The Christmas holidays this year were different for me in that I was not with my family in San Antonio. Prior to my being home for Thanksgiving, we had decided it would be fun for my parents, sisters, niece and nephews would visit me for Christmas. My parents had wanted to see my new house so this was a great opportunity. I kept telling myself that I needed to just get through Christmas Day and then I’d be fine. I decided to attend church on Christmas Eve. I first attempted to make it to one church’s service at 5:00. I arrived with only 10 minutes or so to spare and found no parking….well, I could’ve parked across the street but then figured there would be no seating inside the church. Alrighty, Plan B. I stopped at the grocery store, grabbed some milk, pizza, spaghetti, sauce and chips…clearly essentials for snow storm. I drove home, put the groceries away and got back into the car so I was sure to make the next service. The entryway of St. Thomas More was already crowded. I spotted a seat on one of benches and quickly snagged it. As I began looking around, I realized this was the children’s pageant mass. Little ones decked out in their adorable holiday clothes kept the atrium area a buzz with activity. A few minutes later, the children began lining up to take their place. Angels, various animals and alike were chattering amongst themselves.
A Call to Serve
Thanks to the tweet from Ann Curry, I felt called to volunteer to help serve dinner at the Norman Community Dinner on Christmas Day. I was scheduled to be a back-up but then got the call that someone had cancelled. I left early in case it took me a while to get to Norman High School. I parked and carefully walked up the ramp. As I looked around the cafeteria, I couldn’t help but smile. Families and individuals enjoying a delicious holiday meal. After getting my instructions, I was assigned my post. I am finding out how small of a world Norman is as I ended up meeting two ladies who used to work where I work now. As I was saying my goodbyes to the gentleman in charge of the event an hour or so later, I said I would get in touch with him earlier next year so I could sign up in advance.
Through the slosh and over the ice we go
The reports that came in early on Tuesday were not encouraging for my being able to travel to my friend’s house for dinner. Text messages were exchanged and after looking at updates online, I decided to head north. Getting out of my neighborhood seemed to be the most difficult. Fast forward a couple of hours and I returned home from a delicious meal with friends. We ate, watched the Thunder game, opened presents and just hung out.
In my eyes, that was a good Christmas. As I write this, it is two days until my family gets to Norman. I can’t wait….
Enjoying the holidays in Norman
One week has passed since the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Though we as a society may never understand the “why” behind what happened, we have had a week to go through the various emotions of anger, sadness, frustration, shock. One emotion many have embraced, thanks to the prodding from Ann Curry, is love. Thanks to Curry’s push for random acts of kindness via Twitter using the hash tag #26Acts, the country and even beyond, have reached out to do good for others…maybe friends, random strangers or even organizations. Just as Maya Angelou states, “When we know better, we do better.” This is so true…..when we know of what needs to be done, we do it and we feel great about it. I know when I do a nice gesture for others, my spirits are immediately lifted. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have loved hearing about the stories and following the tweets on Twitter….but what scares me is that these good deeds will have an expiration date. Think about this for a minute…September 11th, 2001 for example. Following that horrific tragedy, America became more, well American. We all went out and bought flags to fly outside our houses, we cherished our families and appeared more patriotic than ever. Why do we as Americans not sustain this need to do good all year? Why does it take a tragedy like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting for us to commit ourselves to doing 26 acts like Ann Curry suggests? If you simply look around, there are ample opportunities to share your time and money year round….wouldn’t it feel great to have done a random act of kindness every day? This doesn’t have to involve money either. Soon, many will go back to our normal day-to-day activities taking care of ourselves and occasionally thinking of others. We don’t set out our days with the intention of “what can I do for someone else today?” Why not?
My hope is that this time around, our mindset changes. Wouldn’t it be a great way to honor the 26 children and adults who lost their lives just a week ago? Children eager to learn and make their mark on the world…adults who chose a profession not for the pay, but to make a difference. Let’s make them proud and continue that effort. One last note…many people no doubt have blogged and written on this topic but I would suggest you taking another minute to read my friend’s posting on taking responsibility and stepping up. Thanks, Carmen!
What will your #26Acts be? We have today…make it count.
“I’m in” in Norman
Amongst the cheers and yelling last night at Lloyd Noble Center during the game against Stephen F. Austin, the chant of “Let’s go Sooners” followed by clap-clap…clap-clap-clap caught my attention. I began to follow the sounds as they weren’t coming from the cheerleaders or spirit squad. I smiled when I spotted a fan in a Crimson and White polo shirt, standing up, carrying on the chant with his wife by his side. “Good for him” I thought to myself. What true spirit.” Occasionally when he would start again, other people in the crowd would join with him. If his independent cheering bothered anyone, it didn’t faze him. Like myself, he clearly has a passion for the game and our Sooners.
As I have stated before, I enjoy football but I love basketball. It is the sport I played what feels like a zillion years ago. That orange ball with the black stripes (don’t read too much into that, Sooner fans), was what I lived to reach for as soon as my homework was done. I would stay outside until I could not see the goal anymore.
I love (and hate) that the outcome of a game can come down to one point, one free throw such as it did for our guys last night. They fought their way back from a deficit and the game was on the line. Two free throws would tie the game. The first one went in, our shooter pumped his fist. Now time for the second and tying basket….no pressure. The ball bounced off the rim and into the hands of a Stephen F. Austin player. He drove down the lane to waste more of the clock. The game was over.
As I headed to the car, disappointed for the team I thought about the fan I saw tonight. Those are the fans that have our players’s backs…..they don’t give up because we are down by 10, 15 points. They stay until the end and are the ones whose attitude is “we’ll get them next time.”
So to the fan in the red and white polo, you yell all you want…we need more fans like you.
Fellow Basketball Fan in Norman
Dates are funny things. There’s the day you took that first step, day you broke up with what’s his name, day you graduate. They are figures embedded in our heads, maybe for life or just temporarily. Maybe they are dates that make you laugh, smile, cry or ones you wish to forget. So when I heard the various newscasters and radio personalities discussing today’s date, 12.12.12, I figured I would go a different route. While today’s date is significant, I feel more inclined to remember and share 12 memories, events or just dates in general that are memorable to me. Here they are in no particular order:
The day I….
- Drove from San Antonio to Norman, OK (with brief stop in Dallas) for graduate school. 6 years later, I’m now a resident of Oklahoma.
- Learned I would be an aunt….got to repeat that day 5 times (thank you Kathy and Jay for giving us Ryan, Patrick, Jimmy, Garrett and Meagan).
- Threw out my first (and probably last) pitch at a softball game. Oh, thankfully I can laugh at it now as I don’t remember seeing any media.
- Had a student come up to me and say “If I hadn’t come seen you or gotten help from this office, I wouldn’t have gotten this internship.”
- Recently had to be hundreds of miles away while a good friend who is only two years older than me received her first chemo treatment (where’s that private plane when you need it?)
- Signed the papers on my first house and car.
- Shook the hands of former CEO for Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher and Vice Presidential nominee, Gov. Sarah Palin (crikey it was cold that night….but worth it)….oh and if you’re ever at Dallas Love Field, keep your eye out for Mr. Kelleher-great guy!
- Went out to take pictures of snow and wasn’t sure if I’d make it home when my car tires kept spinning….but got some darn good pictures as a result.
- Skied the expert slopes with my cousin when I was about 6 or 7. Funny how the smile on my face did not match my parents…their expression said, “You were where???”
- Had to kick off my sandals and run after my nephew on cold grass …in a non-fenced backyard…through sprawling yards of complete strangers with friends and family in attendance and probably laughing at me…along with my nephew who was laughing and running quite fast.
- Attended a mass in presence of the late Pope John Paul in 1997.
- Along with my sisters, gave our parents a surprise anniversary party celebrating 35 years of marriage… and seeing the look of pure surprise on their faces (13 years ago, wow time flies).
I hope this day of 12.12.12 is a good one for you but my advice to you: make your own memories and don’t forget to grab the camera!
At one time or another, I would imagine that all of us have been a part of a surprise. Maybe we were the recipient of a surprise or were the person who came up with the great idea. I have been fortunate to have been on both ends of the spectrum. Normally, I am the person trying to come up with a surprise… some sweet gesture that would make someone’s day that they did not see coming at all. This week, however, I was the one who didn’t see something coming. After attending a funeral of a friend’s father, I returned to my car and noticed the light on my phone was flashing indicating a text message. The text was from my sister and simply read: Can you call me when you have 10 minutes. Nothing urgent. I had some time before my doctor’s appointment so before I left the parking lot, I dialed her number. After exchanging the usual “Hey, what’s up, how are you?” Kathy proceeded to say that while it was going to be a surprise, she was going to drive up and help me decorate for my work Christmas party. I couldn’t believe it and can’t help but smile when I think about that conversation. She was so excited and so we got busy reserving a moving van/truck she could use to haul the furniture a friend of hers is giving me along with some pieces we got at Pottery Barn outlet over Thanksgiving.
It is now only hours until she arrives. She is leaving at ungodly hour in the morning so I will be sure to treat her to a delicious and relaxing dinner tomorrow night. I feel so loved that she would do this for me. Perhaps I’ll post pictures after we finish decorating. This may just inspire me to host more parties….
Surprised and blessed in Norman
For however big or small my “readership” is, I still was inspired to start off with that greeting. Why, you ask? Well, I just finished watching one of my favorite movies, The Note. Great movie based on a book (with the same title) by Angela Hunt. Anyway, one of the characters is a newspaper columnist and she always started her column with “Dear Readers…” so I wanted to do the same. Thank you, Peyton Magruder.
On Friday, I returned home to Oklahoma after spending the past week with my family in San Antonio, Texas. As always, I enjoyed seeing my parents, sisters, niece, nephews and brother-in-law. I also was able to see a friend of mine and her family who is like my second family. I hadn’t seen them in a while so our visit was long overdue. On Thanksgiving Day, my parents and I attended mass, though not at our normal parish. The homily was so good that I felt like my mind was cleared from all the “chatter” as Ellen would say and I was just focused on the present and being in the moment. Toward the end of his sermon, the priest said this: “If we’re not careful, Thanksgiving can be a superficial holiday.” Because I didn’t have any paper or pen with me, I pulled out my Blackberry to type in the quote so I could tuck it away. As much as we may want to deny it, our society’s attention does seem to be about rushing through the turkey, dressing and pie so we can rest up for Black Friday deals. Sadly, stores are caving in and opening on Thanksgiving night. Seriously, where are our priorities? What happened to spending time together as a family, watching football games, relaxing and saying thanks for the blessings we have?
This holiday season, I will strive to not worry about getting “the perfect gift” for friends and family. Instead, I will try to savor each and every day, remembering the “little things.” Earlier today, I had my first reminder. While getting groceries, I passed an older lady who asked that I reach up and get a bottle of Pepsi for her. I smiled and obliged and went on my way. I ended up getting in line behind her and saw how she struggled to get out of her motorized wheelchair to pay her bill. Funny how one simple encounter can change out perspective. She helped me once again realize how I am sincerely grateful for the people who I have in my life…the friends and family that make my life feel so rich and full. Spending time with family and friends this past week is the greatest “gift” and the only thing I need. I hope we are all able to direct our priorities in the appropriate way. Don’t stress about the shopping and gifts….the stores will always be there, but the people in our lives may not.
Grateful in Norman