Personal Musings - What's Special About Christmas to You?

Personal Musings - What's Special About Christmas to You?

Christmas means many things to different people. For some it's a time of presents, family and holidays while for many others it a time of really feeling the loss of a loved one.

For me, Christmas means many things but tradition would have to be right up there. My family begins the festive season with the getting of the Christmas tree which is celebrated with an American BBQ ribs dinner.....it reminds us all of the great times that our family has spent in the USA.

We attend our churches Carols by Candlelight and normally have an after-party with a lot of our friends. The kids also invite their friends around so the house is normally filled with people.

We typically build a ginger bread house on the 23rd. When the kids were younger, more candy went in their mouths than on the house but not that our eldest is 21 things aren't really that different.

For the last 30 years we've attended the practice of the Carols by Candlelight at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne. About 10,000 people attend the practice and it's a great time with friends as we munch on some great food and enjoy each others company.

Lunchtime on the 24th heads us off to my parents house where we have a traditional Canadian Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. I grew up in northern Ontario so the dinner is a bit of a celebration of our time in that great country.

The evening of the 24th my own family sit around the coffee table with bits of nibbles to eat (we're normally stuffed from lunch) and we just talk about the year. I normally read the story of Christmas from the Bible to remind us all what Christmas is all about. After dinner, we rush around getting the house ready for the next day as we listen to the actual performance of the Carols by Candlelight broadcast on national television.

The next day I wake up at 7am (as I'm a big kid I'm always the first up ) and put on a Frank Sinatra Christmas album. We only listen to this album on Christmas day so it's a signal to everyone that Christmas present opening is about to begin!

For lunch we have Roselyn's parents and brother around for Christmas lunch.....which is a BIG turkey dinner. I love it! We normally then head off to my parents for Christmas day dinner but they're not home this year so we'll be home.....most likely topple into bed!

The next day is a day of rest.....plus seeing a movie. This year the whole family is heading off to see "The Hobbit - part 3". I love those movies.

That's a rough run through of my Christmas.....lots of friends, family, fun and of course eating! What I'd love to hear about is what you do for Christmas? Feel free to share it with everyone here in the comments.

In the meantime, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

Cheers!

Michael

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Saturday musings - What's an Australian Christmas?

Saturday musings - What's an Australian Christmas?

For those you that don’t know I’m actually from Melbourne, Australia. If you have no idea where that is (and downunder doesn’t count) then find China and go a long way south. If you can’t find China, then look for South America and head west. If you can’t find South America then I give up….!

One of the peculiar aspects of our lovely planet is that it’s tilted at 23.5 degrees and this is what gives us our four seasons. This is very unlike Uranus which is slanted at 97.77 degrees, which means the planet basically has two seasons.

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So why am I giving you both an astronomy and geography lesson? It’s really simple, when the northern hemisphere is in the midst of winter, Australia is experiencing summer. In fact, it’s not uncommon for us to be having 40 degree days (that’s Celsius). For those of you that have no idea what’s Celsius, Google provides a cool little converter that will allow you to quickly work out that 40 degrees Celsius is 104 Fahrenheit (click here for the calculator). Why anyone would want to use Fahrenheit is still a mystery to me…..but I digress.

Strangely, we still sing “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh” even though there isn’t any of the white stuff around. Many Australians have actually never seen snow and presume that it’s just a myth. For heaven’s sake, frozen ice falling from the sky in summer! The first thing we would do is scoop it up and chill some beer.

As a bit of an aside, the kings in the carol “We three Kings” were most likely from Iran not China. It just so happens that “We Three Kings of Iran We Are” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.....and it would probably be a bit politically incorrect for the wisemen from a modern Muslim nation to bow down to the founder of Christianity (yes, I know that Islam wasn't around at the birth of Christ so let's just agree to not go there.....)

So back to my Australian Christmas. After we’re all sung out with carols, we then proceed to dig into a nice hot turkey and ham for Christmas dinner. I only have one thing to say about a hot dinner on a hot day……thank goodness for air conditioners.

I remember fondly the day when we bought our air conditioner. The salesman told us we needed a unit of a certain size….I immediately bought the one that was three times his recommendation. So when I say that we don’t have snow in Australia during our summer my living room could possibly be the one exception.

And then there’s the family Christmas party. For many people just reading that last sentence sends a chill down their spine (not due to my AC). The family Christmas party is where you are forced to catch up with relatives you haven’t seen in the last twelve months. There is a really good reason why you haven’t seen them in that long……it’s because most of them are a bit strange.

The party is the place where aunties plant slobbering kisses on your cheek, little nephews terrorise the dog, grandparents smell kind of funny and you’re introduced to a sibling’s new partner. In Australia we’ve solved the dilemma of how to escape this travesty of injustice…..it’s called the BBQ.

The “men” seize a cold beverage, retire to cooking the meat and talk about the cricket (this can take a long time). Cricket bores me to tears but it’s better than the option inside.

The problem with you northern hemisphere sufferers is that you don’t have a BBQ to escape to when the hordes descend. You’re stuck inside with all and sundry with no place to go as you’re surrounded by all that white stuff. BTW, I don’t count going to the bathroom multiple times for twenty minutes each a serious “Great Escape” attempt.

At the end of the day when some well-meaning relative offers you yet another serve of Christmas pudding you let out a little groan and casually slip a notch out in your belt. It’s at this time that the little ones end up behaving more like an orc pack from the movie “The Lord of the Rings”. You see, it’s present time and the darlings are salivating for their preciouses (said with a Golumn like voice).

Paper goes flying every which way and then you end up unwrapping your gift. It’s quite disturbing when you have the thought, “please may it be socks” run through your mind. I’ve had friends receive a very special spice rack from the same person three years in a row and another present with someone else’s name on the bottom of it (got to love regifting). The best one I heard about was a gift of wire coat hangers…..haven’t you always wanted wire coat hangers?

I’m pretty easy to please, I’d be happy with almost anything edible but I think that it will be my lot in life to receive something like a book that the giver has always wanted. Before the wrapping paper has hit the floor they’ve got their clutches on the present and promise to return it one day. I’m still waiting.

When I look around the room, despite all of the painfulness of the day there is a sense of reckless joy. Let’s face it, my auntie’s kisses weren’t really that bad and I’ll ending up smelling like my grandparents one day so I’d better get used to it. The talk about the cricket was inane but also kind of pleasant.

I’ve come to a really big conclusion. If you want a really good Christmas then my advice is to come to my house in Australia…..remember that it’s just to the left of South America. It’s got to be a lot more fun than shivering half to death in all that white stuff.

Merry Christmas!

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face.
Click here to arrange time with Michael
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I had a lot of fun writing that post.....I hope that people realise that it was a lot tongue in cheek and for just plain good fun!... Read More
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Saturday Musings - Give When You Can't Get

Saturday Musings - Give When You Can't Get

A few years ago I had the stupidest idea come to me as I stood at the check-out of our local supermarket. The idea was perplexing, somewhat terrifying and definitely made me incredibly nervous. No, I didn’t plan on robbing the store…..I planned on doing something much more adventurous.

I said to the lady in behind me, “I hope that you don’t mind but I’d like to pay for your groceries.”

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I could feel my heart beating like crazy as I said the words but at the same time I felt oddly good about the state of the world.

She thanked me for the offer but said that she’d pay for her own groceries. I smiled and said, “I’ve had a really good year this past year and I really want to share some of that around. Please let me pay for your groceries.”

In the end she let me pay.

Let me tell you that I got the better end of the deal. After paying the bill (which wasn’t really that much) I left the store feeling so good I felt that I could almost fly. It was the effect of giving to someone that will never have a chance to give back. I hope that she did the same thing to someone else…..sort of like the movie “Pay it Forward”. If you haven’t seen this movie then I would highly recommend it.

I’ve done this similar sort of giving quite a few times…..one of the best ones is paying for the car behind you at the McDonald’s drive-through and then just driving off. It’s awesome!

Right now it’s the Christmas season and to me Christmas is all about giving. If you don’t have money then try giving some of your time, making something or just giving some love by listening to another person’s story. It’s easy to give when you may get something in return but how about if you never can?

So try something adventurous this Christmas and give to a stranger. You’ll be amazed at who gets the better deal. Feel free to share your own stories here about what it was like for you to give.

Merry Christmas!

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face.
Click here to arrange time with Michael
Click here to advertising on whizzbangsblog.com

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Kassey, what a great story! I'm sure that the experience you related will be a real highlight for you for the rest of your life. I... Read More
13 December 2014
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Saturday Musings - Life in Four Buckets

Saturday Musings - Life in Four Buckets

This past week I was talking with my two adult children, Tim and Sarah, about life and how I manage to choose and allocate my time to what I do. I love these conversations and find that they are some of the most precious and special times with my children.

We ended up speaking about goals and how to managing some of the conflicting opportunities that life presents. For example, should you go for money now or education? This is when I began to speak to them both about my buckets.

I think of my life in terms of four buckets. The first bucket is my short-term bucket and it’s for things that put food on the table now. This bucket often has things in it that I don’t like doing but like any job it isn’t all bad. When you don’t have a penny then this is the place that you need to focus on to make sure that you aren’t forced to go on a diet by the bank.

I then have my medium-term bucket. It’s where I go to find projects that may last for a few years or less. It’s the place for things like finishing a degree, writing a book or launching a business.

The third bucket is my long-term bucket. When I look into this bucket I see things that are on my “bucket list”. For instance, I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly and a few years ago I achieved this goal. It was firmly in this bucket. I have a quite a number of life goals in this bucket and when I pull one out to achieve it I end up getting an incredible sense of satisfaction.

Then there’s the last bucket. This is what I call the eternal-bucket. This can sometimes be known as the “faith” bucket but I think that it’s broader than that. It’s about what I’m doing now that will either positively impact generations or develops my personal character. We all have failings that need to be worked on. If you've tried to change something about yourself you will have found this bucket has really hard tasks in it!

In my discussions with Tim and Sara I suggested that they always need to work on all of their buckets. They may need to change their emphasis and focus but keep on nudging all of them.

In other words, you may have to focus on earning money now to pay down a debt but don’t neglect the fact that you may have always wanted to write a book, scuba dive and give some time to your community. You may not have a lot of time but write those hundred words, research online about diving and pay for the groceries of the person behind you in the queue at the supermarket.

For example, I suggested to Tim that he needs to get a part-time job to pay for his living expenses but don’t get a full-time job. Why you may ask? He wants to write a book about his recent adventures so a full-time job would make this more difficult. I also suggested he complete his degree part-time as it may contribute to some of his more long-term goals. Finally, attend church as it’s one of the few places that really focuses the mirror on developing your character.

It will be interesting to see what Tim chooses to do but I’m confident that he’ll make a series of decisions that are right for his own buckets. The problem comes when people don’t make decisions for themselves but let other’s do it for them.

My buckets really help me and I hope that you find the analogy useful in sorting out your own life goals and desires. Have a great weekend!

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Saturday Musings - Finding True Happiness

Saturday Musings - Finding True Happiness

So it’s been Thanksgiving this past week….for the people in North America anyway. We don’t have this holiday in the rest of the world but it shouldn’t stop us from being grateful for the good things in life.

A number of years ago I heard a message at church where the minister challenged the congregation to develop an “attitude of gratitude”. I completely agree with him. Particularly in western countries we have so much to be thankful for and yet for some reason we seem to be some of the unhappiest people on the planet.

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Research organisation Gallup Inc, created a “Happiest Countries” scale from a number of metrics and then published the results with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. What was interesting was that countries such as Mali in Africa was only 2 points behind the USA. Where is Mali you may ask? In the midst of suffering from Ebola in West Africa.

About 12 months ago there was a great Youtube video produced by nigahiga called “First World Problems”. The video’s has over ten million views but it really depicts many of the so called problems that we face in the west are plainly rediculous. Where some people are happy with getting a good meal we stress and worry about the size of our televisions.

So at this time of Thanksgiving I think that there are so many things to be grateful and happy about. Family and friends for a start. The incredible domain industry that many of us work in. How about having a roof over your head and food on the table….they seem pretty good to me.

So how do you really get happy? From my experience it’s not how “I” can get happy….it’s all about how “I” can make someone else happy. When we think of others something magical happens…..we ended up frinding true happiness ourselves. When we focus on trying to make ourselves happy then it all just seems so false.

So here’s my advice, if you want to be really happy. Think about doing something special for one person and be grateful for all the things that you have. Do these two things and you’ll be amazed at what you will discover about life.

Please leave comments about your own experiences here….I’d love to read about them!

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face.
Click here to arrange time with Michael
Click here to advertising on whizzbangsblog.com

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