It’s a good thing
Ahhh… are you enjoying the collective sigh of relief, that is January?
Do you hear that? Quiet.
Do you feel that? Longer days.
Do you see that? A fresh calendar.
I know it’s generally cold and miserable outside, but the calm and stillness of January are palpable. My real children have returned. You know the lovable ones that aren’t all hopped-up on sugar, super late bedtimes and holiday meltdowns. It took them days to unwind. A week maybe. Day by day as the get-togethers waned and the colds we fought lifted, I could feel us unwinding, spiraling out of the holiday hustle we had been two-stepping through. And it feels really, really good. Even as I sit here and write this, I’m breathing slower and my mind feels like an open expanse again. Decompressed. Taking in new ideas. As my girl Martha would say, “It’s a good thing.”
I opened up my new black leather planner last week and delighted in the crisp white lined pages. We have nowhere to be, but getting back into the old groove of a familiar routine and the simple joys of doing whatever we feel like in our free time because our schedule is open. Sunday after church we stopped by our local coffee house to enjoy a cup of coffee and a treat for the boys. It was so nice to just relax and not rush. The boys played with some toys nearby, while Jason & I actually drank our entire cups of coffee, hot all the way through.
As much as I adore the holidays, having small children has really turned everything on its head for me. I started to feel a pit in my stomach each time a well-meaning adult politely warned the boys about the omnipresent Santa Claus only giving gifts to the “good” boys and girls, not the “bad” ones. When in reality it is more like the families with means vs. the families without. So, if they didn’t put away their toys or say thank you at dinner, well sorry kiddo, the benevolent Mr. Claus is cutting you off. No reindeer express from the north pole shipping Santa down your chimney.
Maybe this is effective, but when it starts the day after Thanksgiving and goes on for weeks, which in kid time is like forever, it doesn’t feel good to me because it didn’t feel good to them. Santa’s quid pro quo arrangement didn’t feel fun and magical to me, it felt sort of manipulative and a little exhausting. Am I being too sensitive? Maybe. But maybe if I was a little exasperated, the odds are the boys, especially Jack, were too.
Reading through “Twas the night before Christmas” at bedtime, setting out cookies for Santa and making gifts for loved ones felt special and enriching. Showing the boys the nativity and talking about baby Jesus’s birthday felt inspiring and beneficial. Consequential. Finding the right balance between the excitement of Santa and the celebration of the infant King may have been what instigated the parental two-step Jason & I were unknowingly engaged in. I’m seeing that more clearly in my rearview mirror now.
It’s refreshing to contemplate new projects, read new books and fill up on all the other inspirations that abound. As adults we may not get a fresh box of crayolas and a new book bag at the start of each school year, but we do get a new calendar year, maybe for some of you it’s a new fiscal year. A badly needed reset button once every 365 days. A let’s go back to zero and decide if we really want to keep playing the game of life the way we’ve been playing it.
It seems more often than not, it feels good to pull back the reigns in January and decide less is more. Simplicity is good. Now I understand why my sister-in-law was touting the benefits of having all white linens. White sheets, white bath towels, white kitchen rags. Everything matches, goes in the same wash load and can be bleached. Simple. I’m not very good at simple, but I’m working on it.
Sunday morning I wrote these words down before they faded and disappeared, like so many quiet whispers do. I would do well to repeat these to myself this year. A little affirmation to be brave and remain flexible.
Bend to new knowledge. Lean in to the things I need to change.
Rejoice in new inspiration and share your gifts.
Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. Remember that everyone starts somewhere.
Glennon from Momastery wrote this beautiful essay called Jump in December and I reread it again last night. If you have a bottled up hope or dream tucked away in your innermost heart somewhere, read this. She’ll inspire you to jump and to share. My favorite line, “I am unsure of what your lack of readiness has to do with the fact that the world needs the little miracle that only YOU can perform. The world needs you to use your gift – ready or not.” And this, this just makes me laugh. “Yes- I’m looking at YOU, SISTER. And you and you and YES, YOU, there in the kitchen covered with baby spit up. Especially you. Actually never mind- you’re off the hook. Nobody with kids under the age of five has to use any of her damn gifts ever. You forget all of this. Just SURVIVE, you. Reread in many years.”
Our gifts plus experiences build on each other in beautiful ways. So whatever your gifts are, share them, don’t hide them. The world needs them and you.
And, what’s a finding joy post without some January joy pictures?
One of Jamison’s favorite places to be. He crawls into his daddy’s childhood barn, throws out all the trucks and tractors parked in the haymow out the window, clears the bottom space out and climbs in. He thinks this is hysterical. I do, too.
Playing library with friends, checking out the books.
Love this girl, seriously, what a ham. This pose – straight out of the flapper era.
One of the benefits of having a cowboy themed room – lots of hats to share with friends.
Baking with my boys again
And remember that ornament wreath I made last weekend? Well, I did actually get around to making some gift tags for next year out of the old ornament boxes. The larger ones I thought could be used as bookmarks, too, since the boxes were heavier weight.
Smile friends, we’re midweek, midmonth and midstream.
For my Princess Bride loving friends: “Go forth and have fun storming the castle.”