From One Turkey to Another

By James Snyder

As a child, my favorite holiday was Christmas, second only to my birthday. These holidays were important because of the gifts I received. Oh, did I look forward to those holidays and all the presents I was going to delight in. And delight, I certainly did to the extreme.

Then slowly things changed. I got married and we began having children. It was then I discovered Christmas was different. I was the one paying for all the Christmas presents, not to mention the tree and the ornaments. I never realized how much Christmas cost. The older the kids got, the more expensive it was.

By the time Christmas is over, I am officially broke. My New Year's resolution is usually, "I'm never going to do that again." I keep it until Thanksgiving, which throws me off my game.

I soon discovered a holiday I could delight in. That holiday was Thanksgiving.

At Thanksgiving, there are no presents to buy, so my checkbook remained closed for that holiday. Of course, I did get the bill for the turkey we were having but that usually came in August. Outside of that, I could enjoy Thanksgiving without it costing me an arm and a leg.

Also, this is the only holiday where I can neglect my diet and get away with it. I can set around the table with family and friends and eat to my "stomach's" content. Believe me; it takes an awful lot to get to that point of contentment.

I will not say that I abuse the opportunity, although I do, I just will not admit to it.

I love saying, "Can I have another piece of pumpkin pie?"

The stare the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage throws in my direction is priceless. I usually throw a smile back at her.

Then I hear somebody say, "Of course you can. Let me have your plate."

The smile on my face at that time stays with me for days, because nothing my wife can do with so many witnesses.

This is not to say I do not get in trouble at Thanksgiving time. I do not know a holiday in which I do not get in trouble. For many years, Thanksgiving has been free from trouble.

Thanksgiving trouble was inserted this year to my deep regret.

A couple of days before our Thanksgiving dinner I was sitting in my easy chair. The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage was out in the kitchen putting together the Thanksgiving dinner. I was not paying attention; I was watching something on TV.

I then heard a strange word from the kitchen.

"Could you come and help put the turkey in the oven?"

What took me as strange is the fact that I never have been allowed to do any kind of work in the kitchen. Believe me, there is a story behind that. An invitation to come to the kitchen to do some work took me off my guard. But just for a second.

As I got up from my chair, a crazy thought began dancing in my head. I began to chuckle to myself. I quietly asked myself, "Will it work?"

You do not know something is going to work until you do that something. I thought I could catch my wife off her guard.

I asked her to repeat herself and she said, "Can you put the turkey in the oven?"

I thought I heard her correctly and this was confirmation.

"I sure can."

Walking into the kitchen, the oven door was open, I walked over to my wife acting like I was going to pick her up and put her in the oven.

It was all I could do to keep from laughing at this point.

As I got near, I could hear her say, "Touch me and the wrong turkey's going into the oven."

For a while, I could not stop laughing and finally, she started laughing.

I was able to stop long enough to put the "real turkey" in the oven.

She said something weird, "I'm not going to thank you because you've already gotten enough thanks."

I left the kitchen and headed for my chair and I heard her softly say, "I better not read this in your column next week."

Pretending that I did not hear comes rather naturally to me. As I evaluated that last statement, I concluded that she did not say I could not write about it in my column. She just said that she better not read it in my column. So, I think I'm on good ground.

So, from one turkey to another, Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for the good things. It is a time to laugh at situations that any other time of the year would not be laughable.

Sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table with all the family and friends around us I was smiling. Then I looked at the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. She looked back with "one of those stares" shook her head and mouthed "no."

This turkey knows when not to gobble.

Peter understood this when he wrote, "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile" (1 Peter 3:10).

I have discovered there is a time to speak and then there is a time to wallow in silence.

Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.net.

Buying Personalized Christmas Gifts For Friends And Family

By: Harvey Mcewan

Each year the time comes when families are brought together, catching up with old friends and generally taking things easy. With the nights becoming darker and the cold air and snow starting to become a reality. It’s time to begin preparing for Christmas.

Getting presents for all the family, friends and relatives. It can be a testing time not only financially but also mentally because of the limited time to complete everything. But one of the biggest tips anyone can give is to begin buying and preparing for Christmas early. This can involve beginning to prepare early in the year. This not only helps reduce the stress throughout December but will also spread the cost out.

This year why not try and get as many personalized gifts as possible. Doing this can give someone a gift that will have much greater value and purpose than a voucher or item that may not have been wanted.

Here is a brief descriptions and ideas of personalized gifts that are fairly simple and not expensive:

Photo Albums

Since the rise of the digital camera and increasing capacity of hard drives not many people are printing their pictures, as before. Many images will remain on a computer their whole lives. But do you not remember enjoying going through old photos and passing them around. There's no better occasion to print a previous holiday's photos, or pictures of people when they were younger. Whatever the occasion, by getting these images printed and placed in a personalized photo album can be a very well thought out gift. And a great opportunity to spend Christmas day looking through them together.

If a photo album is not preferred then why not get a picture framed or made into a canvas. This is another great gesture that will last for years to come.

Experience/Adventure Days

Because Christmas is the time of giving, why not give someone something they may have always dreamed of doing. Although not exactly a personalized gift, it is a gift that is personal. Maybe they forgotten about wanting to learn to fly or even bungee. Then the variety of experience days that are provided can let anyone achieve this.

The common experience days range from a day in a supercar, scuba diving, water rafting, 4x4 experiences, to many different spa days.

The options are surprising and can be a great surprise on Christmas day.

DIY Jewelry

Although considered difficult and expensive, creating your own jewelry as a gift is in fact relatively simple and fun to do. Ranging from necklaces, bracelets, earrings to rings. The most simplest and most popular being the charm bracelet. Using string, or a silver bracelet and adding charms or beads can be a simple and interesting challenge, with endless possibilities.

Why not trying using older and unused jewelry to experiment with and help add a personal touch.

Engraved Gifts

One of the easiest personalized gifts you can get someone during Christmas is a present that is engraved. This can range from the classic engraved cuff links, tankard and hip flask that men often receive.

But think of it from another angle, if the person is getting a ring, watch or any other special and expensive gift then why not have it engraved. After opening the present, they will be very grateful and may not notice the specialized engraving until later, which will be another surprise.

Gift Hampers

Gift hampers are a simple choice and have been a great choice for many different occasion for many years now. But the importance and significance can come from making it personalized. This can be from a simple card stating who it is from, wishing them great luck during the Christmas season. Or one can make completely unique Christmas hampers that will be completely modified to help offer everything the person enjoys. This can range from a simple wine hamper to hampers with champagne and chocolates. Gourmet food hampers are increasing in demand, but don't forget that if you have a friend or loved one living overseas then why not get a hamper that represents the local delicacies and favorite foods.

Most companies will allow for personalized wine bottles and champagne bottles. Also allowing the selection of the contents to be tailored and often the hamper itself. Many will provide the option of no-perishables also. With the Christmas theme being the base, with the personalized items being used to enhance the gift further.

Harvey McEwan provides information and advice on a variety of areas from personalized Christmas hampers to hand making gifts. View Harvey's other articles to find out more.

Start by Being Happy

By Susan Leigh 

Many of us I'm sure would be thrilled at receiving an expensive gift, thinking, 'how lucky am I!' It would make our day and contribute to our feeling happy. But what if that gift was a substitute for time, love, attention and was being given in a placatory, keep-em-quiet way. Would we still be feeling happy, cared for, special?

Happiness often comes from being grateful for what we have, appreciating the value of what comes our way - good or bad, the simple things in life. Being given a free leaflet about a show or talk that we're interested in demonstrates that someone was thinking of us when they picked it up. The champagne cork from a special meal together, a pressed flower or lovely shell from a walk we enjoyed, a compilation of 'our' special songs; these are things that can make us happy, rather than an expensive gift quickly purchased on the way home.

What are some things that make you happy?

- Thoughtful gestures are important. When someone smiles and lets us out in traffic, holds the door open, gets us a coffee as they make one for themselves or an unexpected kindness, any of these are things that can really brighten our day.

- Unconditional praise and compliments can make us happy. When someone rewards us with a, 'good job', or 'you look nice', it brings a glow of positivity to the day. But if they add a comment like 'why don't you do that more often!' it becomes much less pleasant.

- External things can make us happy. Children's laughter, the smell of coffee or freshly baked bread, a cheesy song, a beautiful garden can make us pause for a moment and smile. Many of us will feel excited at hearing the chimes of an ice cream van. We don't want an ice cream, but the music triggers childhood memories.

- What about finding an unexpected fiver in your pocket? How rich do you feel, how fortunate! Or an old lottery ticket and you fantasize momentarily about it being the lucky million pound ticket!

- Your pet's welcome as you walk through the door can make all the day's stresses evaporate. Any concerns are forgotten as you're smothered under lots of love and affection.

- Unexpectedly finding a laundered shirt when you're late can make you happy. You've gained 10 minutes before you've even started the day! Or catching a bus you thought you'd missed, buying the last of your favorite bread or not putting on weight over the holidays.

Some tips to enhance your happiness levels;

- Clean sheets are number one on many people's list. Why not add a few drops of lavender to the final rinse cycle? Ensure your bedroom is your retreat, where you relax, destress and perhaps enjoy some intimate time with your partner. Alternatively, have an early night with a good book and dedicate time to yourself.

- Close the curtains, turn off the lights and relax in the dark revisiting your favourite music. Get out your photograph albums and reminisce over the stories they tell, the memories they evoke, or spend an afternoon catching up on those films you've been wanting to watch.

- Indulge in a bubble bath. Light your scented candles, warm the towels and allow yourself half an hour 'me' time. Buy a bunch of flowers and put them somewhere unexpected like the hallway or bathroom, then smile as you take your morning shower.

- Plan some family time over a lovely meal and catch-up on everyone's news. Arrange something fun with your partner or friends; a walk, some sports, an evening out, or allow time to dress up and enjoy a special event.

- Enjoy some quiet time by sitting and eating lunch. Eating on the run can become a habit, but give yourself a break and destress. Buy a bar of quality chocolate and savour every mouthful.

- Settle down with a drink and phone a friend for a leisurely chat. Invite people round for coffee. It doesn't take much; a jar of coffee, a few biscuits and you have a pleasant get-together with friends.

- Do good works. Give to your favorite charity and feel happy that you're able to help others less fortunate. Volunteer and dedicate time to a local charity or amateur group. They often rely on volunteers to survive.

- Rise early and take a walk while the air is still fresh and it's quiet. Or enjoy an afternoon in the park watching the deer, swans and ducks. Maybe borrow a friend's dog and have a good walk. Marvel at the power of nature as you watch the sunset, sunrise or a thunderstorm from the comfort of your home.

- The beach is often a happy place. Walk barefoot on the sand, collect a few shells and practice skimming pebbles on the sea.

- Smiles are contagious. Brighten someone's day by giving a compliment, a smile, saying 'please' and 'thank you'. Yours might be the only kindness they receive that day.

So many of the things I've included are free or cost very little, once again reinforcing how money doesn't buy you happiness. It might help, but it's not the only factor!

Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.

She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.

To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net

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