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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Fixing What’s Broke: What’s in your Tradition?

Falling Back on the Tried and True

Last night I posted a minor rant about my missing holiday cheer. It was prompted by the small pile of gifts and the bins of packaging material which were littering my living room untouched.

The purpose of my mini rant was two-fold. First, I figured I wasn’t alone in feeling a bit let down and cheerless, holiday-wise at this time of year. Second, I knew that if I wrote about it instead of keeping it inside where it could fester, I’d purge myself of the crabbiness and get on with what I needed to do.

Getting Back in Working Order

I want you to know that it worked. I spent most of today shopping: not for anything major, but for those small things that make the holiday special–or at least they do in my house.

For me, it might be that special tea or cocoa for someone, a toy that makes weird grunting noises for my grandpuppy or just the right calendar for everyone on my guest list. Oh! And that brings to mind traditions.

We Have Traditions We Follow From Year to Year

When my daughters were young, I started doing certain things for them for Christmas/Chanukah, never realizing they’d become solid family traditions. Most of them weren’t that expensive and since money was tight in the early years, it made them that much easier to perpetuate. In fact, my daughter still follows many of them. So what are some of our traditions? Here’s a short list. Something to note is that for most of these items, fun is the operative word. No boring stuff for us!:

  • Pajamas
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • A hard back book with a special message inscribed inside (this one isn’t necessarily silly. In the beginning, it was classics like Huck Finn and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)
  • Kitchen gadgets
  • Calendars

Many people create family traditions intentionally as a means to instill certain values in their children, while others, like us, just sort of have them happen. An idea comes up one year and it goes over so well it happens from year to year until the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without it. However a tradition comes about, I think it’s a lot like an inside joke. It makes those inside feel warm and fuzzy, not only in the midst of traditional activities, but whenever they come to mind.

As for the rest of my holiday preparations, I managed to get a nice pile of gifts wrapped tonight too.

What is in Your Tradition?

I would love to hear how your family makes the holidays special and unique. Remember, it’s those little things which count more than expensive gifts or elaborate trips.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I’m grateful again for my writing which is the most effective, least expensive therapist I’ve ever found.
2. I am grateful for today’s shopping trip which yielded simple yet meaningful gifts for those I love.
3. I am grateful for the traditions my daughters and I created over the years.
4. I am grateful for the love and cheer I encountered while shopping today.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, cheer, kindness, compassion, RAK’s, joy, friendship, happiness, cooperation, successes large and small, sharing, caring, health, hope, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Ho Ho Hum

Are You Inundated Like Me?

I’m on the fence over which generates more posts and email: Politics or Christmas. With Politics, the campaign ads and candidate discussions start earlier and earlier every election year. The new President barely takes office before the campaigning begins for the next term, or so it seems to me.

Christmas is no better. Merchants and others with wares to sell used to have the decency to wait until after Thanksgiving to start inundating us with offers and ads. Then they waited only until after Halloween. This year, I was getting Black Friday ads way back in July! Where will it all end?

Missing the Point by a Country Mile

The whole point of Christmas has degenerated into “Buy, Buy, Buy”. Everyone is selling the next big thing or something you really must have. I’m beginning to find it both offensive and intrusive. But more, many merchants are making a joke of themselves. Much as I like Kohl’s as a rule, how many “Biggest sale of the season”s can they really have? Or have they added seasons to our calendar I’m unaware of?

I believe it was Walmart (or as I like to say, “The store which shall not be named”) who started the trend of opening earlier and earlier for Black Friday until people were lining up outside the store on Thanksgiving day. Seriously? So now the trend is to be one of the stores which doesn’t open on Thanksgiving Day. What will the next band wagon be?

Getting Back to Basics

I’ve declared this year “The Year of a Minimalist Christmas/Chanukah”. We have certain traditions I will continue to uphold (An inscribed book, pajamas, socks and undies) and a couple of useful things I’ve gotten for the kids, but there will be no more craziness and going into debt for the holidays. I may even follow my daughter’s lead and do something creative. She’s making her own beauty products like lip balms and face masks. I’ve long been interested in studying to be an herbalist. Maybe it’s time I put my money where my mouth is.

Even more important is taking the time to love and consider others. Practicing random acts of kindness or even just biting my tongue when I might want to tell someone off. I don’t really know right now. I just know that however I decide to mark the holiday season this year, it won’t have anything to do with the dozens of emails I receive every day trying to sell me goods or services I neither need nor want (breast implants or penis enlargement anyone?).

Consider this: many charities now have a wish list on Amazon. How about taking the money we might have spent on something unnecessary and put it towards an item on your favorite charity’s wish list? Or buy a couple of things to donate to Toys for Tots. I won’t presume to tell you that one charity is more important than another. They are all worthy and many depend on gifts to continue doing what they do.

This is Me, Protesting Marketing Overload

I know it isn’t going to make much difference for someone like me to opt out of the marketing maelstrom this year, but what if hundreds or even thousands said “Nope, I’m going to do the basics for my family and the rest will be charitable, either by act or deed. Maybe, just maybe those people will re-think their advertising campaign for next year. One can only hope.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I have choices.
2. I am grateful for the ability to mass delete marketing emails.
3. I am grateful for the helpers who give us better ways to spread holiday cheer. We don’t have to conspicuously consume.
4. I am grateful for the people in my life who put value on things like acts and time spent rather than on the price tag on a gift they might never even use.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, joy, kindness, compassion, self-restraint, humor, happiness, philanthropy, prosperity, health, peace and harmony.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages at and . Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

December 23, 2014 It’s all about the people! #shericonaway

My heart is happy and I know why!

After a busy day which began by waking up to my daughter and grand puppy, took me from veggie pickup to grocery shopping and finally more wrapping, I am happy to say, I’ve found my Christmas spirit.

Call me weird, but I get very excited over veggies. Today’s box included a large head of cauliflower, celery, round carrots, spinach (which I need for Christmas breakfast), lettuce (which I dropped off at the local pet store as I don’t want it to go to waste), two lovely artichokes and an avocado, PLUS a whole bunch of oranges! I’m doing the happy dance over all of that bountiful goodness. Some of it became tonight’s dinner and some will be Christmas breakfast, but I’ll have some things to just play with too!

But again, I digress. While running errands I was alternately talking to my daughter between her errands and texting two of my adopted kids (not while driving of course!) about Thursday’s festivities. It finally hit me why my spirit was proving hard to raise this year. I needed my people! The day got an even more wonderful boost when I got to join in the skype with my son-in-law who is several months into a very long deployment! If all goes well, he’ll be here via skype for both Christmas Even dinner and our Christmas morning chaos. Though we all wish he could be home, we’re doing the next best thing so he can still share our Christmas insanity.

Today, I wrapped while my daughter cooked dinner, and we chatted and joked the whole while. My heart grew three sizes and I felt like myself again, filled with joy and feeling like a giant smile. Even without our traditional shopping silliness, the holidays came to my house after all, and I feel incredibly blessed.

The newest additions to my family are blatantly disrespecting the Christmas tree.

I knew there would be issues since Scrappy Doo (aka, demo boy) and Pyewacket (aka willing accomplice) had never seen a tree in the house before, albeit a fake one, but I had no idea they would be so creative. With a little help from Toby, who insists that his 20 pound bulk won’t disturb my skinny little six foot tree, Scrappy quickly found his spot on the lower branches of the tree, bending the poor things beyond recognition, but hopefully, not beyond repair. On the bright side, they’re leaving the packages alone. At least I had the foresight to earthquake strap the tree to the wall!

For now, the neatly wrapped packages are piled around the tree or stuffed in stockings and the detritus from a few days’ wrapping frenzy is neatly stowed. All that remains is some cleaning, our traditional Jewish Christmas Eve dinner and a couple of good nights’ sleep before my living room becomes a chaos of ribbons, wrapping paper and heaven knows what else my disturbingly creative daughter has come up with for us this year. ( last year it was a nerf gun fight in my living room, and I’m still finding the disks in the most unlikely of places!)

Sundown tomorrow rings in the beginning of Christmas and the end of Chanukah.

This is my last chance to wish my Jewish friends and family a very Happy Chanukah, clearing the way for me to wish a Merry Christmas to one and all. For those who may be feeling less than joyful this holiday season, and I know many won’t for their own reasons, I hope I can spread the joy I’m feeling around enough to help them at least tolerate all of the jolly people around them. If this year holds more pain than joy for you, I wish you healing in 2015.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful to have reconnected with my holiday spirit.
2. I am grateful for the days I get to spend with my daughter and grand puppy.
3. I am grateful for my adopted kids and the very special joy they bring into my life.
4. I am grateful for the friendships I’ve made, the ones I’ve lost and the ones I’ve strengthened this year. Each and every one changed for good reason, and has made my life better for it.
5. I am grateful for an overflowing of joy, enough to spread around as far as I can reach, and maybe farther.
6. I am grateful for abundance: joy, love, friendship, sharing, forgiveness, inspiration, imagination, health, peace, harmony and prosperity.


December 15, 2014 Feelin’ groovy again. #shericonaway

If you wait long enough, the answer will come.

All it took was my weekly pilates class to make it clear why I’d been feeling so…well…yukky the last few days. As I struggled to keep up, I realized that I do much better in the Pilates class when I keep up my regular gym routine which I had sadly neglected last week. Today, after doing some exercise, I managed to run a couple of hours worth of errands and have gotten trash, sand boxes, and yes, even floor scrubbing done. Some of this has been on my list for weeks, but I had reached the point where, if it didn’t get done, my Christmas tree was in danger of remaining in the box this year. That would never do!

Chores aside, an hour of exercise in the morning means a day of much more energy overall. Many of my friends would say it’s simple physics, and if I’d really thought about it, I’d have known the answer. Lack of exercise like lack of sunshine can lead to depression, and laziness is just one symptom. So it occurs to me that exercise is to depression like garlic is to vampires.

Admittedly, the lack of exercise last week also had a negative impact on my ability to complete said chores. Only the bathroom floors and the worst part of the living room got scrubbed today, though everything was vacuumed. I get to look forward to more floor scrubbing tomorrow, but hey, it’s raining again, and that makes me happy! (especially since I don’t have to commute in it!)

With Christmas fast approaching, I’m back in list mode again!

My “To Do” list is growing again. This week sees my expectations high for myself and I plan to complete:
1. Finish washing floors
2. Complete November bookkeeping for both clients.
3. Continue adding to my latest novel.
4. Call my broker
5. Help socialize some foster kittens (fun stuff!)
6. Go to the gym at least three more times this week.
7. Put up Christmas tree
8. Decorate Christmas tree
9. Wrap presents
10. Send Christmas box to my son-in-law

That should keep me busy for the rest of the week, and ensure that I won’t be sleeping too late like I did last week. I swear, sleeping too late in the morning is the kiss of death when it comes to having a productive day! These cold, rainy mornings make it hard to leave my warm, cat filled bed, but I have six days to get this place ready before my daughter arrives, so there’s no time for dilly-dallying now!

I know I’m in good company, though. Every one I know is rushing hither and thither, trying to get all of their chores done so they can enjoy their holiday. Let’s make this an especially giving one, remembering those in need!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for an end to my doldrums and a new beginning for my healthy habits.
2. I am grateful for a halfway clean house (I’m well on the way to getting it the rest of the way clean now!)
3. I am grateful for the rain. We surely need it after so much drought. Maybe this time, the powers that be will figure out a way to keep more in reserve for our next dry season.
4. I am grateful that my boys are cooperating (with just a little bribery) while I put drops in their ears twice a day.
5. I am grateful for abundance: motivation, inspiration, energy, rain, love, joy, happiness, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.


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