These days from the week before Thanksgiving to the first of the year happen in rapid fire fashion do they not? The television, store ads, and aisles all call to us to buy more, spend more, and go go go more. As an old mother of four young adults I find that the real treat of the holidays is gathering time for together in small moments. While a budget spent on a big item or many presents under a tree or for Hannukah may bring an emotional moment, the memories most of us carry a lifetime have to do with a events of a miniature scale that remain with us a lifetime. A word, a moment, ann experience with a loved one.
The Berrys are a blended family, so most of our Thanksgivings and Christmases have had alternate dates if not travel involved in them. In early years the real moments of the season came in non-traditional experiences to say the least. In this day of instant mashed potatoes and hurry scurry ways, we find that taking time to gather together to do things together is part of the magic of our family. Learning to work together, sharing stories of earlier years or grandmother’s days, using recipes or aprons that an Aunt might have used or one like they might have used helps our children to know who we are as a family. Does that mean we have Grandmother Anne’s china? Heaven’s no, there were three of us growing up and Dad still has it, but we have chosen to find at yard sales and other sources glasses like Grandmother Geddies. A rollingpen that reminds us of Aunt Lois and a recipe that keeps us connected.
Miles often separate families this time of year. Our dad is often in the Middle East, so Skype becomes our go-to resource to share moments together. Dad may help wrap a a present by being present (sometimes at his early hours when it was our evening) to be near a child for 2-3 moments and share in the tasking of Christmas. A recorded story book thrilled even our young teens as Dad read traditional verses and books of the season on an mp3. Children, now young adults, start newsletters on email and as its forwarded each family adds their paragraphs until its back around to them all in a final form…usually giggling all the way.
Text messaging may be my personal nemesis, but it keeps us all on the same page when friends and I sometimes shop Target 800 miles apart. Face to Face on my iphone makes it a giddy experience if not an auditory one as we share picking out special things for our children’s stockings. It may be 5 minutes of fun but its keeping our friendship fresh and warm.
Our family isn’t perfect, but as we gather time for each other and take time to do special moments for each other we remember just how thankful we are that we have family and friends. Many of our family have passed on, so we have adopted new friends and elder ones who give us joy in their presence and hopefully the joy is shared. My daughter Madison loves to pass out quick gifts to strangers, a box of chocolate covered cherries, and mittens or socks, to folks we pass by with a card that says “Merry Christmas.” It is not only our homeless who are hurting this Christmas…so many simply need to be reminded that they too matter. Whether a card of hope or a hug or warmth, what can you do to gather folks to you?