The Fabulous Familiar

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

From Bah, Humbug to Bah-lessed (Blessed)

"There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child." ~Erma Bombeck, "I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression."

Everyone knows "those people." Perhaps you, yourself, are one of "those people." In this particular case, "those people" refers to the individuals who are innately born with Christmas spirit. It isn't uncommon for them to start listening to Christmas music around the first of November, and their heart fills with joy at the thought of getting all 350 ornaments down from the attic.

My roommates dubbed me Ebenezer Scrooge this year because the thought of setting up a Christmas tree seemed more like an item on a dreaded "to-do" list than a joyous occasion that should make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Nevertheless, I pressed on, gritted my teeth and hung ornaments on our dwarfed tree. Call me The Grinch, but I kind of found it humorous when my roommate expected a full-sized tree and put it together only to find that it reached mid-kneecap. See? I have Christmas spirit; it's just a little different than most people's.

When taking an honest look at why my Christmas spirit isn't up to par, I think I have found the reason. Ashton, the arch nemesis of change and everything that comes along with it, hasn't quite come to grips with the loss of childhood wonder and the effect it has on the magical aspect of the holidays.

I miss staying up late with my cousin Hannah, both of our American Girl dolls tucked in next to us with matching nightgowns. I miss waking up early and seeing the newest toys under the tree — and watching as our parents humorously tried to put together everything from dollhouses to train sets. The years bring with them many changes; sickness, work, time constraints, marriage and other factors play their role in molding our lives. When you are a child, time seems to stand still and your parents, grandparents and other family members seem to stay the same. You wake up one day to find that, as you have gotten older, they, too, have endured the elements that time brings. And perhaps that is the hardest part of losing that magic; knowing that the people you previously viewed as invincible are, in all actuality, only human — prone to sickness and hardship.

Christmas may not carry with it a childhood magic, but it is our job to find ways to bless others and realize the extent of what God has given us. What used to be butterflies and a ridiculous amount of hyperactivity has now transformed into a time of reflection for me. I used to beg to be excused from the dinner table, but now I long for people to stay at the table, and I soak up that fellowship. Instead of presents, I value each moment I get to visit with Hannah. We may have lost the matching nightgowns, but we haven't lost our love and appreciation for each other through the years. Though I may have lost my "sleepover buddy" to good 'ol marriage (haha), I still treasure the times we get to catch up — perhaps even more than when we were kids.

The holidays, like everything else in life, are going to evolve in coming years. Whether you have sick loved ones or children getting married, traditions are going to have to give, and patience will need to be enabled. If you have an open mind and a loving heart, you just might find some new traditions and blessings you never saw coming. I pray that I have the strength to face the coming years with grace and not harbor resentment and fear. I pray for you the same.

Remember, friends, that we all have magic inside of us. We just have to tap into that joy that comes with knowing what all we have been given — instead of focusing on what has been taken away. All my love, Ashton

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Making Familiar Things New

The idea of bringing my blog back to life has been on my heart for the past few months.
I came across a quote today that kind of spurred me on in my quest to find inspiration. English author Samuel Johnson said, "The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new."
This statement, though not mind-boggling and life-altering, is the perfect response to my insecurities; it has turned my hesitation into action.

The reason I discontinued my blog in the first place was because I felt as if the excitement in my life had come to a screeching halt. When I was studying in Europe, I always had new experiences to share and stories to recount. I somehow felt like my daily whereabouts in the states paled in comparison. The truth is, writing is my outlet — and I was robbing myself of the opportunity to escape — if only for a moment — from the mundane happenings that I felt made up my life.

The essence of a good writer is making familiar life more interesting; to find the humor in common events; to find meaning where it may appear that there is none. My friends tease me for my constantly updated, often quirky Facebook status updates, but it only goes to show you that my brain is forever in "writer mode." Whereas most people would not constantly look for the irony in commercials and the utter ridiculousness of a comment made in the Wal-Mart checkout line, I thrive on these daily activities. I love to take day-to-day occurrences and ponder them. Talking about them with others and even gaining a few laughs keeps me sane and aids in processing daily life.

I can't promise that every blog entry will change your life. I can't promise that every blog entry will make you roll on the floor with laughter. I can promise honesty and a deep look into the idiosyncrasies that make me the Ashton you know (and hopefully) love. Hopefully, if you join me on this journey, I can — in some small way — make the familiar fabulous — and shine a new light on an old routine. All my love, Ashton