Coffee Chat: Christmas Cheer
Deck the halls with bows of holly....Fa la la la la la la la la la la! Oh hello...Do come on in and let's have a nice cup of cocoa...How does that sound? With a candy cane to stir about in it? Hmmm?
I was sitting here on Saturday, watching John's face all lit up like a child's, listening to the squeals of excitement from this one and that and I could barely open my own gifts I was so enjoying watching everyone else. For one fleeting moment, I thought "Oh! After this it's all over..." But you know it isn't all over at all. Why it's only just barely begun well. And I decided then and there I'd find something to enjoy about each and every day until Christmas Day comes and goes.
So this week I've been all about enjoying the holiday. Sunday I enjoyed the day with a special viewing of Anne of Avonlea on PBS. I do love Anne Shirley and her romantic kindred spirit. I have been blessed to find that same feeling of kindred souls with my Katie and Sam and with Bess and Virginia, as well as Granny.
Monday I am afraid I didn't do much about Christmas spirit except to use that beautiful new coffee mug Katie and Matt gifted me for Christmas, but Tuesday I made up for it. I sat outdoors and used the new electric bubble maker John purchased for me last week at Bass Pro. I took a free gnome at the post office. He just fits in the palm of my hand! And today I treated myself to a meal of Chinese food because I've been hankering for it forever, but I tend to resist that hankering. I was very careful to watch that I chose plenty of vegetables today and skip the sweet sauced fried foods I prefer most. I came home and turned on the tree lights since it's cloudy outdoors and turned on the Sounds of the Season music channel. Johnny Mathis crooning "The Christmas Song". Well that's pretty awesome for a simple Christmas pleasure, agreed? Or silky voiced Doris Day? Sigh.
I walked about the house this morning and took a few photos of the Christmas décor this year. It is simple and not at all elaborate. My theme was to be 'A Walk In Snowy Woods'...I didn't stick too hard to my theme because I discovered I had little to work with and I had no ready cash to spend on new items, and when I did have cash, well....I couldn't find just what I wanted anyway!
I thought I'd share photos but just at the moment I can't upload them. So we'll just keep right on chatting shall we?
I've thought of several things I'd like to share with you all this week. First, remember my wise men on camels? They arrived this week, not as large as Granny's and silver colored where hers were gold but they are the same otherwise. I was pleased to have that sweet reminder to use in my own home décor.
This morning, as I stood admiring them, I recalled that several years ago I was acquainted with a woman who had an annual tradition of the wise men journeying to the Christ child. They traveled all over her house and ended up in some interesting places in their journey. It was a little bit like elf on the shelf with some of the things they got into on their path. I used to just love to read her daily reports on where they were. I expect that was a huge amount of fun for her children. I wish I had been so clever with my doings at Christmas but honestly decorating and baking were my big thrills and until Katie was in grade school it was all I did.
After she got in grade school we started an annual craft party. I tried to have the girls make things that could be used for gifts and edible items, as well. We used a lot of recycled items to keep costs down and some of the crafts were really cute. The size of the party varied from 1 other girl to five or so and it was always fun. I really enjoyed doing that party and I think Katie enjoyed it. Eventually her friends grew up too much to enjoy the day as we did. I'm not at all surprised Katie is still crafting away. It's art to her to work with her hands in that way.
I've been doing a lot of thinking now the year is rapidly coming to a close. I do want to enjoy the days mind you but I also must look ahead. It's my nature to be a bit analytical and to plan ahead and to think deeply about where I am and what I'm doing and what God's purpose is for my life. I like to make goals and plan projects and have something to work towards in the New Year. This is a list making time of year for me. I really need to sit down and make out my lists so that I can quiet my head and concentrate on one thing!
I've been hearing about Mission Statements again. Do you remember mission statements? In the 1990s you couldn't walk into any business with running smack into the mission statement first off. Some of those missions statements were so long and convoluted and downright confusing that I never did have a clear idea of what the mission was.
It wasn't just businesses, either. No people who wanted to be successful were urged to have a mission statement, as well. It was meant to focus thoughts and energy into one direction. Not a bad idea overall but again, I read some individual statements that were about as clear as mud. They sounded good and reading them impressed you with the intellect that came up with them but...I was always left shaking my head, "Say what? How's that, again?"
Well mission statements are back. I suppose it's like any other self-motivation tool (or money saving hint, etc.) they just keep recycling back through things set aside because they sound new and different just now. Do I have a mission statement? Yes, I do. It doesn't sound like high intellect or even that revolutionary, but it's my statement: To reach who I can from where I am right now and help them improve some part of their life. Notice I didn't say "I" would improve their life.
It is my mission to teach skills that will help another whether by deed, by written word, by provoking thought during a conversation, or in passing along information. I think this blog does just that, but I don't try to limit my mission to just the blog. I am following my mission when I am in my kitchen and my husband takes note of how I manage a certain area of work. I am following my mission when a stranger asks me in a store if I know how to make a bow to top a Christmas tree and I take the time to show her how it's done or a store clerk asks why I'm purchasing a certain product and I explain it's saving me money and exactly why it does. I am living my mission when I share with another a passage from the Bible that moved me and why it spoke to me. I am living my mission when I put together an outfit and then wear it outside my home. I think the most important thing about mission statements is that it is ACTIVE and that you are actually DOING it on a daily basis.
You might even say that the statement I've used over and over again this year is a mission statement, too. I originally read it as a credit to Arthur Ashe but he was apparently quoting Theodore Roosevelt: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. John has a printed plaque that we called our family motto that might also be said to be a mission statement: It's better to do something and fail than to do nothing and succeed. I think Rhonda has a mission statement of sorts in her blog title. I liked that motto of hers so well that I kept it posted to the bulletin board in my kitchen for years: If you do stuff, stuff gets done.
So I'll ask you...What is your mission statement? Have you thought about it? Do you have one? Share if you do. I think it would be interesting to read them!
I've been doing a sort of mini boot camp this month. Not nearly so intense nor heavy on the push to read as much as I did in the summer session. I have a small post worked up to share with you on that. But I realized as I was trying to sort through things that I got focused on too many areas at once very quickly and it simply won't do! No, I must concentrate on one area at a time. I can save money or I can learn how to monetize the blog or I can learn about this or that. But I cannot learn it all at one time. I decided that this month, which is really meant to be project free would be a mini boot camp to remind myself of how I might save money. Next month I'll change my focus to earning at home and that means studying how I might monetize the blog.
Do you want to know the luxury of turning my age? You can finally and at last drop the pretense that you're going to change natural behaviors. I mean for instance that I am a morning person. I've always been a morning person. I rise nearly every single morning between 5:30 and 7:30 depending on how well I slept the night before. Typically 7 hours is my body's limit for sleep. I'm cool with that. I don't try to wage war against my nature by staying up into the wee hours or by trying to sleep later. It does not work for me at all.
I know full well some people are not morning persons. At least one of my children was simply not. Katie will say she's not but the truth is she WAS as a child (which is where I think true nature manifests). She just needs a hard schedule to live by. I see that Taylor is much like her Mama with that hard adherence to schedule. Amie on the other hand could not settle to sleep at night and she did not naturally rise in the early part of the day. Granny was a morning person but Grandmama was not. Neither of my parents were morning people.
I note there are a lot of posts on Pinterest about how to become a morning person, how to be more productive in mornings, etc. I get that it's sometimes necessary due to jobs (or parenting!) to adjust yourself to a different routine, but there must come a point where you simply work with who you are. If you're not a morning person and are not caught up by the constraints of a job or parenting, then why not be a night person?
Grandmama worked hard every day as did Granny. The main difference I saw was that Granny liked to start her day about 6am and Grandmama eased into a day around about 9am. She was moving like lightning by noon every day but her mornings were slow and easy. Granny on the other hand was ready to head outdoors for yard work and field work at daylight each day. She came indoors around noon and from that point on she did quiet jobs and tasks while she listened to television and talked on the phone. Grandmama generally slowed down in the heat of the day but as the evening air cooled, she picked up her pace once more. It was not uncommon to see Grandmama with a dishpan full of peas that needed to be shelled at 10pm or for her to take up some other task at that hour. Granny settled into bed about 9:30 or 10:00 pm. Grandmama often didn't think of drifting off to bed until past midnight.
My point is that if you're a morning person and those are your most productive hours then use them. And if you're a night owl and you're far more productive later in the day then work with your nature and not against it. In the end you'll accomplish just as much, albeit a little later than someone else might.
Here's another bit of thinking on my part: I said I was studying for boot camp this month, looking for ways to save. If I study all the time but never put that study into practice, what good is it? As you all know, I like to set goals and I tend to work pretty hard to achieve them. This year, I made it a practice to set goals that challenged me to do more. There were times I simply didn't feel good and didn't want to bother. There were days when I was weary or lazy and could have cared less, but I know that too many of those days means a lot goes undone in my home, in my life work.
Periodically I read back through old blog posts and I noted one day that I'd written five years before about my plans for doing a certain project. I still had the piece. I had never done a thing with it. I finally realized my greatest holdback was fear. I was afraid if I did what I'd planned that it would mess up the piece. Well, you know what? I did it and I messed up. I found out that the paint I was using wiped right off and I could fix my mistake. I LOVED that piece when it was done and every day that I looked at it over the past 10 years I've loved it.
Ditto for my dining chairs. I'd meant to have them painted fresh and recovered Katie's senior year when I got them. That would be 7 years ago. Did I? No. I was waiting to have them done professionally. I never had the cash to have that done. This year, in my year of Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can, I realized I had to do something with them. I didn't tackle that task until this summer. Every day I look at those fresh seat covers and that newly painted surface and I wonder what on earth took me so long...
Well it's much the same with any thing we want to do in life. If you want to lose weight or declutter or become more proficient in something at some point you have to DO it in order to say it's underway or done. Otherwise you're wasting time. You're wasting time studying about it, you're wasting time talking about it and you're wasting time fretting over what you haven't done. Change your goals and move on or get busy. That's my attitude these days and I'm pretty sure age has a lot to do with it. I'd rather look back at what I did in my life than look back at all the things I didn't do. I don't mean the things I couldn't do, that were truly out of reach, but the things I might have done but never moved off my seat to begin.
Oh! Look at how the tree lights glow in the reflection of the dark window! Now there's a sight to behold...
I said I'd been on Pinterest tooling around. I try to go every day. Not because I want hundreds of thousands of pins by any means but because I like to see what the current crop of pins has linked to them. I can tell you without even knowing the date of the calendar about what time of year it is by what is being pinned. Right now the trends I see have to do with organization, decluttering and saving money. Ha. Classic New Year goals, right? I think this is the first year I won't tell you I'm planning to declutter. Well, I don't mean to. I have a box of things to donate in the shed. I mean to cull through the floral picks and wreaths and such here at the end of this month. I just went through my gift wrap stash and tossed all the squashed bows and crumpled papers and torn and badly wrinkled gift bags. The truth is that we went through things hard when we were shifting them about for the carpets and I don't feel the need to go over it again. So no decluttering for me except those floral picks I just mentioned.
As for organization, I've just done all that, too. It's like our new year started three months ago! Seriously I have found an idea or two that I've employed here recently but for the most part, I can't think of one area we haven't already sorted out and organized afresh. I did find two pins I put into use right away: storing loose frozen vegetables in milk cartons (I explain why in my Frugal Friday post this week) and flagging the most used recipes in my recipe books with Post it type flags. I can see that will be a huge help because I only flagged those recipes I turn to over and over and over again in each cookbook. As far as saving money goes, I've already worked up our budget, found a new health insurance carrier (and yep saved a few bucks), and had a mini boot camp session so there are new ideas to employ. It almost feels like a let down to be so prepared for the coming year!
Well, I'm not entirely prepared. I have to make out a few lists and for some reason I've postponed making them. I have tried to start them several times today with very moderate luck. I need to really concentrate on them. This is the sole part of 'being organized' where I am not quite there yet. I think it's because I get overwhelmed thinking of the year as a whole. At least I have my projects list worked out and so I think I'll just concentrate on January for the rest of the stuff. Make my life a little easier and narrow my focus.
Well dears, I should let you all go. John has already called asking what I plan to have for breakfast in the morning. I couldn't say but I do have a plan. It's written down in the kitchen where I can see it first thing in the morning. I've planned all of our meals for the end of the week this afternoon and I have all on hand I need to complete them. That's always a nice feeling.
Yes, yes, it is indeed time to say goodnight, and lovely chatting with you all.