My family is big on Christmas. While the magic is never the same as it was in childhood, we work hard to make each and every year a memorable one. Some might say we are a little crazy – we open gifts one by one and, as the years go by and our family expands, that can make the gift opening last all day. But it also makes gift giving memorable – rather than a harried free-for-all opening extravaganza, we know what was given and the thoughtfulness behind each gift. Christmas comes just once a year so why not make it last.
This year I am cherishing the memory-making and my family with new eyes. Unfortunately, divorce entered the family fray this year and so we are celebrating with one less family member. After nearly 15 or so years, it’s a difficult transition and one that reminds me that you have to enjoy life as it is now. It moves fast and furious and before you know it, everything can change.
Family can drive you crazy but if you are celebrating with them this year, try to appreciate every aspect of them now - the chaos, the laughs, the fun, the annoyances and sometimes even the tears. Enjoy the traditions that may seem silly or meaningless. Some day you are likely to look back and enjoy each and every one as fond memories.
The whole issues of transparency in social media, networks and the like is driving me crazy. People keep blogging about being transparent and open but I think you have to keep it in context.
There have been some good blogs about this – for example, Penelope Trunk once blogged about her twenty-something business partner and the fact that he had personal photos of himself partying on his Facebook page. She talked about the age difference and how his generation is just “like that” and us Gen Xers need to lighten up. But uh, here’s the thing, some people – I would guess younger folks – have a lot less to lose. Perhaps he is just starting his career and doesn’t realize the impact total openness could have on it. Perhaps he doesn’t have a family to support or a mortgage to pay. If he loses a job for something he did or said on the Internet, he can probably get another one pretty easily without a lot of personal strife.
Transparency does not mean let it all hang out. It means to be honest and straight forward – as much as it makes sense. Don’t set up a flog or post comments under the guise of being someone else. Don’t establish a presence on social networks, communities or blogs and post comments or act like you are simply a loyal customer of some company when you actually work for them. Being transparent means being honest and open in this manner – identify yourself as an employee, or a client as a client, before posting comments – not showcasing your Friday night forays for all the world to see.
The Forbes Top 25 Web Celeb list yesterday also reminded me of this. My favorite “celeb” highlighted was someone I’d never heard of – Heather B. Armstrong. Besides being an amazingly honest, open and engaging writer, she talks about how she was fired in 2001 for blogging about people at her job. For her, total transparency meant unemployment. And even though – now – the road she was forced down as a result has paid off, it’s a one-in-a-million shot for the same outcome for most bloggers. (Despite that we’ve all come a long way since 2001…and she talks about how she had to learn her lesson on “boundaries” of transparency after hurting her family with early blog posts.)
She’s lucky – because now that she makes a living as a blogger, she can be totally transparent. And she is – and it works brilliantly. But for the rest of us – who still have to answer to clients or employees or employers – the total transparency of our opinions, thought and actions is something I question – and again say “all in context.”
I cherish Saturdays. Workweeks are long and stressful and not full of enough sleep. Sundays bring anxiety about Monday morning. But Saturdays are glorious.
Case in point, last Saturday I left the Holiday cards unsigned, the presents unwrapped and the house uncleaned to go outside and play with my boys. We have a hilly yard – which most of the time stinks but for sledding it is excellent (especially when you are 2 and 5).
We spent a good half of the day outside playing in the snow (before Sunday’s rainstorm turned it all to ice) and for a moment I stopped at the top of the hill, my two-year-old on my lap, looked out at the ocean and thought “wow, life is awesome.”
Moments like this can be few and far between but are just the fuel I need to keep going. I hope you have one soon, too. Remember what matters during this very busy and stressful month!
I’m counting my blessings this month even as I run around stressing about getting everything done: the shopping, the wrapping, the end-of-year sales and finances, the travel plans, etc. But I’m not forgetting how, even though I’m crazed, I’m extremely lucky. I have a warm home – in both temperature and spirit, a great marriage, two glorious children, great and patient friends, a thriving business on my own terms, fabulous employees, a supportive extended family, three dogs who make me crazy but are great for cuddling, and much, much more.
As I look around this month and count my blessings more than usual, I also want to give back as a way of saying “thanks” to the universe/Kismet, etc. It’s easier than ever these days – so no excuses. Click on any of the URLs below to share the spirit this holiday season – and always, for that matter.
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