Posts tagged ‘christmas’

December 24, 2011

Tolerating Christmas

It’s a special time of the year especially if you’re a child or a grown-up with lovely memories of Christmas. Might be a really big stack of presents around the tree if you had a big family. Might be stories from older siblings about “hearing” noises in the night. New things. Special meal. Visiting Dad’s boss as a ritual. Everyone in a good mood it seemed!

For some, the Christmas lunch with disconnected relatives is a chore to survive. The only time the trust bank gets a chance to be exercised. That’s not everyone’s experience. Some families are filled with trust, companionship and mutual respect built on doing things – making an effort. And tolerating.

Shortly I’m off to sing carols at St Matthew-in-the-City. St Matthew’s who asked us to reflect on Mary’s discovery that she was pregnant. I only go there once a year. I love the carols and I like the tolerance. Seems to me if there is one thing that I can take from a church it’s tolerance. I’ve previously blogged about having no tolerance for intolerance.

When we sit down for Christmas Lunch that might be something worth reflecting on. Practicing tolerance to those less equipped for the rigours of an annual catch-up. While you’re at it try a little presence and make this one of the good old days!

Share your Christmas’ of the past and have a very happy Christmas day!

Stephen

December 23, 2010

Can’t it be Christmas already?

Today, my friend Mahvash asked me if I had bought all the pressies I intended to. I responded that I had one left to purchase and asked her the same question. She explained that as a Muslim she doesn’t do Christmas, so I figured that actually the answer was, yes, she had done all the gifts she was intending, like none. Well she did ask me!

I’ve got a big list on my whiteboard, most of which have been completed enough for this year, and what’s not done, isn’t going to be and the sky won’t fall in come 2011 if they haven’t (lucky I don’t work in an ED).

When I blogged recently I commented on the traffic and today it’s even more manic.  Hot, humid, busy and a strong feeling of  rushing to complete. Completion can be satisfying and I’m sure my boys wouldn’t be too impressed if come the 25th I hadn’t got around to getting their gifts yet! But the sense that prevails at this moment is counter to happiness.  No, you don’t need to spend all your life in reflection, things need to be done of course, but how we react to the so-called Christmas rush can be telling of our balance and perspective.

The unnecessary purchases (Help! the shops will be closed on one whole day), the patience or otherwise in the store or carpark, the reckless abandonment of agreed purchasing limits! Yes I’ve been there, but this year I promised myself – only use the EFTPOS, no credit card and don’t buy anything for myself. It’ll be there on the 26th still.

These are only small nothings in the scheme of things and might not even be relevant to others, but what I’ve been trying to do is keep myself centered and authentic. I’m really looking forward to time for reading, running and resting.

And Christmas needn’t come too soon or too late. It’ll come whether you’re ready or not.  So don’t wish Christmas to be either delayed or here already. It’s an annual opportunity to be yourself and embrace a day with those that matter in a mindful, peaceful, but not too full I hope, way. Like Mahvash, some people don’t do it. And for them I wish them the same – a mindful day with loved ones.

Merry Christmas.

Stephen

December 21, 2010

Polish the headstone

On Christmas morning I’ll visit the grave of my maternal grandparents at Waikumete Cemetery. They won’t know I’ve been and actually, I hardly knew my grandfather who died when I was 5 years old. I have one only memory of him  – going up the escalators at Farmers – I think!. Christmas day as a boy felt like a very special day, in fact it felt so special that when we went out in the car to visit (usually Dad’s boss Huia Gilpin who lived in the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch), I would look at other people in their cars with some sort of reverence, almost amazement, that here we had arrived on this most special of days. Surely today we were a united community with clean cars, best clothes and only good things to say and do. And new stuff from under the tree. The whole world must be amazing today.

I re-live that feeling in part by listening to ridiculously cliche-ridden carols and cleaning the car (I only just realised that! ah the power of blogging). And by visiting Mum’s parents’ grave at Waikumete. Grandma was a pretty no-nonsense sort of person. I remember after a holiday in Auckland in January, all piling in the car to leave with her on the steps of her three-bedroom unit in Haverstock Road, Sandringham.  “Lovely to see you arrive, lovely to see you go” she declared. I was crushed. How could she say such a thing? How could the nine of us squeezed into her flat in Sandringham for three weeks with a week or so in the middle at Stanmore Bay, have been anything other than a joyous experience?

Later, when I boarded with her as a 21 year-old, she reprimanded me for inappropriate sarcasm to some door-to-door religious salesmen in white shirts and black name tags. No nonsense, but tolerant at the same time.

For some reason, time is the excuse, I haven’t put up a Christmas Tree this year. I might tonight. I might not. Somehow, it doesn’t seem important. The mind feels clear and at peace after a big year both professionally and personally and the tree seems not necessary for the experience of Christmas peace.

The man who lived 2000 years ago and was executed by the government of the day in a pretty routine method at that time, spoke, or at least had recorded about him, of tolerance. If he were around today, he’d be pretty shocked at the lack of tolerance by many of the establishments built up in his name. He’d be impressed by some, sure.

I feel very grateful that in my world there’s a lot of tolerance about race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age, ability, wants. But unlike the visit to the Botanic Gardens in the 70s I realise that much or even most of the world is not so fortunate. Some people can’t choose what they wear, or eat, or days they work, because of intolerance based supposedly on the words of men who spoke primarily of such a thing. Strange.

None of this is going to change anytime soon, but every step of Authenticity and Tolerance as leaders we make to our teams and communities, it’s a step that will, with many other steps, ripple eventually across the oceans to maybe some poor kid in Africa infected by AIDS at birth from her mother.

So when I polish up the headstone, I’ll remember Grandma’s tolerance, at least on that one day that I got told off. But I’ll continue to be intolerant of one thing though: Intolerance. Make a stand for it. You won’t just lead a great team. Take how we lead at work as authentic leaders into all of the world and don’t put up with intolerance. We could save more lives that way than ever before.

That’s a Christmas worth having. Same one as a boy I thought the world was having.

December 25, 2009

Hey Santa, do you have the time?

As I write this Santa will be weaving his way around the suburbs delivering gifts to all the children and the children in us. It’s amazing how he finds the time.

This afternoon I visited someone in prison I know who is serving time for a teenage wrongdoing decades ago. It’s sad, but he’s strong and resilient and looking forward to having it all behind him.

It made me reflect about giving. What can you give to a prisoner? Actually, the only thing you can really give is your time. They’re not allowed anything else.

Strange thing that thing time. That’s what our kids want from us too, more than anything.

And so do all the people in our team. The leader with time. Quite simple really.

This evening I went to St Matthew’s in the City for the midnight carol service.   I don’t go to church but I do enjoy carols and I have discovered St Matthews as a place that embraces goodness and love – that’s good enough for me!  The church was packed. The organ was fantastic and my singing, well, what can I say? It sounded good on the inside!

We reflected at the service for a time on those who weren’t having a great year including those in prison. I don’t mind admitting I felt tearful.

But I know the most powerful gift I can give is time.  Giving also gives me strength and resilience.  That’s a pretty good bonus to keep.

Do you have the time?

I’m sure like Santa we can make some great time for everyone that matters.

Merry Christmas everyone.


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