Sunday, December 23, 2012

No work on Christmas? Bah humbug!

It's Norman Rockwell's fault.

Yesterday, I was chatting with a nurse practitioner about the upcoming holidays, and she said rather proudly that she would be working in the emergency room at Tucson Medical Center on Christmas day just as she had done the last 20 years.

Her comment stood out in sharp contrast to the sappy sentiments that I often hear about how horrible it is that people have to work on holidays. Well, actually not all holidays come under fire. It's usually only Thanksgiving and Christmas that conjure up the farcical and romanticized renderings of so-called American life that Norman Rockwell became so famous for.

And that's why I blame him.

Even Charles Dickens, champion of the working class, who penned A Christmas Carol in 1843 depicted the hustle and bustle of buying and selling on Christmas Day. The large goose that Ebeneezer Scrooge bought for the family of Bob Cratchit was both bought and delivered on Christmas Day. In fact Dickens made it very clear that buying and selling was part of what made Christmas a special day.

Thankfully, many people don't buy into this "no work" on holidays nonsense. Fire fighters, police officers, EMTs, utility workers, ranchers, IT specialists (to keep all of those servers running so you can continue to like your friends' Facebook posts...) broadcast workers, farmers, etc. all work on Christmas so our lives peacefully go on uninterrupted.

The next time you hear someone squawk about how no one should have to work on Christmas day, remind them how very fortunate we are that not everyone shares those beliefs.
Photo credit: Merry Christmas Grandma. We came in our new Chevy. Norman Rockwell
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Zig Ziglar - RIP

"It's your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your ultimate altitude."

That's just one of the catchy slogans coined by motivational speaker and writer Zig Ziglar who passed away last week at the age of 86.

I first heard Zig Ziglar when he was a guest on a radio program when I was in my early twenties. He had a deep confident voice laced with a folksy southern drawl that made him well suited for a career in public speaking. I never saw him speak in person, but a couple of books he authored are still on my bookshelf and a quick search in a desk drawer unearthed his "See You At the Top" presentation on cassette tape.(I no longer own a device that will play it, but I still couldn't part with the tape.)

He was deinitely one of the first of what became a long litany of positive attitude disciples that I've heard or read in the ensuing years. Although there are many similarities between Zig Ziglar, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, Brian Tracey, et al., Zig always struck me as being guided by a bigger moral compass. He remains one of the very few people I have ever encountered who expressed a Christian belief AND who did not spout doom, gloom, hell and damnation. In those years, he had a virtual monopoly on that perspective.

When I taught freshman microeconomics, I used one of his quotes to summarize how capitalism and the profit motive works.

"You can get everything you want out of life, if you just help enough other people get what they want."
(I'll forego the entire lecture that accompanied it, but I can assure you it was riveting.)

A student of human nature, Zig Ziglar also observed that people often went to work and worried about family only to return home to worry about work so that "they ain't never nowhere." Wrapping up that segment he would ask,
"Are you a meaningful specific or a wandering generality?"
Although I could argue now that there's a time and a place for being a wandering generality, his message of the importance of setting goals, focusing on the present, and keeping positive in a negative world still resonates. RIP.
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.