Pause and Appreciate

The hustle and bustle of the Christmas season went by all too quickly and I found myself taking a forced break from blogging.

As I look back at all the shopping, decorating, time spent in the kitchen, family get togethers, as well as attending holiday events it all seems like such a blur. So many precious moments were shared ~ yet how many did I actually pause and appreciate?

I am very guilty of taking precious minutes for granted.  Fond recollections of moments in time I will never get back again….

To pause and appreciate the smells – the smell of freshly baked bread as a pot of vegetable soup or beef stew bubbles and simmers on the stove, hamburgers sizzling on the charcoal grill on a warm summer evening, or inhaling the sweet smells of lotion and powder as I snuggle my infant child after a morning bath. How about the assorted smells provided by the wonders of nature such as a homegrown tomato just picked from the vine, the smell of rain just before it arrives, inhaling the salty air at the beach or taking deep breaths of pine scented Christmas trees.

To pause and appreciate the sounds – the shrieks of laughter coming from my teenage daughter’s bedroom, my mother’s voice, my son strumming his guitar as he hums and softly sings along composing the lyrics to a new song, or the waves pounding the shoreline as the seagulls cry.

To pause and appreciate watching the action – my son running around the bases through the dusty dirt of the little league baseball fields, the animated facial expressions of loved ones during conversations, the arms curved slightly as they push in and out of the water swiftly racing to touch the side of the pool during a swim meet, arms as they reach toward you seeking to be lifted up or embraced or how about fireflies silently flickering their lights as they dance among the bushes and trees on a muggy, moonless summer night.

To pause and appreciate participating in the action: dancing close with my spouse feeling our warm cheeks press together, hugging my dad and feeling him hug me back as I (unsuccessfully) fight back tears the first time I moved away from home, joyfully cheering along with others for the home team during a World Series game, holding small hands as we walk slowly together across the yard, or interlocking fingers with a special love.

I want to be more like my grandchildren who exude the joy, simplicity, curiosity, and innocence of life in all of its beauty.

Anything you truly want takes time and this year I want to spend the upcoming months making an effort to pause and appreciate. Next year, tomorrow, or even tonight is not a guarantee. What do you yearn to pause and appreciate this new year?

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  

Psalm 118:24

 

“All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

C.S. Lewis: The Last Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia)

“It’s a beautiful day, Don’t let it get away, It’s a beautiful day”

U2 Songwriters: Bono / Clayton Ada

 

 

Traditions

Most of us have at least one.  Some of us have several.

Traditions are sacred and time honored ~ life just isn’t the same without them.

Pizza night, picking out a Christmas tree, first day of school photos, carving a pumpkin, vacationing at the same spot, or lighting the advent wreath during the weeks before Christmas are but a few.

 

One of my favorite traditions was on Christmas Eve when my children were young.  After spending the morning baking and decorating Christmas sugar cookies, wrapping last minute Christmas gifts, and attending the Christmas Eve service at church my three excited children would head upstairs to bed. They usually wound up in one of their rooms either all in the bed together or on the floor on a pallet they constructed with blankets and pillows. They would laugh, giggle and talk in loud whisper voices for what seemed like hours. All of a sudden there would be an abrupt silence when one of them would claim to hear the sound of jingle bells or a thump on the roof.  After they finally fell asleep Santa would make his arrival.  Oh how I long to hear the sound of those sweet voices again….and how blessed and thankful that I did!

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Another one of my favorite traditions happens every year at the school where I teach.  On the last of school all of the teachers stand outside and wave goodbye to the students as the buses pull away.  The students happily look forward to it and so do the teachers. I have done this for 31 years and you would think it would be old hat, but I still tear up and get a lump in my throat as I wave goodbye for the summer to those sweet, smiling faces.  In May of 2020 I will enjoy this tradition one final time ~ I can only imagine the emotions I will feel that final day as I wave goodbye not only to my students, but to one of my life’s passions!IMG_8596

From exchanging valentines in February, to hunting Easter eggs in the spring, watching fireworks in July, apple picking in the fall, touch football on Thanksgiving, to watching classic Christmas movies these annual traditions connect us to the past as well as to each other.  As the years go by, our children grow up or loved ones pass away. Traditions end and new ones are (hopefully) created. I hope that you plan some fun family traditions, for they will become the memories that will warm the hearts of you and your loved ones for years to come!

What are some of your favorite traditions?