The Voice of Reason

There’s no point in denying it:  I’m a creature of habit.  When I shop for new clothes, I usually come home with outfits that are essentially new versions of the worn-out clothes that I’m replacing.  People are often shocked when they learn that I’ve been a volunteer dog walker at a local shelter for almost twenty years, but it seems normal to me.  I’m perfectly happy going on our annual Florida vacation each year, and my husband and I eat at our favorite restaurant so often that the manager not only knows us by name, he also knows our preferred choice of wine.

IMG_0631And things just get worse when Christmas rolls around.  I drag out the same decorations each year and place them where I always have always placed them.  OccasionaIly I get daring and add something new or give away a decoration I no longer care for, but if I look at photos of our Christmas celebrations in the past ten years or so, my house looks basically the same.   There’s just something about Christmas that makes me embrace tradition even more that I usually do, and I guess that’s why I was really looking forward to the holidays this year, because it meant I could get back to my “normal” celebrations.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans…..they really do “often go astray.”  At least where I live, the pandemic is under much better control than it was last year, but it’s still a factor that has to be considered in our celebrations.  Beyond that, our daughter was expecting her second child in mid-December.  Not knowing when the baby would actually arrive and how comfortable my daughter and son-in-law will feel being a part of family celebrations means we won’t be able to make our usual plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year.  “We’ll see how it goes” has become our new mantra, and rightly so.

And while I understood that our family traditions couldn’t be guaranteed this year, I still clung to the idea that all of my other Christmas traditions would proceed as normal.  Never mind that this resulted in a schedule that became so hectic I couldn’t possibly keep up with it, I stubbornly refused to cancel even a single gathering or commitment.  It’s the Christmas season, so I had to carry on as normal, right?

Luckily, I have a friends who are not only willing to confront me with truths I’m not willing to admit to myself, but they are able to do it with tact and kindness.  It takes a special sort of person to be able to say to you, “What in the world are you thinking?  You can’t possibly manage all this!” in such a way that I not only took no offense, but actually believed cancelling a few of my commitments was my idea.

As we move into what is often a far too hectic holiday season, my hope is that we all have that friend who will gently speak the truth to us.  Because we need to hear, and believe, that it really is okay to slow down and simply enjoy the season, doing only what doesn’t feel like “too much.”  And maybe, if we’re really lucky, that’s a truth that will stick with us well into the new year……

58 thoughts on “The Voice of Reason

  1. Anne, I seem to recall hearing this message every X-mass I can recall. “Slow down, appreciate things.” I took early retirement to take time for me and mine and I am glad I did. I am telling you right now, take care of those around you and tell people you love them and do any damn thing you want to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Life often has a way of making us slow down and take another look, whether it be a pandemic or personal tragedy. We all need to pay attention to what is important in life, that being family time, memories, experiences and moments rather than stuff. Covid is forcing us all to be more flexible, accommodating and more willing to change how we celebrate time together. After all is said and done, nobody will remember if everything was perfect, they will only recall memories of time spent together. Happy Christmas, however it turns out Ann. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Janis! Isn’t it funny how easy it is to buy into the idea that the holidays need to be a mad rush of shopping, doing, and running around in general? And once we give that all up, they are so much more meaningful….

      Like

  3. my mother was like you, she had to attend every possible function, cook, prepare, etc. Not even a diplomatic friend or visit from someone close could not make her miss her many parties picnics and luncheons … I would be exhausted just hearing her schedule.

    Life is too short to run at that hectic pace so I do pray you have learnt a lesson 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Most of us are creatures of habit. I suspect this element has seeds of faithfulness also. There is nothing wrong in craving for things that regale us. Yet, as you say, you can’t have it all at the same time and you do need the voice of reason to warn you of upcoming tangles. That is an important takeaway from your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! There is a lot to be enjoyed, and it’s normal to want to “have it all.” But as you say, we need to pick and choose how we spend our time so that we don’t get all tangled up in conflicting demands on our time. And sometimes we need someone else to point that out for us, I think. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The routine of tradition I think must bring comfort and security. Something very lovely about the same well loved decorations coming out each year and then being stored away. Makes me feel a bit nostalgic for that kind of tradition, as being nomadic it’s not something I’ve been able to do but I certainly appreciate the value in it.

    Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season and congratulations on the soon to be arrival of a new family member! How v exciting!

    Peta

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Peta!! There is value in tradition, I think. The trick is not to try to uphold traditions that simply don’t work for us anymore, or even temporarily. My friend helped me see that, and I’m grateful. And believe me, there is a part of me that envies your nomadic life!

      Like

  6. How blessed you are, Ann, to have such a kind, honest, caring friend who’ll tell you the truth you need to hear! We should all be so fortunate. Yes, we hop onto that treadmill of holiday activity even before Thanksgiving — and somebody cranks up the speed every day until we’ve exhausted ourselves. That’s no way to celebrate the season! Slowing down, figuring out what’s important, sharing time with those we love — that feels more right in my book.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I understand what you are saying! We had always celebrated Christmas in very much the same way (resulting in my being super stressed out trying to maintain a certain “experience”), and I could not imagine anything different. Between moving, the kids growing up, and the pandemic it was no longer in my control. But it has been a good freeing thing is a way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, one of the (very few) blessings of the pandemic was it did teach us that we could still enjoy holidays even when we couldn’t celebrate them in the usual way. In some ways, that made it harder for me to give up my traditions this year…two years in a row I couldn’t have my annual Christmas party…..but in other ways it made it easier to let go, because I had already done it once, you know? And now I can pick and choose which traditions I keep and which ones I do not.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Such a thoughtful post, Ann. I couldn’t help but notice that what you wrote really follows your blog’s theme quote of:“Definitely older, possibly wiser.” You are definitely open to change. It’s not always easy, but it is possible.
    I want to wish you a wonderful holiday. I’m hoping that sometimes less is more! 🎄🎄🎄

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve started new traditions now that family of origin has been shaken up, COVID & vulnerability are powerful, and my kids are grown and partnered with no kids (yet).
    Quiet dinner, reading books, and It’s a Wonderful Life are the new traditions gifted me. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh Ann! I saw myself in part of this!! Today I put up the Christmas decorations (and the tree) but my heart wasn’t in it. Son#1 had come over for lunch and he stayed and helped me decorate. His words of wisdom, “Less is more.” So instead of wrapping the bannister in greenery and adding glitter garland and bows – there are just 5 nice bows. Instead of 3 trees there’s just one. Instead of a Nativity in every room I have just 2 little ones and the big porcelain one out. We have just 2 wreaths – on the front and back doors. And the stockings. It took only an hour to do it where it usually takes 4 or 5 hours. Instead I spent the time visiting with him and it was so good. This year the gifts are few but the love is great and I’m going to sit back and enjoy it all!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Slowing down a bit to enjoy the Christmas moments is so important. You are so blessed that your family is growing…how wonderful to embrace a new grandbaby in this season of light. Spending cherished time with that little person is such a gift. Babies grow up quick! I hope you have a beautiful Christmas filled with both traditions you love and the less is more approach…that way you make room for something new.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. For as long as I can remember (since becoming a parent, anyway), I’ve always had an underlying sense of dread about the holidays. Just because there was so much to do, so many family events to attend. Only in the last few years have I achieved a zen-like acceptance of ‘less can be more,’ and it has made all the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always loved Christmas and it’s my favorite holiday. But ever since we became parents, I’ve also had that anxiousness when they arrive, because there is so much to do and so many needs to be met. Learning to say no to gatherings that are just too much is hard, but necessary, I think. I’m glad you can now embrace “less is more!”

      Like

  13. I’m glad you’ve found a way to balance things and make a “new groove” for the holidays. And I’m so very happy that your husband has won his battle with cancer (!) and that you’re welcoming a new little one this year. Both of those gifts are truly the sort that can make our hearts grateful. May God bless you and yours this Christmas season and throughout the coming year. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Cathleen! We really do have so much to be grateful for this year, and that makes adjusting some of our traditions a whole lot easier. And I suspect that I’ll like this new balance just fine. I hope you and your family have a blessed and happy Christmas too!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Yes, yes, slow down and simply enjoy the season. I used to get caught up in what I’ve come to describe as the ‘forced frivolity’ of December, but no more. Now I do what strikes me as fun, and then sit back watching everyone else go nuts. Joyous Noel!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Weren’t we all hoping this would be the Christmas we could rock and roll, and celebrate together? I’m afraid my plans are “wait and see” also. I’m preparing myself to have a very quiet time but maybe I can swing a couple of very small gatherings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, remember all the people saying, “Separate this year so we can be together next year?” Turns out that wasn’t completely true. Where I live, small gatherings are still safe, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a huge crowd either, despite being fully vaccinated and boosted. We have got to beat this virus eventually!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.