In focusing on enough this year I have seen that my value is not in how many steps I walk or how often I win the “workweek hustle” on FitBit. It is not tied to being the first car in the parking lot or the last one left at work each day. It is not in how many Starbucks stars, LulaRoe leggings, or tubes of LipSense I collect. It is not even tied to getting my preferred seat at church on Sunday mornings. My value is not in the percentage of times I win at Words with Friends, not even when that friend is my brother 😉 It is not in how clean I keep my house or car, how well behaved others believe my children and grandchildren to be, or how neat I write in cursive. It is not in the price of my house, car, or other material things. My value is in who God says I am and who He made me to be. He is my Father and I am His child. He loves me unconditionally regardless of any of these things.
The biggest thing that I am learning in this focus is that my “enoughness” is not based on how well I was parented or how well I have parented my own children. I keep being brought back to this and having to remind myself that even though there are pieces of both that were not and are not perfect, they are best left to God as I, myself aside from Him, do not have the tools to take them on. This does not mean that I am any less of a daughter or mother. It just means that I need to learn what areas of my life to turn over to God and let go. No matter how often they return to my sight and thoughts, they are not mine to pick up again unless and until God gives me that skill set and tells me to go slay those giants.
Linking with 5 Minute Friday today.
Decorating cookies at my house consists of purchasing a gingerbread kit with all the icing, candy and cookies ready to go. (Only a few times in my life have I made gingerbread cookies from scratch!) The parts and pieces are divided between my middle daughter, Chailey, who has much more patience for this than I will ever have, and how ever many children are at the house that day, typically at least 3, but often more. Some years there have been additional adult children or their friends who have joined in the fun. Forever a kid at heart, right?
The best part of decorating Christmas cookies is watching the kids put on the icing. They spread a little, then lick the knife, spread a little more, then lick again. Putting on the candy with their now sticky little fingers follows a similar protocol: a piece for the cookie, a piece in their mouth. By the time they complete their masterpiece, no one has any interest in eating it other than the creator.
Thankfully Chailey’s cookies are edible and available for bystanders, but they are typically too beautiful to consider eating. So, they stay under glass on the cake stand, acting as holiday decor for at least a few days before they are gone.
They are all so proud of their work, they cannot wait for someone to take a picture of it, and no one dare take a picture before they have completed it. Even if I tried, the picture would have their hand, arm or whole body plastered across it. They are quite serious about their cookies.
The final tradition in cookie decorating at our house is having their picture taken eating the cookie. This is a must! They even check the picture after it is taken to be sure their vision is appropriately captured. Christmas at our house would not be complete without cookies, but more importantly, without the smiles on these sticky, icing covered faces!
As a child my parents taught me to believe in Santa, but with my own children I felt like that would be lying to them. So, from the beginning I told them that Santa was the embodiment of the Spirit of Christmas; goodwill to all, giving being better than receiving, etc. She reminded me that I taught them Christmas was the celebration of the birth of Jesus, but a long time ago there was a man named Saint Nicolas who was known for secretly giving gifts to others, which was the model for who we now know as Santa Claus.
I didn’t want my children to feel like they were not good enough in the years that we could not afford to buy them gifts under the guise of Santa. They received plenty of gifts from family members, so they never wanted for anything. However, being able to provide Santa for the children currently in my house has been a joy. Though we minimize it to just include things that fit in their stocking, because filling stocking is something I continue to do for my own children who are home on Christmas morning.
My oldest daughter and I were talking this week about how we would explain to the children in our house, when the time comes, that Santa does not come down our chimney to deliver gifts. I told her that I knew the time was near because I had decided when I was in second or third grade that Santa was someone who drove around town and dropped off gifts door to door, the idea of magic reindeer and a large man fitting down the chimney was not something I could continue to believe. I appreciated her telling me that she never felt like Santa was a lie that people tell their children, but a way of teaching children to believe in the wonders of Christmas at an age where they are not old enough to fully understand the miracle of the birth of Christ.
What are your Christmas traditions with regard to Santa Claus?
“Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might have this wish I wish tonight”
That’s the first thing I think of when I think of a star. My wish would include faith in the one true King for all of my family and friends, a lifetime of hope and happiness for my children and grandchildren, that they would learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of other so that they may live their lives to the fullest without distraction, deception, and disappointment. My wish for my husband would include confidence in himself, comfort on difficult days, grace in the face of negativity, courage in the face of doubt, and a heartfelt knowledge that he is loved. My wish for my parents would be that they know how appreciated they are and have always been even when we didn’t know how to show it or reimburse them for their love and guidance.
The great thing is that I don’t have to wait for a star and make a wish; I can pray to my heavenly Father and know that He is with each one of us and at the mere thought of a need he is able to supply it beyond our wildest imagination.
When I think of Christmas I first think of the smell of peppermint. When my girls were little I had a set of peppermint snowball candles that burned constantly throughout the month of December. All winter long (to be honest all year long) I use peppermint scented lotion, candles, hand soap, and bath soap. People who used to work with me, have said they still think of me when they smell peppermint. It’s just my thing. It’s funny how certain scents make you think of certain times of year or certain people. Often memories are tied to different scents. Apple cider makes me think of fall, original chap-stick makes me think of my Dad. Embers burning make me think of cold winter nights roasting marshmallows on opened metal hangers in the living room fireplace as a kid. Back then we had closets full of metal hangers, but these days we find it difficult to locate even one. Half of the fun was twisting the neck of the hanger open and getting it straight enough to use. With three of us all vying for a turn at the fireplace I cannot imagine the patience my Dad must have had to make it a truly memorable occasion.
All of the things I remember the most about the Christmas’s of my childhood include spending time with my family. Such as my brother, sister and I spending time around the white aluminum Christmas tree with a rotating color wheel shining on it while watching my parents wrap gifts for other family and friends. Or waking up on Christmas morning to find that Santa not only brought my sister and I matching Pink Huffy bicycles, but matching teddy bears in brown and cream that we had picked out in JCPenney while shopping recently with our mother. Who knew Santa was really watching us everywhere we went? This was the same year that I told Santa I wanted nothing more than a stuffed life-size Benji like the dog in the movie. So, I was thrilled to see him sitting there among the rest of the loot that morning. I remember going out very close to Christmas and getting a fresh tree to decorate with one set of grandparents while the other put up their artificial tree soon after Thanksgiving each year. Christmas always meant the best breakfast at one grandparents house and homemade divinity and candies at the other. It meant falling asleep in the car or at least playing opossum so we would be carried inside when we arrived home from Nanny and Pappy’s on Christmas Eve. It meant getting up bright and early on Christmas morning, but it was all worth it, sleep or no sleep. It was the best time of year when everyone was happy and all of our wishes seemed to come true.
Taking 5 minutes to write what’s on my heart in this month of celebration and reflection.
December is the time of year that the air gets cold, but our hearts become warm as we celebrate the birth of our savior by giving to each other in a symbolic gesture of love. It’s also the time of year that we realize everything we failed to complete over the course of the year. It’s a sign of the finishing of another year and the coming of a new beginning. We spend the month making up for lost time while adding a variety of events to round out and celebrate the year as well as Christmas. It’s a time for goodbyes, but also a time to prepare for hello’s both literally and figuratively, We see family and friends that we may not see often and get to spend time catching up on their lives as well as sharing ours with them. December is lights and feasts and gifts and love and warmth all surrounded by the bitter cold air from the north wind. It’s a time for both celebration and reflection.