Welcome to my Kindermusik space...

A place to refresh your love of music, your wonder in children, and your peace in parenting well.

Saturday, December 22

Baking and belonging

Beautiful day today.  Christmas-y.
Grey skies, but the snow is falling.
Freezing outside.  Warm by the oven.
Gifts wrapped under the tree (this hardly ever happens for me before Christmas Eve)
Candles burning.
Dishes washed.
Dog sleeping on the couch wishing she could go out for a walk in the -20° weather.
Preparation lists are made and ready to be checked off.

Last night I was contemplating (OK, think/complaining) about how much of the Christmas preparation is Mom's job.  Shopping, wrapping, baking, cooking, decorating.  But then in a flash of recollection I remembered several blogs I had read this past week on the beauty of "normal" and how, so often, just being with our family is such a forgotten blessing.  Attitude check.  So very happy to be able to do THIS.

Got me to thinking about 6 Christmases ago when my Dad was so suddenly taken from this world and how glad the family was to have each other around the Christmas Day table even though we all were still in shock about Dad being "home for Christmas".  I think about that each year around this time.  That the real gift is having people you love, who love you back.  Belonging to another.  Being someone's daughter.  Someone's friend.  Someone's mother.  Someone's someone special.  All the rest is just tokens of that.  Reminders of the real thing.

Like many families, ours has some that won't be there for Christmas.  My Dad.  My grandparents.
But we will remember them through shared memories.  For me and many in my family we have food memories.  Music memories.  Holiday memories.

Going to my grandparent's house and making a giant puzzle over the course of several days.  Aunts and uncles putting in a few pieces here and there.  My grandma putting in a few more.  Children scrambling to find one to press in.  (Do you remember the sweet feeling of pushing a piece in and having it just fit?)  And always there were grandma's buns.  No one could make them like her.  She didn't even use a written recipe she had made them so many times.   As a teenager, I thought that someone had to learn to make "Grandma's buns" because one day she won't be around to make them and the recipe will be lost forever.  So I went over one day and she talked me through the procedure, and I wrote it down.

Well, today as I was making "Grandma's buns" for the umpteenth time, I did a mental flash forward to tomorrow when we gather around my extended family's table in Spruce Grove and how we will all remember Grandma as we pass around the bread basket.  And how we will remember my maternal grandmother as we pass the "corn pudding".

And I will forever think of my son Colson when I make the "candy cane cookies" - his request every year!  My daughter always wants sugar cookies.   And my son Evan wanting the gingerbread cookies from the recipe I got from his Kindergarten teacher on the first day he went to school.

My Mom always brings the Krem (a Swedish dessert from dried fruit and served with whipped cream and chopped walnuts, and a marachino cherry on top if you prefer).

There will be a turkey.  Tons of mashed potatoes for my nieces who will make mountains and pour in a lake of gravy.  But there will be a gathering of hearts.  Amidst the table talk and passing of pickles and laughing over how we serve up pickled herring that so few people take, we will hold our family collection of memories with those around the table and those who are watching from heaven.   We will hug and laugh and pass out presents, and be glad to belong to each other.

The food is just a token to remind us of that.  Maybe that's why we call it our comfort food.
Comfort and Joy to you this Christmas!
And love.

Sunday, December 16

More of what you really want

I'd like to start by saying that Christmas is one of my favourite times of year!
The decorations
The food
The happy feeling you get by sharing a greeting of "Merry Christmas" to friends and strangers alike
The shows
The candles

But one thing has been escaping me the last few Christmases.

The quiet moments of reflection
The settled evenings by the fire
The just being together with the people I love without an agenda of program or presents

So a few weeks ago, I had an idea.  Instead of trying to juggle my daily agenda to be able to squeeze in one more important "to do" item, I was going to daily try to do one thing less than I would have otherwise done.  I am forever struggling with wanting to do "just one more thing".  

Look at one more store
Wipe off one more counter
Put away a few more papers
Pick up a few more things at the grocery store
Put in one more load of laundry before I leave
Send out one more email
Make one more batch of cookies

Sometimes the "one more thing" would end up meaning that I'd lost the big picture and didn't have time for what I most wanted - the quiet moment with a book, a song, or a friend.  In my attempts to make my environment suitable for having a perfect moment, I would miss out on what I was creating the mood for - the main event of peace and a full heart.

Well as the saying goes, if you want things to turn out differently you have to start by doing things differently.  So I made the decision to let my mind make the list of the things I "needed" to do, and then take one thing off.  My first reaction was panic - like the world as I knew it was going to be in disarray and I wouldn't be able to shut off my sense of disappointment with not accomplishing my list.

But as it turns out, doing one thing less has led to a greater sense of joy and peace.  I've had a bit of tongue-in-cheek laughter over just "lowering your standards" if things start getting beyond your ability to control, but the truth is that sometimes my standards got in the way of my heart's true satisfaction.  No amount of fresh cookies or striving for a perfectly clean home ever made my heart feel content like spending an evening with my husband, or putting my feet up and curling up with a good book, or having a fire in the fireplace with a cup of tea in my hand while listneing to my kids playing the piano.  Or just reading the Christmas cards that come to our home from friends and family far and near and taking the time to send a note back.

So many good things call for my attention each day.  So many things I thought I'd like to have done.  But choosing to do one thing less has helped me to feel like I actually have done more of what matters.     Seems so simple.