A Time of Patience

I was reminded of my New Year’s Resolution over the weekend, when patience was the topic of Sunday’s homily at church. Back in January, I wrote about my mantra of “Less Hurry. Less Worry” and this passage (from a presentation I attended last year) is especially relevant for this time of year:

Life is a series of sprints and there’s a lot of rushing around. Downtime is a necessary time to re-charge to be able to bring energy to each “sprint” or challenge you may face.

We are all rushing and hurrying like crazy in preparation for the holidays. There is a lot of sprinting and stress that takes much of the joy away from this season. Similarly, I feel like there has been a lot of sprinting going on this week, re-grouping after being out of town for Thanksgiving and even just hitting the save button on this post SEVERAL times before having a bigger chunk of time to come back to it. It’s a whole lot of hurry, hurry, hurry. And all that hurrying can make me feel impatient!

Am I More Patient this Year?

Overall throughout the last year, I feel less hurried and at times more patient. However, I probably should ask my family if they would agree with that statement. I still can feel a tendency to over-multi-task instead of focusing on what’s most important at this one point in time. Being conscious of un-productive multi-tasking is the first step, right?

Some patience has been learned through schedule changes as of late. My husband has changed jobs and increased his commute, leaving me to fly solo with the kids in the morning. Instead of thinking he’s around to help (or not), I know it’s all me, so I have become more patient with my kids in the morning. Truthfully, we’ve also had several months of the school year under our belt, so they are also more adjusted to the weekly school routine too. Together we can help each other in the mornings.

The Waiting REALLY is the Hardest Part

As was mentioned in church on Sunday, patience is desperately needed this time of year. Our deacon showed pictures of holiday travel with LONG lines. Shopping on Black Friday or any holiday shopping can bring a LONG line. There’s a lot of waiting, and we all hate that, right?!

Today while waiting in line at a craft store, I was amused by a mom with two kids in front of me for a few reasons. First, I remember those days of shopping with a toddler and an infant all too well (see The BEST Line(s) to get out of a toy store). Now I am just the “older” mom whose kids are now in school (well, some of the time, anyway)! I sometimes share, “I know what you’re going through” lines of encouragement because I too remember those kind people who did the same to me a few years back. This conversation was just last year! Second, the older toddler was saying “bye, bye.”  When I observed her more closely, she was pointing at things and saying, “buy, buy!”  I laughed out loud and commented on this to her mom. Too funny, right? In this moment of waiting and being patient, I was able to engage with the party in front of me instead of being grumpy and sitting on my smartphone.

Ways to be more Patient to Make Waiting Easier

One phrase that comes up in this season of Advent is “waiting in joyful anticipation,” and I am reminded of the symbols and traditions that we use to help us wait – things like Advent calendars, Christmas Countdowns, or lighting candles on the Advent Wreath. This year we are lighting candles on a salt dough wreath that my daughter made in her religious education class. She feels so proud of it, and there is something very special about lighting a candle and enjoying a family dinner together. It makes us slow down a bit, and we look forward to lighting the next candle. Each day in December, we’ll change the Christmas countdown. Each week we’ll light another candle, helping us track the passage of time, which makes the waiting for Christmas a bit easier.

Is the season trying your patience? How do you handle waiting this time of year? Best wishes for some time to slow down, relax, and reflect this December!

5 Things in my Holiday Survival Kit

I’ve had good intentions of wanting to blog this month, but have been distracted with the busyness that is typical of the holiday season. In the spirit of wanting to share some thoughts, I put together a top 5 list of things in my Holiday Survival Kit.

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A few things that make our holidays easier: Coffee, heated blanket (see snow & cold), Christmas lights.

Side note – I know we all have moments where we think about just “surviving” through the holidays. There is certainly a negative connotation with the word “survival.” Certainly we want to absorb, enjoy and relax in the company of loved ones during this special time of year instead of merely survive.  In other words, here are some things to make the holidays easier and more pleasant in my humble opinion:

  1. Coffee / select beverages: Late nights of wrapping gifts or celebrating too hard at holiday parties make coffee a necessity in my book! I discovered an organic coffee from a local roaster at our neighborhood Italian bakery. Love it! Other selected beverages in our house mean some apple cider, mulled cranberry juice / red wine (like we enjoyed at Austrian Christkindl markets), and a classic old fashioned mixed drink – make mine sweet with brandy.

    old fashioned mixed drink

    Old Fashioneds – a classic family get-together drink. Daddy O. makes the best ones!

  2. Gym Membership: After having a double header of Thanksgiving meals, I felt a little lethargic and lazy.  A few trips to the gym just make me feel and sleep better.
  3. Heated Blanket: It can get COLD in Wisconsin, so we love turning on our heated blanket to be cozy & warm and catch some needed Z’s!
  4. The Internet – This is one big old category, but it IS the BEST for shopping, streaming Netflix, and streaming variety of holiday tunes. What would we do without it?! Kids, ignore all of the boxes.
  5. Christmas Lights: There is something so peaceful about sitting in the glow of our lit Christmas tree. As a family we love looking at holiday lights, shouting, “lights out big sister’s / little brother’s side.”  It is pure joy seeing their excitement and sense of wonder at it all. Lights in general are an excellent reminder of the true spirit of Christmas.
enjoying our Christmas tree as a family

Last year I captured the magic of seeing our Christmas tree fully decorated. I just love these pictures!

The Light of Christmas 

It’s more than simply the lights that decorate our trees and homes. It’s the light we hold in our hearts and share with others not only at this time of year, but the entire year through. We need to be the “light” for one another, spreading joy, peace, hope, and love.

There are so many ways to share and care this time of year through giving of gifts, time, and money to so many causes. My kids and I shopped for presents to be given to the less fortunate in our area, and I was so impressed by the time and thought they put into selecting their gift to give away. There was no whining, complaining or fighting at the store, so this mom was quite pleased! This was one small way of giving back, and hopefully teaching my kids a little about being “light” for others.

The best cure for surviving the stress of the holidays is to look to the light.  Appreciate the season and reflect on its core meaning: peace, joy and love.

Wishing you all happiness this holiday season!

What helps you through the holidays? What traditions do you have to help spread or be the light?

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Christmas Magic

The busyness and hectic pace of this season can be a real drag on Christmas cheer.  After a brief and stressful loading-in of our freshly cut tree that our daughter named Big, we slowed down the next day (courtesy of a Wisconsin snowstorm), listened to Christmas music and decorated the tree while little brother napped.  He woke up from his nap and viewed the fully decked out tree with such wonder and joy.  Just magical!

two year old and our Christmas treeI was happy my relatively basic point & shoot camera could capture these images with a pre-set mode and a little photo editing after the fact. Big sister and Daddy O. had their own moment in front of the tree too. I may not have a classic family picture in front of the tree – yet – but I’m thrilled with these beautiful images.

enjoying our Christmas tree as a familySimple family moments like this are what Christmas is all about.  Love this season!

The Joy of Giving and Feigning Joy of Receiving

Did you ever get a Christmas gift that you didn’t really want? We have all been there, right?

In my case, I am honest to a fault when I react to my husband’s gifts. I don’t know why…maybe I just can’t fake enthisiasm with him. I feel badly, and I already did it TWICE this holiday.

Let me begin by saying I am not overly into receiving gifts. I enjoy giving presents much more. Above everything else, I value the time and experience with loved ones over the holidays. For example, after exchanging some family presents tonight, my 3 year old spontaneously hugged me and said, “Thank you!” It was so heartfelt and beautiful – just magical! One other gift is seeing my 15 month old walk on his own with much more confidence and purpose. Adorable. And I am one proud mama.

Okay, so I gave my husband two ideas – a list of Aveda makeup lipgloss and eye shadow, and biking gear that would be cuter than the workout gear I have been wearing for several years! I opened the lipgloss- perfect. Thank you Daddy O. I opened the eye shadow, and it wasn’t the shade I remembered, so I told Daddy O that I may go back to look at other colors. Maybe it was mis-labeled? My internal dialogue is saying, “Stop talking and deal with this later when he may not know.”

The second gift I opened tonight – padded biking shorts covered by looser fitting black shorts. I said, “thank you,” and should have stopped there, but I couldn’t. “Are these women’s? Oh yeah the tag says women’s. Maybe I need to try them on.” I tried them on later after the kiddos were in bed, and they still look rather mannish and not the cute, flattering option I had envisioned. Functional, yes. Sigh.. so sorry Daddy O for being horrible at receiving gifts from you. I love you no matter what I find under the tree, as long as I am admiring the tree with you.

How do you react when you have concerns about the gifts you receive? What is your favorite gift / memory?

Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and joyful Christmas.