The rhythmic sounds of a tumbling clothes dryer and a snoring old dog create a soothing background of white noise as I compose my thoughts. The holidays blew through my life like a gust of wind, picking up bits and pieces of my routine and then rearranging them in chaotic order. The kids blew in, stayed awhile, and then blew out. Life provides us with opportunities to learn lessons every day and these past holidays were no exception. Mindful refresher courses came in abundance during the last few weeks. Now in the quiet of my home and my mind, I reflect on the holidays and the lessons I learned or revisited.
No matter how much planning and preparation transpires before the holidays, I will never have enough time to do everything I want to do. With that in mind, I didn’t try to please everyone and I didn’t get together with everyone I wanted to see this holiday season. Prioritizing my time was how I stayed sane and, for me, family always comes first. There’s plenty of time during the rest of the year to bake, craft, and visit with friends. Having all of my kids under one roof is a rarity these days, so I gave myself permission to be selfish with my time.
Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
A week ago my dog survived chocolate and alcohol poisoning due to an absent-minded husband and a gift of homemade bourbon balls. Three hours and $369.00 later, I gratefully carried my little dog back home from the emergency veterinary hospital. Will he get into chocolate, again? I hope not. I’ve learned that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. And, in this case, I’m not referring to my dog! Adoption of new routines in our home – inspection and placement of my husband’s briefcase – will hopefully prevent any future incidents involving my sweet-seeking dog.
Don’t Sweat the Messy Stuff
Laundry baskets of dirty clothes stood in queues outside the laundry room, mystery goop stuck to the stove top, and dozens of unclaimed drinking glasses littered the house. My kids were home and it showed. For all the days my family was reunited, the house was a huge mess, but I was okay with that. Not a lot of time was wasted sweating over the messy stuff and as much time as possible was spent enjoying the mess-makers.
The Best Gifts
Driving around town admiring Christmas lights never grows old. Nor does preparing big pots of homemade soup and listening to my kids slurp them down and then, in a Charles Dickens’ way, ask for “more.” Watching their faces as they opened their presents and listening to their laughter fill the house reminded me that the best gifts aren’t on lists and have no dollar value.
On Christmas Eve my oldest child complained of a bad headache and by Christmas morning his headache was accompanied by stomach pain. After sleeping most of Christmas, fever, chills, and heavy groans developed. Flu? Appendicitis? By Christmas evening we were in the hospital emergency room. Thankfully, he’s fine now, but next year, before the kids come home, I will remember to check the batteries in my digital thermometer and I will buy a fresh supply of acetaminophen.
Life is Precious
Like a thief in the night, bad news came and stole the promise of the New Year. In the middle of the night, the day after Christmas, my daughter came into my bedroom sobbing. She had just learned that a friend of hers was dead. While consoling her, we talked about Tim, a fun-loving and adventurous young man. Tim came from England, not just to study in the United States, but to fulfill his desire to see the world and to meet and befriend as many people as he could along the way. In the blink of an eye, his young life was snatched away by a drunk driver. Sad and bad things happen, even during the holidays. They are part of life. They make us wake-up, pay attention, and learn hard life lessons – like never take anyone for granted and live life to the fullest.
Growing with Gratitude
At year’s end I received an email with an annual report from my blog host. What started out as a way to share my thoughts, ideas, photos, and passions with others, has turned out to be an extraordinary experience for me. In the process of producing this blog, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. My children now have a journal of their mother’s sometimes quirky and sometimes serious thoughts and also a place to go to for family recipes intertwined with bits of family history. But what I’ve learned the most about while writing this blog is how small, thanks to the Internet, the world is and how large my world has grown! Finding out from the annual report that my readers come from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, simply overwhelmed me. I am grateful for every one of you who stopped by and took the time to read What About This? Thank you so much!
May 2012 find you happily grateful, in good health, and filled with abundant joy!
This post is dedicated to the memory of Tim Selby Barraud.
Photo of Tim soaking up the Oregon sunset – courtesy of my daughter.