This past weekend, I was making Christmas cookies with my family. It’s one of our holiday traditions, and we have done it ever since my kids were very young. Whether we celebrate the holidays at home with just the four of us or visit our families who live far away, making cookies is always part of the fun. Every year, the kids especially enjoy selecting which cookie cutters they are going to use. Sometimes, it’s an angel, a tree, a stocking, or even Santa Claus. (This year the most popular was the giant gingerbread man.) Now that the kids are a little older, they select their cookie cutters carefully so they can make as many cookies as possible out of a single piece of dough. It’s actually pretty fun to watch. After the cookies are baked, then comes the best part – frosting them. Excitedly, they get to work and more frosting ends up in their mouths than on the cookies. This year, we almost didn’t have enough to finish the whole batch! But who can blame them? If frosting is delicious, you have to eat it, right? After the frosting comes the sprinkles. And, of course, they have to use lots of them! I’ve realized it wouldn’t feel like Christmas without flour, frosting, sprinkles, and extra dough spread all around the kitchen. That’s part of what makes Christmas special!
This past week, my husband and I saw an interesting sight. We were walking on the beach, as we have done so many times before, when we saw two long tubes about eighteen inches in diameter resting side-by-side that stretched for about a mile down the shoreline. The black, pliable tubes definitely stood out among the picturesque landscape, and we wondered what they were for. Glancing further down the beach, we saw a man in a John Deere Wheel Loader pushing the tubes with the large bucket in an attempt to straighten them. Curious, we walked toward the “big rig” hoping we could find out what was going on. The man chatted with us for a few minutes and explained that the town was planning to dredge the nearby river and pipe the sand (mixed with water) to the beach in order to help with the erosion that was occurring along the shoreline. It sounded like a pretty good plan to us!
I love watching the energy of young children. They play, laugh, and giggle with pure joy, never concerned with what others may think, never caring if their creations are perfect. They simply enjoy the act of creating something beautiful in their own eyes. Their thoughts and actions are completely uninhibited. They live every part of their lives from the heart, open and free. For them, anything is possible because the end results don’t matter. Their joy comes from creating, expressing, and loving others. They are being who they were made to be. They are truly free.
This past week I was discussing the busyness of the holiday season with
a friend of mine. She mentioned she had gone on a silent retreat years ago.
While on this retreat, she didn’t speak for two weeks – which I thought was
pretty amazing (and somewhat appealing to an introvert like me). She said that
although she didn’t remember much specifically about it, there was one thing
that still stuck with her. One of the leaders on the retreat shared with the
group his early morning ritual of mediating, reflecting, and praying before his
day began. He never missed his morning routine and considered it a crucial
starting point to his day. While he was sharing, one of the people on the
retreat asked him how he prayed or responded during tragic world events. (The
9/11 tragedy had happened only a few weeks earlier.) He responded that when he
was faced with a world tragedy or an extremely busy day, he got up even earlier
in the morning, so he could have extra time to mediate and pray for those in
need. It was his way of helping them. His meditation time grounded him so he
could stay centered to pray for others and better face the busyness of his own
As I thought about celebrating Thanksgiving this week, one word came to my mind – tradition. Sitting around a table filled with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, mac and cheese (for the vegetarians in the house) and pumpkin pie, I reflected upon the things I’m most grateful for. It’s part of my Thanksgiving tradition.