Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In search of holiday cheer

Christmas, in case you haven't noticed, is not far away. Depending on your bah-humbug level, that's either great news, or very, very bad. For those of you on the side of crawling into bed until it's all over, I'm here to perk you up. You can control and even beat those bah-humbug tendencies.

Now as much as I'd love to believe that those of you who stop by this blog, also stop by my website and by the new www.welcometoserenitybook.com site, it may not be so. If you haven't been there yet, I encourage you to stop by, if only to click on the serene thoughts section and look for my 7 Tips to Avoid the Holiday Blues. I'm not going to reinvent that list here; it's all spelled out in the article I wrote for that site. I am here to tell you that the ideas work. Believe me, I've done most of them at one time or another.

Not that I'm a Christmas Scrooge. This is my very favorite time of the year. But I will admit that living far from family can be a downer, especially once I've done all my gift shopping, wrapping and shipping and the cards are on their way. So I turn to some of the suggestions on the list to keep my spirits high.

For instance, I've organized three gatherings over the next few days. Only one involves cooking on my part -- thank goodness for all concerned. I've shopped for children's books and toys and dropped them off for Toys for Tots. And I'm trying out some new cookie recipes just to fill the house with the scent of sugar and cinnamon and chocolate. I've found designated recipients, so all those calories don't wind up in me.

And though the thought of hauling out my tree in the midst of a deadline does not hold a lot of appeal, I am digging in boxes for some of my favorite Santas from my collection and other items that will make this place festive, but not add to my stress level. Think about it, one treasured decoration placed where you can see it, will sometimes do the trick. Of course, I love all the holiday lights, so I intend to roam around to every tree I can spot and pretend it's mine. I've pretty much adopted the massive tree on the Village Green as my own personal marker of good cheer. Let the community think it belongs to them. I know better.

There are so many ways to keep the spirit of the season alive. I'd love to have you share some of yours, either here by clicking on comments, or at www.welcometoserenitybook.com.

Meantime, my very best wishes to all of you for the merriest holiday season ever and a new year filled with blessings.


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Friday, December 12, 2008

Cell phones...a love-hate relationship

Okay, it may be uncool to admit, but I am not a cell phone person. Just the other day, as I was waiting for my friend, author Heather Graham, to meet me for lunch, I reluctantly hauled mine out of my purse and called to check on her. I got her voice mail and told her I'd be waiting inside the restaurant. Fifteen or so minutes later, a very frantic Heather came tearing into the restaurant and informed me that a cell phone does no good, if I don't answer it.

For once I was actually puzzled. I had, in fact, left it on...something I almost never do. I made her call me. From inside my fairly small purse came a barely discernible ring, something I wouldn't have heard if I hadn't had the purse right up by my ear. She rested her case and I vowed to fix my ring-tone...sometime. It hasn't happened yet, mostly because I don't know how...or care.

Now I do believe a cell phone is great for keeping in touch with kids or in an emergency, but that's it. Very few of us are so important that we can't be out of touch for the length of time it takes to drive somewhere. Nor are we so amazingly popular that we must chat with all our friends while in a restaurant. And hopefully we're not so bored with our own company that we must call someone to fill in every spare second left in our day. At least that's what I'd like to believe. Reality suggests something else.

For instance, and I hate to say it but these are most often women, there are those who exit a store, climb into their giant SUVs, start talking on their cells and then try to back out of a parking space. The concept of hands-free cells apparently hasn't been mandated by law down here in Florida, or if it has, no one is familiar with the law. These people can barely handle the car on a good day, much less while talking on their phones.

Then there are the oblivious, so intent on their conversations, that they're completely unaware of anything. Just the other day -- this time it was a man -- pulled into the middle of the narrow driveway of a shopping center parking lot and then made a phone call so no one could exit or enter while he chatted. To the credit of those of us waiting, no one actually hit a horn. Then, again, I did say a few very bad words.

Or how about the man standing in a pizza shop holding up a line while he chatted into his hands-free cell, rather than actually placing his order. This guy was incapable of multi-tasking. And he paced while he talked. It was quite an adventure for those closest to him.

And none of this gets into how I feel about teens and texting, especially while driving.

So, you might ask, where's the love? I like the security when I'm on the road. That's it. Oh, and I wouldn't mind a phone that could find a restaurant, automatically dial and make reservations, answer email. Then, again, I'd probably never figure out how to do any of those things. I guess I'll be stuck in the Dark Ages for a while longer. In the meantime, I hope some of the cell-phone addicted can get some immediate help.

Sherryl Woods

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