What I remember best are the stories my Dad loved to tell every year when we would go to his family reunion. We would drive around town and listen to him describe his childhood in vivid detail. The store that his grandfather owned, where his mother worked, may not longer be standing, but in his memory it is just as much there as it was the day he first saw it. The house down the street that he and his dad caught on fire while trying to help get rid of a beehive sits in his memory as clearly as if he were still standing in the smoke. The day we moved into our first new house and my brother had to ride the bus home from school to a new place without warning is something he still sees in the back of his mind clearly enough to smell the exhaust as the bus drove away. The house off Throckmorton Highway where he lived with his parents and uncles still shares a place in his mind as clearly as the day his first grade teacher had to drive him home after the school bus purposely left him behind. The thing that will live forever in my memory is the sound of my Dads voice and the smell of his original Chapstick as he poured out his heart and relived those memories every time he was given an opportunity. I will always remember the love in his voice when he talked about his family and the life they created for him. Thankfully, my Dad is still around and still remembers these stories and many more. I can’t wait for the next chance to sit with him just to listen and remember.
Connecting again today with Five Minute Friday and Write 31 Days for 31 days of Five Minute Free Write Challenges during the month of October. We write on a given prompt for just 5 minutes without revision and pour out what’s on our heart. Won’t you join me?
This first thing I think of when I hear the word Mom is that we all need to learn to forgive ourselves for what we perceive as our failings in motherhood. We also need to forgive our own mothers for the places where we feel they have failed us. We must remember that we are only human. We are the hands and feet of Jesus in our children’s lives, but we are not God. We are sinners by nature and therefore we will have times where things do not go perfectly according to our plan, but that does not mean it’s not still part of God’s plan. We will have times when despite our good intentions we fail miserably. Just as God provides us grace for our failing, we must also provide grace for ourselves and our own moms. All moms wonder at some point if they are making terrible mistakes with their children, but we press on in doing the best we can with what we have. In those places where you give yourself grace to make mistakes, you learn a little bit more about the heart of God for your children. Our mothers were once right where we are, making choices in our best interest to the best of her ability with the skills she had learned to that point. I think this is why Grandmothers are usually such amazing and inspiring people in our lives. They have already walked in our shoes and made the mistakes we have yet to make. They speak such grace into our lives from years of experience and sacrifice for their children and families. They were not perfect at motherhood either. We will all one day sit at the feet of Jesus and learn the answers to why things happened the way that they did, but until then, give grace to yourself, your mother, your friends, your families.
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.