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Santa, all I want... is to say, "Thank you!"

Stephanie on the curves and bumps in the road to the holidays.

Christmas time with a toddler nearing 3 years of age comes with a mixed bag of ideas. Is stress one of them? Well, yes, but it's all in how you look at things...like with many things especially over the busy holiday period, I guess. Now in Switzerland we sadly miss out on the traditional American Thanksgiving. Despite more and more places cropping up offering the "typical" menu with all of the trimmings that last Thursday in November, it's not the tradition here let alone a day off work to stop and be with family and friends. Therefore, there isn't that "launch" into the holiday spirit like when I was growing up in America.

I bring this up since probably much like in the US over the past few years, Christmas decorations, chocolates, candied sweets, and gifting stress all start to creep into October. However, much to my delight, even the Swiss were complaining the country over that, hey, autumn follows summer and offers plenty to keep us busy with before Christmas. It was a call-out to retailers to please stop commercializing the heck out of Christmas! Being American living here for many years and now having a small child upon whom I try to bestow the fun holiday traditions from home, until we've carved our Halloween pumpkin and then enjoyed a makeshift Thanksgiving turkey, I could not even get my head around the idea of Christmas. If that weren't reason enough alone. I'm sure many of you living with RA and managing family life experience many curves and bumps in the road leading up to and through the holidays. We too. It's been a very humbling and trying end to 2012, so to be short and sweet let's just say that no matter what, I keep learning. I continue to be challenged. My child teaches ME what he needs and in so doing shows me too what I need. Out of struggle comes opportunity much as this quote from Lao Tzu sums up perfectly for me.It took my family a bit of coaxing and extra time to get into the Christmas spirit this year. The reasons were as mixed as Santa's toy bag. We felt sour, confused, worried, and if not for the inertia of the season and for the tremendous beautifully-fallen snow all around Zurich in the weeks leading up to the big holiday, I'm not so sure we would have even sent out those few Christmas cards.

However, it was exactly BECAUSE my son is still so little and that this year more than ever he can sing some of those famous carols (sounding like a howling dog off key mind you!) and is fascinated with the holiday that we felt encouraged to pull out that dusty box of Christmas decorations and get all caught up in tinsel and lights. Kids remind you to keep everything real. To live in REAL time. To overcome obstacles and get lost in the beauty and wonder that is the season. He will never be this age again. And, after a very yummy visit in Italy with my in-laws over the Christmas days my most precious memory will be singing "Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer" for the umpteenth time instead of that last story before bedtime with my son on my lap before me. His sweet voice trying to find its pitch and his little brain scrambling for the lyrics sealed the deal for me this Christmas! I've laughed so much this past weekend and as I continuously bounced between Italian and English my mind stayed on cue to make this Christmas special. Nothing over the top or commercial but just quieting the endless cycle of questions and doubt, and thus allowing the Silent Night to emerge. So, in looking ahead to the next few days, weeks, and months ahead I wish you all above all a very HEALTHY new year filled with laughter, love, prosperity, positivity, and warm memories made with your loved ones. May we all find the stillness in our hearts, in our minds, and in our joints to stop, take a deep breath, and say,"it's going to all be ok" because I trust me. I trust love. I trust my family. I trust new opportunities and what better metaphor than an unborn new year before us. There is no history there in that new place. It's just our life stretching out before us around each turn and with each hurdle reminding us that silence is golden. It's a precious gift to ourselves and to our loved ones, and one which allows us the chance to begin anew again. For tomorrow. And always. And which allows us to always be gracious today for its wisdom. "And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been." - Rainer Maria Rilke Happiest new year's wishes for you all around the world!

Stephanie

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