With the holidays fast approaching it seems that seconds are flying by faster than pumpkin pie lattes through the fingers of a barista. And while I’ve gotten a running start on November’s festivities, tearing articles from Real Simple Magazine and Martha Stewart with preemptive excitement, I’m taking this pause now to remind myself of the ‘why’. To remind myself that if frenzy is creeping in now, while I’m still buzzing from the Halloween sugar rush, it’s time to hit pause and enjoy the changing scenery before it overtakes me and I wake up, dazed, in 2012.
Tonight, as the season begins, I’m putting down the meal planner and instead taking note of the weather freshening, fog slipping around the corner of our cul-de-sac. The sudden gust of wind that sends my hands plunging deep into the folds of my jacket or scarf, that ruffles the hair of my sons and ushers crisp leaves to the ground. I’m lighting a fire and tucking into fuzzy worn out slippers, snuggling up with the kids on the couch despite our TV-on-weekends-only rule. I’m setting aside the computer in favor of pumpkin carving, my to-do list in favor of family time. I’m enjoying the short-lived wonderment of California fall and the magic of our cooling ocean air.
From within this autumnal cocoon I am constructing a modicum of hope that tomorrow, when I face the do’s, should’s, and must’s scribbled in ink upon our November family calendar, I might gracefully endure that inevitable sinking feeling, the pit in my stomach, the churning internal battle between anticipation and distress.
Nope, scratch that.
From within this autumnal cocoon I am constructing a monument to hope, a definitive plan to preserve all that I hold dear during this, the most ‘thankful’ and ‘giving’ month of the year.
Because while I am acutely aware that the choice we make is to fill the holiday season with friends and spirit and all that we love, I also realize that our precious downtime, no matter how diminutive it may be, must now serve double duty. As my children grow older and time becomes harder to claim and impossible to reclaim, I’m beginning to understand the value of the precious in-between. Those tiny happenings that surprise us in unforgettable, restorative, and healing ways we never knew we needed.
So in reverence to these moments – unplanned and extraordinary – and to safeguard some degree of sanity throughout it all, I am creating an action plan this season. For myself, for my family…well, mostly for myself. And you can join me too, if you like. Strength in numbers! Oh right, sanity. Here goes:
I will breathe deeply, even if the cold air makes my lungs hurt. I’ll hug completely, with my whole self, because I mean it. I’ll be present in every single waking moment with precious family and friends. I’ll talk with my kids in the car, instead of playing Justin Bieber; but if the radio is on, I’ll make sure we’re all singing along. We’ll cook often, and together. Help one another. I’ll search for peace within the frenetic hustle and bustle. I will be kind. If I love someone, I’ll tell them. If I appreciate someone, I’ll show them. Like giving my husband back scratches if he goes to sleep before me. I will take more family photos. And above all, this year I’m going to find time within those lofty little seconds. Enough time that when it’s all said and done, what I’ll remember isn’t the number and pounds of turkeys I roasted, but the tiny in-betweens that I lost track of counting.