“Mini Holidays” Help Us Celebrate Life and Keep Us Moving Forward

We tend to prioritize Christmas, Easter and Independence Day over holidays that we don’t get off work or school, such as the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

Rightly so. When we’re celebrating our country or our God, such holidays should take precedence.See the source imageAlthough many grumble about the so-called “Hallmark Holidays” – those that we spend on but keep working through – I fully embrace them. I’ll even put up a few decorations, albeit nothing like the winter wonderlands we all erect for Christmas. I like the little joys the mini-holidays bring.

I forgot this truth about myself as I grumpily walked through a store the week after Christmas.

Wandering the aisles on December 28th, I saw the line up of Valentine’s, a few Shamrocks and a couple of cotton tails. Although I admittedly grunted out loud because I couldn’t locate clearance Christmas wrap, I quickly shrugged off my silly disappointment and embraced the idea of moving forward.See the source image

Momentarily mesmerized by the glittery Valentine cards, I thought of my friend who we lost three years ago. The month before she met Jesus, she was talking about the trip we were about to go on together. It was her entire family of about 15 and us closest friends and our families, totaling around 27 for a week in the Outer Banks. As we finalized a few details, she looked at me solemnly and said, “I’m afraid that when we get back from this trip, I will decline rapidly…I’m looking forward to this but realistically, I probably won’t make it to Christmas.” She was thinking about the next big celebration. The anticipated vacation to North Carolina had kept her moving forward.

That was in June. She passed away in July, shortly after we all returned from that final trip together.

I don’t know why my mind goes to such deep places so quickly while merely rummaging through pretty things at a store🤔, but it gave me perspective. Retailers prematurely stocking shelves for holidays that don’t happen for months is a silly thing to grunt about. These little holidays keep us moving forward. Nothing wrong with spending a few short minutes staring at a sea of sparkling red in one aisle, green in the next and happy, fuzzy bunnies in the third aisle. We can enjoy a little pretty inside stores and our homes when the world outside is sometimes ugly.

I agree that the constant “too-early” merchandise displays are annoying and if we let them, they can rob us of living and enjoying the moment or truly, completely enjoying whatever holiday season it may be. I resist the retailers’ psychological ploy intended to create urgency that we “better get the stuff now” – 2 months ahead of time – when what we have stored in the basement is no doubt already more than we need.

However, I choose to buy candy hearts and expensive chocolates for my February 14th kitchen table, rejoicing that I have people to love and spoil. I put up shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day and decorate for Easter with the holy reminders along with big, stuffed bunnies. Who doesn’t feel better after squishing a soft, cuddly bunny? 🙂

The Superbowl tomorrow, MLB kickoff in March, NHL playoffs after that…these too give our families reasons to gather and eat and celebrate life. Some may scoff, but if such celebrations bring a little joy amidst the mundane and routine, why not?See the source image

(Click on images for source(s).)

Gratitude – For All Things New

New beginnings…

Resolutions…

Fresh journals with white, crisp pages waiting to be written on…

A stack of unread books ready to fill cold, winter nights…

January is a chance for a clean start…

I am grateful that His mercies are new each day!

Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)

I am grateful that we can have everything new…whenever we meet with Him.

Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEV)

HAPPY 2019 TO YOU!

Shhh…I’ve Been Doing “Nothing”!

Thayer Allyson Gowdy, via Real Simple

Thayer Allyson Gowdy, via Real Simple

My husband and I are both “A-” personalities. I know a few true type-A’s, and while I might admire their daily sanitized and shining kitchen floors, that’s not happening in my house! Therefore, I’m an A- to a B+ on most days. I share this with you to illustrate the truth that I am not the sort to “rest” during the day or “do nothing”.

 

So, you can imagine how I was reeling last year reading Martha Beck’s book, The Joy Diet. (This is mentioned in my June 2013 post, My Mid 40’s Identity Crisis.)  The book describes 10 activities (“menu items”) that if practiced daily, will lead to joy and help you discover your true purpose or career. Out of 10 daily practices, her #1 instruction to the reader is to “do nothing” at least 15 minutes a day.  Usually when someone wants to embark on a new career or unearth their true purpose, they are expecting to take action, not “do nothing”!

 

Before I read any words that followed menu item #1, I judged the “do nothing” recommendation as absurd. However, the further I read, the wiser her advice seemed. Even though it sounded great, I didn’t practice it for long.

 

That was, until January 1st, 2014. Something changed in my New Year’s routine. I didn’t plan it, nor did I feel entirely guilt-free as I practiced it. I didn’t expect it to continue, but it did – all month long. What is the “it”? Doing nothing. Often. In fact, sometimes more than twice a day. I thought it might be due to the two preceding months of holiday entertaining. But, after a couple of weeks of resting several times each day, I was plenty refreshed from the long Christmas season of serving. I was almost relieved two weeks ago when I came down with a cold, giving me an excuse to “do nothing” in between my hours of “doing something”!

 

This January, I found myself on three mornings waving goodbye to the kids at 7:20am, and (gulp) I crawled back into bed. I couldn’t fall asleep, but…I rested.  On several days, after chores, grading papers, checking emails, and the like, I sat on the couch. I didn’t turn on the television and I turned off my cell phone. I wasn’t tired. I just…did nothing. Can I tell you that typing this truth feels like I’m sharing something scandalous?!

 

One day I watched snow blow outside my window at 25 miles an hour for 15 minutes. Another day I sat in a chair staring at the family room curtains. I pondered how long it had been since I’d washed and rehung them. No, I didn’t take them down and toss them in the washer. On my daughter’s piano lesson day, when I usually blitz through the grocery store, I waited for her in the car and closed my eyes. I actually laughed out loud one afternoon, stunned by my own indulgence.

 

Normally, the only time in January I stop moving is to drop exhausted into bed. It’s a busy month in our house. My top 4 “usual” January activities look something like this:

 

  1. Make all returns at stores for my kids and all grandparents by January 3rd. This year? One lingering return bag for American Eagle is still sitting on my dining room floor.
  2. Throw my twins a family birthday party, followed by separate friend parties by the second week of January. Have I been that crazy for 17 years? This year? My daughter just had hers on Friday night and my son is still waiting….!
  3. Tear down all Christmas decorations, pack up over a 100 tree ornaments, re-organize the boxes in the basement, search out and vacuum every pine needle by January 5th. This year? Various ornaments lingered around until mid-January and after cursing my “do nothing” habit every time I hopped around with a needle stuck in my foot, I finally got into the nooks and crannies, vacuuming them all!
  4. Organize closets in all bedrooms. This year? I walked into each closet, and then walked out. I sat down on the closest bed and did nothing but stare into the closet for 15 minutes! Then, I got up and left. I suppose that will be my February project (when I limit my “do nothing” habit to the allotted 15 minutes a day).

 

The fascinating outcome is that for all of my “do nothing” time, I actually started an exercise routine. I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions this year, but I’ve kept up with the dreaded sweat-fest 4x a week. I’ve read a book. This is a big accomplishment for busy Moms. Being me, I also almost feel a little mischievous, like I’m … gulp again … enjoying myself. If you’ve read anything I’ve posted, you already know I’m a bit of a deep-thinker, humor-challenged, and this “do nothing” experiment became “fun”, the further into January I traveled.

 

So, in conclusion, my do-nothing adventure was quite unintentional. I hadn’t thought about Beck’s book until I was well into the do-nothing habit. I’m not sure how long I’ll continue, but what I’ve observed is that the house didn’t come tumbling down, everyone still had clothes, food and water, and Mom just happens to be a little more relaxed this New Year!