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Finding joy and comfort in simplicity Part II.

We are a family that hosts parties. In a typical year, we host good sized gatherings for St. Patrick's Day, two kids' birthday parties, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a summer bbq. This year has obviously been different, and we are spending those occasions (and all the days in between) as a four person family. At first it was all very disappointing. I love the warmth and cheer generated by a house full of people, the sound of clinking glasses and chatter amongst friends. There's nothing better than watching a gaggle of kids race through the house wearing super hero capes or seeing their faces light up when the outdoor screening of the Polar Express flickers on. I grieved for the holiday themed cocktails and charcuterie boards. I felt sorry for myself that I would miss out on so much of that holiday spirit and magic. I worried about our kids missing out and how their memories of 2020 would be filled with all the things they didn't get to do.

But over the last few months, my perspective has changed. In fact, my perspective has shifted in such a big way, that I am actually looking forward to a quiet Christmas with my family. I read something somewhere that really struck me. It essentially said that if you talk about all the things your kids are missing out on, they are going to feel like they are missing out. But if you focus instead on all the new and different things planned for this year, the thoughts about what is missing will take a backseat. They will take their queue from their parents.

Wow. That was a message I definitely needed to hear. I can't say I was outwardly complaining, but I was definitely stressed and worried about it internally, and I know that it came across to my kids and husband. This valuable message came to me right before Halloween, and I am so thankful. We had SO much fun at home on Halloween, and did so many new things that I know will become family traditions in years to come. We bobbed for apples, made a spooky themed dinner, did a candy treasure hunt in the backyard, and gorged ourselves on popcorn and candy while we watched Halloween movies. Neither of my kids mentioned trick-or-treating once the entire night.

With Christmas approaching, I find myself looking forward to having a new experience. I'm looking forward to doing small, simple things with our family of four. We switched over to a faux tree a few years ago, because I love being able to keep the tree up longer, and hate having to vacuum up pine needles. But this year, we are going back to a real tree. And not a 9 foot grand tree, but a modestly sized (and perhaps even a little bit patchy) tree. A real, regular, down to earth tree. I remember as a kid how exciting it was for my sister and I to race through the Christmas tree patch at night. It felt like we were running through a magical forest, where there could be reindeer hiding around any corner. I want my kids to have that same magical experience. I want to decorate the tree with popcorn strings and paper snowflakes. I want to drink hot cocoa and watch endless Christmas movies, and build gingerbread houses with homemade gingerbread. I want to sit around our living room singing Christmas carols, and I don't care one bit that it sounds like a strange mash-up of Little House on the Prairie and a cheesy Hallmark channel movie. Next year, Christmas will be back to the usual hustle and bustle of the season. This year, I'm going to milk this small, simple Christmas with my family for all it's worth, and look back on it fondly for years to come.

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