Friday, December 19, 2014

Take Some Time To Remember

Somehow, across miles and miles of years and time, Christmas has lost its magic.
Once fresh pine trees, decorated with colored lights and home made ornaments, adorned the center of the home. It didn't matter if the tree was crooked, the decorations a bit tattered, or the tinsel a bit thick in places where little hands helped. It was the symbol of family time, of giving, of remembering baby Jesus. Moms and dads and kids would sit around it in the evenings, dreaming of days to come, praying for good health, and whispering quiet thanks for what they had been given.
There may not have been a lot of presents beneath the tree, but what was there was treasured and appreciated for a long time.
And always, yes always, there was a star placed on top. Shining in all its tin-foil glory, or sparkling with glue and glitter and simple unadorned love.
Now days the tree must be perfect. Live or artificial, the ornaments must match, hang uniformly and placed precisely. The lights must be small and bright -cool and thickly wound - shining brightly in front of the window so the neighbors can all see how pretty it is... And how much time and money you spent to make it impeccable.
Families seldom gather round the tree anymore. There's a Santa or a giant bow -or Frosty's hat- adorning the top, and there's barely enough room for all the gifts. They overflow into the dining room or onto the side table. And they are mostly taken for granted.
Years ago, one of the greatest joys of Christmas was not knowing was Santa would bring you. No idea. 
Sure, you would write letters or go sit on his lap in the little elf house on the square, and name a doll or a game or special item you wished for. But you never really knew for sure what Santa had given you until that wrapping paper was peeled off.
It all had to be magic. Most families couldn't afford toys and games -or even candy. So once a year, at Christmastime, dreams and wishes came true.
Now kids make lists as long as their arms, on paper and on Amazon, telling mom and dad what they want and need and then add the famous guilt trip line, "I'll just freak if I don't get it".
Let's go back. For just a little while, forget about the misplaced ornament, the pine needles in the carpet, the string of lights half burned out. Forget that you couldn't afford the gift they asked for, couldn't find their favorite dessert, couldn't pull off that beautiful tree like your neighbor did. Forget the TV, the computer, the iPhone, the other things that distract from what is important. Don't worry that the cookies burnt, you've got a pile of laundry waiting, and your hair is a catastrophe. For just a little while, turn off the house lights and turn on the tree lights. Sit around it as a family. Take some quiet time to think and dream and pray. Remember to be thankful, no matter what may come. Remember that " for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, who is Christ the Lord".
Let's go back. To the sprit and joy of a true Christmas. To things that matter.
Let's bring back the magic.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Keeping Promises

My husband used to scold his mother whenever she would start bragging about her grandkids. "Mom, no one wants to hear that!" he would say. And then he'd roll his eyes and walk away embarrassed. But that never stopped her from sharing all the good things they were doing, be it milestones of growth,  their grades,  or little things they did on a daily basis that made her proud.

We are all guilty of a little bragging once in awhile. I do it, too. I always beamed when they learned to share, exercised good manners and achieved awards in school. I bragged when they graduated, were married, and had children.

But I used to be extra proud of them when they learned to keep their promises. To me that showed a strength of character and compassion for others.
"I'll be home by ten o'clock," one would say.
 "I'll study harder next time," said another.
"I'll take the trash out after this show, I'll feed the dog, Ill call you when I get there," they promised.

And somewhere along the way, they promised that they would grow up and leave home.

They kept those promises.

Rooms of toys and clothes and school backpacks seemed to disappear overnight. Half eaten pizzas, wasted soda and wet towels on the bathroom floor soon became rare. Hearing their voices in the hallway before bed, listening to them singing with the radio, watching them as they opened presents on Christmas Day....those things happened less and less.

And before I knew it, I turned around and their rooms were empty, their voices were silent, and Christmas Day had lost its magic.

Yet, how could I be upset that they kept their promises? How could I deny them the wings they grew? the dreams they followed? or the lives they made for themselves?

I've always kept my promises, too. I'm sure my mother was proud once. I bet she bragged a little bit on all of us kids.

When my kids were born I promised that I would love them forever. That I'd try to be a good mom. That I would give them room to fly when the time came. That I would always be here for them. That I would try to listen and advise, but never tell them what to do. That I would always smile and be happy for their choices.

I've kept those promises.

Oh, and that I wouldn't brag on them too much.

So I won't.

But I'm proud of them all. They bring me joy and love and memories beyond imagination. They keep me young and adventurous and in tune to what's going on in this big old world.

Simply put, they amaze me!

So, just remember...someday your kids are gonna keep their promises. Someday they will leave for college or a job in another town -or to marry the love of their life. And they will never ever come back to live under your roof.

This Christmas, no matter how old your children are- hug them. ( until they roll their eyes and walk away embarrassed).
Indulge them with treats and attention...share their laughter and tears...memorize their faces, touch their hands and remember their voices.
Listen to their stories, give them your time...and tell them you love, love, love them -

Promise me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

True Confession

It's happened.
I've become that needy, materialistic, shallow person that I always try to avoid in my life. ( Hard to do that now that she's staring back at me when I look into the mirror...)
I've always prided myself into being satisfied with the things I'm given. I've learned to actually enjoy reusing and redesigning and rethinking the dull, ordinary things that surround me in my home. I've been happy and satisfied living in this little cabin for over a year and a half.
But, lately, something in me has snapped. A giant dream virus has taken over and all I want to do is plan and imagine and covet all things beautiful. Sofas, dishes, thick, thirsty table books, chandeliers, soft rugs...duvet covers, throw pillows, giant art and sculpture...
Need I go on?
Well, there's a canister set I need, some cute cloth napkins I've Pinterested and paint chips I've chosen for every room of my new " yet to be built" house.
This is the giving time of year. When you reach out to others. Give thanks for all you have. Enjoy friends and family and simple pleasures. And here I am- all strung out on the perfect sconce choice, the layout of my living room furniture, and those sweet dinner plates with the deer dressed in gingham.
I'm a mess. A total loser. I've neglected cleaning my fridge. And every time I open it and the spilled pickle juice wafts into my nostrils, I just shut it, get on Lowes and search for some gigantic super fridge that will fit in my new kitchen someday. That search leads to a new dishwasher, microwave, range and cookware. Then to throw rugs, drapery, and even spoon rests.
I'm obsessed. And shallow. I should be finding that last little Christmas gift. Or mopping the floors. Or dusting the DVR that looks like it's been snowed on...
Is there help for me? Can I shake this "I want everything" attitude? Am I going to have to destroy my computer and attend therapy?
It's pitiful. But is it really so bad to want a place to roll out dough? A bathtub to soak in? A cabinet lined neatly with soup cans and jars of dried beans and rice? A cute cookie jar on the counter? A big window where I can watch the birds? A bedroom with a door? A microwave I can use without having to shut the bathroom door first? A private place? Lots and lots of lighting? A place I can play music and open windows and enjoy dusting and cleaning and living in?
So sorry. This is a rant. Yet, a true confession.
I do love my little cabin. We still lay awake at night and say, "We live here". And we laugh and breathe deep and talk about how beautiful and peaceful it is here. How lucky we are to be together and have this place and enjoy the nature surrounding us. How the stars hang like giant diamonds and the moon lights up the woods like black lace and the pine trees sing songs we are just beginning to learn.
Maybe this crazy needy thing is just temporary. An old age phase I'm going through. Maybe it's just my way of sorting out ideas and creativity and plans I'm going to have to make later anyway.
Whatever it is, I'm not really liking being shallow. It's unattractive and selfish and doesn't pair well with the lifestyle we've chosen for ourselves.
I know I'm going to have to wait a few more months on my house. It's going to be beautiful no matter what. I'll just wash up a few of my rugs, fill the old cookie jar, throw a favorite quilt on the bed and bring out the ugly China.
There's no doubt I'll be happy. I'll be whole again. I'll quit wishing and wanting and just learn to be thankful.
And I just might even clean the fridge.