Simple Pleasures

A good friend of mine gave me a beautiful reminder this morning, one that in the hustle and bustle of the season I’d forgotten.  If I’m to be brutally honest, I’d forgotten it long before that.  In the hurry of deadlines, the rush of last-minute due dates and children and babysitters, school and homework, husband and promotions, this one little thing slipped from my existence.  And this little thing?  It’s big…really big.

Remember the simple things.

I’m rushing to get presents, get a Christmas tree down from the attic and up, clean the house, bake cookies, get dinner made, plan for holiday parties, etc.  But thinking back to my childhood, what do I remember most about the holidays?

  • A story read in front of a picture window.
  • Handmade gifts I received that weren’t worth much monetarily, but priceless in the thought and effort that went into each gift.
  • Seeing the joy on the faces of those who appreciated the little gifts I made them.
  • Stringing popcorn for the wonky little Christmas tree
  • Singing carols with my brothers on the organ as my older brother played.
  • At the big family gatherings, I remember:
    • welcoming new babies from the past year
    • reminiscing over family who had passed away
    • commiserating over silly things while doing dishes.
    • amazement over how cousins had grown and changed, then as years passed, their children and grandchildren.

The things I remember and appreciate weren’t the things that I am stressing over now, nor are they the things that cost the most or were the latest ‘have-to-have-fad’.  They were a knit dress my mother bought me second hand, which I wore until it was threadbare and wouldn’t stretch any more, then it went on my dolls to dress them in love.  A little knit lamb (Lambie) that finally lost its fight against time.  The last Christmas I had with my mother when I was eight, and all the Christmases since with the rest of my family.  The crocheted blanket I made my then father-in-law that ended up so huge it could have passed for a carpet, was gratefully received and treasured.  The first Christmases with each of my children, and making patchwork stockings for each of them.  Holding hands with my husband and feeling that little tingle, even after all these years.

I don’t remember if the turkey was dry, or if the potatoes weren’t quite done, or if the decorations were perfectly spaced.  Or if there was apple pie instead of pumpkin, tablecloths or sheets, china or paper plates. Those things are fleeting and don’t matter in the long run.

“Look for the pictures in the clouds.”

This is what my friend reminded me of.  Those days laying in the yard on a blanket with the kids, pointing out pictures in the clouds and laughing at each others’ imaginations.  Squinting into the light to try and see the fluffy animals and fierce dragons through the eyes of the person next to you.

Simple things.  The laughter of a child, the warmth of a small body snuggling next to you, the excited voice of an imagination sparked with promise.  I’d forgotten in my headlong rush for improvement, completion, and production, that it isn’t what you’ve accomplished, how rich you become, or how successful you have been, if you pass by the things that are the most precious to reminisce about.

Today, while I didn’t look at the clouds with my kids (it was still cold and wet from all the storms), we played games and drew funny stories on the computer with a graphics pad while they did homework.  We made it fun.  It went by quickly and without complaints, and hopefully it will remain in their memories as one of the fun things of their childhood and school.  I know it will remain a favored memory of mine.

Thank you, Jax, for reminding me of the things that matter.  Including good friends who will kick you in the butt when you need it.

Happy Holidays everyone, and I hope you remember to make memories that you’ll cherish forever.

This blog post is dedicated to my Aunt Annabelle, who passed away this afternoon after a long battle with Alzheimers.  I will always remember her as the fun, quirky aunt who could spin yarn from sheep’s wool, whip up a huge family get together in nothing flat, and who appreciated the things in life that really mattered.  Safe journey, dear woman.  Your time here will be cherished by all who remain.

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