Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life…. no matter what…

Thoughts on Karma June 20, 2018

We are in the middle of a relocation that began four months ago. We’re currently living in a furnished apartment in Delaware while closing on our home in Maryland and working on the process to purchase a home in Pennsylvania. Everything is within a 50-mile radius, which has presented interesting challenges, unique to our fairly “local” move. We are in the midst of our journey and I’ve found that the concept of Karma has popped up so many times that I needed to share some thoughts.Karma1

If you’re not familiar with the word “Karma”, it is a word with Hindu and Buddhist ties that has nothing to do with actions. It’s actually been called the law of cause and effect. The Bible refers to Karma in the book of Galatians (Galatians 6:7 KJV) “Be not deceived God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” It’s the old adage “what goes around, comes around”… bad begets bad while good begets good. I find that karma goes hand-in-hand with The Golden Rule of treating others as you wish to be treated.

 

My way of putting “good” into the world becomes very tangible at times. I have made an effort to bake things every week or so for the office staff in our apartment building, varying the baked goods once I learned that one of the staff didn’t eat chocolate. When we were presented with the results from the MD home inspection, we made every effort to accommodate the buyer’s list of concerns. Prior to signing the closing documents for our MD home, I made a batch of my Lavender Wine Sugar Scrub to give as gifts to our agent, title agent, and buyer. I baked a batch of cookies for both the septic inspector and the home inspector for the new home in PA. I bought a small toy to take to the home inspection for each of the two dogs who live in the PA home. My husband recognizes that this is my way of putting something positive into the world at a time when so many are only focused on their own needs or wants.

 

I don’t look at these gifts or things as bribes, and I’m not expecting anything from these people in return. I am doing what I feel I do best… I’m treating people as I wish to be treated and putting out good karma. It doesn’t always work, but it certainly makes me feel so much better. I’ve learned that when I get snarky and bitchy with people, I almost always regret what I’ve said or done, so it’s not worth the trouble.

I recently had an instance where our communications were being misinterpreted.  Messages directed to us were terse and snippy, causing us to feel defensive about any possible response. We were being bullied. It took awhile for me to seeKarma2 the situation clearly, especially since the bully was someone I wouldn’t have expected… someone who apparently had been behaving this way for long enough that it was generally excused with a simply comment “Oh, she’s from New Jersey”. Seriously? Once I realized this, I felt the best way to respond was to be kind but to also remove ourselves from any direct interaction with this bully. We made arrangements to handle our part of the transaction separately and distanced ourselves from the situation yet continued to be as positive as possible, within the scope of the situation. Thankfully, everything wrapped up nicely…. made me glad to see that Karma was on our side because we didn’t sink to a negative level.

I recognize that this post may seem a bit “Pollyanna” to people who don’t know me, but I truly prefer to look for the good in people. My Happy Yellow Lab mentality may seem old school or out-dated, but I will always maintain that I feel better and function more effectively if I stay positive. Maybe it’s something that’s worth trying in your own life? Try putting good out into the world and see if you aren’t rewarded with some good things coming back to you… Karma can truly be a wonderful thing.

 

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The Unexpected Inspiration of a Blog March 28, 2018

Filed under: Blessings,Communication,Family,Fashion,Grief,Life Balance,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 9:19 am
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If you’ve followed me at any point over the past 18 months, you know that I lost both my parents last winter. My mother died unexpectedly in mid-December and my father died in early February after trying to recover from a November car accident. Losing them was devastating and seemed to encompass my everyday life… especially where, in my mother’s case, I was her executrix and closing her estate meant that calls had to be answered, choices made, and decisions executed to the best of my ability.  It was rough, to say the least.

During this tumultuous time, my sister introduced me to a blog that was a breath of fresh air and helped me function in the most unexpected way. J had been following Hi Sugarplum (www.hisugarplum.com) for awhile and she suggested that I might like C’s style. She wrote about her lifestyle, which was positive, comfortable, and enjoyable… she wrote about her family by sharing highlights of the love she has for her husband and children… and she wrote about fashion in a way that seemed attainable and reasonable. She was having fun with her life and it spoke to me.

C’s blog posts, coming each weekday, were bright lights that brought beauty into those early sad days. At first I followed to simply be able to discuss outfits and style ideas with my sister… but soon, I found myself looking forward to these moments of positivity that came to my inbox during the week. Seeing fun new ways to wear clothing or focus on an interesting piece of jewelry brought light to days when I was planning my mom’s funeral (and asked to sing in my father’s), fighting with bill collectors, or confronting all the loose ends connected to her passing. Seeing C happily share a “Dressing Room Diaries” post filled with pictures of her darling mama (called “Mama Sugarplum” on the site) was both bittersweet and uplifting. The more I read this blog, the harder I worked to pull myself out of my black period of mourning.

Don’t get me wrong… I didn’t expect to suddenly be my former “happy yellow lab” self, but reading a positive, hope-filled, beauty-and-style filled email began to help me try to mimic that positivity in my daily life. You’ve heard of “fake it til you make it”? This was how I found my joy again… by putting on something bright and facing the world with a smile until it began to feel like second nature again. I started to plan outfits with one “happy” item, whether it was the color of my jacket or the sparkle in my necklace, and my heart started to feel lighter again. It wasn’t as hard to focus on the positive, because I felt able to see it again.

People sometimes find inspiration in the unlikeliest of places… I found mine by reading a blog that’s written about style, beauty, travel, and clothing. It may seem strange, but this message is my humble way of thanking a woman from Texas for sharing her bliss and allowing me to come along for the ride. May blessings continue to flow her way and, if you’re curious, I invite you to follow along with me at www.hisugarplum.com

 

Thoughts on Grief

Filed under: Blessings,Communication,Family,Grief,Life Balance,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 7:07 am
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One year ago… yet sometimes it feels like yesterday. Grief is an emotion that I had experienced from the sidelines, but never as “up close and personal” as I did last year. I thought I had a handle on how a person deals with grief until I had to come face-to-face with it on a daily basis.

 

For those who have never read this blog, my mom died unexpectedly in December, effectively altering Christmas forever. Then, when my dad died in February due to complications after a car accident before Thanksgiving, I tried to simply soldier through my days by adding grieving to the mix. I opted many times to withdraw from social activities, rather than work up the enthusiasm needed to participate with others. After a while, I came up with a few coping mechanisms that allowed me to slowly rejoin my daily life in a way that didn’t feel so hard. One of those coping mechanisms was to spend time reconnecting with people who were important in my life. Those connections made this past year’s journey tolerable… manageable… acceptable.

 

I saw this wonderful message on Facebook recently:

 

I had my own notion of grief.

I thought it was the sad time

That followed the death of

Someone you love.

And you had to push through it

To get to the other side.

But I’m learning there is no other side.

There is no pushing through.

But rather,

There is absorption.

Adjustment.

Acceptance.

And grief is not something you complete,

But rather, you endure.

Grief is not a task to finish

And move on,

But an element of yourself –

An alteration of your being.

A new way of seeing.

A new definition of self.

~Author unknown

 

I’ve had a number of friends who have recently had similar losses in their own lives and this “new way of seeing” has taught me a few unexpected lessons about how to address grief with others. These lessons are not novel or earth-shattering… they’re simple and harken back to the days of our parents…

If you have an address, send a card. It doesn’t matter if you knew your friend’s parent, it matters that you know your friend. Take a moment and send a card to say that you’re thinking of them. You won’t believe how many people don’t do this but it can mean so much. It’s the simple act of putting pen to paper… it doesn’t have to be wordy, it just needs to be done. I still have every condolence card that was sent to me after my mom and then my dad died last year. Those cards and notes are the tangible reminders that someone cared enough to take a moment and think about me as I faced that unimaginable grief. I’ve learned that an unexpected card, phone call, email, or text can remind you that you’re not alone.

In these days of email and texting, if the only address you have is electronic, take the time to send a message. It’s not the best, but it’s better than nothing. Comfort can come in such simple and unexpected gestures. Take the time and make that gesture.

If you are physically (and logistically) able, take the time to attend the funeral. Again, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know the person who died… it matters that you know your friend. Funerals, in my opinion, are for the living, since the loved one is no longer there. This is the ceremony that allows for closure to *begin*, not end. While many may argue that your friend won’t know you were there, I’ll always argue that your friend will know if you make the effort. You may not get more than a moment to talk with your friend, but the fact that you made the choice to *be* there will always be appreciated. Attending the funeral, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for you, will mean so much to your friend. Get dressed, sign the guest book, and be part of an ancient tradition.

 

I’ll never forget when my friend, N, lost her mother. My mom made the decision to attend her funeral service, even though they’d never met, because I lived too far away and wasn’t able to attend. N said it meant the world to her when she saw my mom there. I hadn’t realize how much it would mean until I had to go through that same situation. Staying and taking the time to say something to the family, even as simply as “I’m sorry for your loss” can mean so much.

Friendship is more than words… it’s being present with someone who is important to you. Never underestimate how much it will mean to your friends if you reach out, connect, and be accountable in their lives. A phone call, an email, a sympathy card, or even a text can remind a friend that they aren’t alone. I’m reminded of a verse in Matthew, Chapter 25 (at the end of verse 40): … “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me”… doing for and connecting with others in this lifetime can be so simple, yet so very important.

 

Isn’t this connection, this kindness, what we’re all called to do, as human beings? Can’t we all use a little more kindness in our world?

 

It’s only been days… April 27, 2017

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Grief,Life Balance,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:50 pm
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It’s only been a matter of days in which my world tilted on its’ axis… a mere 134 days.  I still have my step-mom (thank God)… I still have my other half/my sister and my wonderful collection of brothers… but my parents are gone.  It feels both like forever and yesterday.  I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I ever knew, but I’m more vulnerable than I expected.  The dichotomy of grieving while continuing to live is not lost on me… but it can be exhausting.  

The numbers of days is daunting when listed out:

  •  48 days between Mimi’s death and Daddy’s death (12/15/16 & 2/1/17)
  • 23 days between Mimi’s death and her funeral (12/15/16 & 1/7/17)
  • 25 days between Mimi’s funeral and Daddy’s death (1/7/17 & 2/1/17)
  • 15 days between Mimi’s funeral and the last time we saw Daddy (1/7/17 & 1/22/17)
  • 10 days between when we saw Daddy and when he died (1/22/17 & 2/1/17)
  • 10 days between Daddy’s death and his funeral (2/1/17 & 2/11/17)
  • 134 days since Mimi died (to 4/28/17)

I just got back from a cousins weekend at the beach.  It was perfect and raw and wonderful and heart-wrenching.  There were bittersweet moments when I could envision how much my mom would have been so happy.  There were moments that I know would have driven her crazy because getting onto the beach would have truly been a physical ordeal.  I also know that I felt the presence of the three Mimi’s (sisters Jody, Jean, and Gwenn) in so many ways throughout the weekend that it was worth everything to be present.  

I’m reading a lot lately about grief and how others travel this journey.  The kind messages, comments, and shared information mean so much… to know that others are willing to take a moment to simply say “I’m sorry” can be humbling and touching.  Thank you for caring… and for reaching out to me in whatever way works.

I’ve learned to surround myself with good people and am more grateful for every positive experience than ever before.  Seeing the impact that each of my parents had on their individual worlds has given me insight into the kind of impact that I want to make in my own world.  I intend to be more deliberate about those things on which I spend my time.  I want to do things that either bring me joy or allow me to give joy to others.  

If the life and death of each of my parents teaches me anything, it’s that I need to choose how and where I spend my life.  My God, my husband, my children, and my family… these are my beatitudes… these are my blessings… these are where I will spend my days.

 May you find ways to fill your own days with joy….

 

Grief… after the first month… January 15, 2017

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:27 pm
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It’s been a month… a month since my mom died… a month since I lost my anchor, my forever-cheerleader, my personal historian, the person who knew me in ways that I never had to question.  It’s been a month and yet I still struggle each day with random tears and waves of sadness that come out of nowhere.  It’s been a month that sometimes feels like ages and sometimes feels like minutes… it’s been one helluva month.

mumjune2015

When your parent dies, no one tells you how you’re supposed to move on with your life.  No one tells you that a can of black-eyed peas can rock you back on your heels and make you cry like a baby.  No one tells you that you’re going to reach for the phone more times than you ever expected, only to remember that there’s no one on the other end of that line.  No one tells you that doing the “busy-ness” of death might  actually help hold back those waves of grief until you’ve had a little time to acclimate to this new stage of your life…  your life without your mother.

People tell you so many things when your mom dies.  “I know just how you feel”…. “It will get better with time”… “This pain you’re feeling will eventually turn into a dull ache”… “You’ll get through it”… “I’m so sorry, sweetie”… so many loving, kind, well-meaning phrases that don’t necessarily take the pain away, but make the pain a little easier to bear because it’s being shared.

I know that I’m not alone in my grief because so many others have been where I am at this moment.  It doesn’t make things “better”, but it does make things a little more bearable.  It also helps that I have a crew of people who have my back.  My husband, sister, cousins, friends, neighbors, co-workers… I can feel their support, love, prayers, and know that, because of them, I can push through to do whatever is needed.  I can make the phone calls, organize the paperwork, weed through all the items, and make the decisions that come with the death of someone you love.  I can continue to take those steps.

Two steps forward, one step back… or is it one step forward, two steps back… either way, grief seems to be a daily tango of sorts… and it truly is a daily tango.  I can feel strong and ready to face any obstacle that may come my way, but let one kind, loving person do the “sympathetic head tilt” and I’m a quivering mess of tears.

Adulting is rough and I never seem to be prepared for that wave of grief that crashes over me when I least expect it.  My cousin told me that, when our grandfather died, his youngest daughter (her mom/my Aunt Jody) had complained that she had just wanted life to stop for awhile… to allow her to concentrate on her grief and not deal with the day-to-day.  The more I reflect on that thought, the more I understand and can commiserate.  I have a “Happy Yellow Lab” personality and while people, for the most part, have been understanding, it can still feel daunting at times to put on that happy smile and focus on the positive.

So while I learn to adjust to this new world in which my mom is no longer here, prayers for strength really are the best thing anyone can offer.  I’m doing ok, but that changes day-to-day and sometimes minute-to-minute.   It’s been a month…

Here’s to making it through the first month… and giving thanks to everyone for their prayers for the ones to come.

I miss you, Mum.

 

Mum’s Funeral January 9, 2017

Filed under: Blessings,Family — beatitudesofmylife @ 9:22 am
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I finally slept on Sunday night.  It’s been a long time coming, but I am finally beginning to feel human again.fullsizerender-2-1
The funeral service is over… and I really believe she would have loved it. People from every stage and segment of her life came to pay tribute and share their stories with us and with one another. I was so very glad to know that they felt that the service was a fitting tribute to our mom… it was heart wrenching and achingly difficult to create, but I am so glad that I pushed for each piece.

The private internment was first. Neither my sister nor I wanted to speak, so we asked Jennifer+ to conduct the service. She then poured part of mum’s ashes fullsizerenderinto the ground and scooped a bit of the dirt onto her ashes. She turned, handing the scoop off and Jessica, Tucker, Eric, then Me, Michael, Drew, Evan and Gabbie each in turn took that silver scoop and laid some dirt over her ashes before letting Pastor Jennifer finish. It was hard, but it was simple and lovely. Deb had selected a sweet spot off to the back side of one of the high benches and it seemed perfect. We then needed to go back into the church to collect ourselves before the service… thank God there was a back route into the chapel so we could avoid other people at that moment.

When it came to the mechanics of the service, my sister Jessica didn’t want to have much input, other than having Amazing Grace at the beginning and Silent Night at the end. I wasn’t a fan of doing Amazing Grace but if Jess found comfort in that piece, it was worth having it done. We both remembered Silent Night as mum’s favorite because it had been Mimi Bream’s favorite, so that was a fitting end. The rest was left to me.

The service started out with an introduction by Pastor (the Rev Dr.) Jeff Gibelius, who pronounced Mum’s middle name incorrectly… and with so many Bream family members present, I couldn’t let that slide. Gently but firmly, I corrected our family pronunciation and let him know that this was the *correct* way to pronounce her name… with a long A sound instead of the long E in Bream. While some chuckled, I could feel Mum smiling at my correction and that felt good.

We then moved to the three verses that I chose. I didn’t know Evan wasn’t feeling well and he hadn’t realized that I wanted him to speak (forgot to text him when he got back from London), but I’m so glad that he did. I was also grateful to know that he told his Aunt Laurie later that he was glad I pushed for him to speak. He had a horrible cold and felt lousy, but he did a beautiful job on the Psalm. Kudos to him for handling this with such skill and ease. I only wish now that I had asked both Evan and Bob to introduce themselves to the congregation so that people knew who they were when they read.

  • Psalm 121 (read by Evan Althouse – Mum’s second of three grandsons and my younger son):

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

  •  2 Timothy 4: 6-8 (read by Bob Wilkins – Jennie’s husband and Mum’s nephew-in-law): *Note: the service bulletin actually cited verses 4-8 but I asked Bob to only read 6-8, which he kindly agreed to do.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 

  • John 14:1-6, 27 (read by Pastor Jeff of 2nd Pres) *Note: the church likes to also read verses 25 and 26, but I requested that only verse 27 be read to end this passage.

1-6: Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: If it were not so, I would have told you.I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, ad the life; no man comes unto the Father, but by me. 27: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

We sang “In the Garden”… a Robin Hood favorite and one that I just love. How could I not include this wonderful hymn?  Remembered harmonies floated around me and I could feel the support of Robin Hood…. Miss Duncan, Miss Ruland, and all the CRH girls who had a hand in raising me…. helping me to be strong at such a difficult time.

The choir sang “We are the Lord’s”, which sounded so pretty. I personally wish there had been more harmony, but some of that could have been driven by the emotional nature of the service and the voice parts available… either way, Chris made a lovely choice and I’m sure my mother would have been pleased and so grateful to have them sing.

We then came to the “Remembrances” segment of the service.

  • My cousin, Jennie Wilkins, went first and absolutely owned her moment. She was eloquent, charming, engaging, funny, and so incredibly sweet in sharing all the different sides of her Auntie Gwenn… I couldn’t have done this and I am humbled and honored that she was the one of us who *could*. Adding in a SOCK reference was great and if she could have just been able to end with a “mic drop”, that would have brought down the house (and made her some $$ on the side)!
  • Second to share was my cousin, Wendy Bream Stoner, who read a message from Uncle Jack Bream. Listening to Uncle Jack’s words gave me such comfort and I am so blessed that he was able to share his thoughts of Mum, even though he was so far away. It meant the world to hear his voice through his daughter.
  • Bob Foster came next, a man who knew mum both through Real Estate and through the Carlisle Area Sertoma club, sharing his two stories. His vivid tales, first of my mom dressing him up as a woman and then of her great works through being Realtor of the Year and later Sertoman of the Year, truly added a wonderful dimension to the breadth and depth of my mother as a true Christian. I was so grateful to both Bob and Doug Gale for their participation.
  • To end the rememberances, I asked my husband, Michael, to read an excerpt from an Elizabeth Doris Fries poem that Mum and I had first heard at Uncle Johnny Beegle’s funeral in October. Mum loved it and we felt it was especially appropriate for today:

When tomorrow starts without me, and I am not here to see,

If the sun should rise and find your eyes all filled with tears for me,

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you,

And each time you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too.

But when tomorrow starts without me, please try to understand,

That Jesus came and called my name and took me by the hand.

He said my place is ready in heaven far above,

And that I have to leave behind all those I dearly love.

But when I walked through Heaven’s gate and felt so much at home,

As God looked down and smiled at me from his great golden throne.

He said “This is eternity, and all I’ve promised you, 

Today your life on earth is past but here it starts anew.

I promise no tomorrow but today will always last,

And since each day’s the same here, there’s no longing for the past.”

So when tomorrow starts without me, don’t think we’re far apart,

For every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart.

Much of Mum’s love of music was wrapped up in both her church choir and her participation in Sweet Adeline’s. We were so incredibly touched that they were able to participate in the day’s service by singing their version of “Mary, Did You Know”. I’m sure that Mum was so very grateful to each one who took their time to be with us that morning… I even felt that I could hear her voice from time to time, which made this piece even more special than I could have possibly put into the words “thank you”. I hope the Adelines who attended know just how much their singing touched my heart…

Mum’s pastor, Rev. Jennifer McKenna, then offered her words of hope to the congregation. She shared a bit of mum’s history, some personal memories and reminded us all that the glory of Jesus’ resurrection and that God’s Peace, where Mum now resides, is our ultimate focus. I know that I’ll get there eventually, but it was the human contact and individual memories that helped carry me through this difficult day.

My second musical (and CRH) request was to sing “The Old Rugged Cross”. Although the church’s version didn’t include it, my cousins and I added a traditional (for us) line during each chorus, which made me smile and meant even more than a simple hymn ever could. My cousin leaned up and said that the music all sounded like angels, especially with the family positioned between the choir and the Adelines… a heavenly chorus to wash over us and cover us in love and music.

Following the traditional Prayer of Thanksgiving and The Lord’s Prayer, we sang “Silent Night” and followed it with Jack Larson’s “Peace Carol”. I wish we could have sung the two as a duet, as we used to do when Jack was at Second Pres, but I was glad to hear that piece, nonetheless. It brought my childhood and adulthood into a lovely harmony and allowed me to reconcile them to one another.

Our family was ushered into the rotunda after the service’s final blessing and I was given an incredible gift… the gift of thanking and showing my appreciation to all those who took their time to honor my mom by attending the service that day. I know there are some who weren’t able to wait in line or had other obligations… I know there were some who had to leave quickly because of developing weather fronts… but I hope that the following message reaches each person who took the time to attend her service or has spent a moment at ANY time, praying for our peace and comfort, but especially as we paid homage to our grief in such a public way.

You ALL made my mother’s life better… You made her feel needed and wanted and loved… You allowed her to participate in your life in a way that touched her heart and gave credence to the Godly woman she always strived to emulate. She knew that she had people in her life that had her back and she felt the love that we all crave. YOU did that for my mother and I will forever be grateful for every single person who impacted the life of Gwenn Bream Drum. She was loved, she was happy, and she is now no longer in pain. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the incredibly beautiful Service of Witness to the Resurrection on January 7, 2017. 

May God bless you all…

There is a Magic Something, camp so dear

That fills my heart with gladness all the year

Every girl who’s been here, has that Something in her

It is the Spirit of Camp Robin Hood.

In memory of Gwenn “Tookie” Bream

Green Team Captain 1951, KIG

 

The “Santa Plan” December 5, 2016

Filed under: Christmas,Family,Holidays — beatitudesofmylife @ 10:10 am
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I have always been firmly entrenched in the “Santa is real” camp.  I love the mystery and the excitement that comes with believing in Santa and love sharing that with others.  I feel that the best way to continue that belief, as we get older, is to strive to become more Santa-like in our approach to the holiday season in general and to our fellow man in particular.  That being said, the question of how to create that “Santa is real” feeling in our kids can be a daunting task.  Here’s how we chose to represent Santa in our family.

santa2016

When my boys were young, I found it increasingly difficult to figure out how I was going to adequately respond to their analytical questions as they got older.  M is a fact-and-numbers kind of guy while I am more of a touchy-feely person, so I needed to come up with a plan that worked for both of us.  We also lived far from family who wanted to give things to our boys, so I needed to make sure those gifts were properly thanked and appreciated.  On our first Christmas as parents, I realized just how difficult this could become, given that we used money from relatives to purchase items that our boys wanted to find “from Santa” under the tree.  Why did someone else get credit for the gifts that my child/ren would receive?!?  Enter our “Santa Plan”.

At our house, Santa only leaves one present.  That Santa present is usually the big/bulky gift that’s hard to wrap… and sometimes darn near impossible… cozy-coupe3remember this “must-have” gift?  This was the “Santa gift” for D  when he was 5 years old and we got a similar one for E when he was old enough.  We lived in military housing (and a third floor apartment) at that time, so these cars ended up being indoor toys.  As the boys got older, the Santa gift adjusted and became something that both boys could use and enjoy, but it was always something big.  We explained it to them by saying that we’d “told” Santa that we’d rather have him focus on giving gifts to those kids who needed him more so we asked him to just bring one present and leave it unwrapped.

One of my favorite Santa gifts was one of the last gifts the boys got from Santa (before we dropped all the pretense and simply gave our kids their gifts from us)… a 7-in-one game table.  I bought it at a Black Friday sale and M/I put it together in our bathroom a few nights before we left for PA that year.  To heighten the surprise, we sent a letter to my mom’s house “from Santa” explaining that Santa knew we were spending the holiday with family, instead of at our house, and that he wanted them to know that he had left their Santa Gift in our living room for them to have when we got back home.  M/I loaded the van and were ready to leave for PA when M said he needed to do one last task before we left and asked for my help… so we left the boys in van and quickly moved the game table from our bathroom and into the Living Room before heading out for a PA holiday.  The boys read their Santa letter on Christmas morning and were really excited to come home to see if he’d actually come to our house while we were gone.  The look on their faces when we let them race in before us was worth all the hiding we’d done… “Santa really DID come”… they were so excited!

One thing that I wish we’d incorporated into our Santa Plan was the concept of a “Santa Key”.  We have lived in a few places without chimneys (apartments or houses without a fireplace), so this idea would have worked well.  The plan is to use a special old key that you leave on the outside door to your home for Santa to use on Christmas Eve – those skeleton keys are perfect and you can spray paint them gold to make them look even more festive.  Santa enters your house, using his special Santa Key, leaves his gift(s), and then places the key on the tree for the kids to find on Christmas morning.  Since we didn’t do the traditional cookies-and-milk-left-out-for-Santa thing, this is a fun way for the kids to search for proof that Santa had indeed stopped by their house.

However you teach your children about Santa, may this coming holiday season be one of childlike wonder and wide-eyed joy at all that can be good about Santa’s presence in our lives.  Wishing you a Happy Ho-Ho-Holiday, however you celebrate!

 

 
tawnyajean.wordpress.com/

☕42 Momma of 5 🍍Cali 🍕Eat My Emotions 🦄Unicorn 🤓Nerd Introvert 👻shakomomma 💎Health Coach

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