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SALT LAKE CITY — As a mother in the go-go of Christmas preparations, I don’t have to look far to find a Grinch. Too often, when I want to feel the holiday spirit the most, I show it the least, and to those I love the best. This Christmas, try using the childhood adage of “stop, look and listen” to truly feel the joy.
Instead of racing from store to home to school event, pause. Think to yourself, “Is this essential?” So often in our busyness we become disconnected from our gift-giving and good works. Try simplifying.
In her book "Simplify," author Carolyn Rasmus says, “to simplify is about enhancing our ability to focus on things that really matter, to deliberately choose our priorities, and to refuse to let unimportant things take over the things of real of importance.”
To simplify is about enhancing our ability to focus on things that really matter, to deliberately choose our priorities, and to refuse to let unimportant things take over the things of real of importance.
–Carolyn Rasmus, author
To help me stop and think about what matters most this season, I’m posting on my blog a daily scripture and thought about a character trait of Jesus Christ.
I once heard a story about a beautiful town made of gold. People would slowly walk through the streets, gazing at the beauty and lingering to talk to one another. Then one day, someone discovered that by looking down at the sidewalk, they would arrive at their destination quicker. Soon, everyone was looking down and moving faster. But in the process, the beautiful town began to fade, until it no longer existed.
While you shop or visit, remember to look around you. See the beautiful deep red poinsettias, the clear twinkling Christmas tree lights, the giddy smiles on children’s faces as they point to a favorite toy. Look around you and likely you’ll feel an emotion or see a need.
A few years ago I stood in line at the post office and “looked.” I saw a tall, stooped older gentleman who stood at a side counter staring at a pile of Christmas cards and envelopes, looking very overwhelmed. Walking to him I asked if I could help. He told me his wife had just passed away and that she always did the cards. Taking a few minutes, I helped him organize and prepare the stacks. My help wasn’t anything amazing, but that sweet experience has continued to remind me to look.
Pause and listen to the Christmas sounds you hear: the Salvation Army bell ringers at stores, the choirs of young children’s voices at the mall, the familiar old Christmas carols on the radio. They are once-a-year sounds, so take them in.
And listen for keeper moments, those unexpected or imperfect experiences that make it memorable. A few years ago I started a Holiday Journal. It was nothing fancy, and definitely not consistent, but I recently found this hilarious entry from Easter 2006:
“What a day. Prepped the night before for Easter beautifully: all groceries in, Sunday clothes laid out, Easter treats already bought and ready for assembling, the house clean.
"Then Sunday dawned. I felt terrible, exhausted, headache, thyroid stuff. Then forgot to put the ham in the oven. It sat on the counter, prepped, for three hours, while the oven sat on. This didn’t register until the closing prayer at church. Then in (the women's church meeting), I was holding Sophie but her foot caught as I went past the lesson table and down went the beautiful flowers. On and on it went…
"At home, I put on my PJs and told Dave, I’m going to bed. Then I heard Ethan come in the front door yelling, ‘Hey, why did you forget me at church?’ Yes, we had forgotten him completely, and didn’t even know it until he came home, which was a good 20 minutes later. The lady that brought him home called from the (clergy’s) office so now everyone knew we were loser parents…
"The whole day went like that, just totally off…honestly, I couldn’t wait until the children went down, they were like popcorn, crying, whining, fighting. I thought, heaven help me. That was our Easter…”
No matter what this holiday season brings, try a little stop, look, and listen to truly be a more joyful mother. And as my gift, enjoy free “Simplify & Savor the Season” podcasts at www.8basics.com.
Connie Sokol is an author, presenter, TV contributor and mother of seven. Visitwww.conniesokol.comto see more of her work.