A Cookie Sheet Ritual

It happened.  It’s official.  I am now the shortest person in my family. The youngest-Born has passed me up.

Eight years ago, the oldest-Born surpassed me in height.  Standing back to back with my daughter, we balanced a cookie sheet on our heads.  Then while the whole family watched, my husband dropped the small bouncy-ball in the middle of the cookie sheet.  We all held our breath as the ball slowly started to move.  Gaining momentum, it rolled my direction, jumped over the lip and bounced to the floor.  The final verdict was substantiated with indisputable empirical evidence… I was shorter.  With hugs and squeals of delight we celebrated the moment.

With each child we did the same ritual.  Back to back, a cookie sheet and a ball.  Sometime we’ve used a golf ball, a tennis ball or even a foosball.  I didn’t always loose, you know.  There were many practice attempts as it became each child’s goal to take me down.  But sometimes they didn’t have the height to back up the enthusiasm and I’d heave a sigh of relief as the ball dipped off their end. 

But as of last week… the “Cookie Sheet Ritual” is over… at least with my own children.

“You know, Doris” my husband said with a twinkle in his eye after one triumphal cookie sheet celebration.  “Being taller than you isn’t really that big a deal”.  I punched him in the gut. 

For the record, I am ¾ of an inch taller than the average height of North American women.  But, it seems like all the people in my family aren’t average!  I was the shortest in my family and I never did pass up my mom.  It is true that I am now taller than her, but that was because she shrunk (sorry mom, but it’s true).  I have always been the shortest in my family, and not necessarily the lightest either (which another whole topic that I don’t want to get into at this moment).

My husband is right.  Being taller than me is not that big a deal.  I know that I should also be apologizing for the gut-punch, but he’s tough (he’s from a family of all boys and he’s not the shortest). But, I take his point.  Perhaps the accomplishment isn’t that big… but CELEBRATING it is!!

I try to take every occasion for celebrations.  Life is short.  So celebrate often.  Celebrate everything and even anything.  Give a hug, do a dance, send a card or bake a cake (or buy one and say you baked it).  And if you can, make a tradition.  Something as crazy as the “cookie sheet ritual” became our family tradition.

This is the season for family traditions. Christmas is a time for celebration.  Take a moment to remember some past family traditions and take the time to re-create them.  Don’t miss this moment.

A Gift

The early morning jog seemed colder than normal and I felt chilled to the bone, so I stayed in the hot shower a bit longer than usual.  I had almost exhausted the hot water supply when I finally turned off the taps.  Through the curtains my husband handed me a towel.  As I wrapped the fresh white towel around my shivering shoulders, deep warmth wrapped itself all around my thawing frame.  My husband had warmed the towel in the dryer!  I cannot describe how magical it felt.  The warmth of the towel seeped into my skin as my husband’s thoughtfulness saturated my soul.  I felt loved.  What a gift! It was a simple act of kindness that warmed my body and heart. 

Now… before you start thinking that this kind of romance naturally occurs within the Born household, can I set the record straight?  This wasn’t my hubby’s own idea.  Nope.  He didn’t come up with this on his own. He got it from a book.  But… who cares?? As I enshrouded my body with that warm towel, I didn’t give a hoot where the idea came from.  I was relishing in his implementation of the idea.  That was the gift.

Have you got a Christmas gift for your spouse yet?  According to the guy on the radio, if you don’t have your gifts by now… it’s too late.  But I don’t believe him.  Come on, they’ve been playing Christmas music for months already.  The pressure tactics of consumerism are little over the top.

For Christmas this year, my husband and I are giving each other the gift of attending a marriage conference together.  Now, marriage conferences aren’t cheap, so we’ll be saving up for it. But I’m thinking it’ll be more like an investment. One of the greatest gifts you can give your spouse is the desire to learn new ways of saying “I love you” – whether the ideas come from a book, a marriage seminar or from your own creativity.  No matter what stage a marriage is at (and we’ve been through ebbs and flows of our own) there is always hope for a deeper and more meaningful relationship. 

So with the warm towel in mind, think about giving a gift that will change your relationship.  Find out new ways to say I love you.  Pick up a marriage book.  Plan to attend a marriage seminar.  Go for coffee with a friend and share some ideas.  Choosing to learn new ways to love your spouse is a life-changing gift. Now that’s a real gift.

Making a List

I recommend making a list.  I’m not talking about Santa’s list of naughty and nice.  The list I’m referring to is a friendship list.

Yesterday I had a great conversation with an old friend.  Although I have many years on her, she’s an ‘old friend’ because our friendship is an old one.  Years old.  We’ve enjoyed many conversations, prayer times and shared experiences in work and life.  She watched my family grow up and laughed at their funny stories.  She house-sat, babysat and just sat on my couch with me while we enjoyed a cup of coffee.  I’ve watched her grow up, get married and now I’m getting a kick out of the stories about her children.

“One of my friends had a brilliant idea” she said into the phone yesterday.  “A couple of years ago, she made a list of all the people that she didn’t want to lose contact with. I made her list”.  She laughed.  I was awestruck.

I’m a list person.  I write out my ‘To-Do’ list and then derive great joy from checking off the completed tasks.  In fact, if I do something that is not on the list… I’ll even jot-it-down just so I can check-it-off! You list- people out there know exactly what I’m talking about.  So a friendship list was a merger of two great things… lists and friendships.

I love the concept of recognizing those who are important to you and then being intentional in maintaining those friendships.  Friendships are important.  We are not meant to walk this road of life alone.   And these lists may change.  Throughout our life we are continually meeting people and as a wise friend once told me: “friendships can be for a reason, for a season or for a life-time”.

The Christmas season is a great time to reconnect with friends and to create new friendships. So make a list.  Who are the people in your life that you don’t want to lose connection with?  Make a list including names of people that could act as mentors in your life, or people that you could be a mentor to. List family friends, couple friends and those ‘inner circle of my life’ friends. Life is busy and always changing.  In order to hold onto friendships and to make them grow it is like anything else that is rewarding – it takes time and effort.  We need to be intentional.  And being intentional is what list-making is all about.

Making a list… checking it twice…  Now you’ve got that annoying tune stuck in your head…for the next couple of hours!  Hee hee. Yup – I can be naughty and nice.