Waking Up to My Moments: Remaining Present (Even) Amidst Holiday Madness

(written on Thanksgiving Day while at a cabin in the snow)

Here I am again— with the priceless gift of a few moments to myself.  Honestly, I can never get enough of this.

Even though I absolutely LOVE being with people and playing games and joking around and having deep conversations and playing in the snow (like I’ve been doing the past few days)… I also really really really treasure these moments when the house is quiet and I have some moments to snuggle up on a couch with a blanket on my legs, an open book or Bible, and a laptop open to my ongoing “journal” document.  Time to simply think and learn and reflect… and breathe.

These are the kind of moments I don’t want to lose sight of amidst the scurrying that typically accompanies the next month of holiday festivities.

Being with people all the time, while beautiful and mentally stimulating in its own way, doesn’t regenerate my mind and soul the way a simple cup of hot tea and a good mind-dump-into-my-prayer-journal session does.  It’s hard for me to really truly engage and be present in my moments when I’ve not had at least some moments to myself to unwind and declutter my brain.

I love my times with family and friends— and when I’m in the midst of those moments I typically don’t want them to end.  And yet: I also love these moments when I am gifted with the time to simply gaze out the window and notice the tiny flecks of snow dancing their way from the pine branches to the ground below.

These are the kind of moments I don’t want to lose sight of amidst the typical Holiday scurrying

I can hear the chatter and laughter from out back as my husband and kids toss snowballs at each other and zoom down the snow slide out there.  I was out there playing with them an hour ago, but soon started feeling cold, grumpy, and short-tempered for no apparent reason— so I decided to come inside and have some alone time with Jesus in hopes that it will rejuvenate me and help me be more civil to my people.   I’m happy for all the fun they’re obviously having, but I must admit: right now there is no where else I’d rather be than right here on this couch, feet kicked up on the armrest— all by myself.

This moment of solitude is just what I need in order for me to have the ability to tune back into the present moment and find the beauty and grace here.

It’s the simple things that bring me joy and remind me I’m alive: the sound of water in the potato pot bubbling in the kitchen as it prepares its contents for future mashed potatoes.  The distinct scent of herb-rubbed, stuffing-stuffed turkey wafting its way from the oven to me, reminding me that our traditional Thanksgiving meal is truly one of my favorite meals of the year.  The dog splayed out on the rug next to me, an occasional sleepy twitch jerking his long, lean, furry body.  I hold my mug of hot herbal tea and let the cup’s warmth defrost my chilly fingers.  I take a swig of tea and let its liquid heat pour down my throat and settle into my chest.

I breathe deeply, savoring every millisecond of time to myself.

These rare moments of people-free stimulation help clear me out and prepare me to enter into whatever is next.  Without breathers like this, I begin to feel too overwhelmed to notice all the beauty around me.

After just a few minutes, my beautiful, pink-cheeked ten-year-old comes in to take refuge from the cold.  As she quietly settles in to the armchair across from me to browse through the cabin’s tattered old “Berlitz Self-Teach French” book in her lap, the dog groans and stands up, stretching, then walks over to press his head into her leg— his version of a hug.  She sets her book down and smiles at him contentedly, pausing in her reading to speak soothing, sweet words to her canine buddy, pet his soft head, and tousle his floppy, satin ears.  Long icicles dangle just outside the window behind her and the snowy sky is blowing wildly beyond the icicles.  The snow-covered Red Cliffs rest stoically in the background.

And I am actually noticing it all.

It is moments like these that I never want to end.  Just park me right here and let me stop and notice these simple, beautiful moments when they are literally right in front of my face.  

Just a girl and her dog hugging.  Just a simple snow flurry outside the window.  Just the smell of Thanksgiving meal cooking in the other room.  Just the sound of snow-battle laughter outside.  Just the weight of a blanket and a laptop on my lap and the sound of clicking keys as I tap away my prayers and observations.

Thank You, Lord, for waking me up to really BE HERE for a few moments.  May I not forget to stop and “just be.”  May I have my wits about me long enough, often enough, to really be present in the moments I am in.  May I not let another holiday season slip by without my ever having paused long enough to really appreciate and notice the sweet and simple goodness springing up right under my nose.

May I not forget to stop and “just be.”


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What about you?

How do you keep yourself “present” in your life?  Is this time of year particularly challenging for you to do so?

Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.


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