Welcome to the December Mindful Mama Carnival: Staying Mindful During the Holiday Season
This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants have shared how they stay mindful during the holiday season. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
The second Christmas of our marriage, and the first with our six-month-old baby, the beautiful flesh of our child made the whole miracle of incarnation new for me, and that newness touched on kairos (God’s time, not human time).
Now, all these years later, I plunge into the delightful business of painting Christmas ornaments with my grandchildren; I hear the hammer as Bion puts together a dolls’ house which looks remarkably like Crosswicks, our house in the country; the New York kitchen smells fragrant with Christmas cookies; this, for me, is incarnation. ~Madeleine L’Engle, Miracle on 10th Street
At this point I don’t think I’m going to let a Mindful Mama Carnival get away without quoting Madeleine, but this is one I definitely couldn’t leave out when talking of mindfulness during the holidays. Miracle on 10th Street is a book my mom bought me quite a few years ago, one I like to re-read every Christmas.
It’s a collection of story, meditations, letters, journal entries – all sorts of reflections from such a very wise woman, based on the time between Advent and the New Year.
I don’t just enjoy reading these stories – I find every year that I need them. Christmases have not always been wonderful (though many have), but there is much temptation to sink into melancholy or alternately frenzy as the maelstrom of commercialization that surrounds us reaches its high point – I find myself susceptible to both all too often.
Since having Bean, I’ve desired more strongly than ever to make the holidays a time of mindfulness and true celebration. Last year was good, though somewhat busier than I would have liked, and the joy of Bean and I visiting my family was tempered by the sadness of being separated from the husband when he wasn’t able to take vacation at that time.
This year is still an experiment in progress.
Another story Madeleine tells is how they make all their own Christmas cards and write long letters of the kind that may well only go out once a year. They refuse to allow the card companies to dictate their schedule, so many of the Christmas cards may not go out until Easter, which was very OK with them.
I think when I consider what I want for my family’s holiday, that is the kind of spirit I want to have. Laid back. Patient. Reflective. Community. Real.
Traditions and timeliness are things that are important to me and I want to maintain them, but I also want to learn where to say no.
This year we tried to get a Christmas tree on a weekend and found after an hour’s drive that the tree farm was jam packed with people and line ups as far as the eye could see. The trees were super expensive; the line to see Santa ended in tears (not terribly surprising) and ultimately it just wasn’t worth it for us to buy one there.
We hatched a plan to get a tree at Ikea, where they are basically free, but it would involve so much time and effort driving through traffic, fighting the crowds, trying to cut it shorter to make it fit our space, and ultimately only having it up for a few weeks – as I thought about it all, I came to the conclusion that it’s just not worth it.
This is not a time to try to fight to make something happen when it’s just too much. I could easily overload Bean and the husband with more such activities. I could easily increase my fret level about not having mailed my packages or cards yet. I could easily lament that everything is not going to fall perfectly into place when we have a toddler, two full time jobs, a generally messy house and two highly demanding pets to deal with on a daily basis.
But this year I’m not going to. We are making many of our gifts and will get them in the mail when we can. The house is probably going to stay generally messy. We might get a poinsettia or wreath in place of the tree, and we’ll do other things to decorate like hang up the stockings we already have right here.
Instead of trying to spend one more long headachey day waiting in lines or crowds, we’re planning a family morning in bed. Instead of spending tons of time and effort on an elaborate holiday dinner, we’re going to pick a few dishes and make them amazing. Instead of spending all our gift funds at the corporations, we’re weaning ourselves away from it as much as we can, making gifts homemade or experiential; including more focus on charity.
As with everything, it’s a journey. We don’t do it all perfectly and I doubt we ever will…we’ll take the easy way or feel discontent or allow the stress to overwhelm.
But ultimately I hope to take Madeleine as my inspiration and remember to be mindful – of family – of the meaning this holiday holds for me according to my beliefs – of this life that is so short that it is all the more necessary to make it count. In the end that is both the legacy and the memory I hope to pass down. I’m grateful yet again to Madeleine for teaching me in this as in so many things.
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Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Enjoying Busy Times Moment by Moment Amy at Peace 4 Parents offers a handful of simple pointers to make the most of any busy season in your life.
- Staying A Mindful Mama During The Holiday Season Terri at Eco-Crazy Mom shares her thoughts on being a mindful mama, while keeping your sanity throughout the holiday season..
- Holiday Parenting: The Gift of Natural Play Moorea at MamaLady shares her holiday plan for mindfully spending time with children in her extended family.
- The ABC’s of Mindful Parenting Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama provides a comprehensive list of Mindful Parenting Resolutions for 2012. In addition, she briefly reviews her mindful parenting journey for this past year.
- The 123′s of Mindful Parenting Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares part 3 of her Mindful Parenting series (Link will be live tomorrow, Dec 14).
- Mindful Mama Guest Post from Hybrid Rasta Mama Zoie at TouchstoneZ is honored to share Part 2 of Jennifer’s series on staying Mindful for the Holidays.
- Saying No to Plastic Toys Nada at minimomist and her husband Michael, have certain rules when it comes to toys for their daughter Naomi. Here’s how they deal with well-meaning gifts that don’t quite work for their family.
- Can you LOVE WHAT IS at Christmas? with so many expectations and no many people’s needs to accommodate, Patti at Jazzy Mama has decided to simply accept what can’t be changed and love whatever happens.
- Minimal Temptation, Minimal Gifting Adrienne at Mommying My Way shares how not exposing herself to tempting purchases, as well as having fun family traditions, helps keep her Christmas list under control.
- Choice And Consequence In Conscious Mindfulness Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares her realization that consciously monitoring our thoughts have a powerful effect on our lives, regardless of circumstances or influences.
- A Light in the Darkness Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about overcoming holiday blues through the miracle of motherhood.
- Nature-Inspired Christmas Tree Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling describes how she and her children discovered the beauty and simplicity of a nature-inspired holiday tree.
- Giving The Gift of Life Free Range Mama at My Healthy Green Family shares about teaching children how to look beyond the well-wrapped box and learn how to give. .
- Can a collection of moments be more than the whole? Tat at Mum in search asks how do you turn a holiday from hell into a series of beautiful moments?
- Flying Through the Holidays Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction discusses how a simple organizational plan has kept her holidays balanced.
- Celebrating Advent week to week Lauren at Hobo Mama finds that counting down weeks instead of days helps children with the long wait.
- 5 Ways to Stay Mindful This Holiday Season Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares ideas and photos that help her stay mindful throughout the holidays.
- Simplifying the Holidays Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shares how simplifying the holidays has made them more special for her.
- Mindfully Managing the Mania Erica at ChildOrganics fights against “the gimmes” and shares strategies for staying balanced during a time of year when it’s easy to overindulge.
- Six Ways to Enjoy the Holidays Without Losing Your Mindfulness Rachael at The Variegated Life shares tips on thinking less, planning less, doing less, and remembering.
- The Gift of Presence Darcel at The Mahogany Way explains how important it is to be present for and with her family during the Holidays.
- Mindfully meditating on celebrations Dionna at Code Name: Mama hosts this guest post from Child of the Nature Isle about desiring meaningful celebrations for the whole year.
- What Does It Really Mean? Staying Mindful Through the Holiday Season Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about how she stays in touch with what the holiday season means for her and her family, in spite of all the temptations to do otherwise!