A few random thoughts...
On December 1st, I began the Christmas journal. I think I mentioned it here way back then. I admit that I've been pretty faithful to it since then. It has been a challenging, but also thought-provoking activity for me. Shimelle's questions about presents, wrapping paper, memories of Christmas past, favorite holiday traditions, and dreams about future celebrations have brought smiles to my lips and tears to my eyes. I love this time of year, and this journal has helped me to appreciate it even more.
Today I wandered around Charlotte with Kristiana and Daniel, running errands, going to the library (twice), CVS, the pediatrician, and a few other places. We walked and talked, laughed and told stories, cried (at the doctor's office), and marveled at the tacky things for sale in our city.
And all the while, all the while,
I prayed for more rain. (Some rain is in the forecast for the weekend!)
I gave thanks for my two children and their great health.
I tried to imagine when I would pick up one more gift for Daniel and wrap everything.
I made plans for an upcoming trip - details to follow.
I thought about friends whose words of encouragement and love have touched me in deep ways lately: Karen, Lisa, Jen G, Jen L, Amy, Kim, Val, Dinah, Laura, Laurie, Shelby, Mel, Giovanna, Maya, Virginia, Jill, Mary, Katie, to name a few.
We came home and enjoyed a yummy vegetarian dinner. Then Kristiana and I went next door to spend time with the neighbors who make and consume more Christmas cookies than any other family I have ever known. K and I went over to help Robin and her daughter pick out five or six kinds of cookies for them to make - before Christmas. After Christmas, they will make another set of five or six kinds. (FYI - they are an extremely active and fit family - and they happen to LOVE cookies. They invite Kristiana over at Christmas time to help them bake, and in exchange, we are blessed with many plates of cookies to enjoy. Truthfully, they invite Kristiana over regularly for hours at a time to cook, play games, and simply hang out. This is the same woman who invites all the neighborhood families to her house for potluck dinners whenever there is a snowday. Admittedly, it doesn't happen often here in Charlotte, but when it does, we all head over for a feast at their place. They are the kind of neighbors that make living on a dead end street feel quite lively.)
Even as I sat with them, I felt a stream of gratitude flowing through my mind. Words of thanks for my immeasurably generous neighbors. Warmth in our home while so many are in the cold and dark in the midwest. Food in the pantry. Warm clothes in the closet. Shoes. Socks. Light bulbs. Scented candles and soaps. An odd collection of books and videos. Boxes of incense. Piles of photographs. Sensitive toothpaste. This computer. The camera that took the photos I share here on the blog.
Since returning home from next door, my mind has wandered back to the Christmas journal. To my early hopes that this Christmas would be different, more reflective, less hectic, more enjoyable, less consumeristic (is that even a word?). So far, those hopes have become my reality. More tea parties for one or two. Fewer trips to the mall. More time reading and creating artwork with Kristiana. Less worry about what others think of how I look and what I'm wearing.
Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) said she used to dream of having "a bigger, smaller life." When I first heard her say that, it made no sense to me. Now it makes perfect sense. I want to love bigger. Smile bigger. Laugh bigger. Have bigger friendships. Bigger dreams. Take bigger risks. Drink bigger mugs of earl gray tea. Shop smaller. Consume smaller. Live smaller. Eat smaller. Endure smaller disagreements. Withstand smaller emotional and spiritual crises. A big, small life.
The Christmas journal journey began 18 days ago.
It will continue until January 6th - another 19 days.
Many dreams have already come true.
Many hopes are yet to come to life.
Big dreams, small dreams.
Today I have a wonderful life.
Today I am thankful.
Today I am happy.
All is well.