Tag Archives: Christmas

Slowing Down

December of Yes.jpg

December 2018 ~ A December of “Yes!”

“Don’t wish your life away.”  Among dozens of quotes I remember from my grandmother, that one sticks with me and forces me to keep going.  Lately, I’ve realized I’ve been rushing around so much, trying to do everything all at once to the point I am not as effective as I could be.

I know what I want out of life:  why don’t I have it already?  I’ve put in the hours and made the sacrifices.  It isn’t enough.  I am so busy keeping it all from falling to pieces that I’m going too quickly to the next big thing:  A squirrel trying to beat a blue jay at its own game at the bird feeder during a February deep freeze.  It’s time to slow down and get it right.

So, what does it all mean?  It means I am old enough to realize that some things take time to get right.  There are times when shortcuts hinder you.

This past fall, I decided to say “yes” to as many things as possible.  Even though I haven’t read Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes yet, the concept would not let me go.  I took it to the next level in December in an attempt to stave off seasonal depression and recapture all of what I love about Christmas.  The results were … mixed.

Slow Down Quotes.jpg

I loved every minute of each and every thing I did in December.  I cherished every minute with my niece and nephews, my siblings and their significant others, my parents, extended family, and friends.  But, there comes a time when you question your sanity. Are we doing this because we “should” or are we doing this because we truly want to?  It is a legitimate question – and it deserves a full answer.

So, did it work?  Yes, I had a ton of fun.  Yes, I made a tons of memories with my family. But, I also came to the conclusion that less is more at times.  Maybe I don’t need to go to two Christmas teas – although I probably will again next year.  In the end, certain events were skipped.  None of us can do it all.

Ever since January 1st, I’ve thought long and hard about how I want to approach this experiment going forward.  As much as I disliked having so many snow days this year and sitting around being unable to work for a good chunk of January and February, it forced me to slow down.  It forced me to rethink how I want to approach things this spring and moving forward.

Now, of course, I have the opposite problem – and probably will each spring the rest of my working life.  Everything seems to happen at once.  We are in the midst of getting ready for season #60 at the canoe livery, I’m subbing every day, and I will soon start a long-term subbing position that won’t end until early June.  In midst of it all, I am ramping up the job search – a teaching position for next school year – and trying to once and for all get writing.  I can do this.  It is time to get intentional and concentrate on what truly matters.  I need to slow down.

Study Abroad 5.jpg

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa's House

Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa’s House – 1985

I love tradition.  As a child, it meant everything.  As important as tradition is, why is it so much more important this time of year?  Why are Christmas traditions so sacred?  Growing up, most years of my childhood, if you gave me a time from say 4 PM on December 23rd to 5 PM on December 25th, I could easily give you an idea of what I would be doing with my family.  Last year, Christmas 2014, was the first Christmas Eve of my life not spent at my Grandma and Grandpa Buttrick’s house (that includes my first Christmas Eve at six days old).  Grandma B. passed away in 2014, and as much as we all dreaded Christmas without her, we started a few new traditions, including a Christmas Eve get together at my parents’ house with aunts and cousins and attending Christmas Eve service at the church where my parents were married.  I love the fact that my nephews and niece are young enough that they will grow up with these new traditions.

Of course, we included many of the old traditions as well.  We still celebrate the Night-Before, the Night-Before (the evening of December 23rd) at my aunt and uncle’s house in Standish.  My brother, sister, and I, along with families, still spend Christmas Eve at our parents’ house.  We still have cinnamon French toast and sausage for Christmas breakfast and a wonderful turkey dinner later in the day.  It still takes us half the day to open presents, partly due to the fact that there are quite a few of us and partly due to the fact that we like to lounge around (yes, even my young nephews!).  It is still always a toss-up as to whether or not we’ll get to watch old home movies Christmas night.

So, as I get ready for the next few days of love and laughter, Merry Christmas!  I hope yours is as full of faith, family, and fun as mine will be.

Waiting for Santa - 1984

Waiting for Santa – 1984

Christmas Memories: Santa is Real

Several years ago now I decided to write about one of my favorite Christmas memories that also happens to be a favorite birthday memory.  I thought it would share it again this evening.

santa_claus 1

The real Santa once came to my birthday party.  About 7 PM he rang the doorbell.  I couldn’t imagine who it could be.  Lee and Elizabeth, Emily and Abby, Danielle and Jennifer, Lois, Lori, Mark, and even my little sister were all there.  In fact, we’d been running around fueled up on pop, pizza, and German chocolate cake, not to mention candy, for the last half hour at least.  As the birthday girl, I wanted to answer the door personally.  I slowly opened the front door only to see Santa in all of red and white glory, big black belt and all.  I couldn’t believe it!  Somehow I must have been a very good girl to receive a personal visit from Santa on my birthday, his busiest time of year, the week before Christmas.

As he settled down to hold court in our formal living room, I looked out the window into our back yard.  Dozens of beautiful whitetail deer!  Deer in my big back yard were not an uncommon sight.  My Dad left the deer a big pile of sugar beets just outside the kitchen window.  We often found little impressions of their nose prints on the French doors in the living room.  But something was different that night.  I had never seen so many deer in my back yard!  They were beautiful playing in the mid-December starlight, their breath hanging in the air.  Magic.

Where were the reindeer?  And Rudolph?  They had to be there.  Why else would all the whitetails come out to play?  It didn’t matter.  I didn’t need any more convincing.  The real Santa somehow knew exactly where Lindsey Jenelle Russell, newly age 7, lived.  At the moment he had her little sister Erica, almost 4, seated on his lap in their very living room.  It was time to get down to business.

It was finally my turn to sit on Santa’s lap.  As Mom and Dad looked on, I whispered in Santa’s ear what I wanted most that Christmas.  I couldn’t help myself.  That year I wanted another Cabbage Patch Kid doll.  I couldn’t get enough of them.  They were cute, they were the perfect size for a dolly, and they even came with their own adoption papers, not to mention great names like Marlena, Isabella, and Crispin.  How could I resist?

After whispering my Christmas wish to Santa I gave him a big hug, a simple way to thank him for coming to my birthday party.  I’m not sure if I remembered my manners and actually said “thank you.”  I hope Santa considered a hug good manners.  How do you say thank you when someone makes your birthday party so special you remember it decades later?  No, “thank you” wasn’t enough.

That Christmas I did get a Cabbage Patch doll.  Maybe Santa is real after all.  Before Santa held court at my birthday party, I’d had my doubts.  Of course, I couldn’t let Erica know.  She was still a Little Kid.  The same Little Kid, of course, who spotted the Tooth Fairy right outside our bedroom window.  My Mom, Dad, and I, much to our amusement, spent a leisurely weekend breakfast listening to Erica describe in detail her beautiful dress, crown, and wand.  I was happy to know that my little sister could dream too.  Big Kids knew that you could never ever catch a glimpse of the Tooth Fairy.  Ever.

Years later I learned Santa’s true identity.  He goes by the name Edwards, and believe it or not, his actual birthday is Christmas day.  He still “plays” Santa from time to time.  As an adult I’ve come to suspect that Mr. Edwards is one of those rare people who truly get the real meaning of Christmas.  He knows it isn’t about toys, gadgets, and money.  It can’t be purchased at the mall.  It is simply creating wonderful memories for children of all ages and spending time with family and friends.  Knowing the truth makes my memories that much sweeter.

Lindsey and Erica

Lindsey and Erica

santa 2