Creating New Memories this Holiday Season

“What if Christmas, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Growing up, one of my favorite activities in school was around learning and exploring new cultures and how they celebrate holidays. Being so young and not yet having a chance to explore the world around me, I found it fascinating that people were different from what I assumed was the norm.

For example, in Germany, December 6th is St. Nicholas’ Day and “der Nikolaus” comes to the home of small children and brings gifts, such as sweets and chocolate, and puts them into the shoes of the children, who place them by their doors the night before. Then on the night of December 24th, Father Christmas brings presents to the children.

In Argentina, families celebrate starting Christmas Eve with a large family meal following with a fireworks display at midnight, toasting to Christmas. Many families stay up late into the night meeting with friends and family, then they will sleep all of Christmas Day.

To celebrate the New Year, people in Greece hang an onion on their door to symbolize rebirth and in the Philippines, women wear polka dot dresses and men carry coins in their pockets to symbolize prosperity and happiness for the new year.

The purpose of sharing these variations of holiday celebrations is to show that no matter how you choose to celebrate a holiday this year whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, remember that it is OK to be different. Value time spent with family, not the gifts that are given, or the decorations that are hung. Create new memories this season and don’t be afraid to veer from the holiday norm. As the Dr. Seuss quote illustrates, the holiday spirit cannot be bought from a store, the holiday is what you make of it.

If you are looking for some inspiration from other countries on how to add some new culture to your holiday, check out the Why Christmas webpage to learn more about Christmas Around the World or 123 New Year to learn about New Year’s Traditions and Customs.

How do you plan to make new memories this holiday season?

References:
http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/
http://www.123newyear.com/newyear-traditions/philippines.html
http://www.businessinsider.com/new-years-rituals-around-the-world-2013-12#in-greece-people-hang-an-onion-on-their-doors-3

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Holidays Past

The holidays are a time where people come together to celebrate the joy of the season, to honor past holiday traditions or to create new ones for generations to come. Holidays of the past can foster different types of memories – fond ones, funny ones, and those, “I still can’t believe that happened!” moments. For me, the holidays were always a hectic time, where you never quite knew what was going to happen. I do hold some fond moments about old traditions in our family, and though they may seem odd to others, every family is different and has their own ways of celebrating.

In my family, Christmas Eve was the night our extended family would get together to celebrate the holiday and exchange gifts through a Pollyanna. But the gift exchange and celebrating couldn’t happen until midnight, when it was really the start of Christmas day. As a child this was agony, as half of us would fall asleep before the countdown to midnight even began, and the rest of us were so tired that when it did come time to open presents and rejoice, we didn’t really appreciate the tradition at that late hour. However, this still remains a heartwarming memory for me, because for some reason or other throughout the years, this tradition is no longer. As more children were born into the family and members didn’t want to travel home so late, gifts are now exchanged at leisure, with no countdown or anticipation as years past. It’s still a nice tradition, but it’s different, and now we take time to reminisce about those past holiday memories and look back with joy.

Each holiday season brings varied traditions, moments, and feelings that are unique to each person and family celebrating the occasion. And even though things may change through the years, making holidays different from ones that came before, there are still memories to be made and joy to experience.

What are some of your holiday memories?

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Lasting Holiday Memories

Having just polished off the leftover bird from the table, cranberry sauce and stuffing galore, you may be experiencing a sigh of relief or even a moment of anticipation as further holiday and end-of-year festivities abound.

Whether you had a pleasant or taxing Thanksgiving, you probably are not thinking about what creates a lasting holiday memory, but inevitably as the season progresses you may just think back on past holiday seasons and some of the stand-out moments which are meaningful to you. Over time, sometimes even the mishaps and anxieties which were so troublesome to you at the time may even win out for most re-counted and favored memories.

For example, I’ll never forget the Thanksgiving my dog snatched a turkey leg right off my nephew’s plate (why he had a giant turkey leg, I have no idea). I chased the dog around the dining room and battled for it. When I finally broke his hold on the greasy turkey leg, riotous laughter erupted around the table.  At the moment he stole the food, my thought was, “Oh no, he ruined Thanksgiving,” but the reality was there was plenty of food to go around and everyone delighted in some comic relief. A few years later, and it has become a story we re-count when we talk about all being together and what we are thankful for (which does, in fact, include our dog).

Lasting Holiday Memories

So as the year winds down and you anticipate even more hoopla, remember that even the crazy, wild, and hectic moments can turn into those lasting, laughter-filled, or meaningful moments. Events may not turn out exactly as planned, but the love, support, and laughter of those that surround us and support us are what the holidays are all about.

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Summer Reflection

By: Matt Cavallo

For me, having MS sometimblog pices means more sleep. This is especially the case for me with two young boys, who don’t tend to sleep in and have endless amounts of energy. I find that when the seasons turn to fall and the long sunny days turn to long dark nights, I find myself chronically tired and needing to hibernate. When I feel like I need more sleep, I draw on lessons learned from the summer.

This June, my wife and I decided to drive to take the kids to Legoland in San Diego. San Diego is about a five hour drive from my house, so we loaded up the minivan and hit the road for a three day vacation. Prior to that vacation, I put it in my mind that it was going to be hot and that I was going to be waiting in long lines for the rides, but that I needed to give my kids a vacation to remember.

The first day took a lot out of me. The drive was exhausting. Even though the kids behaved and there was only a little traffic, driving that long can be taxing. However, once we got to the hotel, the kids wanted to play. Even though I was exhausted, we met up with friends and went to the beach. I spent the entire time at the beach playing in the water with the kids. After about twelve hours of going non-stop, we went to the hotel and I crashed.

The next morning came too early, but the kids were up and ready to go. I felt like if I could just get a little more sleep, I would have energy for Lego Land. More sleep was not to be had but we spent an awesome twelve hours running around the amusement park, going on the rides and playing the games. The sun was brutal and beat me down as I waited for ride after ride. By the time we got to bed, I was so exhausted that I didn’t think I could possibly pull it together another day.

The next day came and I needed just a little more sleep, but that was not going to happen. It was day two at Lego Land and the kids were ready. It was a repeat of the first day and the kids were having the time of their lives. We spent another twelve hours roaming the park being roasted in the early summer sun. By the time we got back to the hotel, I thought I was going to pass out from exhaustion, but the kids wanted to swim at the pool. So even though I had expended all my energy at the park, I needed to dig down and find the inspiration for one more hour of activities.

While I was sitting at the pool watching the boys swim, I thought that this is what life was all about. It turned out that I didn’t need more sleep. Sure I was tired and the sun and MS fatigue were wearing on me, but I needed to be there. At this moment, having MS meant time with my sons. So many times, I had let my MS fatigue get the best of me, but I fought through it to create memories that will last a lifetime.

As I look forward to the fall season and the long nights, I think back to that summer vacation. I look back at how I was fatigued and didn’t think I would make it, but created precious memories. For me it is all about getting going, because for me getting started is the hardest part. This fall, I am not going to require more sleep. I am going to spend more time with my sons, because that is what motivates me to keep going. What lessons from summer are you going to use to keep going this fall?

*Matt Cavallo was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005. Matt is an MS blogger, author, patient advocate, and motivational speaker. Matt also has his Master’s degree in Public Health Administration. Matt is the proud father of his two sons, loving husband to his wife, Jocelyn, and best friend to his dog, Teddy. Originally from the Boston suburbs, Matt currently resides in Arizona with his family. To learn more about Matt, please visit him at : http://mattcavallo.com/blog/

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Looking Back to Move Forward

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Subtle hints of fall have spread throughout the northeast – the falling leaves, cooler nights, pumpkins, and mums popping up in local stores. While summer is slowly on its way out, it is bitter sweet to reminisce about the times had. This summer we talked about ways to beat the heat, many of which involved remaining indoors, or doing activities in cool public places. Regardless of where you made your memories, it is important to keep those happy memories alive and present to take with you into the fall.

Journaling about an event or encounter that makes you smile will bring you back to that moment and hopefully increase your mood. You can look back at those journal entries and remember the good times that were had. Also having pictures or souvenirs from a trip or event can help to bring you back to that moment. Try taking a moment to close your eyes and remember how you felt at that time.

When times are hard or you are having difficult feelings about a situation, take a moment to re-focus your thoughts on one of those happier moments. Re-focusing your thoughts can help momentarily take your mind off of a certain problem or situation and better prepare you for dealing with the task at hand.

When looking back on those happy moments, focus on the feelings or emotions that were created in you at that time. Allow yourself to re-live that moment and take a deep breath.

What moments do you carry with you? How do they help you in times of stress?

 

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Did You Ever Have One of Those Days?

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You know the type of day I’m talking about. The kind where it seems like NOTHING can go right. You’re late for something, something breaks, unexpected news is received, and there isn’t enough time in the day to deal with everything? Sometimes it seems like all the elements of the universe got together to plan out a bad day for you to have. It may feel that way when these types of days sneak up on you.

We’ve all experienced our share of bad days, and they seem to stick with us. But I wonder, when we have good days, do they stay with us just as strongly as these other types of days? It doesn’t always seem like it. Sometimes it’s easier to remember a bad day than to recall a good one. But what if we were to do just that-to purposely recount a good day we’ve had? What would that look like? Sure, with bad days we complain, grieve, and vent, but with good days, how do we describe these? How can we pocket and stow away those good moments so that we can retrieve them and re-experience them during one of these other days?

One idea is to write down your good experiences, that way you can take a look back at how the day played out and what good came of it. You can learn to be mindful of the good moments while they happen; when the good times are actively occurring, soak it all in, notice how you feel in that moment, stay present with your breath and what’s going on around you. So that way when you try to remember the good moments, they’ll be fresh in your mind, and you can hold onto them like precious fragments the universe brought you that day made especially for you. Recalling good moments and positive memories can help get you through those other types of days, so why not reminisce more often about the good?

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Challenging Memories

Often a memory is sparked by some sort of trigger which could manifest itself as many things, a smell, a touch, or hearing a particular sound. For many, music can be a hallmarkTime For Reflection Message Means Ponder Or Reflect of specific times in their life so when listening to the radio and some random song from your past comes on you may be taken back to your living room and remember dancing and laughing with your girlfriends in the 6th grade.

Most of these memories are benign and may start you reminiscing; however, sometimes music can also evoke memories of more challenging times in your life, especially around moments of great grief or loss.

This morning, I heard one of these songs on the radio and it sparked a train of memories about a time in my life in which I experienced a significant loss. No matter how many times I hear that song it will always bring back a flood of memories.  While I can’t stop the association my response to that song is now different than it may have been 20 years ago. As people change and evolve over time so do our emotions and our personal reflections on memories even of very difficult and challenging times in our lives.

Everyone has not one song, but many; however, there may always be one that stands alone as “the song” or “the trigger” for some difficult event.  Sometimes reflection over growth and change over time can be beneficial. Over time we may find different truths in our memories, and maybe there is something positive which may be found amongst the pain. This morning when I heard “that song” I smiled instead of cried, and maybe it was a little bit of a sad smile, but that is o.k.

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Tana Campbell’s Race of Hope – Part 3

By Tana Campbell

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I decided to participate in this half marathon at my son’s urging. It was his idea totally, but it gave me a feeling of worth and something to look forward to. We made MSAA the beneficiary charity since I have multiple sclerosis (MS), and with lots of support we were able to raise over $4,500 to donate to a worthy organization. The race was a test of endurance and perseverance for both my son and I. My greatest fear was having muscle spasms in my leg; but despite the long ride, rough spots, bumps and elevated bridges, I came through the experience unscathed. I had no aftereffects other than being slightly sore the next day, and I was probably in better shape than my son and those that ran with us. It was an enjoyable ride, something I wouldn’t have gotten to do or places I wouldn’t have gotten to see if it hadn’t been for my son’s willingness to push me in this marathon. Like many, I deal with MS on a daily basis with the use of a rollator/walker/cane/wheelchair for mobility. Being able to be a part of regular life was a sense of accomplishment and self-worth, a gift to me from my son. He’ll never know how much his selfless sacrifice means, but it was the greatest gift I’ve ever gotten and I’d do it again if the opportunity presents itself!

Watch Tana’s race video:

Read Parts 1 & 2 written by Tana’s son, Mark:
Read Part 1 of Tana Campbell’s Race of Hope
Read Part 2 of Tana Campbell’s Race of Hope

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Father’s Day is almost here!

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”
– Jim Valvano

Happy Father's Day from MSAAFather’s Day is an opportunity to honor the special fathers in your life. You can choose to honor your own dad, a brother, uncle, son, friend or co-worker. While those who believe in us deserve to be recognized every day, on this very special day, we can pause and give thanks.  

Honor these special men with a donation to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA). Your donation will help us to fulfill our mission of improving lives today for the entire MS community. With each gift, you will have the option to send a personalized online card to the person being honored, letting him know of your support of MSAA.  

Your gift enables MSAA to provide vital services and support such as our toll-free Helpline, equipment distribution, MRI assistance, and more.  

“I am brimming with gratitude and appreciation for the generous support of the MSAA for the MRI scan which I received. The scan produced positive results informing my neurologist and me that my condition was stable. This fellow cannot say enough good things about MSAA!”   - GLW, Georgia

Please make your special Father’s Day donation today! Improve lives today by honoring the special men in your life.

Happy Father’s Day!

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Swim for MS News – June 2013

New Swim for MS Partnership

Swim for MS swimsuits from HARDCORESWIMMSAA is pleased to announce our partnership with HARDCORESWIM to provide exclusive Swim for MS swimsuits available for purchase. HARDCORESWIM is an authentic and innovative designer, marketer and distributor of premium quality young men’s and young women’s swimsuits, training gear, clothing, accessories and related products under the HARDCORESWIM name. HARDCORESWIM is based in Southern California and all items, from start to finish, are produced in California. There are two different Swim for MS style suits are available for men and women! Check out the Swim for MS page on their site and order your suit today!

Anyone that raises at least $150 during the month of June and tags a picture of themselves swimming or in their Swim for MS t-shirt on Facebook or Twitter will be entered into a raffle to receive a Swim for MS suit! Please go to SwimForMS.org to register!

Facebook: facebook.com/msassociation
Twitter: @Msassociation #SwimForMS

Have Fun and Support the MS Community by Organizing a Graduation or 4th of July Swim for MS pool party!

  1. Choose a location – your backyard pool or local community pool.
  2. Decide the type of event – will this be a pool party or will you host a BBQ as well?! Be sure you have some games for in and out of the pool – pool volleyball, bean bag toss, horseshoes, and more!
  3. Create a list of attendees and create an invitation. Be sure to mention the date, time, location, and donation/admission fee. You can ask for a $5 donation to join the party!
  4.  Day of: Set up and have fun! Don’t forget to take some photos and ask the participants to sign our photo release form (email us for more information!).
  5. Within 30 days, please send the proceeds to MSAA at 706 Haddonfield Rd., Cherry Hill, NJ 08002. Be sure to include your contact information and details about your event!

 

The June Winners are…

Missy Franklin Autograph Photo:
Congratulations Akshaj, for being the top Swim for MS fundraiser during the month of May!

Modify Watch Prize:
Congratulations Jake for winning a Modify Watch!

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