Appreciating the Ghosts of Christmas Past

Well, I hope you all survived the feast that is Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday.  It's all about family, friends, food and gratitude.  And the tradition in my home is start decorating for Christmas that Saturday and Sunday.  My daughter's birthday is three days after Christmas, so this entire season is all about Jesus and Kate.  As many do that celebrate Christmas, we take out our decorations and all our ornaments tell a story.  We have multiple themed trees.  The main family tree has most of the ornaments.  We are tacky tourists and have an ornament from just about every where we go.

There is the Victorian Tree which dons my decor from the mid-80-'s, which is when I first started my 'own' Christmas collecting after college.  There is the Sports Tree, which is mostly golfers and Buffalo Bills (for die-hard husband who grew up there.) And the 'Hummel Tree' - I inherited a collection from my mom and my mother-in-law blessed me with many ornaments over the years.  Then of course there is the 'Barbie Tree' my daughters claim.  I get a very special feeling when I unwrap these treasures this time of year.  Kate is old enough and gentle enough to help me now, so she is learning all the stories associated with these gifts.  It is a healthy practice to remember who gave that one to you, and then think about them, and how those moments in time shaped your life.  Some clients choose to forget the past and move on.  Others dwell too much and let it drag them down.  I believe there is wisdom in the past, and lessons to pull from.

This is probably my favorite ornament.  My mom, who passed suddenly from a heart attack in 1979 when I was 16 years old, made it circa 1973. I remember she made many of these, and the pins, ribbon and bling were scattered on the crafts table. The loving memories of my childhood sweep in when I hang it prominently on the Victorian Tree, and everything else surrounds it.  Plus blue was her favorite color.

This ballerina was given to me by a mentor and surrogate mom when I was getting married in 1988.  Nancy Ryder Shay-she was a significant woman in my life at the time.  She was nurturing and loving when I needed it most.

This cross-stitch Santa was my one and only attempt at needlework.  (It is unfortunate, my mom was brilliant at needle work, and I did not pick up any of those skills.)  I attempted to fit into my then-Cincinnati neighborhood and joined Kindervelt.  They had KinderMart and I made this ornament for the fundraising event.  It took me 12 hours.  I used to joke with my neighbor Sue that it was the most expensive ornament at the sale if you consider my hourly salary multiplied by 12.  Instead, she bought it for me for $5.00 and surprised me.  I still LOL when I unwrap the thing.  Never again.

My mother-in-law and Todd's grandfather 'Pipe' painted these by hand.  Back in the 60's they did not have a lot of disposable income to spend on ornaments, so they made these precious trinkets and I begged her to let me have a set for our tree.

Procter & Gamble and my time in Cincinnati was spectacular.  I met life long friends and mentors and my career was launched and focused.  I was fortunate for 13 years at P&G. I followed and was inspired by a myriad of leaders.  We left P&G in 2001 to move to Maryland to be with my precious step-daughter Lexie who is now in college.  When we left OH, it was difficult as my friends became my family.  And it is ornaments like this that I can recall such memories.  P&G was the foundation for starting The Ermi Group.  Learning is a core value there and that company invested so much in my development.  I had a formal mentor, was part of a high potential program, and was given rotational job opportunities.  I had a global role, traveled the world, was exposed to incredible diversity, and started coaching very talented leaders.  It's where I caught the leadership development bug. These programs are critical in any leadership development strategy.

Travel has always been a big part of our lives as it is for so many.  Before Kate, we were big fans of California wine country.  The smells, the people (one of my mentors retired there and we got first class tours and treatment!) and the wine of course!  Visiting my parents on trips to Newport, RI and seeing the beautiful mansions decorated for Christmas. And business trips to Germany, where I learned these little handmade ornaments are quite popular.  And the cardinal's bird house I won in a fun ornament swapping party picked out by a woman I greatly admire.  These are moments that allow for the space to appreciate.  A leadership skill we can all work towards improving.


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