I had mentioned in my last post how - seeing the rocks on the beach gave me the urge to tangle a few and put them back for someone else to find. Random Acts of Tangling. I know there are all kinds of groups doing similar things with trading cards, stuffies, guerilla art... it got me thinking though...

Maybe it's the time of year, the approaching holidays, the lack of sunlight, colds, the constant flood of donation requests, renewal reminders, the unending lawyer bills, the ever increasing vet bills... but I am feeling a bit on the edge of insanity! I keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be a wonderful, magical time of year. But I just don't feel it. I want to NOT focus on the expense and the commercial aspects, but that laundry list above is focused on money. I want to take a step away... what would Zentangle do? Seems kind of corny, but... what would happen if I did take a step back, squint at it, look for patterns... can I break it down into steps? I'll let you know if I figure out how to deconstruct this tangled mess!

Last night, my daughter and I watched a cute, animated version of Yes, Virginia (there is a Santa Claus) on Netflix. It was a good reminder that  - whether or not you will admit to "believing" in Santa, or fairies, or magic, or anything, really - the point is actually "hope". The movie points out that everyone has a chance to "be" Santa Claus by giving hope to someone else. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of outlook. It's not about giving the right coffeemaker, or the latest gadget or toy. The right gift is often a show of support, the right words, or maybe even NOT saying something. Like that quote, I don't know who said it, "Would you rather be right, or kind?"

I think that what depresses me so much about the holidays is the presents. If I think of it like a logic problem... if someone likes you, they buy you a present. If they really value you, or love you, they buy you something expensive, or lots of presents. So then the opposite it true too, right? For the last few years... more than I care to admit... I have been buying my own presents. Birthdays, Christmas... even Anniversaries. I always get gifts that I want. But what's the point? I remember feeling very disappointed, even as a kid. That something was missing. A point. And if gifts are meant to represent hope, rather than your own value, maybe they shouldn't be opened?

When I was a kid, Christmas was in December. The END of December. There were Christmas sales at school, advent workshops, lots of hoopla, but not until December. We put the tree up the first day of the holiday vacation. My grandmother and I would mix up an enormous bowl of gingerbread and spend an entire day rolling and cutting little "poopsies" (gingerbread people). Those cookies were an Estonian recipe - they were crispy and spicey and so delicious! We'd take plates of them to all our neighbors. The happiness on their faces was contagious.  On Christmas Eve, I felt the magic at church. The music, the candles, my friends... the happiness made me want to burst! The pews were so full because everyone had family visiting. And after church, I'd watch the swarms of people heading off to dinner and parties and I wanted to be one of those kids with a huge family! We'd go home to eat cookies and Christmas sausage... me, my sister, brother, grandmother and mom. I remember resenting my tiny family! Now, my family is even smaller. And last Christmas, my kids were with their father and my mom with friends... Christmas for one, truly sucks.

Like Ebenezer Scrooge, I've been shown a bunch of variations, and I know I want things to be different, but I don't know what new traditions or people I can adopt. I know for sure that spending an entire month, or TWO months! - preparing for one day - is a recipe for disappointment. No one holiday could possibly live up to all that hoopla and marketing!

There's a great video from The Story of Stuff folks - Tis the Season to Get Trampled. They are suggesting we stay HOME the day after Thanksgiving and DO SOMETHING with our family members instead of running out for bargain shopping. Their slogan is "Buy Nothing. Do Something." Choose Family Over Frenzy. So I decided NOT to do an Open Studio that weekend. I'm going to hang out with my kids and my sister and her family. Just say no. It's a start.

Then I want to start noticing other ways that I can integrate the whole random acts thing into my life. Because THAT's what feels good to me. And I will start paying more attention to the random acts of kindness that others hand to ME. I admit I get so "stressed" that I wouldn't even notice if all my dreams came true. Wait a minute! I think they have! Darn, I missed it! It's probably all on Facebook.  Point is - when I'm rushing through McDonald's and the server says "Ohmigosh! I love your coat!" That's a RAK - I should acknowledge that the compliment not only means I have good taste (or something), but I DO have a warm, fuzzy, purple coat that makes me feel good. Gratitude. I have what I need. When my daughter's teacher says she is doing really well and not acting out in class anymore. That's not just relief I feel that my kid is not the one throwing rocks. Not just an absence of embarrassment, but a feeling of gratitude. I am proud of my kid, yes, but also grateful that I HAVE this amazing kid.

So this week is Thanksgiving. It's not Black Friday or Cyber Monday or whatever. It's Thanksgiving. It's a reminder that I have SOOOOO many things to really feel grateful about. You try it out too - if you are feeling stressed about the crowd coming to your house? Picture the alternative. Then find a way to appreciate each person and what they are contributing to your life.

I'm curious to know what Random Acts of Kindness you have received? What about RAKs that you DO for others? Wouldn't it be cool to have a Signature Act of Kindness? (A SAK?) That would make us like super-heros - a special power! As an example: when we go to the grocery store and my daughter is feeling a little sad, she has this magical way of cheering herself up. She looks for a woman who is shopping alone and who looks sad too. Then Lilah walks right up to her and smiles a huge smile, "Hi, I'm Lilah, I'm 5!" And she just stands there smiling until the woman smiles back. She runs back to me and says "She smiled. She'll be OK." That's quite a super-power.

And here's a weird thought... if you could make a wishlist of RAKs, what would you most like to receive from others? What would make your day?

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