I wanted to wish you a wonderful holiday season and Christmas joy upon you and yours. I’ve been so grateful for each of you and am wishing I could have you over for coffee and sit a while together. I love Christmas and have been setting out little special corners of remembrances and happy, even silly things, to bring a smile. I’ve got five things to consider this month.
Embrace the crazy
Between a school play and several concerts for my son who loves music, we’ve been kept pretty busy. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when that happens. One day, I had to be in three different cities for their activities and my husband had a bad cough so he couldn’t help. I felt like a shuttle service but really hoped I could still enjoy the small moments. I decided to change my approach, my attitude, and something miraculous happened by the end of the day.
There I was, dressed very casually in my jeans and sweater at the back of a church where my son was performing in kind of a dress rehearsal for a larger performance this week, and I was enveloped in the most magical music. My head tingled and I felt goosebumps rise like a quiet dance down my arms. About 200 voices joined an orchestra in the most heavenly notes, gently taking us on a journey to the skies and suddenly I felt ushered into something – other. Something elevated and honoring and beautiful. I was filled with gratitude that my son gets to participate in such an amazing group, and it’s worth all the driving. I still am so happy thinking about it now. By altering my attitude, the beauty of the moment could settle and fill my heart up to overflowing. Just one little change gave me a gift I couldn’t buy and a special memory, too.
Use the good china
When you’ve survived a wildfire and have some pretty china given to you, the holidays mean it’s time to bring it out to be enjoyed. One of the things I’ll never forget is picking bits of my Grandmother’s china out of the ashes and dirt even after our ground was cleared from our charred home. It upset me greatly – I kept asking myself, why had I been so very careful with precious china? I should have used it more often. Now, I try to set the table with it every holiday, and tell the kids the stories behind pieces that were handed down to us. It’s like getting a hug from my Grandmother or favorite great aunt who was a painter and enjoyed antique cars. Sitting with their favorite pieces is also like they’re joining us for the meal and laughing at silly moments or supplying wisdom for the next generation. Don’t wait to use your good things, take them out for all to enjoy this holiday season.
Awaken simple joys
One of the side benefits (if there are any) to having the Christmas cough is slowing down a bit more. I’ve been able to finally finish some great books and consider how we want to live. I’m reflecting on the past year and blessings our family is so grateful for. Last year during Christmas break, my son and I were both ill and we decided just for fun to begin an Instagram account for our gnomes around the house. It’s been such a delight to share that with him, taking Tofs on trips and even to writers conferences. This year, I’m hoping to bake and teach them some more tools in the kitchen. We are usually so on-the-go, I’m settling into simple joys and know those moments are like money in the bank when the next part of life speeds up. Take time to slow down and enjoy your family this holiday. Play a game of chess or put a puzzle together and drink up the beauty of simplicity.
Lessen the clutter
Another strange benefit of battling the cough is I love to organize when I’m getting over something. If I can’t rest because I’ll just be hacking, why not tackle a corner that needs some love? I was sitting there last night appreciating my husband, too, and his generosity in painting a wall where we’d had a repair made and replacing a shower head. My cleaning the pantry and cooking healthy food is like a gift to the whole family, a silent thank-you to those I love so much. Sometimes getting rid of clutter and things that aren’t working is so freeing. Be determined to only keep what gives you joy or is useful and helpful to your family and you’ll be better off. Now for the many other corners needing love…all in due time.
Help someone who’s hurting
Another way to give this holiday is with your skills and home. Maybe it’s inviting a family to dinner who has had a rough season or deep loss. Being in a regular home and sharing a meal is so restorative. After the fires, we had several families who’d have us over for pizza night and it was wonderful being in a place that felt safe after so much upheaval for us – especially when we didn’t even have pots and pans yet. Maybe you know someone touched by any kind of loss this year and can give them love with your cooking and heart by opening your home.
Something else to consider – perhaps your unique skills can help someone in need. I have a friend who’s lost their job and I offered to redo the resume since I used to help people with that years ago. It felt wonderful to contribute to their journey and much more personal than just saying we were thinking of them. I wasn’t expecting to be the answer to their search, but hope I was a small step to shorten their journey or bring a bit of care and comfort along the way. Small gestures of kindness can make all the difference.
How are you focusing on what’s truly important this holiday season? Wishing you blessings of joy and renewal and hope in Christ’s love.