When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Peace and Joy

A friend recently shared this post on Facebook:

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending some time at Conestoga Mall finishing up a few things. ... The parking lot was a zoo, even at 10:30am, but I found a spot at the far end and enjoyed a quiet walk in the rain to the entrance. Line ups were common in most stores, but it was time to reflect and give thanks. Sadly, at The Bay, a cashier walked away from her cash for a few moments to help someone and in the meantime two women wanted to purchase their items immediately! They rang the bell at the cash over and over again. Meanwhile, I was choosing the perfect socks for the girls' stockings and heard the ladies comment in such a negative tone of voice to the cashier as she returned, "We've been ringing this bell for 10 minutes, you were nowhere in sight!" The cashier said she was sorry. As I approached the cash, the young cashier had a hard time to look me in the eyes. I told her that she was ok and that the customers certainly weren't ringing the bell for 10 minutes and that she could let that go and enjoy her day.
If you are out in the hustle and bustle today, see what you can do to share a smile, and take a few moments to reflect while standing in line ups....

I loved this reminder to slow down and find the joy in the last preparations for Christmas this week, keeping in mind that just being able to drive to the mall and buy food and drinks and gifts is a privelege we're fortunate to experience.

My friend's words reminded me of a post I wrote here four years ago; I'm still grateful for the same things. A very merry Christmas to you all!  xoxo


The Real Joys of Christmas

Despite the fact that no part of me wanted to enter through the store doors this time of year, I popped into Walmart today after my yoga class to pick up a few things we needed around the house.  As I expected, the aisles were a dangerous labyrinth of carts and people, half of them frantic and running, and the other half seemingly lost as they wandered aimlessly, preventing others from getting by.  I managed to get out of the store within fifteen minutes and only almost got run over once, but I was glad to return to the relative calm of my own home afterwards.  (And let me reassure you that I'm not trying to be smug about the zen-like state of my home during the holiday season with that last comment -- it was only calm because I was the only one here.  If you had been around this evening when the four of us were home, and Will was wailing over nothing in the family room while Noah simultaneously (accidentally) shattered a glass all over the kitchen floor, and then I lost it, you'd know that our house can be just as crazy a place as Walmart at Christmastime!)

I know firsthand how easy it is to get caught up in a hectic, emotional state this time of year.  We feel we NEED to get all the right gifts, make all the right foods, decorate our house in just the right way, fit in all the right activities, and generally produce a Christmas that is Facebook share-worthy.  (Broken glass all over the kitchen floor somehow doesn't fit with that picture, I'm thinking.)  In all of our complicated holiday rushing about, it's also very easy to forget that the most beautiful and true joys of Christmas are often the simplest things, things that don't require a trip to Walmart or a Martha Stewart-esque flair for perfection (and that won't be ruined by a broken glass or two!).

Real joy is sharing steaming mugs of hot cocoa with your family around the kitchen table after an afternoon of sledding or skating or road hockey together.  It's reliving favourite old family stories with your parents and siblings and other relatives, laughing together and fondly remembering those dear souls who are now only with you in spirit.  It's opening the mailbox and being greeted by the wonderful smell of anisette wafting through the box of homemade genettis that your grandma so thoughtfully sent you, and suddenly being brought back to the happy Christmas Eves of your youth spent at her kitchen table.  It's taking a few moments late at night with your spouse to look at your beautiful sleeping children, their faces softly lit by the Christmas lights from the hallway, and to marvel together at how you ever got so lucky to have them.  It's giving gifts of the heart, by sharing part of yourself with those who really need their spirits lifted this time of year.

When I think back to the Christmases of my childhood, I don't remember very clearly what I received as gifts, and I know that Christmas was never "perfect" (because I'm sure despite all of my parents' efforts, my brothers and I probably wailed over nothing and broke a few glasses, too).  What I do remember with great fondness, though, is the feeling of being warm, and safe, and content at Christmas, feelings that came from being surrounded by a family I love and who showed me in the most meaningful ways that they love me, too.  Whenever I start to feel frantic about getting ready for Christmas, I try to remember what I hope my boys will remember about their childhood Christmases when they grow up, and suddenly all of the other stuff seems less important.

During what can be a very hectic holiday season, I wish you and your family many moments of real and peaceful Christmas joy.

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