Beautifying the Holidays

Let’s Enjoy Each Other’s Company.

The Holidays can be a difficult time for year for many people. Whether it’s due to a loss of a loved one, being alone and not having people to share it with, or the stress inflicted by relatives around you, it is also the time of year we can step back and learn to appreciate the simple pleasures in life, such as family, friends, our daily blessings and to become more grateful while giving back to others.

Sometimes we forget how to handle the stress of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years that we get caught up in ourselves and our own desires, while forgetting the needs of others. Instead of focusing on the gifts, the food, or the parties, let’s focus on spending time together or going out of our way for someone who is dealing with a difficult time. Learn to enjoy the company of every person, whether we get along or not. Annoy them with kindness! You know the saying, “kill them with kindness”.

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Credit: DMHeckenkamp

This isn’t easy advice to follow. It’s easier to give our time and money to those we love and show respect in return, but sometimes it means more to out of our way and enjoy the company of those who we cannot handle! Enjoy your Holiday Season and take time to think and care for not only those you love but those who might annoy you, but also are deserving of love too.

The Special Moments.

1.   Pick one person in your life who needs to feel loved and do something extra special for them. Send them flowers, make them cookies or even a funny card in the mail will brighten their day.

2.   Go out of your way to invite someone out for coffee who might annoy you, but needs a shoulder to lean on.

3.   Make extra time for those you love. You might make a small effort here, but don’t they deserve your time and attention. Even setting up a date night for you and your significant other or even more fun, schedule a date night for a couple who hasn’t had a night out without the kids in awhile.

4.   Truly take the time to listen to someone. Instead of zoning out when someone is seeking advice or even just to be listened to, maybe try to absorb what they are saying and be interested in them.

5.   Learn to love others more than yourself. This might seem obvious, or you are rolling your eyes at this point, but life has enough tragedies, woes and selfish people who want the attention all the time. Take a moment to accept your sufferings, appreciate your blessings, and stop dwelling on your own problems, oftentimes you will realize that others have it much worse and are in dire need of a friend.

The Importance of Family Time

As the cooler temperatures creep upon us, (what do I mean creep? It has been in the 70’s and 80’s for far too long in Wisconsin) it is that time of year when we all need to take a step back and examine more than just our life, but the lives of those around us. With the start of school and fall activities, one thing should become clear to us as the carefree days of summer disappear – the importance of family/framily time.

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Photo Credit: Katy Oberst

Family dinners were always a huge part of my childhood and even though my brothers and I might have missed a few when we were in high school, in exchange for our sports and after school clubs, but looking back, I wish we hadn’t. I’m very grateful for those activities, but looking at the bigger picture they appear very insignificant now. But I suppose that is part of life and learning to grow into a better person.

From the moment my husband and I started our family, we wanted to focus on family time, and so every night we sit down to eat as a family. I am grateful for this, no matter if we are rushed some nights to get out the door for soccer or if other nights we enjoy an hour dinner to make up for the rushed evenings, but this is our time and something that we value. This means putting away any distraction for the time being – whether that’s homework, cell phones, work papers, none of that matters during our dinners.

Family time doesn’t only include dinners, but we heavily value our Sundays. Each weekend it may look different, but overall, it is quality time spent with our children. Whether getting together with extended family for a game of soccer in the backyard, watching the Packers, or taking a naps after enjoying brunch, whatever encompasses our Sunday, it always includes time with our kids.

I’m not going to pretend that technology is obsolete on a Sunday and we have resorted to the “Old” Days, but we don’t want to waste too much time with those distractions. It isn’t always easy, because sometimes all I want to do is scroll through Twitter mindlessly. But that isn’t what my children need and when it comes to “family time” it’s about our family as a whole not as individuals.

So, find what keeps your family grounded. How do you come together? Are you working towards something bigger than just one or two people? How do you create an experience that not only allows, but forces you to understand and learn more about each other? If we don’t know the members of our immediate family, then we aren’t truly living. These are the people who will be there for us through thick and thin (even if it takes awhile to get over last year’s family reunion) but they are still family.  It might take awhile to find your family’s “thing” and sometimes if you have been gifted with a friend who is like family then you are truly blessed to open your circle and to grow in love. Continue searching, and eventually, you will find what brings your family joy and you won’t want to let it go. It will be worth missing the parties, the overtime at work, lunch with friends, and even the addicting Instagram stories because your family is where you can be yourself and where you can rejuvenate for the upcoming week. Put your family as a priority and everything else will quickly fall into line.

Motherhood is More than a Mirror Image

We all do it. We all stand in front of the mirror every morning, some mornings are less hectic than others. But we all stand in front of that mirror looking for the flaws, the pieces of us that only we can see. The pieces of don’t really make us into the person we are inside. This rings true even more so with mothers. There’s something about mothers, who sacrifice each day of their lives for the sake of their family, but only focus on the negatives and I am no exception to this bad habit. It’s time that we truly begin to value our worth and learn to love ourselves as we are. We stand in front of that mirror with self-pity, something my grandmother told me to never have, yet there it is creeping in. But why? Why do we allow ourselves to only focus on the mirror image?

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Credit: DMHeckenkamp

Maybe it’s from the fact that we spend more time getting our children ready than ourselves. Shower? Who has time for a shower?

Maybe it’s because we spend hours making dinner, but only get an opportunity to finish the toddler’s plate of picked-over food. We really can’t blame the toddler for our actions.

Maybe it’s because we no longer find the desire to go shopping for clothing because it either won’t fit or it will only get covered in food from the two year old’s fingers.

Maybe it’s because we would rather spend the time sleeping than taking a shower and putting on makeup. We have all been there.

Maybe it’s because leggings are more comfortable than anything else. Don’t get me started on my opinion of leggings as pants.

Moms. These aren’t good enough excuses. Yes, we have a tough job, one of the toughest as we teach our children how to obey, behave in social situations, and learn life lessons, but they still aren’t good enough excuses.

We are all tired, and yes, there are many different stages of motherhood. Of course, if you just had a baby, you get a pass. If you are going through mental turmoil, you get a pass. If there is a death in the family, you get a pass. But don’t allow these passes to become part of your everyday routine. If we want to teach our children to be upstanding citizens one day, then be their first example. Teaching is more than just speaking words, it is actions. Just like the infamous saying, “actions speak louder than words.” Something my grandmother would repeat to me on a daily basis. What are our actions saying to our children?

Are we telling our children, by our behavior, that only high expectations apply to others? Or are we setting the bar high for ourselves making it easier for our children to follow, because they will follow. Are we showing ours friends, family, and strangers that we have given up on life during this “stage”? Because if that’s the case, then motherhood doesn’t look very appealing to young women.

Motherhood is difficult, but did we really expect it to be easy? There are countless expectations from society and even ones we put on ourselves. Motherhood is a gift, a true vocation of pure selflessness. That doesn’t mean we should take care of everyone else and not ourselves. We must also care for ourselves, because if we don’t, our families and friends will also suffer the consequences.

Motherhood is not a mirror image. What you see is not what you get. EVER. But that is fine. We must only be able to recognize who we truly are within ourselves so that we may help our families thrive and our children learn to grow in virtue and goodness. If we are to look for what is good, true, and beautiful, as mothers, we should be the first to portray that image. For if families cannot be the first to give this gift to society, then what do we have left to rely upon? Because the world is dark and full of heartache, yet, what better place to bring light than through ourselves as mothers and through our children. We can’t change the hate in the world, but we can start by taking care of ourselves which will in turn transfer to our children – the ultimate gift from God.

 

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Credit: DMHeckenakmp