“Mini Holidays” Help Us Celebrate Life and Keep Us Moving Forward

We tend to prioritize Christmas, Easter and Independence Day over holidays that we don’t get off work or school, such as the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

Rightly so. When we’re celebrating our country or our God, such holidays should take precedence.See the source imageAlthough many grumble about the so-called “Hallmark Holidays” – those that we spend on but keep working through – I fully embrace them. I’ll even put up a few decorations, albeit nothing like the winter wonderlands we all erect for Christmas. I like the little joys the mini-holidays bring.

I forgot this truth about myself as I grumpily walked through a store the week after Christmas.

Wandering the aisles on December 28th, I saw the line up of Valentine’s, a few Shamrocks and a couple of cotton tails. Although I admittedly grunted out loud because I couldn’t locate clearance Christmas wrap, I quickly shrugged off my silly disappointment and embraced the idea of moving forward.See the source image

Momentarily mesmerized by the glittery Valentine cards, I thought of my friend who we lost three years ago. The month before she met Jesus, she was talking about the trip we were about to go on together. It was her entire family of about 15 and us closest friends and our families, totaling around 27 for a week in the Outer Banks. As we finalized a few details, she looked at me solemnly and said, “I’m afraid that when we get back from this trip, I will decline rapidly…I’m looking forward to this but realistically, I probably won’t make it to Christmas.” She was thinking about the next big celebration. The anticipated vacation to North Carolina had kept her moving forward.

That was in June. She passed away in July, shortly after we all returned from that final trip together.

I don’t know why my mind goes to such deep places so quickly while merely rummaging through pretty things at a store🤔, but it gave me perspective. Retailers prematurely stocking shelves for holidays that don’t happen for months is a silly thing to grunt about. These little holidays keep us moving forward. Nothing wrong with spending a few short minutes staring at a sea of sparkling red in one aisle, green in the next and happy, fuzzy bunnies in the third aisle. We can enjoy a little pretty inside stores and our homes when the world outside is sometimes ugly.

I agree that the constant “too-early” merchandise displays are annoying and if we let them, they can rob us of living and enjoying the moment or truly, completely enjoying whatever holiday season it may be. I resist the retailers’ psychological ploy intended to create urgency that we “better get the stuff now” – 2 months ahead of time – when what we have stored in the basement is no doubt already more than we need.

However, I choose to buy candy hearts and expensive chocolates for my February 14th kitchen table, rejoicing that I have people to love and spoil. I put up shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day and decorate for Easter with the holy reminders along with big, stuffed bunnies. Who doesn’t feel better after squishing a soft, cuddly bunny? 🙂

The Superbowl tomorrow, MLB kickoff in March, NHL playoffs after that…these too give our families reasons to gather and eat and celebrate life. Some may scoff, but if such celebrations bring a little joy amidst the mundane and routine, why not?See the source image

(Click on images for source(s).)

Are We Really “Off” on a Snow Day☃️…Weekend😎…Vacation🌴?

Does a true day “off” necessitate no phone use? How about if I don’t use social media but still text throughout the day? Am I resting? Having fun? Keeping my body healthy? I asked myself these questions and if I’m being honest, a true day off for me would mean no phone and no computer. Both keep my head down, body sedentary and don’t permit real conversation. I like keeping my head up, prefer to be active and love good conversation.

The reality is, we work on computers and even if we don’t use social media, phones connect us to our loved ones and are useful in emergencies. They are also dang handy for taking notes and making lists.

We all know how phones decrease our attention span, provide a false sense of accomplishment after scrolling (similar to having completed an actual task), and that screens are literally engineered to keep us looking. Yet, we have trouble putting them down.

With 23 states engulfed in brutal cold this week, it led to countless school and company closings. What I observed in my frozen little corner of the universe were several people granted a “day off” by their employer (not a “work from home” day) but still received texts about nonsense that really could have waited until we were plowed out. We’re not talking about organ transplant surgery or even a customer really needing assistance. We’re talking about useless, unproductive texting that forced more than one person to be on their phones all day. Without cell phones, employers wouldn’t feel as comfortable calling via a land line 12 times in five hours.

I knew of a few children who spent three straight days gaming and teens who remained couch bound, attached to their social media. No board games, books, conversation nor baking cookies. Instead, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter and so on fully consumed their days “off”.

“And it turns out that Americans check their work emails just as often as they do social media even while on vacation. The average American will check their work emails, Facebook, and Instagram nine times a day as they soak up the sun.” Source.

Research has proven social isolation, addiction, decreased attention span/inability to focus, and increased sadness are associated with media use. But, it’s not only the social media and constant distraction that hurts us. (And by “us” I mean adults, not only kids and teenagers.)

General cell phone use has been researched and subsequently led scientists to report, “adverse health effects of using mobile phones including changes in brain activity, reaction times, and sleep patterns”. (Source) Could it be related to the “minimal amount” of radiofrequency radiation emitting from our devices? For every claim that they cause no or little physical harm, there is another story claiming they do.

Snow days, vacation and days off work used to be openings for creating life memories-not watching what everyone else was doing. They tended to promote “healthier” days. If we allow it, electronics rob us of those much-needed breaks and real joys.

I’m going to periodically use my phone on days off, but I’m not attached. I crave tech-free time. I’m going to make a concerted effort to have snow days that are phone-free fun – like they were when the kids were little. I have plenty of my own ideas, but if you need some, (HGTV has a list of “Adult Snow Days” ideas.)

Having been drawn into studying this topic a bit this week, I’m going into this weekend only using my phone for communication with the kids. This way, I believe it will truly be time “off”!

But first, I need to close this lap top…

Happy Weekend to all!!