Happy Holidays!

In this episode we discuss the holidays and the emotions surrounding the holiday season.

December 22, 2020
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness journey podcast. This little banter is about a car ride long and features your hosts JJ Parker and Melissa Albers. JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years. Oh, Jay j. j.

JJ Parker  0:21  
Good morning.

Melissa Albers  0:22  
That is some Christmas sweater.

JJ Parker  0:26  
Yes, it is my ugliest Christmas sweater. I Oh,

Melissa Albers  0:29  
wait, wait. You mean you've got more than one Christmas? Of course. Oh my gosh. Okay, listen, it's

JJ Parker  0:35  
Christmas time. And if you if you wear the same sweater over and over, you look like a crazy person. I see. So I have five different ugly Christmas sweaters. So I don't look crazy. You don't look

Melissa Albers  0:46  
crazy at this snowman sweater. Yes. It is an epic. Oh, I see. Oh, yes. He's backing up, folks. There are there are all sorts of there are trees. There's a Santa in the very middle right around his chest. And there are elves holding very large snowflakes at the bottom. Well, you are quite the festive guy.

JJ Parker  1:14  
Well, I wanted to be in the Christmas mood. Yeah, we're gonna talk about Christmas on the holidays.

Melissa Albers  1:20  
Yes. And I'm a little sad because you guys I also got the kibosh. I had a very large candle the size of a dinner plate that instead of having regular wicks, has these little wooden ones. So it sounds like a fire.

JJ Parker  1:35  
crackling fire. Yep, that's a good one.

Melissa Albers  1:38  
He suggested that might be a little and annoying. And the

JJ Parker  1:46  
entire podcast with sound like your house is like slowly burning down.

Melissa Albers  1:50  
The fire department would be here to finish our podcast, that would be very sad. Well, I am so happy today because we are talking about the holiday Christmas. And for all of our friends that are not Christian, the holiday season that you celebrate as well. And there's just been so much yuck in the world that we decided to be really fun to talk about. What Chris was on the holidays. Yeah. To talk about the house.

JJ Parker  2:18  
Yeah. Um, yeah, I agree that, you know, we don't celebrate, like a classic Christian Christmas at our house. You do? It's like, no. I mean, nope. But not, you know, even without that there's, there's a whole feeling around that time of year, right. Around winter time. And yeah. Getting together and doing just different activities. And the new year coming. Yeah, it was just a fun time.

Melissa Albers  2:57  
It is. And, and a lot of times, you know, people focus on the stress and the negativity of the holidays. However, I think that Christmas, you know, and especially this year, we don't know what's, you know, what's happening, there's all sorts of things going on in the world that can make it very stressful, right. And I think it is really important to recognize that Christmas is actually a feeling. Mm hmm. And it is it is a feeling that is wrapped around every family's traditions, or not known traditions. Yeah. But Christmas is really a feeling inside that we can cultivate, whether we are a lawn, whether we are with immediate family, or whether we are with legions of people, it's a female.

JJ Parker  3:49  
I like I like the way you phrase that because you know, especially this year Christmases, holiday traditions are gonna be different. Yeah. Right. Like, we just just weird. We just, they're just gonna be there. I mean, it's been different. It's been weird all year. So why would Why would this week be any different? Right? So

Melissa Albers  4:10  
you know, and I like

JJ Parker  4:11  
the idea that like, we cultivate the feeling right, no matter what the circumstances we are. So trying to cultivate a feeling.

Melissa Albers  4:18  
Yeah. So before this podcast, when I woke up this morning, I always wake up way earlier than I want to, and I just was laying in bed and I was thinking about Christmases past. And I was thinking that Christmas always started as a because I'm an only child. And while you have non traditional christian, christmas, my family, the family business is ministry. So my grandparents were both ordained ministers. And for much of my childhood, they shared a church they call pastor to church. So Christmas was spent in church

JJ Parker  4:59  
so That's like, that's like the big workload season. Right? That actually that's the harvest. Right? That's,

Melissa Albers  5:09  
yeah, it's the farming season harvest. That's exactly what it is. Yeah. And it would start with, you know what, I got a little older and I played an instrument, and my grandma would ask, Do you want to play Silent Night on your flute, and I was nine. And I was so scared. But I was so proud that I was asked to, you know, stand up in front of church and play my flute and those poor poor people, because when I first started playing the flute, it was not good. But they all were attentive and acted like it was the Messiah music with, you know, the Boston orchestra.

JJ Parker  5:52  
That's awesome. That's kind of like even part part of that time, right? Just being very gracious. Yeah, fathers, right.

Melissa Albers  6:01  
Yes, right. It's a feeling it is a feeling. I remember a particular Christmas Eve service. Now Christmas Eve services. My grandparents were United Church of Christ. So that would be like a Protestant, Congregational Church, and they would do a children's time and in the middle of the service. So my grandpa had all the kids come up, and he loved children. He was just like the Pied Piper for children. And they were all sitting around him and one Christmas Eve, a little kid while my grandpa was trying to tell the Christmas story to the kids. This little kid leaned over and saw his hearing aid. And he said, What's that in your ear? And my grandpa's miked up and he says, It's, I eat a lot of walnuts. It's a walnut. And, and the kid looked at them sort of confused. And then my grandpa started to keep going on with the story. And the little kid leaned over and said, You should eat peanuts.

JJ Parker  7:09  
That's funny.

Melissa Albers  7:12  
But yes, Christmas Eve, like in our house, and I'd love to hear what your your childhood experiences were. But Christmas Eve in our house, never started until 11 o'clock.

JJ Parker  7:24  
At night at night. Oh, my.

Melissa Albers  7:26  
And I'm an only child. So I'm used to not going to bed at 11 but going to bed at eight. Yeah, so just like trying to stay awake and the enthusiasm warring with the exhaustion station.

JJ Parker  7:44  
Oh, that's awesome. Yeah, for for most of my childhood, we, on Christmas Eve would always go to my aunt and uncle's house, Ramallah and Harley's. And they had three kids, so my cousins, but they were all a little bit older. So I think they're probably like, 10 or 15 years older than I am. Oh, yeah. Well, maybe not quite that much. Maybe. 10. So, but it was always like, a lot of people in there fairly small house. Right. Yeah. And we would always go in the basement. And, you know, I, my brother and I would have been like, the little kids, right? The eight 910 year olds, right. And then my cousins would be in like their late teens. So they were like, the coolest kids ever. loosli right. And it was so awesome to go hang out with them because they were into such awesome stuff, like, cars and skiing. And, and, and it was a blast. And we just, we would always rustle out around with them. They would they would joke that that Aaron and I had monkey tails. And so they'd always be like, grabbing our monkey tails. But the thing I always remember about that is it got so hot in their face. Yeah. There's like 30 people and the kids are all wrestling and running around. Right. And it must have been 105 degrees. It's like sweating. Oh, yeah. But that was kind of again part of the feeling right? It was really, really cozy.

Melissa Albers  9:33  
Yeah, right. really cozy.

JJ Parker  9:36  
Yep. And then we open that our basement door, you know, in the middle of winter in Minnesota and that like, you know, 10 degree cold air would mix in with that super hot basement air

Melissa Albers  9:48  
and you are all wet and sweaty. Yeah. That is funny. I can just visualize that. I remember those days too. Oh, that is so awesome. And I remember when you We were opening gifts and you know, we didn't have a lot of money and we didn't care about that it wasn't a thing, right? We just we didn't get big extravagant, extravagant gifts for for I didn't get extravagant gifts and our family was in a in a habit of that anyway. But there was one particular Christmas that I was teased about forever after. And I think I must have been six or five, five or six. And every single gift that I opened, I would exclaim in the exact same way. Oh, just what I always wanted. I don't know if I'd seen that on a commercial or a show or something. But I just thought that was the thing to say that you're

JJ Parker  10:44  
like, like, you're one of those like, Paul string dolls, right? Yeah, say like the same thing over and over.

Melissa Albers  10:52  
Oh, that's funny. So then, you know. And then every year when we would leave my grandparents house, they lived in southern Minnesota and a little town called Medford which was no bigger than a minute it had a church and a gas station. And that was about it. And, and when we would leave, I would sob. I would sob and cry all the way past variable, which was over 30 minutes away. Because I just did not want to leave them and I did not want to leave the feeling of Christmas.

JJ Parker  11:23  
Yeah. Yeah. After I mean, I'm sure after your super late night Christmases, you are exhausted the next day.

Melissa Albers  11:36  
Yeah, exactly.

JJ Parker  11:38  
What about like, what about with now? With your kids with your older if your kids are older? Yeah. Right. How is like how is Christmas? And the holidays changing for you as your kids like, yeah, become older?

Melissa Albers  11:54  
Yeah. Well, you know, it's actually interesting that you're asking that because in this, you know, Christmas passed and feelings, thought process I was going through this morning, I started to think about how I felt when I was there age when I was in my early 20s. Because when I was in my early 20s, I lived, I already lived on my own. I had an apartment, I was working. And I didn't have any money because I insisted on having a really nice apartment. So I had no money left. And so I would really try to recreate Christmas by myself through feelings. Watching shows Christmas shows that would elicit that playing Christmas music baking, making little christmas crafts, you know. So when I was in my early 20s, that's how I spent my time. But yeah, it's a really different world with my kids that are in their early 20s.

JJ Parker  12:52  
So when your kids were younger, like, did you do? Did you have similar traditions as you did when you were a kid?

Melissa Albers  13:02  
I tried to Yeah, I made Christmas. And I still do. It's a really big deal for me. And again, I think I think that the really, if I'm really honest. I think that the feeling is more exciting for me, the feelings of anticipation, the feelings of the wonder of the season. What is possible in the season makes me go absolutely nuts around my house because it my kids in their early 20s are kind of swept up in it, you know, they get sort of swept up in it. Like for example, it is not unusual for me to bake, like 90 to 100 dozen cookies.

JJ Parker  13:49  
Okay, I gotta do the math. I got to get a calculator night.

Melissa Albers  13:55  
That's true. Like I make probably 12 or 13 kinds and I make candy caramels and bars and crazy. So the kids expect that they're gonna you know, the minute they walk in the door start eating

JJ Parker  14:10  
1200 cookies and candies to eat. Yeah, that's awesome.

Melissa Albers  14:20  
Yeah. How about you? What do you guys do?

JJ Parker  14:23  
Well, we have a pretty low key a holiday. We usually like well, we actually still went to my aunt and uncle's house, um, until just a few years ago, which is kind of amazing once they my uncle passed away a few years ago on my on, you know, moved out of the house. But what was awesome is when you know when I was a kid, my older cousins were around. Well, then they all had kids. And so then I was Like the older, the cool, older, you know, like,

Melissa Albers  15:04  
person I like that role.

JJ Parker  15:06  
I got to take that role, which was so awesome. It was so fun. And then now all those kids are like, you know, in their 20s Yeah, maybe even the 30s I don't know. It's It's crazy how time flies. But yeah, we still did Christmas Christmas Eve with over at my uncle's house for a long time. And then our kids went and you know, my second cousins, I guess that would be wood by so we just had this whole generational sort of like cycle happening for a really long time. Yeah. But nowadays, like we alternate our Christmases. Right? Like because my in laws live out in Wisconsin. So like a lot of families do. Every other year we go to Wisconsin, and my mother in law. She really likes Christmas. And actually, more than maybe Christmas Day. I think she really likes preparing for Christmas. Yeah, no,

Melissa Albers  16:09  
it's right. There it is. Yep. The feeling. It's like painting

Unknown Speaker  16:13  
months ahead of time. It's like, what do the kids want for Christmas? And we're like, it's June. I I don't know. What do you guys want to eat? Helen? It's only September.

Melissa Albers  16:28  
My gosh, okay, fine.

JJ Parker  16:30  
I'm gonna choose God. She's got like months of Christmas before, before it actually happens. And then it's it's fun. She has a great job. We have a nice meal. Kids to presents. And then really, what's funny is we're not. I would say, we're probably a little more strict with screentime. Yeah, in our normal day to day. But I think for our kids, probably what they're gonna remember is just like, on an entire four days of non stop like video games and watching TV.

Melissa Albers  17:09  
Actually, wasn't it Christmas? Wasn't it the Christmas holiday a couple years ago that you made that whole ice igloo? in the backyard?

JJ Parker  17:17  
Yeah. Oh, yeah. Christmas time for me. The bear holiday is really mostly about snow. And how much snow there is, by my Christmas feeling is directly correlated to the number of inches of snow we have

Melissa Albers  17:36  
or what you can reproduce in your backyard. If it isn't your standard.

JJ Parker  17:42  
When when we one of the years we were here are my parents. I think we're in Florida. We didn't have it. Yeah, we were just here, like just the five of us. Kind of on our own one year and our neighbors always had a little Christmas get together and they always invite us over which is which is cool. And that particular year, we had a lot of snow. And it was snowing on Christmas Eve and I had spent like an obscene amount of time. Snow blowing our entire backyard into a gigantic sledding lose. Right. And it was like twisty and turny and log, and I iced it like this is a pro tip for any of you listeners out there. If you really want your kids sledding hills to be awesome. Oh my god, you gotta like get the snowblower involved. You gotta get your hose out and you got to like ice it and shape it and sculpt it and it becomes amazing. Anyway,

Melissa Albers  18:52  
wear helmets, please wear helmets,

JJ Parker  18:54  
good god, it's fine. But that year, the sudden this this line, which was unbelievably awesome. And it was in it was gently snowing. And like, all these people from the neighbor's house spent the entire evening sweating. And it was it was magical. It was just everyone was having a blast. It was beautiful out you know, the snow was falling. You had like the glow of all of the lights. You know, one of the one of the things I really like about the season is the lights. Yeah, that sounds kind of silly. But like I really loved how the lights glow in the evening and different you know, like the scenery is just kind of lit up different than normal. And it's it's always really eye catching.

Melissa Albers  19:49  
Yeah, do you know two winters ago right before Christmas, I went down to Marco Island where my one of my best friends lives and they had scooters and the two of us got on scooters and drove around the island to see people's lights. So even It was such a surreal, weird thing to be doing because there's palm trees and huge decorations in yards of Santa on their sleigh full. There was one yard that had full size reindeer and a sleigh. And there were literally 1000s of lights like 1000s of lights. It was so cool.

JJ Parker  20:29  
If if everyone's not gathering, you know, we're up in Minnesota. So yeah, our Christmas I've always lived in Minnesota. So our customers are always cold and snowy.

Unknown Speaker  20:40  
Yeah, I'm sure they are. We always want I'm

JJ Parker  20:42  
sure for sure. Already. And Christmas is much different than Yeah.

Melissa Albers  20:48  
Experience. They know what they recreate the feeling with the things that they have around them.

JJ Parker  20:53  
Yeah, absolutely. I'm just thinking it's feels unfair with the Christmas light thing if you live in Florida, because you can just be out there and like nice weather. You know, intricately putting your Christmas lights up for us people in Minnesota like yeah, like you have to get out there. You have to put them out before your fingers freeze.

Melissa Albers  21:21  
Yeah, there's a lot of services in Minneapolis that will start putting lights in before Thanksgiving in anticipation of it being too cold and snowy to put them in later.

JJ Parker  21:30  
This year. I missed our perfect like temper. Yes, you did. Like our weather and now I'm now I had to put the gospel slides up in the freezing cold when I did it anyway.

Melissa Albers  21:41  
Yeah, I was gonna say if you haven't done it yet, I bet you that sweater you've got on. I like how the snowman by the way have a little the hat is a little jaunty. It's a little odd. Oh, yeah, I had a little. And I noticed that the buttons are quite square.

JJ Parker  22:00  
Yeah, it's not a very well made sweater. Oh, no, I

Melissa Albers  22:03  
would. I think it's a it's very detailed.

JJ Parker  22:12  
So the other thing when I think about Christmas feeling, yeah, right. Um, there is so many things around the holiday season that, you know, we we've been talking about, like how past Christmas has felt right. And we probably, at least I do, generally remember the good things and kind of like, forget about the things that maybe were terrible. Yeah. Like when I was 12. And I didn't get a Nintendo

Melissa Albers  22:51  
wanted a bike. I got a john deere bike. And he was so embarrassed. He was like, What is that I can't write that

JJ Parker  23:06  
is part of the fun tormenting children, because I kind of as a parent, personally find it a little bit satisfying. One year, when the boys were younger, we told them that they could open an early Christmas present. Yeah, they were like so excited because all the presidents were out and because and then when you hit open this one, and we wrapped up like old Kansas soup. And they're like, super that would still

Melissa Albers  23:34  
do that.

JJ Parker  23:39  
Um, but just the idea of like, like, we have a lot of expectations, right? Even like remembering our past like, hey, let's recreate this, this, you know, feeling or traditions from Christmas past. So then we kind of put like, some pressure and anxiety. Yeah, ourselves. Right. And when you talk about Christmas as a feeling, I just think we should remember like, a lot of that feeling can be controlled by us, right? It's just how we're framing things. How we're setting expectations around things.

Melissa Albers  24:15  
Yeah, right for sure.

JJ Parker  24:16  
You know, for for a little while. I kind of like felt like our Christmases Weren't you know, they they weren't really big events and I was like, should this be a bigger deal other people have fought do all this stuff. I kind of felt bad about it right? Yeah, but but we just do things like our way like it's okay as you know, like we'll have our own way of going about the holiday season.

Melissa Albers  24:43  
You know, though I'm also going to say something that Christmas is past you know, there because I've lost both my grandparents now. And there have been usually one time in every season, every Christmas season. I will turn all the lights off in the house, I put on just the Christmas tree lights. And I sit on the couch in the dark. And I just remember all of the Christmases my past, and they're very often there's lots of tears. But it isn't just sad. It's also beautiful. Like, just knowing the whole history of my life and what I've gotten to experience and the people that I have loved that have gone on the people that I love that are still here, I mean that those feelings are so valuable, because that depth of sadness is also a measure of the depth of happiness, because they're always an equal measure. And I I just feel very grateful that I've been able to have people in my life that I have love so deeply that it's a big hole when they're not here. Yeah, I think that's also part of the tradition is remembering where you came from remembering. And yes, we all have skeletons, we've all got stuff we could focus on that isn't favorable. However, it is really nice to recreate those good feelings inside as a measurement of the love that you've had in your life.

JJ Parker  26:15  
Yeah, that's a great thing for everyone to remember.

Melissa Albers  26:19  

JJ Parker  26:21  
Well and go with the flow, right?

Melissa Albers  26:24  
Just the flow. And if it gets too harsh, go out and get a pair of those mousse mugs like in Christmas vacation and drink beer eggnog and

JJ Parker  26:37  
well, a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and Yes, everything to you.

Melissa Albers  26:44  
Yes and enjoy all of your Christmas and holiday meals.

Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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