Are You Present This Holiday Season?

holiday-wallpaper

LB’s Thoughts

Budget

You are crying right now because the lowest price you’ve seen for a turkey is $40.  Hams are $52 and forget about roast beef or prime rib.  Don’t cry in the grocery store because you saw this day coming months ago.  Raise your hand if you find it tough to stay on budget during the holiday seasons?  Oh, it’s just me?  I don’t think so.  Come out and show yourselves you procrastinating, over spending, last minute Lucy’s.  You’re in good company.

Last year, when I realized that it was much more advantageous to plan ahead, I started putting money aside months ahead SPECIFICALLY for the festivities.  I did the same thing this year.  Unfortunately, I had to dip into some of those savings last week, but I will be back on schedule this weekend!   Don’t judge me, I’m just confessing… shout out to Destiny’s Child.  That’s for the old school fans.  I am a firm believer that you cannot skimp on holiday food ingredients or purchase junk for Christmas presents either.  I think it’s written somewhere that “Thou shall not be cheapeth”.  Or maybe that was a “Writings on the Wall” commandment given by Destiny’s Child?  Get your game face on folks and don’t allow this weekend to pass without purchasing quality ingredients for Thanksgiving.  In all honesty, your hams, turkeys, and other major meats should have already been purchased and put into the deep freezer.  Allot for quality ingredients for this holiday season.  Don’t buy generic canned foods and knock off heavy creams, butters, and milks trying to avoid the last minute holiday markups that grocery stores punish last minute shoppers with.  That’s an automatic beat down from the family and you know it.  Fake & Cheese is NOT mac & cheese, and your pies will taste like flies.  We’ve waited all year round’ for this bountiful feast and you will not ruin it with your old can of green beans and funyuns, calling it green bean casserole.  The devil is a lie!  Green beans should be fresh this time of year.  That’s why Mama Payne asked Gina, “You still chuckin dem peas big face?” because fresh is mandatory.  Pass the peas like they used to do this season.  Stick to your budget because these are the times we all wish for.  Hang all the mistletoe and happy shopping!

Being Present and Laying a Foundation

Holidays are the fabric that brings folks together this time of year.  Family and friends get together to talk about what’s transpired in order to catch up.  That’s cool, but what about folks who use the holiday to even scores and collect debts from 1994?  What if past holidays have taught you to dread or fear this time of year?  I have learned to handle some of this by being present.  What do I mean by being present?  I actively keep my mind on what I’m experiencing in that moment.  I give people my full attention.  I let my joy and unbridled enthusiasm for today shine brighter than yesterday and I don’t worry about tomorrow.  For one day, I am in the moment.  I unplug and laugh with abandonment.  I savor the taste of my food.  I smell a glass of red wine.  I scream at whatever basketball or football game is on.  I dress comfortably, and I give thanks to God for blessing me with this moment in time.  This moment in time is used to build the tomorrow I want to see.  I don’t dwell on what I didn’t get or what I don’t have.  I am thankful for now, and that takes practice.  For one day, I actively love others and myself.  It’s very easy to get caught up in yesterday’s disappointments, but I’ve realized it’s a sin to rob myself of today.  Tomorrow will take care of itself, so enjoy today.  What I’ve come to find out is these are self-care strategies that I’ve learned to practice throughout the year.  Take care of yourself this holiday season.  I will pass these traditions down to my children because I want them to inherit joy and laughter.

Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud!  Play all of your black holiday music, enjoy all of our traditional dishes, and hug your loved ones tight.  I LOVE this time of the year and I have so much to be thankful for.  See you next year!

PA’s Thoughts

Shortly after Halloween and the first snow fall, I begin to feel a familiar nostalgia that is simultaneously exciting and unnerving. My mind races as I think about all of the things I’d like to accomplish. Family photos, holiday cards, and transforming our home into a winter wonderland. Then anxiety sets in. Are we financially prepared for this? Why didn’t I buy the clearance items from Target last year when they were 75% off? What was I thinking?

Then, my mind switches to my childhood and all of the Christmases that I anxiously awaited Santa, long after I knew he didn’t exist. The thought of someone who cared enough to make sure that I received the things that I desired kept me hopeful. Every year I’d grow eager with anticipation and every year, it was pretty much a disappointment. Kids don’t care about practicality, bills and responsibilities. I know that my brother and I surely didn’t. All kids know is that at least once a year their dreams can come true. I always want my children to feel this way. I always want them to associate the holidays with love, warmth, family and sharing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t place a lot of emphasis of receiving gifts, but I do understand the importance of allowing children to believe that they’re special enough to be gifted with some of their desires.

The older I get, the more I value time, peace and sanity. The holidays are often like weddings and funerals. They tend to bring the worst out of people without them even realizing it. This year, I’m choosing to fall back. I have vowed to pace myself and not to get involved with anything or anyone that causes me to feel anything but joy. Some people eat themselves into oblivion, others drink themselves into oblivion. This year, I am simply choosing to disengage, recharge and spend quality time with my family. We tend to focus on all of the wrong things during the Holiday season. This year, I intend to get it right.

As for this season, there are some certainties. Shopping for the kids is done. The holiday cards and winter wonderland have yet to be accomplished. If time, money and energy don’t permit, I refuse to stress. I’ll just plan better for next year.

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