Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oprah's Favorite Things!


Who doesn't know about the famous OPRAH's FAVORITE THINGS SHOW? I watched BOTH of her shows this season (she actually had two surprise give-away shows for her last season). As I watched, I reflected on how disappointed I was in my own Oprah-Show-experience.

Talk about your bad timing.

You see as I watched gift after AMAZING gift distributed to the audience, I recalled the time I got to be in the Oprah audience.

It was about five years ago.

My neighbor and I drove to Chicago excited about being on the Oprah show. I had received a call from the show telling me they had two spots open and would I be interested? The topic was how to get your child to eat healthy food.

I was so sure they could not do an entire show on such a boring topic. I was certain this was the FAVORITE THINGS SHOW!

It didn't matter because I was also excited to be one of her screaming audience members.

"Be sure to wear black. The camera doesn't like busy colors as we pan the audience."

No problem. The problem was not in the clothes, but in finding a hotel in Chicago. Never in my wildest dreams would I think such a large city would not have a single hotel room available.

When I called to find a hotel room I was shocked. Every single hotel in the city was booked! The closest I could get was a hotel one hour away from the show which meant two hours with traffic.

After hours of calls, I finally found a small, unknown hotel one block off Michigan Avenue. Yes, there were numerous conventions in town, but they had one room open.

Excitedly, we took off for Oprah. Visions of Favorite Things danced in my head.

After encountering highway shut downs, road construction, two tired, yet determined Missouri girls reached the hotel.

We now knew why the room as well as several others were available.

It was like a Lucille Ball sitcom episode. The "El" trains rain right by our window. I could have touched the train from my window! The lights blinded us and the vibrations and noise kept me awake most of the night. The room was so shabby I dare not lie on the bed covers. I put my coats and clothes under me hoping bed bugs would not attack with so much train noise and lights going on.

Yet, there it was ahead of me. In a few short hours I would be sitting close to the lady herself, the giver of gifts, The Queen of Generosity, Oprah!

Donning our all-black pant suits, we lined up for Oprah the next morning. I looked around in wonder at all the women in BRIGHTLY COLORED OUTFITS. Had they not received the directions as I had? I heard one woman exclaim, "Oh, my friend told me if you wear bright colors, they put you in the FRONT row!" Surely, just a rumor, I told myself.

Three ladies pulled up in a limo after flying in from Houston to be in the audience. They kept staring at us. Finally, one came over and said in her sweet Southern accent, "We have a bet. We believe you two must be ARTISTS because of the way you are dressed. Are we correct?" I looked for the honey dripping from her smile as she drawled out the word, "artist."

Embarrased, I told her what the director had suggested. We were just Missouri gals hoping to enjoy an amazing show.

As we entered the studio, my friend and I were directed to the "balcony" area, the seats farthest from the stage. We could still see clearly, but my heart sank as the lady in the BRIGHT RED shirt next to me was called to come forward and sit next to Jerry Sienfeld's wife in the front row.

Before Oprah came out, the audience practiced oooing and ahhhhing. We were told the camera could focus on any person in the room at any time and reactions were important. We even practiced how to ask questions.

Then she came. There was Oprah.

In a bad mood.

Later I found out, she had been diagnosed with thyroid problems, much like my own. She had put on weight as well. She was not smiling. She was not laughing. We were told she would be very funny and interact with us prior to the show.

Nope. Nada. Nothing.

Jerry Sienfeld's wife hosted the show about her first cookbook. It was interesting, but I kept thinking, where is the real show? Oprah looked bored, distracted. At commercials, she did not even interact with the guest or her audience.

Well, at least I will get a copy of this cookbook, I hoped as I felt under my chair.

No package there.

Then samples of the food were brought out. We had waited a couple of hours in line and in the studio. It was past lunch time.

I thought, "A sample of food cooked by the Oprah staff from Mrs. Seinfeld's book will be great!"


Only the FIRST ROW Center section received a couple of samples. I watched the lady in the BRIGHT RED blouse smile and woof down the small samples.

Then the show ended.

As women filed out, one asked, "Why no give aways of the cookbook?"

A staffer replied that Oprah's visit to Africa had convinced her to stop giving "things" to audience members and focus on her school and charities.


That was it.

Since that year, I have watched the FAVORITE THINGS show as well as several others. It seems as though she had a change of heart. Audience members receive CD's, books, trips, cars, etc.

Bad timing on my part.

What does this have to do with my spiritual walk?

While attending the show provides a funny memory and something my neighbor and I can laugh about as we think on our road trip to Chicago, I am reminded that this is the GIVING SEASON. Christmas is really about GIVING.

What other holiday is about gifts as much as this one? Yes, Halloween gives candy; Easter gives eggs and chocolate; Valentine gives flowers and heart boxes.

--But it is not the same as Christmas. Christmas gifts mean more to Christians than just something we buy; our gifts symbolize God's love and our love for each other.

We celebrate the ULTIMATE GIFT GIVER, Jesus Christ, who was born into this world for us(John 3:16).

Today, I received an e-mail from a friend with cancer. She was going into surgery after 6 months of chemo. She asked for a gift.

She asked that during this time in honor of God's grace, each friend do a random act of kindness. Say something nice to the grocery clerk, buy a cup of coffee for the grouchy person waiting in line behind you, give something unexpected.

That is what Jesus did. He gave something unexpected by mankind. Himself. His life. We can not earn God's grace. We can not earn heaven. We can not earn salvation.

Join me today in thanking God, the KING OF THE BEST GIFT POSSIBLE, ETERNAL LIFE WITH THE CREATOR, for His gift of sacrifice and love. --And in honor of my friend and God's grace during this season, join me in random acts of kindness for others.

Unlike me with the Oprah show, you won't be disappointed.

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