November Thanks #26 | 3 Gifts Preparing

A thirty-day exercise in pausing, reflecting, appreciating, and giving thanks for simple things.

I love the surge of anticipation and energy that runs through me when I’m preparing for a special event or holiday gathering. It lifts my spirits and reminds me that life is good. Some days I need reminding.

Today is my husband’s birthday, a milestone birthday. He wants to celebrate it quietly without any reminders of the exact milestone. Unfortunately for him, all his family and friends know the milestone and they’re not going to be quiet about it. Coming the day before Thanksgiving, and all the preparations that come with the holiday, his birthday could easily get swept to the side but I won’t let that happen. A birthday needs celebrating, even quietly. Yesterday I went to the store and bought a small container of gelato, a special flavor that my husband loves. The store was having a sale if you buy two, so I bought a second one in the flavor I love. I hid the two small containers in the freezer, planning to surprise my husband with them for dessert after his birthday dinner tonight.

Last night as I prepared for bed, I took my usual hot, soaking bath. It’s a time of meditation for me, a practice in mindfulness. It frees my mind of stress and allows me to get a good night’s sleep. But sometimes my mind gets free of all the clutter and I remember something very important or I get a really great idea for a story that I need to write down. And that happened last night, so after my bath I came downstairs to jot down some notes and what did I discover? My husband eating a small container of gelato! And it was the flavor I had bought for myself! Just like a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar, my husband grinned and said, “Happy birthday to me!” Indeed.

Tucked alongside birthday plans and Thanksgiving preparations are the beginnings of decorating for Christmas. The first decoration I put up is a collection of porcelain houses. I have quite a large assortment and it’s really quite a bit of work. Some years I didn’t put them up and my daughters, one especially, complained. It is such a part of their Christmas tradition to have those houses lit up. This year, the complaining daughter offered to come help me put up the houses. What fun! And today is the moment when we both could do it, so TA DA! up go the houses. Well, not yet. It is still very early in the morning. The house is quiet, the sky is just starting to wake with light. Some neighbors have left for work; others are tucked quietly in their houses. And here I am, enjoying the tranquility that can only be found in the quiet of the morning, before all chaos breaks loose.

Oh, but how I love the chaos and the commotion! Birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas all rolled into one today! Imagine the surge of energy and excitement running through us all. Anticipation!

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