Home Life Bits and Pieces Could the ‘love challenge’ make your holidays happier?

Could the ‘love challenge’ make your holidays happier?

If you are “in the know“ or a fan of Facebook, you have heard of, or even participated in a “challenge.” The most popular by far — and the only one that I participated in — was the ice bucket challenge of a few years back.

I did the challenge at Front Street beach in Jamesport on my very first date with my gentleman friend, Karl. (Talk about a first date that could have gone south!) A bucket of water was dumped over my head — but, the water was taken from the bay. It contained a mixture of seaweed and sand! Get the picture? I stated to my girlfriend, this guy will either hate me or love me! Lucky for us, it was the latter.

The ice bucket challenge involved dumping a bucket of ice water over a person‘s head either by another person or self-administered to promote awareness of the disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease). The challenge encouraged nominated participants to be filmed while having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads then nominating others to do the same.

Other challenges have come and gone:

“The Gallon Challenge” — The nominee must chug a gallon of milk within the hour. Geez! Don’t challenge anyone with lactose intolerance.

“Cinnamon Challenge” — The lucky person gets to ingest a spoonful of cinnamon in 60 seconds. It may prove to be unlucky since cinnamon can burn the esophagus and cause real damage.

“Black and White Challenge” — This recent benign challenge calls for posting black and white photos on Facebook for seven days and challenging others to do the same. I suppose amateur photographers like myself can showcase their work. It’s a welcome change from the snarky and sometimes downright nasty posts that appear ad nauseam on Facebook.

Which brings me to the heart of this column, how about a “Love Challenge”?

For one day — 24 little hours — I challenge you to put a little love in your heart. Sound easy? We’ll see.

You are probably reading this column two weeks before Christmas. Perhaps you are in the thick of Christmas shopping or maybe haven’t started your shop-’til-you-drop extravaganza.

Driving on Riverhead’s Route 58, the shopping capitol of the North Fork, can be challenging on a good day. Throw in additional traffic and folks who are short on time and you may find yourself coming up short in the temper department.

The run-ins for parking spaces can be unnerving. Recently, I emerged from a store with a cart full of packages. I noticed a car following close behind (unnerving in itself). The driver rolled down the window and asked where I was parked. I indicated the section and the driver continued on my tail.

When I arrived at my car, another car zipped up. The two cars were facing each other each vying for my parking space — and I was blocked in! Three cars in a crowded parking lot at a standstill? Folks, there was no love in my heart!

I got out of my car and in not so polite terms asked them to move. They did, reluctantly. From my peripheral vision, I saw the loser of the parking spot “flip the bird” at the other driver. Well, a little love may have turned things around, maybe! Next time I’ll shop on Amazon.

Speaking of which, shopping on Amazon looks easy but is it all that it’s cracked up to be? If one shops on a cyber day, inventory can run out. Many items Amazon sells are provided by affiliates resulting in delayed shipments, sometimes arriving after Christmas or not at all. Sending loving thoughts to warehouse workers, FedEx and UPS drivers may relieve our angst. If it doesn’t, wine may help.

Holiday dinners can be stressful, especially when we have a Hatfield and McCoy situation. Don’t fret, invite both parties, It’s their problem. I have learned not to let anyone’s issues dictate who will sit at my holiday table. Setting the table with an attitude of love and putting some extra “cheer” in the eggnog may go a long way!

Holiday meals are becoming challenging. Folks nowadays are plagued by food allergies or sensitivities. What happens when you invite gluten- and lactose-intolerant folks to dinner? A backed-up toilet! When my holiday invitation goes out, I present my menu. I convey that as much as I would like to, I cannot accommodate everyone’s needs. However, I encourage them to bring a dish they can eat. Now that’s what I call self-love. I no longer feel exasperated and, bonus, I don’t have a plumbing bill.

We all know impossible folks — who are impossible to buy for. No surprise here! “Present” them with your unconditional love and a gift card. Easy peasy. The love part? Try!

In a world that is shattered by wars, conflicts and disenfranchised folks, in a country that is divided, frustrated and angry, why allow the joyous holiday season to become another annoyance— another “have-to” thing in our over-scheduled lives.

Listening to Jackie DeShannon’s hit “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” may crack open our tight Scrooge-like hearts.

“Think of your fellow man,
Lend him a helping hand
Put a little love in your heart.
And the world will be a better pace,
For you and me
You just wait and see”

Most challenge trends fade, but spreading love is always in vogue. I challenge you to put a little love in your heart this Christmas season. And who knows? It may go viral!

Challenge accepted?

Celia Marszal-Iannelli
Celia is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.