Tuesday, December 6, 2016


I have this silly game I play when I go to Costco. It started when I reluctantly bought a membership because the cost savings were significant enough for our family of people who like to eat food. (More and more food, ever increasing). I resisted because Costco just felt so ... industrial, devoid of joy, stark, and where the grumpiest of people converge on Saturdays to bump carts and growl at each other. I invented a game where I try to smile at everyone in there: The people giving out samples, the people who drive their cart right into me because they weren't looking, the people who growl at me because, I don't know, they are angry at life?

The Costco angry shopper syndrome spreads this time of year. I do most of my holiday shopping online to both avoid the stores full of bustle and to ensure I make my purchases thoughtfully. My budget means I can't buy everything I see in a store that would be so awesome or funny to open or that makes us remember that time we did something funny. Do you pick up on grumpy shopper vibes, too? In line, definitely at the post office, in busy grocery stores, on evenings or weekends at any store in December. I avoid when I can, because the syndrome can be contagious.  

Horse-drawn sleigh ride, anyone?

I read a great piece this week reminding us to be a little more quiet and reflective in December. The origins of the season (and some of the most beautiful Christmas songs) were rooted in a stillness, a peace cultivated by closing out all the noise and focusing on that warm feeling in my chest I like to think of as my light. It resonated with me. I feel myself clawing, searching desperately for answers every December when I feel stress and overwhelming thoughts of being a mother at Christmastime. It all starts to add up. It happens every year. I look to God, I look to role models, I look for guidance and try to stave off the encroaching grumpiness of holiday shopper/consumer/parenting roles. 

What I need is to be still. In the quiet, remember what it's about, for me. My girls smiling faces and the magic of Santa Claus. The spirit of giving and involving their naturally generous hearts in the process. In being in the kitchen, any kitchen, preparing food with friends and family. In the light of a candle on a dark night and the space to think. To let myself cry when I'm driving down the highway to be on time for gymnastics class because O Holy Night is playing and I just can't help but feel its beauty. To enjoy outdoor activities because the rosy cheeks and fresh air are always worth the effort.

Everything we need to settle into December is right here. It is behind the curtain of wants and shopping and holiday grumpiness. It is peace. Not always quiet (who lives with five people and finds enough quiet?), but joyful. Then can I remember to pause and reflect. Stop and check in with myself. Find that still, small voice telling me what I need to remember. That offering a smile that has come from a place of deep breaths, peace and recognition is always needed, in a time of many wants and wishes. 

"It was only a sunny smile, and it cost little in the giving, 
but like morning light, it scattered the night,  
and made the day worth living." 
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Consider this my to-do list

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