Mark Van Doren
InspirEmail No 124 - December 18, 2007
'Inspirational messages to refresh the spirit and boost the emotional bank account'
Christmas Olympics . . . Let the Games Begin!
Our daughter Shanna believed in Santa until she was 9. Santa seemed to represent all things Christmas yet Shanna felt sorry for him. She was sure that a jolly old fella like himself would feel sad that mail only arrived in December so she began corresponding with Santa every January for the next 11 months, purposely excluding December and asking only for his friendship.
I was inspired by her. After years of trying to figure out a way to change our superficial model of Christmas to one with more meaning, surely I could follow the lead of my young daughter to create a Christmas tradition that would take the main focus off gifts.
My criteria was uncomplicated but needed to cover the things that were important to our family:
1. Make it more about family and togetherness than gifts.
2. Include everyone of all ages.
Our family has come to know this unpretentious event as Christmas Olympics.
It begins right after lunch on December 25 with the gong of a bell which prompts last year's Olympian to run though the house proudly wearing the cheap plastic olive leaf wreath on their head while carrying the makeshift torch (a wooden stick with a hand drawn flame) . . . happily donated when our three kids were still toting crayons.
Christmas Olympics is a great way to make sure that the very young and elderly stay as involved in the occasion as everyone else because they also choose a game they're good at.
While many people spend the 5 days before Christmas on shopping, my family are extra busy gathering 'things' for their game or researching 'party games' on the internet and that's half the fun!
The games each person chooses remain top secret right up until the moment they are designated to start their game. Each person's game time is indicated simply by where their name happens to be on the paper that tracks the game points. Christmas Olympics after all is meant to be fun with few rules!
If you have 5 family members, each game earns a player a point score from 1-5, depending on the position they ranked in a game. The following is a small sampler of some of our many Christmas Olympic games;
Poop the Potato - which really means hop around a table with a potato between your legs and while facing everyone, plop it into a bowl on the floor.
Orange peeling contests - the longest unbroken rind wins and everyone gets treated to a fibre break from candy and chocolate.
Snow golf - one or two holes on a short course (use food colouring around the hole)
Memory games - read a meaningful or funny short story and ask questions later. It's really astounding how well adults don't listen!
Guess how many jelly beans, loonies or quarters - winner gets points and the jar!
Spin the coin - the longest spin wins.
Card or dice games of chance.
Find the Apple Pot - blind folded, crawl along the floor smacking a wooden spoon to find a pot filled with water and an apple. Retrieve the apple with your mouth. This is timed. You can get creative by using a soft tomato or marshmallows (if someone has bad knees or back, place it somewhere on the counter)
Guess what's in the sock? - each sock holds an item of a family member. Contestants get a single 10 second feel, 1 hint and only 2 guesses.
At the end of the day we've laughed, created memories and crowned the Olympian with the coveted but tacky plastic head wreath and surprisingly, everyone is always proud to wear it.
We all thank Shanna for seeing things differently from the rest of us and having the courage to act on it. Our kids, though now young adults are just as excited about the afternoon of December 25, as they were when they were kids. Let the games begin . . .
Written by Monique Howat
Monique Howat is a youth motivator and the founder of Confident Girls and Guys. She presents self-esteem and character building workshops at elementary and high schools in and around the Toronto area in Canada. Monique offers training on the principles of self-esteem, public speaking, coaching for parents or teens, leadership for women and consultation services for at-risk youth programming.
December Featured Inspiration
It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so. It all began because . . . read the full story >>>
The man had just filled his car with gas; he was cold, wet, and ready to head for home. He opened his car door and bent down to climb inside . . .
'Sir, sir . . .'
He glanced in the direction of the frail voice to find a well-dressed, elderly lady attempting to get his attention.
He closed the car door and walked towards her. 'Can I help you, ma'am?'
The older woman explained that the gas pump was not working properly, and asked if he knew what she was doing wrong.
'These are new pumps and very touchy - even for me. I've found the easiest thing to do is forget locking them while I fill; they keep shutting off for some reason.'
'Oh my! I can't keep pressure on that handle until my tank is full. My hands don't have much strength in them anymore.'She cast her blue eyes to the ground in frustration.
'I'd be honoured to fill your tank for you!' The man's Texas accent was gentle and he gave her a little wink. 'By the way, I love your British accent.'
'Yes, a British accent in Texas . . . people always notice!' She smiled. 'We just came to the States a few years ago. That's my husband in the car.' She paused for a moment, 'He has Alzheimer's now.'
'I'm so very sorry for both of you.' After a slight lull the gentleman continued. 'Why don't you get back in the car while I do this; the snow is picking up and you're going to get wet.'
She was a lovely woman with snowy-white hair; her attire was prim and proper as one would expect from a Brit. 'I'd rather visit if you don't mind. Our son is out of town for Christmas; he's with his wife's family this year and I'm feeling a bit blue.'
A knot formed in the Texan's throat and he hoped to change the subject. 'Just what are the two of you doing out in this weather? I hope your drive home is a short one. You know these Texas drivers aren't the best when it comes to snow and sleet,' he teased.
'We're on our way home from a Christmas party. The medical centre has one each year for the Alzheimer patients. They are rather like children's parties -and they have Santa visit. Oftentimes patients will have moments they recall things from their past. Some sing along to Christmas carols when they haven't carried on an actual conversation in quite a long while.'
'Did anyone recognize Santa today?'
'Oh, yes, my husband recognized Santa and tried to steal his hat! He even said, 'Ho, ho, ho - Merry Christmas.' His recollection was rather brief but it was the highlight of my day.' She grinned.
The gas pump clicked off, the woman swiped her credit card to make payment, and turned to thank the man who had been willing to help her. The two were saying their farewells when the squeal of brakes, a thud, and breaking glass at the intersection caught their attention.
'Oh, my!' The lady whimpered with a distressed expression. 'It's getting so slick. I've got to hurry and get home.'
'Ma'am, I'd be honoured to follow you in case you have problems.'
She hesitated momentarily and then appeared relieved, 'Oh, I'd be so grateful. I can't thank you enough. And by the way, my name is Margaret.' She reached out to shake hands with her new friend.
'Margaret, I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. My name is Ray.' He patted her hand gently before they released their grasp. 'You just drive slowly; I'll be right behind you.'
When Margaret pulled into her garage Ray stopped curbside. 'I just want to be sure you get inside safely,' he shouted.
Margaret waved and asked him to wait for a moment - then nodded and spoke to her neighbour hanging Christmas lights. She guided John into the house, quickly reappeared in the garage and motioned for Ray to pull into the driveway.
She thanked Ray again and soon mentioned this being the first Christmas she and her husband had ever spent alone. Ray, always a soft touch for older folks, was happy to listen. She spoke fondly of traditions her family adhered to when she was a child in England and revealed an interesting glimpse into her past . . . plus a taste of her cherished memories from across the pond.
'You know mistletoe is very traditional in England. My first 'real' kiss was under the mistletoe when I was a teenager. Oh, what memories I have.' For a split second, Margaret looked like a young girl again.
Several minutes passed before Margaret began to shiver and they were forced to say farewell.
Christmas morn found Margaret peeking out her front door just as the sun crested the horizon. She stepped outside, instantly clasped her hands like a small child, and peered up and down the street. With not a soul in sight she began to examine the items discovered on her porch . . . each one dredged up memories of years gone by in Merry Old England.
Just above her head hung an arrangement of mistletoe adorned with elegant lace; she touched it gently. Bedecked with Victorian ornaments, a small, lighted Christmas tree sat in the corner - beneath it a homemade mincemeat pie wrapped securely and tied with golden ribbon. The card attached said only, 'From: Santa.' Hanging from the doorknob a brilliant red Santa Claus hat with tag, 'To: John.'
Margaret called to John; he slowly made his way and stepped outside. Nothing on the porch sparked his interest until Margaret placed the Santa hat in his hands. After staring at it and stroking the velvety softness, he plopped it onto his head. It sat askew but John's face beamed as his voice rang out across the neighbourhood, 'Ho, ho, ho! Ho, ho, ho!'
Parked several houses away, a Secret Texas Santa sniffed and wiped at a lone tear . . . a happy tear. 'Merry Christmas and God Bless.' He smiled and drove towards home.
Written by Kathleene S. Baker
Kathy resides in Plano, Texas with husband Jerry, and two precious pups, Hank and Samantha. She enjoys writing, needlework, and fishing. As a freelancer, she has contributed to newspapers, anthologies, magazines, online ezines, Chicken Soup for the Soul and writes a weekly column entitled The Heart of Texas.
- Inspirational Quote -
The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers
- InspirEmail No 316 - Are you ready for results
- InspirEmail No 315 - The Power of One Gesture
- InspirEmail No 314 - Enjoy Your Nectarine
- InspirEmail No 313 - Life is meant to be lived
- InspirEmail No 312 - Are you a bucket filler or a dipper
- InspirEmail No 311 - Forgiving without condoning or forgetting
- InspirEmail No 310 - 11 ways to make this your best year yet
- InspirEmail No 309 - A Beautiful Heart
- InspirEmail No 308 - Taking Charge of the Balloon
- InspirEmail No 307 - Acknowledging and giving credit comes in many forms
- InspirEmail No 306 - Not just a Pipe Dream
- InspirEmail No 305 - A Person of Character
- InspirEmail No 304 - Letting the Yeast Work Its Magic
- InspirEmail No 303 - The nails in the fence
- InspirEmail No 302 - What will be my reward
- InspirEmail No 301 - Happiness is a choice
- InspirEmail No 300 - Paying Attention
- InspirEmail No 299 - Let go of your stresses
- InspirEmail No 298 - We are what we think
- InspirEmail No 297 - The First Secret of Success
- InspirEmail No 296 - Broken Eggs and Shattered Glass
- InspirEmail No 295 - Money is the icing, not the cake
- InspirEmail No 294 - Choosing to end anger
- InspirEmail No 293 - Five birds and good intentions
- InspirEmail No 292 - How do I deal with tough times
- InspirEmail No 291 - Four Important Questions
- InspirEmail No 290 - Motivating Others
- InspirEmail No 289 - Skill and the mind
- InspirEmail No 288 - Bear's Tips for would-be Leaders
- InspirEmail No 287 - We shape our own character
- InspirEmail No 286 - Paid in full with love
- InspirEmail No 285 - The clock is running
- InspirEmail No 284 - Not everyone in need has a brick
- InspirEmail No 283 - The first secret of success
- InspirEmail No 282 - It couldn't be done
- InspirEmail No 281 - Is happiness around the corner
- InspirEmail No 280 - Enough is a Moving Target
- InspirEmail No 279 - Unexpected Lessons
- InspirEmail No 278 - The sage of the lost wallet
- InspirEmail No 277 - Walking through life
- InspirEmail No 276 - Because I am different
- InspirEmail No 275 - Gifts from the heart are gifts of the heart
- InspirEmail No 274 - Fragile - Handle with Care
- InspirEmail No 273 - Its never too late
- InspirEmail No 272 - She let them sit and boil, without saying a word
- InspirEmail No 271 - Erased by the winds of forgiveness!
- InspirEmail No 270 - The man who sold very good hot dogs
- InspirEmail No 269 - Destined or Determined
- InspirEmail No 268 - The Power of Kindness
- InspirEmail No 267 - Attitude on life
- InspirEmail No 266 - Look Ahead
- InspirEmail No 265 - Changing your thinking
- InspirEmail No 264 - Using all your strength
- InspirEmail No 263 - It couldn't be done
- InspirEmail No 262 - The Best Dad
- InspirEmail No 261 - Thinking Positively
- InspirEmail No 260 - Live for now
- InspirEmail No 259 - Needing approval more than advice
- InspirEmail No 258 - Good Leaders are Good Followers
- InspirEmail No 257 - Be willing to
- InspireMail No 256 - You can start to succeed at any time
- InspirEmail No 255 - Just keep on knocking
- InspirEmail No 254 - Savour the Journey
- InspirEmail No 253 - The Nature of Character
- InspirEmail No 252 - The Little Nail
- InspirEmail No 251 - Words of Wisdom
- InspirEmail No 250 - Listening to your heart
- InspirEmail No 249 - No Barriers in Life
- InspirEmail No 248 - Not everyone in need has a brick
- InspirEmail No 247 - Building Bridges
- InspirEmail No 246 - Cool heads and warm hearts
- InspirEmail No 245 - He had a go
- InspirEmail No 244 - Some Important Don'ts
- InspirEmail No 243 - Attitude over Circumstances
- InspirEmail No 242 - Your Potential
- InspirEmail No 241 - Good decisions start with stop
- InspirEmail No 240 - Enjoying what you do
- InspirEmail No 239 - Look Ahead
- InspirEmail No 238 - A Picture of Peace
- InspirEmail No 237 - Doing the Remarkable
- InspireMail No 236 - If you're in a hole, stop digging
- InspirEmail No 235 - Creating Opportunity
- InspirEmail No 234 - There you are
- InspirEmail No 233 - Everyone Needs a Me File
- InspirEmail No 232 - Walk Your Talk
- InspirEmail No 231 - This Day
- InspirEmail No 230 - Living from the heart
- InspirEmail No 229 - True Friends
- InspirEmail No 228 - Some Important Don'ts
- InspirEmail No 227 - It's all a matter of perspective
- InspirEmail No 226 - Eight Laws of Leadership
- InspirEmail No 225 - Remember
- InspirEmail No 224 - Making Good Decisions
- InspirEmail No 223 - Determination
- InspirEmail No 222 - Keeping pace with yourself
- InspirEmail No 221 - Seven Steps to Success
- InspirEmail No 220 - Live Backwards
- InspirEmail No 219 - Life is meant to be lived
- InspirEmail No 218 - The Simple Solution
- InspirEmail No 217 - The Woodsman and the Leprechaun
- InspirEmail No 216 - When life gives you a kick
- InspirEmail No 215 - The Toast
- InspirEmail No 214 - Making bricks and building cathedrals
- InspirEmail No 213 - Rule No 1 . . . It`s Golden
- InspirEmail No 212 - Great Happiness
- InspirEmail No 211 - Five birds with good intentions
- InspirEmail No 210 - Self Appraisal
- InspirEmail No 209 - The Power of Attitude
- InspirEmail No 208 - We expect more out of adults
- InspirEmail No 207 - Those who will listen will learn!
- InspirEmail No 206 - Now he can see!
- InspirEmail No 205 - Everything happens for the good
- InspirEmail No 204 - Is happiness around the corner?
- InspirEmail No 203 - I still have choices
- InspirEmail No 202 - We are all made to fly
- InspirEmail No 201 - One minute can change a life
- InspirEmail No 200 - Calming the muddy waters
- InspirEmail No 199 - Living in the moment
- InspirEmail No 198 - Loved into Action
- InspirEmail No 197 - Will this be a good Christmas?
- InspirEmail No 196 - A walk in the park
- InspirEmail No 195 - Needing a Nudge
- InspirEmail No 194 - The storm will pass
- InspirEmail No 193 - You're never too old to be a Role Model
- InspirEmail No 192 - When you're pulled along!
- InspirEmail No 191 - The Stonecutter's Wish
- InspirEmail No 190 - A few end of day questions for you!
- InspirEmail No 189 - The Scorpion and Human Nature
- InspirEmail No 188 - Believe to Achieve
- InspirEmail No 187 - Never Doubt Yourself
- InspirEmail No 186 - Same Here!
- InspirEmail No 185 - A Person of Worth
- InspirEmail No 184 - The Teddy Bear Secret
- InspirEmail No 183 - Wealth of Wisdom
- InspirEmail No 182 - Because the sun was shining
- InspirEmail No 181 - Life is about balance
- InspirEmail No 180 - The Parable of Brother Leo
- InspirEmail No 179 - Growing Good Corn
- InspirEmail No 178 - The Secret of Happiness
- InspirEmail No 177 - The most important part of your body
- InspirEmail No 176 - If you change one thing . . .
- InspirEmail No 175 - Secret of Success
- InspirEmail No 174 - Love without Measure
- InspirEmail No 173 - I want to be a mountain
- InspirEmail No 172 - Take a year-end attitude inventory
- InspirEmail No 171 - Christmas is Love
- InspirEmail No 170 - It doesn't interest me [The Invitation]
- InspirEmail No 169 - You are worth it
- InspirEmail No 168 - I've got a passion for . . .
- InspirEmail No 167 - Never doubt yourself
- InspirEmail No 166 - Can you pass the triple filter test?
- InspirEmail No 165 - The Best Dad
- InspirEmail No 164 - A beveled glass box
- InspirEmail No 163 - Pounding in and pulling out nails
- InspirEmail No 162 - Real Beauty
- InspirEmail No 161 - Hold on tightly . . . to what's truly important in your life!
- InspirEmail No 160 - Well worn habits, take time to change
- InspirEmail No 159 - The way back home
- InspirEmail No 158 - The Black Belt
- InspirEmail No 157 - Go with the Flow
- InspirEmail No 156 - Busy
- InspirEmail No 155 - Four Traits of Effective Leaders
- InspirEmail No 154 - Believe in Yourself
- InspirEmail No 153 - A Seeker of Truth
- InspirEmail No 152 - Living and Giving
- InspirEmail No 151 - Approaching Each Day
- InspirEmail No 150 - Precious Moments
- InspirEmail No 149 - Santa's Love
- InspirEmail No 148 - That's just the way I am!
- InspirEmail No 147 - Two Days Without Worry
- InspirEmail No 146 - A Lighted World
- InspirEmail No 145 - Yes, Yes I Will
- InspirEmail No 144 - Change Begins With Choice
- InspirEmail No 143 - Alive and Present
- InspirEmail No 142 - Living in Peace
- InspirEmail No 141 - Pooch on the Premises
- InspirEmail No 140 - Friends and Acquaintances
- InspirEmail No 139 - Twenty-one rules for having a great life
- InspirEmail No 138 - Great Happiness
- InspirEmail No 137 - Glowing and Growing with Appreciation
- InspirEmail No 136 - The Canoe
- InspirEmail No 135 - Keep Playing
- InspirEmail No 134 - Serenity
- InspirEmail No 133 - Laughter is Cheap Medicine
- InspirEmail No 132 - An Act of Kindness
- InspirEmail No 131 - The Teacup
- InspirEmail No 130 - Moving Rocks
- InspirEmail No 129 - The old man and the scorpion
- InspirEmail No 128 - Show someone your care
- InspirEmail No 127 - The Love of a Friend
- InspirEmail No 126 - Learn to speak their language
- InspirEmail No 125 - Genuine and Caring Leadership
- InspirEmail No 124 - Christmas Olympics . . . Let the Games Begin!
- InspirEmail No 123 - The ABC's of Handling Mistakes
- InspirEmail No 122 - Three Easy Ways to Maximum Motivation
- InspirEmail No 121 - The Pretty One
- InspirEmail No 120 - Celebrating You
- InspirEmail No 119 - The Law of the Gabbage Truck
- InspirEmail No 118 - A Grandmother Takes Power
- InspirEmail No 117 - Acres of Diamonds
- InspirEmail No 116 - 'Reconciliation' - A difficult word
- InspirEmail No 115 - All just part of my job
- InspirEmail No 114 - Few Good Followers
- InspirEmail No 113 - The Seasons of Life
- InspirEmail No 112 - Encouraging High Achievement
- InspirEmail No 111 - Living a Good life
- InspirEmail No 110 - The Power of Touch
- InspirEmail No 109 - Always a sure sign!
- InspirEmail No 108 - Has it been helping, Mummy?
- InspirEmail No 107 - His Greatest Treasure
- InspirEmail No 106 - Listen with Your Eyes
- InspirEmail No 105 - The Whole World Came Together
- InspirEmail No 104 - The Tomato Business
- InspirEmail No 103 - Wherever you are, be there!
- InspirEmail No 102 - Those who listen will learn
- InspirEmail No 101 - The True Measure of Greatness
- InspirEmail No 100 - A Passionate and Rewarding Journey
- InspirEmail No 99 - A Peculiar Kind of Love
- InspirEmail No 98 - On Letting Go
- InspirEmail No 97 - A Different Perspective
- InspirEmail No 96 - Echoes of kind words
- InspirEmail No 95 - Reflecting on the Good Times
- InspirEmail No 94 - The prize isn't always in the bottom of the box
- InspirEmail No 93 - Pay Attention
- InspirEmail No 92 - But We Never Stop Growing
- InspirEmail No 91 - Wishes
- InspirEmail No 90 - Then you still have hope
- InspirEmail No 89 - Unexpected Lessons
- InspirEmail No 88 - Be a Good One
- InspirEmail No 87 - It Feels Right
- InspirEmail No 86 - After the applause ... make time for words of praise
- InspirEmail No 85 - Digging for Gold
- InspirEmail No 84 - Dancing with Friends
- InspirEmail No 83 - Acknowledging a Special Treat
- InspirEmail No 82 - Love and music in their hearts
- InspirEmail No 81 - Finding your note
- InspirEmail No 80 - A message of love and encouragement
- InspirEmail No 79 - Look for the Silver Lining
- InspirEmail No 78 - Valentine's Day Ambush
- InspirEmail No 77 - You Are Worth It
- InspirEmail No 76 - When the wind blows
- InspirEmail No 75 - Santa Claus lives in all of us
- InspirEmail No 74 - Bouncing Back
- InspirEmail No 73 - Beliefs
- InspirEmail No 72 - What you're listening for
- InspirEmail No 71 - The Perfect Partnership . . . 30 years in the making
- InspirEmail No 70 - The way we see it
- InspirEmail No 69 - Living Life and Having Fun