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‘Tis The Season

Well, here I sit on the best bed in the house. It’s an antique iron bed with a Tempurpedic mattress and elegant, floral Pottery Barn bedding from throw pillow to sheets. It’s also the bed that our Welsh Pembroke Corgi, Connah, sits on and peers out the window to the city street we live on. He barks and carries on like no other at the sight of passersbys, but we’re mostly unfazed by it because he’s a great back up to our existing alarm system. Nevertheless, as I sat down on this bed to get comfortable, Connah’s dog hair began to levitate. The sun was coming in, the dog hair was going up and I thought, well, he is a dog… he is going to shed… this is just a bed and his command post… nobody ever died from a little (just kidding, a lot) dog hair.” And, right after I gave myself that little “talking to,” I turned to my left to find barf on that elegant duvet I spoke of just a few sentences ago. Lord, deliver me. Now, the duvet is off and in the wash. And, here I sit, on this bed as I write my 50th blog. Dog hair, barf and all, I’m one happy camper.

My Mom never fails to remind me during this time of the year, that, of all the gifts that Santa brought me as a child, I was most interested in the box one of my gifts came in. Not the gift but the box. You know, that box that Santa’s Helper (love you, Mom) probably saved her coins up for, made the long trip in to Dallas from the country for, searched the mall over for, stood in a line a mile long for, paid for, made the long trek back home for and wrapped it so that it would be ready FOR Santa to place perfectly under the tree.” Yea, that box!

As an adult, I search for the perfect gifts for my loved ones. Sometimes it’s a hit, and sometimes it’s a miss. But, I’m forever diligent in my pursuit of picking out the perfect gift that my loves ones will, well, LOVE. Today, I thought, “What do you remember getting under the tree as a kiddo?” Before I could recall a handful of things under the tree that I loved so, my mind wandered to other things that were most memorable to me. My Maw Nalls always made a fruit cake. I never ate it. In fact, it might be the one dessert other than mincemeat pie (which she also made) that I didn’t eat. But, she made it one time each year, and it was celebrated and special. My Mamaw Lide had a gumdrop tree. It was old, broken, held in one place with masking tape and was usually comprised of gumdrops she would refreeze (if even freezing gumdrops was imaginable), but I loved that gumdrop tree. And, I ate the gumdrops off of it like it was my job. My Mom would hand my sister and I cash from the calves sold on our behalf to finance our Christmas shopping as kiddos. Generally, Eckerd (now, CVS) was my first choice for shopping. And, I used every cent to buy something there that would, once again, “wow” my loved ones. Then, there was the note to Santa and cookies that he was sometimes “too full to eat.” There was also the caroling with my Nalls’ cousins on Christmas Eve. Oh, and who could ever forget, the virus that swept though our home like a hurricane, compliments of my loving big sister who I could not celebrate Christmas without. The Christmas songs on the radio, ice cycles in the tree, turkey and dressing with all the fixings, stockings stuffed to perfection and the list goes on.

You see, it wasn’t necessarily the gifts under the tree, it was the collective magic of Christmas. And, it’s different for us all. The things I spoke of aren’t really things that can be bought, rather things that are created from or are felt with the heart.

First thing this morning, Patrick, Connah, Peaches and I received a box filled with Christmas treasures from The Ogle Family in Virginia Beach, VA. We loved everything in the box, how it was gift wrapped, the thoughtfulness of it all, but my favorite gift of all was the gift tags that were written by my youngest goddaughter, Avery. I’ve looked over every inch of both tags. One was attached to Peaches gift (our other fur baby) and the other was attached to a gift for yours truly. It didn’t cost anything per say, but it was worth gold to me. Above all the precious gifts, that one will long be remembered by me.

So, you didn’t get that YETI Cooler? Write that person a note, and tell him how much he means to you. The Apple Watch was out of stock? Make time to spend with the intended recipient of that gift instead. And, your holiday cookies you baked for your neighbor didn’t quite look like something famed pastry chef, Dominique Ansel would create? Take them anyway and create your own comedy hour for your neighbor compliments of your “cookie fail.” These are the things we remember fondly long after the season has come and gone.

As Dr. Seuss would day, “Sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. Friends, ’tis the season to make good ones! I wish you all joy this Christmas and in the coming New Year!

Stay Divine,
JL PARISH

WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL

I’m such a softy (in more ways than one). My body, my ever evolving, almost forty year old body has softened. But, my heart, oh heavens, my heart is softened even more toward kind, humble, “give you your flowers” people. Kindness is, without question, my kind of beautiful.

When I was a little girl, people who knew my Mom would see my Sister and stop in their tracks with an “Oh, Glenda, this must be your daughter. She’s the spitting image of you.” I knew they meant she was beautiful because, like my Momma, my Sis is beautiful, too. And, closely behind, I would make my way into the picture and the same person would say, “Now, who are you.” Oh, Jesus, keep me near! My Mom would say, “This is Jill. She’s my youngest. And, while she’s so much like me in ways, she’s the spitting image of her Daddy. And, if you knew him, you’d know how special that is.”

I would think to my little self, “Dang, if I don’t look like my Mom, I must not be as pretty.” Do you love that? Not that I wasn’t pretty, but “as pretty.” God love me. When that sweet Mom of mine wasn’t having to reprimand us for bad behavior (mostly my Sister, Susan, of course… wink, wink… love you, Sis) she was praising the heck out of us. “You look beautiful today,” she would say, or “I’m very proud of you.” We could’ve both been headless monsters, but, we would’ve never known. Because, to our Mom, we were beautiful.

Now, when people who were more acquainted with my Daddy would see me, they would and, to this day still say, “You are Don Lide made all over.” That has always made my heart smile because, while he was not with us in a physical sense, he was still very much with us and it showed up in the curl of my hair and the blue in my eyes. He was special. I knew that. So, I was good.

My Sister always felt like the people who thought she was so beautiful also thought she was a little tart. And, I thought the one’s who thought I was like my Daddy didn’t necessarily think I was a raging beauty, but, I had heart, personality and a whole lotta’ spunk. My Sis and I “LOL” at this all the time. But, you wanna’ know something, it didn’t matter what the outside world said about us, in our little world, our Momma was raising us up with confidence in who we were ultimately from, God.

I recognize how fortunate I have been and continue to be to have parents who praised their kiddos when praise was due. I know that sometimes, it was hard to find beauty in us (especially in our teenage years), but my Mom was never at a loss when it came to praising her two daughters. No, she was unabashed in her mission to raise girls who were confident. It wasn’t about having the hottest hairstyle or on trend clothing, no, it was about who’s image we were made in and who we really were on the inside.

To close, this last Sunday at church, we had the opportunity, as we do each Sunday, to turn to our neighbor and say hello. And, so, Patrick and I did just that. The last two women I greeted were seated right in front of us. I noticed how beautifully dressed and perfect their hair was earlier because, duh, I’m a girl. We check these things out like it’s our job. I reached out with my hand to shake their hands and said, “Hello.” And, after one of the ladies said hello, she held onto my hand, looked straight into my eyes and said, “You are so beautiful.” And, I knew that she was seeing ME. She was seeing my heart, the light in my eyes and the joy and confidence that comes from my Maker.

That Sunday morning, I nearly cried like I do almost every Sunday morning. I’m so moved by the music and the scripture and the hearts of the people there. The moment my husband sees a tear, from periphery, I see his half hearted grin and slight shake of his head. God love him. How he puts up with me, I will never know. Point being, beauty is moving. It is everywhere. And, it should command our attention in such a way that we are both moved and inspired by it.

If I haven’t told y’all lately, every single one of you are beautiful. It might be your Carrie Underwoodesque legs or your sweet smile or your heart. But, know this, you’re beautiful. I know because I am a purveyor of all things beautiful. But, that heart of yours, oh, THAT HEART! It’s a perfect TEN!

I hope you’ll take in more beauty today (especially yours). May you give it wings to fly to the person who most needs to see it, be moved and inspired by it. I say, we start an all out Beauty Campaign. It should consist of this… Walk tall, knowing the truth about who you are and where your confidence comes from. And, “give someone their flowers” by acknowledging something beautiful in them today!

Stay Divine, Beautiful!

JL PARISH

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