Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 269: Mantra Monday - Find Something You Profoundly Appreciate About Each Person You Spend Time With This Week!

Hello friends!  Season's Greetings!! This Monday's Mantra is running a bit late, but I didn't forget.  Tomorrow Michael and I fly east to spend Christmas with our families - first his (in Louisville, KY) and then mine (in St. Louis, MO).  Between all the travel, the as-of-yet-still-unpurchased-gifts, and the dozens of friends and family we're hoping to spend quality time with, I'm anticipating that the next 9 days will be filled with both holiday cheer and a tinge of insanity.  

Not this year!!
I've read that the winter holiday season actually marks a peak in depression, anxiety, and bitchiness.  This is mostly thanks to outrageously high expectations colliding with the chaos of reality.  We miss our long-distance family throughout the year, but quickly remember everything annoying about them within the first 24 hours of a visit.  This, of course, is immediately followed by our own sudden devolvement back to the entitled moodiness of our teenaged selves.  Fun stuff, right?  Anyway, this year I'm determined to see the best in people and chillax about the worst.  Hence, my mantra this week is:

Find Something You Profoundly Appreciate About Each Person You Spend Time With This Holiday Season.

This mantra is a step up from my mother's longtime admonishment to "find something you like about everybody you meet".  (Well, actually it's a step up and a step down: Instead of finding something I "like," I've raised the bar to "profoundly appreciate."  Yet, I'm not committing to doing this for every single person I meet, but only the folks I "spend time with.")  My mom's advice - which I take quite seriously - has sometimes lead me to "like" superficial things about the people I meet (i.e., great shoes!), as a way to make myself feel better for being otherwise judgmental (i.e., what an annoying laugh!; what an immature/sexist/unfunny joke!; OMG I CANNOT believe these people open their Christmas presents BEFORE church! Blasphemy!! - spoken like a true Christmas-and-Easter-only churchgoer!).  Clearly, this approach is overly judgmental for a season that ought to be dedicated to gratitude and good will.  Further, even if I manage to keep such snarky thoughts to myself (which can be a challenge after a few cups of gossipmongering eggnog!), I've still invited shallowness and negativity into my own psyche.  

Way to go Michael.  How... umm.... thoughtful?
So this year I'm changing things up.  Will I still feel annoyance and occasional snarkiness over the next few weeks?  Undoubtedly.  But I'm challenging myself to open my heart wider by finding qualities in each person that fundamentally supersede my petty gripes.  And this goes for Michael, too.  Who cares if he thought a taser (yes, A TASER!) would be an outstanding Christmas present for his new wife?  (Deep breath.  Repeat mantra.)  This man is the most kind and giving soul I've ever met.  That matters more, and suddenly the taser (non)gift matters less. And, thankfully, my sister warned Michael that the taser "might not be such a good idea" just in time, so he still has a few days to redeem himself!)

Speaking of my sister, I vibrantly recall pitching a crying, screaming, "nobody-cares-about-me" fit a few decades ago, when my Hanna opened a gift that I had put on my christmas list.  "Why does SHE get a makeup-kit?! I'm the OLDEST daughter!!"  I wailed and stomped.  Poor Hanna feared the worst.  After I'd caught my breath and could be coaxed out of my room, my mom handed me an identically-wrapped box which contained the exact same makeup kit.  I was embarrassed, and my parents, I'm sure, were wholly unimpressed (although, from that day forth, all "identical gifts" given to both Hanna and me are opened simultaneously).  Anyway, this story reminds me that I'm not always an angel to be around during Christmas, either.  I've matured a lot since the makeup-kit fiasco, but I've still got my quirks.  Hopefully my friends and family will see the best in me as well!

So tell me, what drives you totally nuts about your family?  More importantly: what do you "profoundly appreciate" so much that it makes all the weird quirks not matter?  
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  1. Let me put it this way...I'm the black sheep of the family.
    I'm the black sheep because I don't drink, smoke or party. I pay my bills on time, have a comfortable home and a nice spouse and child. Yes, this makes me weird in my "clan".
    (rolls eyes dramatically)

  2. I dislike the fact that I am the only one who ever loads the dishwasher. They will scrape and rinse the dishes, have them already to go in, but leave them sitting in the sink or on the counter above the empty dishwasher.

  3. It drives me nuts that my family does everything last minute---find clothes, go to the store, get directions, wrap presents, on and on.

    But, I so profoundly appreciate their spontaneity that I can get over the lack of planning and always being late. My mom is the queen of impromptu dance parties to Christmas music. You just never know what may happen :)

  4. It drives me crazy that everything my family does over the holidays is rushed because we are horrible judges of time. This means we're almost always late and, therefore, annoyed with each other during what are supposed to be fun and relaxed times together. BUT - I'm pretty sure that a big reason we suck at planning and allowing enough time to carry out the plans is that we all tend to live "in the moment" - and I love that!

  5. Love the word snarky!! Its defintely hereditary cuz when me my mom and grandma get together we are a cynical snarky bunch. I really hate being critical and when i see it in them i try to work on myself to only think good thoughts about other people. Great post.

  6. On a different subject, has anyone noticed that the modern "leg lamps" made famous by "A Christmas Story" are a whole lot skinnier than the original version used in the movie? Just a thought. ...

  7. On another note, I remember throwing a fit because I got a rocking horse ornament that wasn't quite "red" as promised, it was more of a maroon color. I still feel bad about being such a brat. For me, this Christmas has been all about the joys of spending time together and being grateful for all I do have. Take that, 8-year-old self!

  8. Why would any identical presents be given at different times anyway?!

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