Lessons Learned

Three days before Christmas I gave a sermon/meditation at my church.  By the end of Christmas day I was totally turning around everything I said and fed up with everything and everybody.    Lesson learned: practice what you preach; LITERALLY.

I may have had some joy on Sunday (especially when listening to our guest harpist) and carried a bit of that into Christmas Eve (although I was starting to get crazed with two church services and where and when to do what.  (Like dinner...which turned out to be fast food tacos).  Christmas morning started much too early.  (This should be no surprise, but my son had been up till nearly 10:30 the night before and hence I had been up till midnight, having started by day before 5 AM.  I had hoped that  with him being up so late that I might get to "sleep in" till 7 or 7:30, but I seriously misjudged the power of kid who knows there must be presents downstairs under the tree just waiting for him.)  The morning was great.  And as my boy unwrapped his gifts with childish delight, there was joy and love radiating from the entire room.  (There might even have been a little peace too when we sat down to a wonderfully large brunch made by my husband and then the kidlet went to work on the multitude of Legos that he had gotten from Santa.)

But as the day wore on, I had to start cooking some things and packing up things to take to my parents.  We all had to get dressed. (which also meant leaving all the toys my son had already started to play with.) Dinner was scheduled for 6 PM, but we went to my parents at 4 to open gifts.  But by this time, we were all a little tired.  My husband and I had to run out, fuel up the car (which was an annoying adventure as there was ONE car in the entire station and the car took up two spaces and proceeded to argue with the clerk about something for a good 5 minutes before I was finally able to pull up to the pump and be taken care of), stop at the pharmacy (thought it would be a good time to pick up some recurring prescriptions -- and it was as very few people were shopping) and then pick up my aunt.  The whole process should have taken 10 or so minutes, but ended up taking much longer (in part due to the woman at the gas station) which added to the stress.

When we got home, my parents were stressed and in the kitchen trying to make the meal come out right.  My veggies (which I had cooked and brought over earlier) were cold and heating them in the microwave didn't seem to warm them.  The ham didn't want to be carved (no matter how hard my mother tussled with it).  My son didn't really want to eat anything (he's picky to start with so holiday meals can be a challenge).  Do you really think there was peace and joy at dinner? 

By the time the meal was over, I was exhausted and just wanted to go home.  Which is what we did.  In all honesty, I was quite rude.  (Or to put it more plainly, I turned into quite a B*I*T...well you can figure out the rest).  The day that had started out so nicely nearly ended with tears.

I say nearly because although there were tears, my husband, son and I did something smart that night.  We sat down and talked.  The evening was a flop and while Christmas wasn't ruined it certainly wasn't the Hallmark moment that we all wanted.  So we all talked.  We talked about what went wrong and what went right.  What changes could be made so that we wouldn't have a repeat episode.

For us, the next major family holiday will be Easter.  Due to the school spring break schedule for 2014, my son will have to return to school the day after Easter.  I will also have to work.  After getting up early (to see what the Easter Bunny has left) and going to church, spending the rest of the afternoon just waiting for a big meal at the end of the day doesn't seem like a great idea.   Why not have our main meal in the middle of the day?  Not directly after church (because then things would seem too rushed), but in the early afternoon?  And why should my mother or I stress out over cooking a big meal?  (Since neither of us are fans of slaving over a hot stove.)  Why couldn't we have something simple that everyone would enjoy?  My husband cautioned me that my family likes traditions (who doesn't?) and this would be a big change for all.  And it might be difficult to present without having feelings hurt.  But we all went to bed (much later than I had hoped) with a plan; a plan that we all thought would work and make everyone happy.

For once my husband was wrong.  When I went to see my mother and carefully present our plan, she was in complete and total agreement.  We NEEDED change.   And so it was decided that for Easter we will all gather at 1 in the afternoon and have a casual, but filling meal.  And we will have a variety of food that everyone likes.  Most importantly, we will be ordering the food so no one will be stuck in the kitchen.  It won't matter if it's simply a platter of cold cuts ordered from the local market, we will all be together and we will be able to enjoy each other's company.  And we will be done before the sun sets, so that we can all get a good night's sleep when the festivities are over.  

While I may have not listened to my own advice, I HAVE learned a lesson.  It's time to try new things, to start new traditions that will fit my family's changing needs.  If things go well at Easter, then we might try something similar for Thanksgiving.  And if they don't...we'll have time to think about what we might do different for Thanksgiving.

2013 is about to end.  It might not have been the best year, but thankfully it has not been the worst (2012 gets that dubious "honor").  Most importantly, I've realized that there are always lessons to be learned.

I hope that 2014 is one full of health and happiness for all.  And I especially hope that it's one where I can take the lessons that I have learned and make it a better one for my family.


  1. I think this year more than anything I learned that sometimes it is ok to just say no. I tend to over-do almost everything I try. It's just in my nature but between having zero energy and just feeling pretty blah since May I just finally started saying no to things. I found out that really in the long run most people won't care. I don't cook a big dinner every night anymore, turns out Leslie is fine with sandwiches sometimes. We've done a couple get-togethers but with less people, less cooking, more pre-purchased stuff. And so I've been able to enjoy things more...Happy New Year my friends!!


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