“If You Don’t Believe, You Won’t Receive”……


This is my third attempt to write my blog for this week.  I started with “Happy Holidays” which slowly morphed into “Harried Holidays.” It finally dawned on me that the phrase I use most often during this time of year is, “If you don’t believe, you won’t receive.” 

Granted, that phrase was originally used to make the older children understand that in this house, Santa is the one that brings presents, and there will never be talk to the contrary.   

This year the phrase has taken some different turns, making this Christmas season more meaningful to me than in many a year. 

There is a friend who is very dear to us sitting in a hospital room in New York City.  Despite the grim facts of her case, she continues to believe that she is meant to be with us for as long as possible.  The only way to receive a miracle is to believe and turn the miracle into reality. 

There are a legion of quiet angels who are trying to help my friend and her family find a little joy right now.  Seeing how they believe in the power of love, prayer and support is a gift received and shared by all.

I kept my word and worked on being present wherever I was this holiday season.  I was able to smile at those in the mall whose demeanor seemed to be equal parts joy and sorrow.  I smiled at the harried cashiers and the moms trying desperately to keep their children happy.  To the one, I received a smile back.

The reality of Christmas being six days away, though, has not found me sipping a cup of tea in quiet repose.  In fact, I am on my third Coke Zero of the day and I plan on running until December 24th when I screech across the finish line.   

On Christmas morning, I will sit back with a sigh of relief and watch the children, aged 4-18, open their presents with glee before we head off to church.   The festival of food will begin apace the minute we return home and laughter will fill the house all day.

Thus, no matter what you believe, may you receive the joy and warmth that this season is meant to bring.  

As for me, I hope Santa appreciates how good I make him look every year!

The Art of Receiving…


There are probably a billion pages of literature written about the art of giving, but I bet there are very few that speak of the art of receiving.

My goal of simplifying things this holiday season is off to a good start.  In an effort to make things easier, I directly asked the children what they each wanted for Christmas from Santa.  I have a ten-year old who is hanging on to Santa for dear life and the rest of them have heard me repeat enough times that “if you don’t believe, you don’t receive.”

Each of them responded in line with his or her personality.  The eldest sent me her gift ideas with URLs attached.  Bless her.  Our second daughter gave me some vague idea of things she wants by category, i.e. she wants to be surprised.  The third one told me that other than a basketball hoop, he doesn’t need anything.  Ridiculous.   Thankfully the youngest has a list a mile long and he has even indicated that he may need doubles of certain items in case the first one breaks.  That is what I call practical.

The art of receiving applies just as easily to birthdays.  I have never understood why a person does not want to make a big deal of his or her birthday.  I believe that everyone should celebrate the day of their birth for the world is a better place just for having them in it!  Mine is April 19th and I will happily send out reminder e-mails for those who forget.   A few years ago my mom decided that she would only buy birthday gifts for the ten grandchildren.  This is the same woman who gave our daughter twenty-six Christmas presents when she was six months old so she is obviously not short of ideas.  Thank goodness Mom responds well to guilt, so THAT campaign was short lived and her own children still receive birthday goodies.

Last week I was running around like a nut, arriving at a friend’s house to pick up one of the kids at 8 pm.  When I entered the kitchen, my friend told me to sit down and then she proceeded to serve me dinner.  I am sure she didn’t think much of it, but I hope she knows that being on the receiving end that night meant everything to me.

We have all been taught that giving is what makes the world go round, yet there is equal grace in receiving. So, this holiday season, when you are on the receiving end, accept what is given with gratitude and smile in the knowledge that you are loved.  

A Narrow Path….


© Olga Drozdova | Dreamstime.com

Below are excerpts from a monthly column I wrote in March 2005 in my role as a Junior League president.

“Recently, I have spent time with a lovely nine-year old girl who has been ill since late December.  She has been on and off medication her whole life, but this illness is different.  Bouts of severe joint pain coupled with fevers and other symptoms have left a team of doctors baffled.

When she first started getting sick, we discussed the possibility that maybe all of this would lead her to her “life work.”  Maybe she would become a doctor or a nurse who would work with children.

As my little friend’s illness stretched into weeks of doctor visits and invasive tests, we spoke again about her “life work.”  All of the adults spending time with her – teachers, tutors, family friends and doctors – told her that her bravery and kindness inspired and motivated them.  She and I discussed that maybe her “life work” had already started.  Just being she was enough to change those around her for the better.

When I asked permission to write about her in this column, she simply replied, “Of course, Mommy.” “

This child is now a beautiful sixteen-year old young woman who just happens to have rheumatoid arthritis.    She is working on her third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  To earn her last black belt, she had to break two blocks of cement with her palm.  Those are always fun conversations to have with her doctor. 

She plays piano beautifully and she is finally wearing Pointe shoes for ballet.   Her determination to succeed is something to behold, and now her goal is to be a neuroscientist.

These past few months have been hard.   Her body was very well behaved for a few years, but now it is reminding her of her illness with a vengeance. She is a high school junior, and due to the vagaries of our educational system; the university where she will start her “life work” will depend on the success of this year.  Rather than make her wobble, her situation makes her even more focused to move forward.

I do not tell you our daughter’s story to elicit pity, but to remind us all that we need to step back and look around us at those whose paths are made narrow by circumstance.    We need to view them with awe, as I believe they are often the beacons of light that give the rest of us strength.

This is the time of year when we all look ahead to January, setting our goals and resolutions for the New Year; ones that will help us continue our “life work.”  Let’s promise each other to simplify the noise around us this holiday season and keep our paths narrow so that we may embrace those things that prove that our journeys here are meaningful and blessed.

She read this over my shoulder and when I turned to ask if I might send this into cyberspace, she again smiled and said, “Of course, Mom.”