Holiday 2007

Dear Friends

Every day when I walk my dog Sunny, I pass by an elderly woman's house. Since she is at the end of our dead-end street, there is no way to avoid her house. She is waiting for me almost every day, without fail. When we first moved in, I found her kind of charming -- I listened to her stories about the neighborhood, her children, her long-dead husband, their business together, etc. After several months, I began to get irritated and silently wished that she wouldn't be waiting there each day. I just wanted to get my dog walk over with and get back home. I had heard all her stories and now was hearing them for the second or third time. I didn't have time for this; I needed to get home to work.

I tried varying the time of the walk in hopes that I would miss her. No luck -- she must have been watching for me from her living room. Suddenly one day she stopped meeting me outside. About a week later, she came back out, and I could tell she was upset. She told me that her son was pressuring her to move into an assisted living facility because he didn't have time to ''deal'' with her any longer. Her heart was breaking.

At that moment I realized how incredibly selfish and shallow I had been acting. What were 10 minutes out of my day to give to this woman who had no other friends or anyone else to talk to? Her son had stopped listening to her stories long ago and she had no one else to tell them to. I commiserated with her about how scary all this must be and told her that no matter what happened I was sure her son wanted her to be well cared for and safe.

I rarely see her outside now. When we do see each other, it is from a distance and most often is just a quick wave. She has no more stories to tell me, no more inquiries about my life, and she doesn't want to pet Sunny much anymore. Is she going down hill because she knows what her future holds, or are the reasons I am seeing less and less of her the very reasons her son wants her to move into assisted living? I don't know. But I do know that now I long for her to be waiting in her front yard like she used to. I would love to hear her stories about when her kids were small and our neighborhood was filled with young children playing outside and to see her face light up as she remembers better times. I am ashamed of my previous attitude and impatience.

I have learned a life lesson the hard way -- at someone else's expense -- but I am grateful for this lesson. My wish for all of us this holiday season is that when we feel irritated or impatient with someone, we take a deep breath and relax. Our time and attention could be more valuable to someone else than we realize. We have the power to make a big difference to the folks around us. May we enjoy the season and give of ourselves in the little ways that count the most.

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Offering Wisdom to New Moms

From our archives -- The Best Good Deed

From our archives -- Embracing the Wonder of Children

From our archives -- Encouraging children to live their bliss

From our archives

Holiday 2013 -- Embracing the World of Wonder

Winter 2013 -- Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving

Fall 2013 -- Finding Beauty in the Everyday Tasks

Late Summer 2013 - Taking Our Own Advice

Midsummer 2013 -- Appreciating Nature's Bounty

Early Summer 2013 -- Being Prepared

Late Spring 2013 -- Having Realistic Expectations

Spring 2013 -- Offering Mothering Wisdom

Early Spring 2013 -- Being True to Our Nature

Holiday 2012 -- Appreciate the Goodness

Winter 2012 -- Enjoying the Anticipation

Early Fall 2012 -- Looking Back to Appreciate Now

Summer 2012 -- Chinaberry's History & Future

Early Summer 2012 -- My Dad

Late Spring 2012 -- My Satisfying Yet Untraditional Upbringing

Spring 2012 - The Consequences of Our Actions

Early Spring 2012 - Learning From Experience

Winter 2011 - The Small Moments

Holiday 2011 - The Good Deed

Fall 2011 - Gratitude

Late Summer 2011 - Overwhelmed? You're Not Alone.

Midsummer 2011 - Louise's Gallery

Early Summer 2011 - Flying 101: Giving Them Wings

Late Spring 2011 - Letting Them Fail

Spring 2011

Early Spring 2011 - Encouraging Your Kids to Live Their Bliss

Fall 2010 - The Chinaberry Commitment

Late Summer 2010 - In the Blink of an Eye

Midsummer 2010 - It's Her Story

Early Summer 2010 - Weathering the Storm

Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Enjoy the Ride

Early Spring 2010 - Enter the Land of Dirt and Bugs

Winter 2009 - Less Cleaning, More Meaning

Holiday 2009 - Finding Gratitude Every Day

Fall 2009 - Teaching Children Through Our Actions

Late Summer 2009 - A Spoonful of Sugar

Midsummer 2009 - Give Your Kids the Gift of Boredom this Summer

Early Summer 2009 - Who's the Kid and Who's the Parent?

Late Spring 2009 - Making Connections

Spring 2009 - Fully Engaging With Our Children

Early Spring 2009 - Building Character While Playing Characters

Winter 2008 - Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

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