Thanksgiving Simplified: Lessons from my Mother 


This year, since the loss of my mother, who was the queen of holidays, I  working on changing up our holiday celebrations. I have so many wonderful, glowing memories of her over-the-top celebrations. I truly enjoyed every one of them, but I am not my mother. She greatly enjoyed every bit of time and energy she put into our holiday celebrations, so the work was not a burden to her, but a joy. When I became a mom, for many years I tried to keep my childhood holiday traditions, the things my mother enjoyed doing, and add to them the parts that I enjoyed doing. I ended up pretty overwhelmed. This year, I’m working on simplifying Thanksgiving by paring it back to the things that are enjoyable to the people actually celebrating this year. 

Farming it out

My mom did not love to cook. She loved to decorate, do crafts, and shop for holiday supplies. She loved to set a tablescape fit for royalty, and have every little detail in place. She was willing to make the basics, but she did a lot of what she called “assembling” when it came to food. She knew the places to buy the best baked goods, appetizers, cheeses and desserts. She didn’t feel any pressure to make everything from scratch herself. I do love to cook, but I’m in a phase of life where trying to make everything myself is anything but a recipe for a happy holiday. This year, I am planning on buying some of the pies from a church fundraiser. I’m buying Pillsbury crescent rolls instead of making my own. 

Sharing the Load 

In part because my mom didn’t love cooking the way I do, she had no problem asking other people to do their part. My dad  did as much of the cooking as my mom did, and I was contributing to the feast by the time I was 10. I loved it. This year I assigned each kid a dish. Cheyenne made the green bean casserole the Saturday before, and Bella made the mashed potatoes. James made the sweet potato casserole, and I made the stuffing. Bella volunteered to do a baking activity, and help the little girls make pumpkin and sweet cream pies. Zach is in charge of the turkey, Travis will make the crescent rolls and my dad will bring the cranberries. The kids are excited to show off their contributions, and I am less stressed. Bella loves to decorate, so she wants to take care of the table. 

Expectation Management

If it doesn’t look like a magazine shoot, that’s fine with me. The point is for our family to get together and enjoy each other’s company. Anything that takes away from that is not something we need in our celebration. Having teenagers now, I’m always surprised when they talk about things they did when they were little that seemed like no big deal to me, but made a big impact on them. It’s amazing how little we really need to be happy. 

Sunrise at the Lake

wmsunrise

We are spending the weekend at a friend’s lake cabin. It’s not an isolated cabin; lakeshore is too precious to allow that kind of space. My favorite time to be here is any time but summer, when there is constant noise from boats and people. Even now, just two weeks after Labor Day, it is mostly silent and peaceful, only rarely disturbed by the roaring of a motorboat.

The sun rose in a pink-orange glow above gently rippling water this morning. Loons called in the distance, crows nearby. It was a time to just absorb beauty, to simply be.  Lake sunrise is one of my favorite meditations. Continue reading “Sunrise at the Lake”

I took Facebook off my phone

And as a sorry FWP, I had real anxiety about it.  I’ve spent innumerable hours scrolling Facebook in the last four years since I had my first child and have been nursing or pregnant (aka exhausted) pretty much constantly since.  It’s getting better now, and I decided it was time to let this crutch go.  I still get on it on the computer, mainly for garage sale groups and three other groups I belong to that I find useful.

I didn’t think just taking it off my phone would do much.  I thought I would log on via the phone’s web browser.  But I haven’t.  And it’s been glorious!  I pick up my phone probably 75% less, and am on FB itself 90% less.  I don’t feel beholden to my phone, imprisoned by it, ready to chuck it in a lake anymore.  And I’m not particularly doing anything that amazing with that time, but I don’t feel so time scarce, as Ilse mentioned in one of her recent posts.  And I’ll take all the time I can get.

Thanks, Microbes! Or, Easy Garden Preparation

cactus watermark 2I inherited a love of growing food and flowers. My grandparents grew amazing tomatoes, lush lettuce, and other vegetables on the perimeter of their small city lot. My parents’ garden grew all of our summer vegetables plus enough broccoli and green beans to eat all winter (from the freezer). I’ve been growing vegetables since I was a college student, when I suddenly had an urge to plant lettuce and tomatoes in pots.

Time in the yard for me is unscheduled, relaxing, and usually uninterrupted. I can work on one area and, in passing another, see that some weeding is needed, and do it right then. I can work with focus, and change the focus whenever needed. Continue reading “Thanks, Microbes! Or, Easy Garden Preparation”

My mindful living challenge

… is to slow down.

p1000562 watermark

I am always going, doing, moving. Even after weeks of summer vacation, I found myself feeling pressed for time. I had hoped that feeling would disappear this summer, my first off in 4 years. And it was wonderful, fun, productive, and sometimes relaxing – but I found relaxation to be elusive. There are so many things that I want to do, see, learn, explore. Continue reading “My mindful living challenge”