*In my December blog post, I shared how the greatest gift you could give yourself over the holiday season was realistic expectations. This is part two of One of the Best Gifts NOT Under Your Tree and a gift I hope to give my family more consistently in 2016.
I couldn't remember the last time I went to bed before midnight.
For weeks, a collection of circumstances had carved out a later bedtime for me and I couldn't get my body to adjust. Things like an unwelcome stomach bug, traveling, working, a handful of family birthdays, setting up our new home and getting ready for the holidays as a mama of two pushed me to my nocturnal limits and I found myself continually crawling into bed in the wee hours of the morning.
There was just too much to do and those uninterrupted nighttime hours seemed the best time to tackle my endless list.
However, just because I had a new schedule didn't mean my family had followed suit.
When my tiny alarms woke me up in the morning, my eyelids would barely open and I found myself walking through the day like a zombie and dozing off in the oddest places. I barely remember any of the conversations my husband and I had during that time as focus was not my strong suit. I couldn't speak until my nose picked up the faintest trace of coffee. Then I would remember I have a couple of kiddos who would appreciate my attention, even if it was to simply pop on Daniel Tiger or slice an apple.
It was challenging. It still is challenging.
Being a stay-at-home, keeper-of-the-home, 'momprenuer' continually provides opportunities for good 'ol fashion juggling and balance. The need for connection and distraction and doing can take my focus off what is most important - during the holidays and all year long...
Being present with my family and more invested in them than all the other extracurricular distractions.
As I unpacked my Christmas decor, I couldn't stop shaking the feeling that something was off this year.
Why wasn't the season feeling more magical?
What else can I do to make it more jolly?
Why can't I seem to get the house in order?
When does mommy get to take a nap?
Where is the coffee?
So many doing things kept lingering in my mind.
Then I ran across the Christmas tree 'cookies.'
For those who don't know, a Christmas tree 'cookie' us a wooden slice taken from the bottom of the Christmas tree at the time of the first trim. For the past couple of years, we have specifically asked to have about a 1-2 inch slice cut and bring it home as a memento of the year. On it, we write our names, the date and where we are living that particular year. It's a snapshot, an early-stage tradition I hope will last for years to come.
I ran my fingers over the freshly cut tree wood and began writing on the slice that would represent 2015. The distinct difference between this year's cookie and last's was that instead of three names listed, there were now four.
That reality made me pause. Made me still.
In that moment, something inside of me clicked. I realized, if I wasn't careful, I might miss the opportunity to rejoice over my youngest daughter's first Christmas experience - an experience I didn't know if she would have back in March when her tiny body was in distress and she had to be delivered via an emergency c-section. If I wasn't careful, I might miss the opportunity to be thankful for our new home - the first home my husband and I ever purchased together, in such a wonderful and welcoming neighborhood. If I wasn't careful, I might miss out on the memory of my oldest daughter peeking out the window every single night to see our neighborhood all lit up in a vast array of Christmas colors and squealing with delight each and every time, as if it was the first time she was seeing the displays. If I wasn't careful, I might miss the sacredness of the season - when love and light was birthed into the world for the redemption of all mankind.
If I wasn't careful, if I wasn't present, I would miss it.
If I wasn't present, I would miss being able to give my littles and my husband what they really wanted most for Christmas...me.
Don't get me wrong, I love jumping into the festive hustle and bustle of the season. I love the excitement happening all around me - excitement happening because of a lot of doing. However, the best gift I can give my household is joy and peace and love. That comes from being. Being present, being in the moment, being available to them because they are my first priority.
So simple. Such impact.
This not only applies to Christmas, it applies year round. This year, I want to make it my resolution to A) have realistic expectations for myself as a mom and, B) be present with the ones I love. Saying 'no' some times to some things for the greater 'yes' of being present.
It is the best gift NOT under the tree, and the greatest gift I could resolve to give them in the new year.