Christmas Nostalgia & Mr. Rogers
I’m sitting here waiting for paint to dry. And that’s no figure of speech, guys, that’s for reals.
But as I was waiting, I was sitting at the computer, returning emails and catching up on some business-stuff, banking (so boring), etc. and started on a To-Do List for tomorrow and all of the sudden I felt an overwhelming weight on my shoulders.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t historically been the best at doing ALLTHETHINGS around this time of year without feeling stressed out, frazzled and overwhelmed at my To-Do Lists, shopping lists, party-planning, list of obligations, and fitting allllllll the festive & favorite things in with my family & friends too. I feel like I’m in constant catch-up mode and that I’m pretty much failing in all the things.
Also—NEWS FLASH—I’m really, really bad about taking too much on at once. I’m really not great at being realistic of what I think I can do in a small amount of time. This includes wife, mom, friend, employee, volunteer duties…and all those other hats us women wear.
My husband, when he notices me in the garage working at 11 pm…
“Hey, whatcha doing there?”
Me: “Oh you know, I’ve just got to put together a few signs together, sand, stain, sketch out lettering, then paint them all by tomorrow and then I need to plan Owen’s class holiday party and then I need to order the gifts I still need for Joe, Bob, Jane, Jill…..OH, and then I need to get the house clean, paint the basement walls, find new curtains for the dining room, because we’re hosting Christmas this year and it has to be PERFECT!! AND, I still need to order and mail at Christmas cards, because I didn’t get around to it last year, and NO WAY am I skipping it again, so there’s that. Oh, and then I told our boys we’d make gingerbread houses tomorrow but I, of course, don’t have any of the ingredients, so I better place an order at Kroger tomorrow to pick up after I get back from work downtown. But I have to take the dog to his vet appointment after I drop of Liam at practice, on the way to pick up Ben, and oh my word, I’m out of brad nails!!!! Oh jeez, add a stop to Lowes in there too……annnnnnd, at some point I’m gonna need to find some time to SLEEP. So. Tired. Need. More. Coffee.
Please, for the love of Jingle Bells, please tell me I’m not alone in this, guys??
Back to where I felt overwhelmed, starting my To-Do List, getting teary, feeling sorry for myself and down in the dumps…
I looked above my computer and saw two things that brought me back to a place of peace.
One was a photo of my Grandma Bundy (Imy). And seeing her and her warm smile brought precious memories flooding back to me of countless Christmas gatherings spent with her and my family as a child through adulthood. I remembered being a little girl, excitedly waiting to open gifts at her house after she’d helped prepare our traditional Ham, Potato Salad, “Green Stuff”(jello salad that is still my fave, thank you very much), and Rice Krispy shaped bears she’d make for us all. We always had to wait on my Aunt Terry to finish dinner before we could open gifts, and she was this little tiny thing of a woman and I swear took her about 20 minutes to chew one bite of food! (Obviously, I’m exaggerating, because I was 5 and it felt this long, but seriously—I’m not far off—ask my cousins) I remember my Grandma would have her Perry Como Christmas Album playing, and my cousins and I would be dressed in our Christmas dresses and “church clothes”, because we’d always go to the 11:30 Candlelight Service at our church, First Baptist, after gathering at my grandparents. Often, my mom & dad would sing in the Cantata at the service and I’d remember my brothers and I curled up in the pews as we tried to stay awake. I have such incredibly fond memories of listening to countless Christmas Eve cantatas, and eventually singing in them too, that fill my heart up and give me all the good nostalgia & holiday feels.
I’m reminded of the way I felt about the season then, and how I want to feel about it again. I was present. I was living in the moment, appreciating and loving every bit of it. I was soaking up all the good, the jolly, the fun, the awe & goodness of the story of Christ’s birth. I was focused on God, my family and the spirit & wonder of the season.
I’m so busy filling my time and days in November and December—whether it be with work, obligations, volunteering my time, “To Dos”—that I’m missing some of the really good stuff, and oftentimes, I stray off course and lose sight of who I am, what my most important role is, and what I should be spending my time on most.
The second thing above my desk is this quote:
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet: how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.
There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
Oh, Mr. Rogers. You were a truth-teller and had such incredible insight that you graced us with. What this quote reminded me of tonight, and nearly brought me to my knees:
If I’m spending all of my time stressed-out and planning in my head of a long list of To-Do’s, or feeling ashamed of how I’m not measuring up or I’m not good enough or I’m not doing allll the things—then chances are the people I come across in my day, whether it be strangers or those close to me, will feel & see this cloud over me as well. And the last thing I want is for those whom I come across in my daily life to feel that I’m not present with them. That I’m not listening or caring. Or that the piece I leave after every meeting with another person, as Fred says, isn’t a positive or encouraging one.
I’m inspired to do better. To focus on the present. To knock a few things off my list that don’t really need my time or head space at this very moment. And I’m going to add things ON my To Do list (because I do love me some lists, guys, and I can’t just quit that cold-turkey!), that really matter to both my family & myself. And, I’m gonna give myself a big old cup of Grace.
And most of all, I’m going to spend time reflecting on why we celebrate this season. Remembering the birth & arrival of Jesus, the grace He shows me daily, and the love He gives me always.
I’m so very thankful for each and every one of you. For allowing me a space to share my heart and words, and for encouraging me constantly. Whether it be from reading and absorbing the inspiring words on a custom sign you’ve asked me to paint, or a sweet message sent at just the right time when I needed a nudge of encouragement, or a hug hello when you come to pick up an order from my front porch. You all are such sweet gifts and I wish you peace and lots of joy-filled moments in this week before Christmas.
Much love & gratitude,