Hope Keeps It Simple

christmas-pine conesBecause life is easier when it’s simple, I have decided to merge that principle into my holiday celebrations.

What used to be a November and December filled with activities and the traditional holiday set-ups, I have now prefaced with the following questions:

  • How can I simplify the holidays?
  • What gives me the most joy about Thanksgiving and Christmas?
  • What changes do I need to make that keep the spirit of the season yet make life easier?

Christmas Cards

Although I love to send and receive greeting cards throughout the year, the business of addressing and mailing Christmas cards to my entire address list has become overkill. I hereby determine to simplify the process.

I still believe all these people are important in my life, yet I am setting a card boundary. This year, I will save time, money and energy on Christmas cards. Please don’t be offended if you are deleted. Consider this your greeting: Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

Holiday Treats

In the past, I have baked and frosted, wrapped and packaged treats for my neighbors, the postman, people at work and anyone else in my life who did not receive a store-bought gift. This year will be different.

The temptation of cookie dough in my large pottery bowl and the smell of rising breads no longer attract me. This year, my kitchen table will NOT be spread with powdered sugar treats fondly called People Puppy Chow. My body will thank me, because I am always tempted to eat half of them.

I vow to protect my heart, my brain and my arteries from excess powdered sugar. I am setting a culinary boundary.

Holiday Decorations

Throughout the years, my house has often sported decorations in every room. Walking through Pier One, Hallmark stores or Kirkland during this time of the year gives me great joy.

But since a stager opened my eyes to a more simplified décor, I have decided to change my holiday habits.

Compared to other years, the mantel will seem sparse. My theme is pine cones which remind me of the New Mexico mountains. Simple yet beautiful – a display of God’s creation accented with little pearl lights.

Many former decorations, I will give away. It feels good to share the beauty of my past with someone else. My little tree with its tiny pre-lit globes still works. No need to buy the newer versions.

A simpler Christmas helps me focus more on the meaning of the holiday rather than the trappings of it. The joy of Christmas-giving still belongs with the young, so I have fun planning gifts for my son. The rest of us don’t need any more stuff.

The holiday surprise of 2018 is the joy of simplification. More room on my storage shelves with less stuff to store. More space in each room. More things to give away and share with someone else.

When I surround myself ONLY with the things that bring me joy, the essential leftovers offer pleasure. And in the choice to simplify my holidays, joy follows into the new year.

A toast of eggnog to all my followers. Enjoy your version of the holidays and let me know in the comments how you will celebrate.

©2018 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

If you’d like to share a Christmas gift with me, check out my Author Page on Amazon. The purchase of a book or a written review is always acceptable.

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Seeking Hope After Christmas

Because I love Christmas, it is always a bittersweet challenge to pack up everything, tape the boxes closed and carry Christmas to the basement.mantel after Xmas

I simply cannot endure the thought of an entire year before I pull out the twinkle lights, caress my angel collection and replay memories associated with the ornaments.

This Christmas was especially difficult as my son had to work through the holidays. I missed being with him as I remembered Christmases past and the excitement of a little boy discovering his first drum set, a giant box of Legos and a package of plastic army men.

This Christmas also brought more confusion for my mother. Her Alzheimer’s side effects seem to peak during the holidays, when I long for her to remember the daughter she sewed for, the special box of books she placed under the tree with my name on the tag, my excitement when I opened that box and knew I would soon be transported into the mysterious world of Nancy Drew.

This year, Mom didn’t even remember that Dad now lives in heaven. Our quality time was nonexistent, and when I drove her back to assisted living – she argued about living there. She couldn’t even remember why someone had given her presents.

So to preserve some joy of the season, I rearranged my pearl lights on the mantel and merged winter accessories with pine cone candles. Just a touch of Christmas to lessen the loss.

But I needed more. I have learned the best way to preserve the joy of Christmas is to proactively use my Christmas cards. I keep them in a pile beside my Bible, then each morning throughout January and February, I choose one card and pray for that person or the family that sent the card.

I remember special friends and family members, clients and colleagues by reminding God of their importance in my life, lifting up their needs to the only one who can fulfill them.


It helps me tolerate the cold fingers of winter as I focus on the warm love of the God who transcends every season and time.


So as we move into 2016, let’s all try to find more tangible ways to seek hope.

Then next year during Christmas, we can celebrate with extra joy.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

 

Shadows of Alzheimer’s

The shadows of the autumn leaves dance across the blinds in my office. I enjoy this extraordinary moment of now. shadows on GW blinds

With the changing of the season, I revel in the colors and textures – reds, oranges, golds – blended with the green leftovers of summer. The crunch of tiny acorns under my walking shoes, a pubescent pine cone that fell too early. Orange pumpkins reign near my almost-gone summer annuals.

These are the sights and sounds of autumn, often referred to as the harvest season.

In the Reverend G books, our brave little minister wonders how to deal with her own shadows of Alzheimer’s – the seasons that come and go, leaving her a bit more confused, a bit closer mentally to her younger self even as her physical body ages. She yearns to share her faith with the residents at Cove Creek yet she can’t quite remember how to speak the Gospel.

In one of my favorite scenes in the third book, Reverend G tries to preach a sermon and jumbles the story in an endearing yet tragic attempt to speak about her faith. What a character she is and how bravely she tries to deal with this disease that has stolen even the memory of ministry from her!

In this season of change, I wonder about my mother, too. How does she deal with the shadows on her plastic blinds in assisted living? Does she remember the changing colors of the trees on the farm? Does she still long for those autumnal moments or have they completely retreated in the Alzheimer-forming plaque that captures her brain?

I so want her to remember this season of autumn for its beauty, the crisp air and the promise of harvest. I long for my mother to recall with joy the way we celebrated with church folks, joined in a giant pot luck and sang, “We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing.”

I hope Mom still rejoices within that sacred holy of holies inside her soul, that she somehow catches a tune from the past, the aroma of pumpkin pies cooling on the cabinet and the presence of her beloved Hank next to her.

And just in case my genes fail me and throw me also into Alzheimer’s shadows, I will rejoice in the now and enjoy today. I will continue to walk in the crisp air, crunch tiny acorns under my feet and praise God for the colors and textures of autumn.

For how else can we deal with shadows but to look for the remaining light. And how else can we face something as horrific as Alzheimer’s unless we look beyond it to the harvest of heaven.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1