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Focus on positive memories this Christmas

I am blessed to recall our magical Christmases.

Growing up we had a large family and only got one big gift from Santa and some small gifts from our parents. It always was enough.

We knew we weren’t wealthy but we never felt poor. Maybe it was because we were surrounded by family.

We had a friend who was an only child. He got more gifts than me and my five brothers combined. We envied his gifts but none of us wanted to trade places with him.

My mother always baked nut and poppy seed rolls from scratch on Christmas Eve. We liked cracking the walnut shells with a hammer. Our house was always filled at Christmas with the happy, sweet smell of baking.

My parents didn’t go to bed until at least 2 a.m. Christmas morning. Me and my brothers were up by 4 a.m. to start our Christmas vigil.

I was always the first one awake, I guess since I was the oldest. I would quietly wake up each of my brothers with, “It’s Christmas!”

We couldn’t open our gifts until our parents got up at 7 a.m. We also knew it would not be a good thing if we woke our Dad up. It was hard for six boys not to start wrestling or jumping around. For three hours we would look at the shape of all the packages, shaking them if we could and trying to guess what was in each box. We would dream and anticipate. I wish we had a video camera then.

Once our parents got up, all heck broke loose. We would dive into the gifts, tearing the paper off. In minutes, the pile of gifts under the tree was gone and we were playing with our toys.

After delving into Mom’s freshly baked nut rolls, we quickly got dressed and were off to church. This was the process for years even after we got older. The only change was my younger brothers started waking me up at 4 a.m.

My parents were from “the Greatest Generation.” Both lived through the Great Depression. My dad fought in the Pacific during World War II. Mom worked in a factory since most of the men were off at war. During the Depression, things were tough. When I was older, my mother told me about the Christmas when she was 7 years old. Her parents didn’t have money for gifts. Mom’s oldest brother made sure she had a full stocking. He filled it up with coal.

Mom woke up early Christmas morning to find no gifts and a stocking full of coal. She cried her eyes out. It was devastating.

That memory followed her to adulthood. Mom chose to rise above it and not to be defined by it.

Over the years, our family has had plenty of challenges. The Christmas after our Dad died was rough. We choose to focus and remember the positive memories. We all still look forward to the Christmas season. We know it is not about presents.

The reason for the season is the birth of a savior. It is about Peace on Earth and Good Will to All.

It is about spending time with family and friends. It is about helping those less fortunate. We miss those family members who are no longer with us. They live forever in our memories.

We all have good things and not so good things happen to us. We get to choose what we focus on.

We can let the negative memories define us and hold us back. We can let the negative depress us, give us a bad attitude and bring others down. We can choose to focus on positive memories.

When our family gets together at Christmas, it is the positive memories we talk about. They make us laugh and put a smile on our faces.

This is also true in business. In 2017 Shale Crescent USA went to our first World Petrochemical Conference. When we talked about petrochemicals and our region, they laughed at us. It hurt.

Wally, one of our founders and a senior vice president talked to a CEO about expanding here at an executive dinner. The CEO told him, “You don’t need to be building any petrochemical plants up there. You just keep sending your natural gas and natural gas liquids to us on the Gulf Coast. We know what to do with them!”

Wally responded, “We choose not to be a Banana Republic!”

We spent a lot of money to attend, sponsor and exhibit at the first WPC. We left with only one lead and a lot of knowledge about what we didn’t know.

That first WPC could have destroyed us if we let it. Instead our leaders used it as motivation and a learning experience.

This year at WPC, companies were calling us for meetings. We had dinner with executives from one of the largest companies in the world. We had private meetings with decision makers. Our luncheon presentation was full to standing room only with decision makers. We spent over an hour taking to people after the presentation. Shale Crescent USA chooses to focus on the positive.

For Christmas this year, I encourage you to focus on your positive memories. Remember the reason for the season. Slow down. Spend time with family and friends. Help someone less fortunate than you.

This doesn’t just mean someone financially less fortunate. Many people are lonely or depressed this time of year. They need help, encouragement and friendship, too. Share your positive attitude. We can have Peace on Earth and Good Will to All. Let it start with us. Merry Christmas!

Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com, is the director of marketing and sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a master’s in environmental engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry.

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