A Holiday Message We All Need to Hear
By Sandy Schroeder
In the midst of the madness that holidays sometimes become, the volume often goes way up. As we pull all of the pieces together, shopping, cooking, gift-wrapping, decorating, cookie baking, and greeting guests, everybody talks at once, and most of us do our best to make it all work.
But a fair question might be, “Who’s really listening?"
Do we really hear what our kids, our spouse or our friends are saying? Well of course we do. Or at least we think so. We certainly intend to.
George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem with communications is the illusion that it has taken place.”
What we think is happening, and what really happens, may differ a lot! In the process of fielding all of the holiday efforts, sometimes a few balls get dropped. I have dropped many balls in my share of holidays, mostly when I forgot to really listen. In my haste to make it all perfect, to get the ideal gifts, to bake more cookies, to fix all of the right side dishes, to hang the lights, and find the right tree, I may not have taken enough time to just pause and listen and take in the moment.
Moments to Catch
When you really listen to the words, watch the expressions and read the body language of those around you -- you might catch the frustration on a senior’s face, as he or she tries to keep up, and not complain about aches and pains.
Or, you may clearly read how much your youngest wants to be as big as everyone else. You may see his pleasure when you give him a task, too. Even the dog might tell you with a serious gaze that he is a little concerned about you and cannot wait until the guests go home!
You may be very good at reading the expressions, and hearing what everyone is telling you. If you are, I am sure your friends, family and co-workers appreciate you. Sometimes I am, sometimes not. As I rush ahead to cross everything off of my list, not every message gets through. But I keep trying, and am often rewarded by a beaming face, shy smile or outright grin, as those around me let me know that we have connected.
All of us can keep the message going, by being alert to those around us, listening, watching and helping. Taking a moment to help a senior cross a busy supermarket parking lot, thanking the busy checker who is clearly dead on her feet and still has many hours to work, or smiling at the end of the day when you really feel like frowning, are all good ways to connect.