you, you live in Idaho.
12. If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, you live in Idaho.
13. If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction, you live in Idaho.
14. If you find 10 degrees 'a little chilly' you live in Idaho.
15. If you actually understand these jokes and forward them to all your IDAHO friends, you live in Idaho