One of my magazines came in the mail over the weekend.  As I was thumbing through it- I will read it from cover to cover, but first I have to look at the pictures- an article caught my eye.  The title was something about minimizing stress over the holidays.  This peaked my interest so I stopped perusing the photos to have a quick read.

There were some really good tips.  One of those tips was to have a cup of hot coco verifying my assumption that hot chocolate will make you feel better.  However, none of the helpful bits of information really spoke to the heart of the problem- our schedules are too full to really enjoy the important things!  Now, you might think this is a post headed in the direction of a mutal lamenting over the busyness of things and giving ourselves permission to justify the busyness and change nothing.  You would be wrong.

Life is hard, there are many demands that cannot be shirked, however, there is much that we engage in that has no eternal value.  Eternal value does not only refer to introducing souls to Jesus Christ as their Saviour, however vastly important that is, but it also refers to those things that, when we are dead and gone, still mean something. I want there to be a lot of stuff left when I am gone that really means something

 There are two questions that I ask myself when deciding what goes on to my plate.  The first is one I began asking about 18 years ago with the birth of my first child- “When Cheyenne is grown and looks back at her time at home, what do I want her to remember?”  Now bear in mind, memory is about much more than singular events or activities.  It is about the memory of feelings, the atmosphere of the home, what my actions conveyed to her about herself.  Of course, as other children came to our family the question applied to them as well.  This question drove me and guided the choices I made.  So, when I have to choose between a church Christmas party or having time to make the Ginger Bread House from scratch- that is simple, we make the house, those in the Sunday school class will understand.  And if they don’t? Who cares? My children are only here for a short time and then they fly from the nest, that is what matters.  Yes, I might could have arranged things to get both items in, but what will my kids remember?  Will they remember me fully engaged, laughing and relaxed; or will they remember me tense, under presure to get it all done and irritated if they weren’t gluing on that candy fast enough?  The atmosphere means more than the activity.  That is what kids remember, isn’t that what you remember when you think back to your childhood?

The second question is one that seems a bit morbid on the surface.  “If Tony (any one important can go here) were to be gone tomarow, what would I have wished we had done today?”  Our society is really hard-wired to avoid talking or thinking about death, but in reality, it is one the few things we cannot avoid.  So, if it were to come early, what choice would I make?  If I have to choose between the Lions club meeting or hanging out watching a Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas with the family all piled up on the sofa wins out.  If I am feeling bad about missing the meeting, I will have a cup of hot chocolate.  After all, scientist have now proved it makes you feel better!  If I were to lose one of my beloved the next day, would I have been glad that I chose to make one last memory or would I still feel bad about not missing the meeting?  Making memories would be the best thing I could have done.  We need to live as if we were dying- because in fact we are.  This is when life really begins-when we treat it as a treasure that we won’t always have.

Now, obviously we all have obligations, like supporting our families, that must be done.  But what I am speaking to is balance.  The world will still function if you stop doing all the activities.  Your child will not suffer from not playing sports.  The honest truth on that one is- more than likely- your kid does not have the ability to play beyond high school.  If he does, he will excel no matter what age he begins to play, so for the sake of sanity sports can wait. And this goes for anything.  4H is something we love, but last year it just about took over our lives!  We had to scale back.

I pray as you read this post, you do not feel condemed.  I want you to feel like someone just handed you a get out of jail free card!  You can get off the merry-go-round.  But you will have to jump, it will not stop.  Enjoy the holidays, they only come once a year, make this a year to REMEMBER!

Time with Tony ranks higher than anything else on my to-do list!
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