Feels like Christmas

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Ridley: I absolutely adore this time of year! I’m generally a big kid at the best of times, but I am a hundred times worse come the month of December! I love how happy people are during the weeks leading up to the 25th, how so much nicer they are to their fellow man, how more generous they tend to be, more caring, everything seems brighter and nicer bathed in sparkly fairy lights. This time of year, we all tend to look outside ourselves more at those around us, and really stop for a moment to realise just how lucky we are. 

So…in order to get more into the Christmas spirit I’ve lined up my favourite Christmas ads. Now, hear me out, I know Christmas ads are now big business here, and I shouldn’t be using them to get me into the Christmas spirit, as this holiday is not all about presents and what you’re going to get from Santa. I know different companies spend millions developing these ads, recording them, and then they have big Christmas ad reveals, which get shared by thousands on social media sites (if they’re any good, and some of them really are). But I’m not afraid to admit (don’t judge me!) that I’ve gotten choked up watching a few of them!

Somehow, even though the ads are obviously trying to sell you something or encourage you to shop somewhere in particular (overlook this), they still, in strange way, capture the meaning of Christmas too, where it’s not about what you get or buy, but who you’re with. It’s about surrounding yourself with the people you care about, it’s about trying to bring a big smile to their faces, being the reason for them to laugh and just generally spreading the love!

So this Christmas, stop for a minute, and just remember what it’s all really about:

 

John Lewis, their ads just get me every time, I adored last years one with the bear and the rabbit, but this one with Monty the Penguin kinda chokes me up at the end, so so sweet. This is what I’m taking about, make others happy, it’s the secret to your own happiness too! (Also who wouldn’t want a best friend like Monty I ask you?):

 

The Sainsbury ad is just beautiful, heartbreaking, heart warming and just plain fantastic all at the same time! That this really happened (though possibly without the addition of the chocolate bar obviously) just makes it all the more special:

 

All I’ll say is…she really is worth it, don’t you think? Show others how important they are to you!

 

Make someone happy, the song says it al!! Coca Cola ads are always Christmas to me anyway.

 

And this is not an ad, but it’s still my favourite songs to sing this time of year! Muppets Christmas Carol is on repeat in our house!

 

So, if I haven’t hammered the point home enough, Happy Christmas to all our friends and family, have an absolutely fantastic one, and we’ll see you in the New Year!!

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TED Talk Round up

Ridley: I love TED talks, I find I learn loads from them, so here are some of the ones I’ve enjoyed over the last few months!

If you ever get a chance to go to one of these events, do! I went to TEDx Dublin last year and it was absolutely brilliant. I missed out on buying the tickets for this year though, it sold out too quickly! I’ll have to try catch it next year!

“Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.” So make sure you take a power pose now and then when no one’s looking!

“Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.”

Love the idea of an elusive creative genius, sitting on your shoulder, whispering ideas in your ear like some Golem or Dobby like creature, only prettier possibly.

“Why do people succeed? Is it because they’re smart? Or are they just lucky? Neither. Analyst Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an unmissable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success.”

“Dan Gilbert, author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.”

 

Gold! Always Believe in Your Soul!

Ridley: I’ve been wrapped up in the Olympics the last little while. I have to say London has absolutely out done itself. Britain should be so proud!

Now of events, I’ve been watching the rowers, the swimmers, the runners and of course, the boxers. I just spend the time marvelling at their athletic feats while I snack on crisps and lull on the couch.

One thing I have noticed; the games really bring out the patriot in you, don’t they? So many countries and the people within them surely think this? There is absolutely nothing like watching one of your Olympians stepping up to the podium. 

At the moment, here in Ireland, there is one person’s name on all our lips, Katie Taylor. While I’ll be the first to say we have fantastic sports people, Katie really is the woman of the hour. When she received her gold medal around her neck, there wasn’t a dry eye in the stadium or in the country.

Shivers shot through me to hear our nations song, ‘Aran na bhFiann’ song by thousands in a completely different country, there were so many of us there it was a like a GAA (football or hurling) final in Dublin!  (Or the Euros in Poland this year!)

For the week or so of her three big fights, the country, the people of Ireland forgot their worries and joined together. We speculated, we hoped, we debated and we prayed for a great result. We all love to support our teams and our people. We get behind our heroes and we cheer them on. Even now, one of our most popular songs that we sing at nearly every event harks back to the 1990s during the World Cup in Italy when our football team got through and played in them. Their coach was Jack Charlton and the song: ‘We’re all part of Jackie’s Army’.

Granted we didn’t win the World Cup of course, but it’s all part of the craic to be involved somehow, to get swept up in the tension, the fun and the ‘what if’. I remember it well, I would have only been nine or ten, but we watched every one of the matches with our team playing on a small fuzzy television. We did it while wearing knitted Ireland scarves and floppy green top hats! It’s this absolute support that we show any sport or person, no matter if you’ve never watched or followed it before, that really makes me proud to be Irish.

During Katie’s final match yesterday, 1.5 million people tuned in to watch it. Some business closed for it, others brought televisions and radios in to watch or hear it in work. In Bray, Katie’s home town thousands turned out to watch it on the big screens there. I loved this video of them all going mad and celebrating at the result.

The ESB (electricity company) has said the demand for electricity dropped by 6% for the duration of the match (and then jumped back up afterwards, as we all turned on the kettle for a cuppa, no doubt! Haha.)

Everything stopped when that first bell rang, the streets and roads were empty. Seriously. Total silence descended over the country as people watched the fight, and when she won, the screaming and the singing and the hollering began. Life restarted again, people flooded the streets, cars were back in traffic jams and all anyone could talk about was, ‘did you see the fight?’

(Here’s a brilliant video of Thai Tims singing about Katie, so cute and fantastic that a country so far away has people celebrating her. The tune is originally ‘The Wild Rover.’)

Even if you weren’t a fan of boxing before this, you’d end up at least being a fan of Katie Taylor’s, who is unbelievably hard working, modest and generous in her praise to her fellow fighters. She’s done more than win the country’s first gold medal, she’s given it’s people hope and happiness. To cap it all off, the summer seems to have come at last! We’ve had absolutely fantastic weather the last two days to coincide with the win. People are wandering round laughing, smiling and getting sunburned. For this weekend at least, we’re all glancing at each other with raised eyebrows and saying, ‘Recession? What recession!’

Long may it last!