Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter. As the Christmas holiday draws ever nearer, schedules become more jam-packed, to-do lists swell with seasonal duties, and social obligations mount up higher than Santa’s bag on Christmas Eve. It is easy to become overwhelmed, over-stressed, and over-tired. Add unrealistic expectations for a “perfect Christmas” coupled with the fear of over-spending to make that unreachable goal come to fruition and the holidays have quickly gone from sweet to sour. I write from first-hand experience and offer the idea of Simple Joys. Instead of putting all of the emphasis on Christmas Day (or Eve), try to find joy throughout the Christmas Season. By finding the Simple Joys in your daily life

and routine you can shake off the dreaded insecurities, concentrate on what you have, and feel blessed by the life you lead. Let’s face it, I, who adore the entire Christmas Season, can and do get swept up in the hoopla that leads to periods of unhappiness. By embracing Simple Joys I’m trying to break the cycle and employ a new mantra for the holidays. Simple Joys are once again the tools I elicit to make each day magical. Now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Salvation Army Bell Ringer/Red Kettle – As I left the discount store with my children I could hear the distinctive ring of the bell in the cool air. We were bustling to the car with some special packages, surprises found at a reasonable price for our much more modest Christmas that has become the norm these last few years. Although I am careful about every dime that comes in and out of the house, I knew I could not pass up this teaching moment nor the charitable act that restores my faith every year. I dug deeply in my wallet for two singles, folded them up, and instructed my five-year-old to put each bill, one at a time, in the red kettle. He did so obediently; behind my sunglasses I teared up. From the time I was conscious of these bell ringers I scraped together any spare change I could find and dumped it proudly into the kettle. Now I was handing out paper money for my son to deliver; my emotions were over-flowing! Not only was I taken aback by my station in life (I’m a mother with 3 kids?!) but that there are still so many who have much less than my children. Walking away with a “Merry Christmas!” to the bell ringer, my son asked me, “Mommy, why did we give that lady our money?” I explained to him as simply as I could that not everyone has as much as we do and that our donation would help to make a Merry Christmas for other families. Having this teachable moment at Christmas time that shed the spotlight on charity is a Simple Joy I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Cuddly – The other morning I was running a bath for my son and daughter. It is part of our morning routine and I do it manually, without much thought. While bent over in a kneeling on all fours position to set the bath temperature, my son hugged me around the middle and said, “Mommy, I love you, you’re so cuddly!” I don’t care how much extra weight I’m carrying, if anybody thinks I’m beautiful, or anything else; having my son tell me that in his enthusiastic and genuine way made me feel like the luckiest woman in the world. I hugged him back and told him the very same thing and then I hugged him even more tightly! He didn’t know it, but he gave his mother the grandest Simple Joy a boy could give.

Princess clothes – Over Thanksgiving Weekend my children celebrated an early Christmas with their Great-Grandfather who they won’t get to see over “real” Christmas. My daughter was delighted when she opened the trunk full of Princess dress up clothes he had me pick out for her. The gift contained three separate outfits and all of the appropriate accessories a Princess could desire. Like many little girls would be, my daughter was beside herself with excitement and in the days that pursued she has donned a different Princess outfit. She looks at me after she is dressed and says in wide-eyed wonder every time, “Mommy, Purdy (pretty)! Princess Purdy!” I tell her, “Yes, yes you are pretty, but not because of what you wear but because YOU are pretty.” The lesson may be lost on her at this age, but the Simple Joy for both of us is her all-encompassing joy in owning a pretty Princess wardrobe!

High School Drama – Over the weekend my husband and I secured our favorite baby sitter and took the boys to see the local high school production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. My eldest is actually reading the book and was thrilled to see it acted out before him. My husband and I were amazed by the level of professionalism by the high school cast and crew and we were all entertained for the afternoon. The reasonable performance, shared interest, and time well spent was a Simple Joy that I hope is only the beginning of more great theater to come for us as a family!

Town Tree Lighting – Our town planned a tree lighting ceremony on Sunday night. As my son and I are part of the Cub Scout Pack we were gladly called into duty to present colors for the event. As townsfolk, we were tickled there was such an event and were excited to be there. The tree was breath-taking, the ceremony short, but the festivities jovial and relaxed. Having this annual event to look forward and take part is a Simple Joy I cherish.

I could moan and complain how terrible it is we do not have the financial comfort we did before the economy tanked. Christmas could become all about money, gifts, and the like, but, instead, I choose to now concentrate on the parts of my life with real value. That says a lot coming from me; I am a gift giver by nature; I show my love through the buying and giving of gifts. As we continue to tighten our belts as a family I continuously find out I have so much more to offer

my family (and the world?) through other avenues. My career as a writer has brought a clearer vision of my place in this world. Simple Joys has provided perspective when times go awry. My readership/friends have given me strength, support, and empowerment to follow my dreams as I continue to speak through my written word, and encouragement to stay on this path. Christmas, still vitally important to me, is now so much more about the little moments like I listed above, and not the big gifts under the tree. I am still a gift giver, I’m just learning so much more that the gifts I give can be like the Simple Joys I write; not so much contained in a box but sprinkled about making life a happier place. My wish for you is to find the Simple Joys in your life, the ones that exist during the Christmas Season as well as all the year through. By organizing these tiny treasures on paper or even in your mind, you can open up a wonderful world that is easier, kinder, and, ultimately, more fulfilling. It’s that simple.


  1. and these simple pleasures are there for me everyday,,they are free,,right in front of me to have, hold and enjoy,,the simple pleasures are the best,,

  2. Sounds like good times, Candice. Marie and I learned to simplify The Holiday Season (beginning with Halloween through New Years) and especially to focus on the meaning of Christmas, not the commercial projection of expectation. Life is much simpler this way.

  3. I think the simple pleasures are what the season is all about, not the insane consumerism that has overtaken the holidays. My mother would always say "Count your blessings." She was right and it's good to see you counting yours. Great post!