Thank full…

“Being excited doesn’t mean I don’t miss my mom. Being sad doesn’t mean I’m not excited about the holidays.”

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, my feelings are more and more split. Usually at this time of year, I’m so excited. The last two months of the year are filled with family time and festivities. The littles anticipating Santa coming, making lists and making treats. Decorating the house with lights and inside with a mix of old and new decorations. The traditions that I love so much. And I am excited this year, too. But also, as Thanksgiving approaches this week, I find myself feeling sad, too.

It started last week when a co-worker announced she was having lunch with her 80 something year old mom. She talked about her mom losing a hearing aid. All seemingly innocuous events. But I felt a little pain in my heart and noticed that. Then, in the cafeteria, she introduced her mom, and they both smiled and laughed easy and you could see the love between them. And another little pain poked at my heart and I noticed again.

This is the first Thanksgiving without my mom. The first Thanksgiving I have no parents.

I typed that just now and then sat in silence for several minutes letting it soak in. My parents loved holidays. My mom made a holiday out of a Tuesday, but my mom and dad loved holidays and family gatherings, and cooking and giving and showing hospitality. And they are not here to do that with me, and that hurts my heart. It hurts my whole body. It’s an underlying sadness that quietly sits in the background, not shouting to be noticed, but impossible to miss. I’ve felt it slowly taking up more space in me for the last few days.

The good thing about us humans is that we can hold more than one emotion at a time. I can, and I do, feel the sadness from the missing presence of my mom, but I also feel so full of thanks. 2020 has been a wonderful terrible year. I guess most years are like that though. There’s good and bad and adjustments to be made. My oldest daughter brought little number 11 into our family safely. My sister’s lump was not cancer. I took a new job that creates a space for me to show compassion in a greater capacity. My husband’s job has been secure. I’ve had the joy of my youngest son living with us since May, after missing out on a lot of his life the past four years he was in the Army. My older son and his wife bought their first home. My youngest daughter has a job that lets her adapt to her kids’ schedule. I’ve been having monthly dinners with my brothers and their wives, whom I love. God has answered so many prayers in 2020 in ways I am full of thanks for.

I can hold the sadness and the thankfulness and the excitement of the holidays all at the same time. Sometimes one is more prevalent in my heart, sometimes all three are equally present. Being excited doesn’t mean I don’t miss my parents. Being sad doesn’t mean I’m not excited about the holidays. My mom was the most wonderful person I’ve ever known. How could I not be full of thanks that I was her daughter? How could I not be full of thanks every time someone tells me they see her in the way I treat others?

So as we approach the holidays of 2020, it’s okay to feel the frustration of all the adjustments you are continuing to make. It’s okay to feel the hopelessness that this virus stuff will never end. It’s okay to feel sadness if you are missing someone that left this year. It’s also okay to feel joy when you see a child light up talking about Santa, and excitement about getting together (virtually or physically) with friends and family. It’s all okay guys. You’re okay. I’m full of thanks for all of you. What are you thankful for? Comment and let me know.

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules

So I’m privileged…

“The fact that I can choose to go without, no matter what my motivation, tells me that I’m privileged.”

I took a cold shower the other day. I do it a few times a month. I don’t enjoy it. Normally I luxuriate in long, hot showers for as long as I please. I did the dishes by hand the other day.  I do it occasionally. I don’t enjoy it. Normally I just pop them in the dishwasher and let it do it’s magic. I didn’t wear a coat to work today, even though my phone told me it is 27 degrees outside. I do this sometimes. I don’t enjoy it. Normally I choose from my many warm, stylish winter coats and never feel the wind. I’ve been thinking I should sleep on the floor occasionally. I wouldn’t like it. Normally I crawl into my cozy, soft bed and sleep comfortably. Why would I do these things? Because I’m privileged and I know it.

When I’m in Africa, I take swift cold showers because hot water for any length of time is a luxury. I often don’t have electricity, and rarely wifi. I wash dishes and clothes by hand. I seem to get along just fine without these things when I have to. Once a month I help my friend Acha feed people in the homeless camps here in Kansas City. Summers here are HOT and winters here are COLD. They don’t have a comfy, warm bed to fall into at night. They don’t always have the appropriate coat to put on for the temperature. They don’t have electricity at night to watch TV and read, or wifi to help them find resources.

I’m very privileged and I know it. I have all the comforts a girl could want. I have all the choices. The fact that I can choose to go without, no matter what my motivation, tells me that I’m privileged. But, I do choose to go without sometimes. I need to remind myself what life is like without convenience and comfort. I need to remember that people all over the world do not have the comfort and the choices that I have, and be grateful for my life.

This Thanksgiving season, make intentional decisions to be grateful. This Christmas holiday season, make intentional decisions to be kind, and share what you have with others that don’t. Occasionally, choose to go without, to remind you of your privilege and to keep your heart tender. “For unto whom much is given, of him much will be required.” Jesus (Luke 12:48).

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules