Beyond Our Lists: The Experience that Surprised Me

Beyond Our Lists: The Experience that Surprised Me

This week’s inspiration comes from a holiday shopping event that a friend and I attended at our local Nordstrom.

Although I had my list, (mostly in my head—aren’t those the scariest ones?), my friend and I grabbed a bite to eat in the café and reviewed in detail what we were looking for that evening. Soon the lights flickered, the music began, and so did our mission-driven shopping. We agreed to split up to meet back after forty-five minutes.

At our rendezvous, a strange thing began to happen. Some of our gifts were beyond our lists. As we began to tell each other about our discoveries, we described the recipient of each gift. And how the gift would be used. And why it was the perfect gift for that person.

Her thoughtful recollections inspired mine.

Shopping became more than just checking the box; it became a time of sharing family personalities, stories, and traditions. It was strangely energizing and amazingly satisfying to think through the festivities ahead and then envision a gift that would make the experience even more special or memorable.

Gretchen Rubin’s thought for the day from The Happiness Project may sum it up best:

To eke out the most happiness from an experience:
          anticipate it,
          savor it as it unfolds,
          express happiness,
          and recall a happy memory.

Yes, that’s exactly what we did! And yet, I still was surprised at my sudden vigor.

I’d been cyber-shopping for weeks. I’d researched the top-selling gifts, clicked on deals-of-the-day, googled promotion and coupon codes, and more than once went to bed burned-out and bleary-eyed from screen fatigue.

What was it about this round of shopping that invited me to experience gift-giving in a different way?

My mind rewound to the words I’d just heard from the Christmas pageant director at our church. He asked us to recall our own pageant memories. Were you an animal? Anyone ever promoted to a human? I chuckled at my own memory of being a sheep and then a wise man (even at a young age, I remember loving the bling of that crown!).

But his next words gave me pause. Citing the predictive and tremendous popularity of the Christmas Eve pageant, he noted that live performances, even if on the same subject matter, hit our brains in a different way.


Maybe it was the funky music, or the fabulous Christmas decorations, or the artful displays of merchandise, or the stellar sales people who not only helped me shop but actually took the packages to my van! Or maybe it was simply the opportunity to deepen a friendship with more shared recollections. But there is no question that this live experience helped me shift into a more earnest and reflective gear, becoming more open to all this season of love, joy, and hope has to offer.

How about you? Have you had a “live experience” reenergize your holiday preparations? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

My best – always,

Becky  (Neehah! Note the new name!)

P.S. Madison had a successful 30-day review meeting in her new residential placement. What a journey! Thanks so much for continuing to remember her in your thoughts and prayers.

P.S.S. At Pathfinders for Autism, we are looking for a Project Assisitant to help our growing organization. Also, thanks for your kind words and reviews about my book. I’d be honored if you’d consider it during your holiday gift-giving season. A portion of the proceeds benefits Pathfinders.

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