Friday, December 20, 2019

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor – A message from Santa

Ho! Ho! Ho! And Merry Christmas everyone! As the big night gets closer, my elves have been helping get my sleigh ready and all the reindeer are resting to make sure they are ready, too! 

Rudolph’s nose has been cleaned and shined so it will be very bright as I travel all around the world.

To the kids: Are you excited for the big day? I know you’ve all been working really hard to be good this year, but there’s still a few days left, so be sure to be as nice and helpful as you can. I’ll be checking my list twice and you don’t want to be on the ‘naughty’ one. It’s important to remember Christmas isn’t all about toys and lights and candy canes. It’s showing your parents, brothers, sisters and friends you love and care about them. You can do that simply by spending time with them or helping them when they need it. Even something as simple as a compliment can make a big difference in someone’s day.

Once I’m done delivering presents, and spreading cheer, I return to the North Pole and spend time with Mrs. Claus and the elves. Family is an important part of Christmas to me.

Get those letters mailed, if you haven’t already, and I’ll get ready to stop by your house. Oh! Don’t forget the cookies and milk (no kale) as I get hungry travelling to so many houses!

To the adults: Mrs. Claus and I were talking the other day and while kids get most of my attention, some adults begin to forget about me as they get older, but I haven’t forgotten about you.

Christmastime is different when you’re an adult and can sometimes be more stressful than fun. It may be more difficult than it used to but look for ways to find that special feeling you had at Christmas when you were younger. It can be found in a look on your child’s (or niece/nephew’s) face when they see the lights or open a gift, or when everyone sits down to Christmas dinner. Or maybe you find it elsewhere. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress (I know I could use it after a night of eating cookies), spending time with your pet(s), or simply finding something that makes you laugh. There’s no right way to feel good about Christmas; It’s about being together with those you love and enjoy.

Well, I’ve got to get back to supervising the elves and continue to get ready for my big sleigh ride!

Merry Christmas everyone!
North Pole

Friday, December 13, 2019

Insight: Believing in the intangibles all year long

By Lorraine Glowczak

“Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to,” Attorney Fred Gailey (played by John Payne) explained to Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) in the 1947 version of the Christmas movie “A Miracle on 34th Street”. “Don’t you see? It’s not just Kris that’s on trial, it’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles.”

Then, Fred really makes his point to a doubting and pragmatic Doris when he states, “Look Doris, someday you're going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn't work. And when you do, don't overlook those lovely intangibles. You'll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile.

I must admit, I am a sucker for Christmas movies….all of them. And, if I am completely honest – I am sucker for Christmas itself. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered why I love this time of year so much. Yes of course, the “decorations of red on a green Christmas tree” as I watch chestnuts roasting on an open fire while a winter wonderland of snow sits outside my window  - all encapsulate that special holiday feeling – but there is something more than that.

Like Kris Kringle reminds us, and Fred Gailey fights for, in “A Miracle on 34th Street”, it’s the fact that Christmas is a frame of mind. It’s a time when we remember the small but powerful things that gives life true value, producing excitement and passion within us. It’s those intangibles most of us believe in with ease this time of year – you know - those things such as caring, gentleness, selflessness, peace and patience with one another.

But the instant the holidays slowly recede into yesterday’s memories, I experience a period of sadness as if to feel slightly let down. But I quickly push those thoughts aside and return to “reality” as I believe it to be. I resume my three-page to-do list lifestyle for the next 11 months and my frame of mind changes. For the next 11 months, I get swept away with the practical and reasonable, consumed by the demands of life. Yet, at the same time, I experience a longing.

I struggle with the commonsense way of living while being tugged by the Kris Kringle in my soul. It’s easy to remember the joy, love and kindness when everyone sees the value of the intangibles during the holiday season. However, it can be more difficult walking alone during a season of realistic normalcy when the Christmas frame of mind is not as easily accepted, and perhaps worst - forgotten.

But this year, when 2020 opens its door, I hope to remember this feeling that is so easy to dance with now and will do my best to remember what is worthwhile. I do not want to lose sight of what is important.

Despite whatever “realities” will be before me next year, I will work to forever believe in the power of the intangibles – all year long. May you, too, remember to carry the spirit of Christmas with you. That way, perhaps we all can encounter the holiday feeling every day instead of just through the month of December.

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Since the Town of Windham’s relocation of their Veterans Memorial in 2005, now located in front of Windham High School, the American Legion Field-Allen Post has been placing a Memorial Wreath on the stone in remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the beginning of WWII for America.  On the 78th Anniversary of the attack, Post Honor Guard members, David Rendall, Craig Pride and Larry DeHof continued the tradition with the placement of the memorial wreath on a very, very cold Dec 7th, 2019.  Photo by Larry DeHof

Friday, December 6, 2019

Insight: Ways to be grateful when you don’t feel like it

By Lorraine Glowczak

Ready or not, the Holiday Season is upon us. As for me, I am ready … for the most part. It is fairly easy for me to be ready since my family in Maine consists of my husband and my dog.

Although we may not be a typical American household and we won’t be sitting around the table with our larger, extended families who live in the Midwest, the three of us are doing good. We are healthy, well-fed, live in a warm home and have many caring and loving friends. We feel grateful, joyful and content. However, this is not always the case for everyone during the holidays.

The celebrations. The bright lights. The carols of good tidings and great joy. The ideal “Norman Rockwell” family gathering can all be overwhelming. The perfection expected of the holiday experience can come crashing down on us making the feeling of gratitude difficult to muster. In fact, some might have difficulty coughing up a sincere “thank you” no matter how hard they try.

First - for those of you who have lost someone special, I want to take a moment and recognize your grief. My wish for you is that the pain you experience will lift sooner rather than later.

For those who may be experiencing other challenging circumstances or whose families are either miles away or estranged, being grateful during a time of celebration and thanksgiving can be difficult.

I have researched some ways in which we can reach deep into our pockets and pull out a “thank you” when it is not easy to do so. Here are some ways I found that may be helpful. You or I may not be able to utter the words of gratitude but, perhaps, shift the feelings of such:

·       The first suggestion I came across was, “stop focusing on the negative and stop complaining for 21 days.” According to psychologist, it takes 21 days to learn a new habit, retraining the brain and the way you approach and view things in the world. I have never tried the 21-day challenge – so I don’t know if it will work. But it wouldn’t hurt to try it if you’re up for it.

·       Upon waking or just prior to going to sleep, think of just one thing you appreciate in your life. During an especially difficult time in my own life where I faced certain financial challenges, I did this. Some days, the only thank you I could muster was; “I’m grateful for this warm cup of coffee.”

It worked for me. Although the difficult circumstance remained for a year or so, my gratitude shifted my life and I felt better – even during the most difficult moments. Did life continue in a “rainbow, roses and everything is beyond perfect” manner?  Of course not. Life is life. Yang begets Yin. Love begets hate. Truth begets dishonesty. And, perfection is often found in the imperfection.

·       Being okay with your “non-traditional” life.

Most of us don’t live that Norman Rockwell family and existence. Whether you are a single parent, live alone or must dance to a weird family dynamic – remember that you are not alone. In fact, there are more people like you than you think.

·       If you don’t have family, create a “fremily” (friends who are family). Don’t force it. Go with those who are your “kindred spirits”.

These are the people who are most like you. (Although I can’t make any promises. The odds are that if you are authentic, tell the truth to yourself; you will find your “friemly-those kindred spirits who live life much like you.) I have hosted these gatherings and thoroughly enjoyed the non-traditional get-togethers.

In fact, at one fremily get-together, I invited one of my husband’s co-workers who was alone for Thanksgiving. We didn’t know each other that well but enjoyed each other’s company so much that a year later, we travelled to Italy together. Next summer in 2020 – I will be a bridesmaid in her wedding.

·       My all-time favorite suggestion came from a Real Simple magazine article. It recommended, “For Pete’s sake, stay off Pinterest.”

It’s true for me. Not only for Pinterest, but Facebook and other social media connections. These sites give the impression that others live the perfect, happy life with friends and family. Most of these posts and photos do not reflect with honesty, a personal reality. Like the time I took a photo of a ‘loving and happy’ couple just moments before they had a not so little spat.

Don’t compare your life with others’ misleading life presentations. In fact, most often, if they are presenting a perfect life. They have more challenges than you. I know this because I probe too much – discovering the truth of said “Facebook postings.”

I hope this small list is helpful in some way as we dive into the holiday season. Just remember, in little over a month it will be a new year with new possibilities of change ahead. Maybe that’s something to be thankful for.

Magic is happening again this year with Santa’s mailbox in Windham neighborhood

Chase Hill, Blake Perkins and Harper Maxfield
put their letters to Santa in the mailbox located
at 23 Freeman Court in Windham.

As Windham Eagle reporter, Elizabeth Richards stated in an article she wrote last Christmas season, Santa needs a little help gathering stories and answering letters. In that article, Richards introduced Windham residents, Joanne Mattiace and Maggie Terry, who had set up a festive holiday display outside their home, complete with a mailbox to collect letters for Santa. And, they are continuing this joyful service again this year.  

The couple encourages children to write letters telling Santa what Christmas means to them. Children who dropped off letters will receive a personalized response.

 “I really think that Maggie and I focus on charity at Christmas time because we adopted a young boy years ago…and Christmas has meant a lot to him,” Mattiace said.  “Everybody needs a little holiday cheer, whether you’re Christian or Jewish or whatever, whether you’re old or young, straight or gay. We all just need to be a little kinder to each other,” she said.

If your child or if you know of a child who wants to write a letter to Santa and receive a personalized response from his helpers, drop off a letter in Santa’s mailbox that sits at 23 Freeman Court in Windham. Due to the potential influx of letters, the last day that Santa’s helpers will be receiving mail to Santa will be December 19th.