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December 21, 2013

Column: It’s a wonderful life, Mr. Stewart

OK...prepare for a bit of rambling...

A while back, I wrote a column that included the poem by Jenny Joseph, “When I Am Old and Start to Wear Purple.” I love that poem. In it, she wrote about eating only bread and pickles for a week. I invited folks to come on by and see me...and said I’d be glad to share my bread and pickles with anyone who does.

Then this week, I got the sweetest gift. It meant so much to me. A sweet lady that I haven’t even met yet – hope to soon, by the way – by the name of Princess Rankin stopped by and left me some yummy banana nut bread, and a pickle christmas ornament – bread and a pickle.

That in itself was just the cutest and sweetest thing ever, but she also included a card, which touched my heart.

If you’ve been reading this newspaper for a good long while, you know that my predecessor, Flo Rankin, was here at The Gazette many years before she passed away. I have said it many times, I could never hope to fill her shoes and would certainly never try. And I wish I could have known her. I hear she was quite the firecracker.

Princess is a member of Flo’s family, and that’s why the card meant so much to me. It was a thank you card, and she wrote to thank me “ for being who you are and bringing it to me. P.S.: Flo is in heaven enjoying you and cheering you on.”

How sweet was that?! Made my day. Heck, that made my year!

So Princess, thank you. And let’s meet up face to face...I feel the need to put a huggin’ on you.

So Christmas is this week. I think I’m prepared. But are we ever, really? There’s always, for me anyway, the last minute fear that I’ve forgotten someone or something. And I certainly don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

This weekend, I’m doing something I never do...baking. I am not what you would call a great cook, but I can light a fire and char the heck out of most anything. Baking, however, is a horse of another color. But I’m giving it the ol’ college try.

I plan to give the goods away to others as a symbol of holiday spirit. I will wrap the goodies in nice, holiday fashion, in the hopes that they will spend more time admiring than tasting.

After handing out the goods – or maybe bads...it remains to be seen – I’ll be heading to my baby brother’s house in Tampa to spend time with him and his family, as well as my parents. As I prepare for this special time with them, I keep the following in mind...

1. Family members can be annoying. We don’t get to pick them, and we have to love them and put up with their behavior, good, bad or indifferent. Family can be the most difficult thing about the holidays. But they can also be the best. I wouldn’t trade mine, and all their quirks, for the world. Just bear in mind that as part of the family, you also annoy them. That’s my mantra at family gatherings: “I’m irritating too...I’m irritating too...”

2. Not every Christmas is going to end like “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Not everyone will greet you at the door with a smile and a slice of fruitcake. The carolers may get covered in soot when you open the door after forgeting to open the chimney flue. But it’s OK. You’ll have great memories of it all if you just make some adjustments to your attitude. No one pulls off the perfect holiday.

3. This is not the time of year to deal with past grievances with family or friends, or to make serious decisions about your life and your future. There’s too much stress, too many distractions, and people may not be at their best – and this includes me and you.

But here’s the thing...approach with humor, not caution. Smile more, grouse less. If you get frustrated with the in-laws, go have more egg nog. It’s the one time of the year that doesn’t look weird.

Try finding moments of contentment. Stare at the pretty lights on the Christmas tree, watch the kids open presents, give lots of hugs, and make a huge fuss over presents big and small. Give joy, get joy and enjoy.

It’s Christmas. Merry, merry.

 

You can reach Angye Morrison @ angye.morrison@gaflnews.com

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