One day my daughter, who is 19 years old and has a slight physical handicap, came home from her work experience at a local senior citizen home and told me the most touching story…..
While standing at the bus stop in the pouring rain, a young man ran across the street and handed her his umbrella. Then he turned around and ran back across the street, boarded his bus and disappeared without saying a word. It happened so quickly that she couldn’t even thank him for it before he quickly ran off. She said he was a refugee, new to this country and didn’t speak German. This act of kindness literally brought tears to my eyes.
Living in Germany, we hear and read reports about people and families in foreign lands having to flee their homes for safety almost daily. One can’t ignore the constant criticism and the political haggling about it all. People give them a place to live and then complain that they live there. I try to avoid watching the news. There are simply too many sad and depressing things going on in this world and I can’t help wondering if actual acts of “kindness” have become a rarity. Why are people so negative and quick to judge and criticise people they don’t even know?
Ironic as it may seem, this act of kindness wasn’t performed by a native German resident but by a foreigner facing the hardships of being accepted by a new country, its people and its customs.
“Dear young man, wherever you are. Thank you for being kind to my daughter.”
As a mother of two lovely daughters, I enjoyed looking forward to the Christmas Holidays every year – Don’t get me wrong, I still do! It’s just that now they are teenagers and the way we celebrate Christmas has changed.
I actively spent weeks preparing for Christmas, creating a budget, making our Christmas lists, comparing prices and shopping for toys and other childrens’ goodies. We all looked forward to our yearly Christmas cookie baking day – always followed by the kitchen clean up evening. We exchanged presents on Christmas morning while listening to Christmas music playing in the background. It was so beautiful hearing them talk under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning about the wonderful things Santa had brought them.
One Christmas, my oldest which was six at the time, said she had actually heard Santa’s sleigh with his reindeer land on our roof Christmas Eve. How I envy that innocence and magical imagination that children possess! Little did she know, the sounds she heard were actually her parents carrying all the beautifully wrapped presents from their hiding places and putting them as quietly as possible under our Christmas tree. Every Christmas they’d get a personal letter from Santa full of compliments and praise. Their eyes would twinkle and their faces all smiles.
Then one day I was asked the dreaded question, “Mom, is there really a Santa Clause?” There it was. Like a balloon just popped by a pin. As the responsible parents you are, you have no choice but to tell them the truth and all because the kids at school had to spoil all the magic. It’s such a shame; but you tell them. You explain to them that there really is no Santa Clause and that now they are old enough to understand. Santa isn’t just a story about a fat man in a red suit with a white beard, a sleigh and reindeer bringing presents to children around the world…..
Santa is FAMILY and Christmas is LOVE.
We all have these wonderful memories of our children at Christmas when they’re sitting under the Christmas tree opening their presents. The kids would tear off the beautiful wrapping paper and then they’d pass the boxes on to me to do the rest. I couldn’t get the toys out of the original packaging fast enough! This was no easy task, since I believe that toys are purposely packaged extremely well to make our lives more stressful on Christmas Day. Remember the dolls with their buggies and cool outfits? Or if you have boys, remember the cars and train sets?
What I didn’t know then was that one day the toys would be gone.
As my children got older they simply lost interest in their toys. They sat untouched, collecting dust in the cupboards and on the shelves. My girls sprouted into their teen years and the dolls were forgotten. Instead, their interests changed to CDs, DVDs, mobile phones, gaming consoles, makeup, clothes and …… boys. Now that’s a scary thought, especially when you picture them running around the house in their little princess costumes at the age of four!
I guess as a parent, this must be the first stage in preparation of our children eventually leaving the nest. But what about all those beautiful and expensive toys and dolls sitting on the shelves? Two options. Box them and hide them away in the attic for almost forever or give them to children that would appreciate them NOW. I decided on the latter.
Today, a young family came to pick up the toys. They searched through the boxes with eager looks of anticipation and wonder on their faces. They gave me looks of appreciation and embarrasement. I helped them load all the boxes of toys into their car and then sadly watched as they drove away.
I was glad, of course, that the toys would be cherished but never imagined I would be so sad to see them go. Our babies are no longer babies anymore.
They’re growing up.
After contemplating which of my experiences to write about first, I had an eye-opening experience today that I just had to share. I have always had a few extra pounds on me ever since I was a child. When I became a teenager I started running and doing aerobic exercise and was a great athlete in high school and beyond. I made fitness part of my career, got myself certified and successfully instructed aerobics and fitness classes for more than 27 years. This additional part-time job not only kept me fit and the pounds off, but it also put extra money into my bank account. This was something I really loved doing and knew I could never live without. But the many years of running and fitness caught up with me, and forced me to stop instructing about 5 years ago. From then on I spent my spare time jogging and enjoying the outdoors and my own personal fitness routines.
Then the menopause symptoms began followed by a hysterectomy. I had to take a 6 month break from fitness classes and running altogether. When I finally did begin again I ended up with one injury after another. It was a never-ending battle and extremely frustrating. As a result, I gained weight. Then one day I bent over to pick up a bucket and that’s when it happened. I pinched a nerve in my lower back. The pain became so extreme at times just while sitting that it was unbearable. I’ve spent the last 3 years going from one doctor to the next explaining all my symptoms. The pain in my neck, shoulders, lower back and spreading down the outside of my right leg. Needless to say, that due to all this pain and discomfort my fitness routines and running came to a halt! No more jogging etc. It just wasn’t possible anymore. I practically stopped sleeping because of the pain I felt at night. Lying in bed was even painful. Every doctor told me to go walking, do fitness – but honestly, when you’re really in pain, that’s the last thing you want to do. It just made mine worse.
In addition to my prescribed physical therapy, my doctor recommended I sign up for some injury rehabilitation fitness classes. I go twice a week, hoping that I’m doing something that will help the pain eventually go away, even if it means I won’t be able to move the following day. The problem is, it isn’t very motivating when 95% of the participants are over 65 and the instructor is a teenage bikini model. This doesn’t help build self confidence and I’m not so sure whether this really helps my back problem.-But I do come out of that class feeling as though I’ve gained 25 pounds and aged 25 years.
Here it comes. My 50th birthday is just around the corner. I never thought it would be such a big deal, but I keep asking myself, “What comes next?” I’m guessing there are many women experiencing the same thing – going through the usual age related changes, soul-searching and also wondering about the “Then what?” question.
I’ve created this blog for all of us.