Today was one of those crazy days where I had to go to Hobby Lobby and Sam’s Club with all 3 kids. In the freezing weather. I’ve been out with them solo enough times to have worked out a bit of a battle plan, but it’s still quite the endeavor getting everyone out of the door and actually getting something done when you finally get out into the world. I knew I was going to get distracted from looking for a random act of kindness to do out of a pure survival technique. While shopping with toddlers you must get in the zone or die in Christmas aisle number 750 in Hobby Lobby while your crazed children use your body as a step stool to get to glass ornaments that they can send crashing into the ground.
If you think I’m being over dramatic, I challenge you to go to Hobby Lobby with 3 kids 4 and under; see if you get out of there with your sanity in tact. In fact, I’ll let you take my 3 kids. Good luck.
Anyways, knowing what I was marching in to, I said a prayer when I was getting on the freeway: ‘Lord please keep my eyes, ears, and heart open to Your call while I’m out so I might be a useful tool in blessing someone today. Not for my glory, but for Your glory. Amen.’
Despite the fridged temperature and wind, there was a Salvation Army volunteer standing outside of Hobby Lobby with her bucket and bell. Since becoming a mom, I’m ashamed to say that I never really stop for anyone standing outside stores asking for donations anymore. Again, I get in my zone and have tunnel vision. If I allow anything to stop our flow, it means potentially never gathering up speed again because my girls get distracted faster than Doug the dog from Up.
My girls honed in to the intriguing bell ringing as we were looking for a parking spot and wanted to know what it was all about. Instead of brushing it off and trying to get them in and out of the store as fast as possible, I put my own agenda aside, and I explained why this lady was standing outside ringing a bell. They got really excited and exclaimed, “I want to give her money! Can we give her money Mom, pleeeeease??!” I loved seeing how excited they were to give and help those in need, so I happily pulled out some quarters for them to donate. So our random act of kindness today cost us $1, and got my kids genuinely excited about giving.
At Sam’s Club, we were actually the recipients of acts of kindness. Laurelyn had been screaming since halfway through Hobby Lobby because she was hungry, so I went straight to the bathrooms when we got to Sam’s to change diapers (it’s right next door to Hobby Lobby). As luck would have it, the family bathroom was occupied. Since Laurelyn was screaming and Eowyn had to pee, I decided to forego waiting for it and took them into the regular bathroom. Eowyn took priority since she was the only one not in a diaper, so I left the other 2 in the cart by the changing table while I got Eowyn situated. An older woman at the sink was watching my struggle to both make sure Eowyn didn’t fall in the toilet while simultaneously making sure that the other two didn’t fall out of the cart. She smiled and said, “I’ll watch these two for you so you can help her go potty.” Thank God for grandmas who go out of their way to help mamas who are still in the trenches! She turned out to be an employee; we ran into her in the produce section handing out grape samples. It wasn’t busy today, so she got all chatty talking to me about her kids and grandkids. Instead of trying to politely remove myself from the conversation as fast as possible, I forced myself to stop and have a genuine conversation with this awesome woman who had gone out of her way to help me when she could have easily left me to struggle on my own.
There was a man decked out like Santa roaming around Sam’s today. His costume looked professional, but he wasn’t an employee. He was simply going round pretending to be Santa of his own free will to make random kids he met happy. Eowyn and Arya were so excited to meet Santa! He even shook their hands 🙂 Stuff like this is what I love about Christmas. People going out of their way to put a smile on someone’s face.
Today I noticed that I was thinking of others more. I smiled at people I passed much easier and took the time to engage in genuine conversation with strangers. I didn’t rush off the phone when my mom called earlier even though I had a billion things to do at that moment. There will always be a billion things to do; people are more important. It’s so easy to get caught up in ourselves and our errands and our chores and our to-do lists, that we rush past the people around us, forgetting that they are the more important thing. I didn’t feel as stressed when I forced myself to stop and engage with people. It broke the momentum of rush-rush-rush and gave me time to breath. I soon realized that there was no need to rush around like a chicken with my head cut off. Things will get done when they get done. We must try to choose the more important thing.
Our advent card for today was the beginning of the story of John the Baptist. I feel that to leave him out of the Christmas story is just not right. John and Jesus were bonded together before they were even born, for the prophets spoke of him coming before the Lord to prepare the way.
I sadly did not learn my lesson from yesterday, and once again did this minutes before bedtime. The evenings just fly by for us. But it’s imperative that we do these activities as a family, because otherwise we’re missing the point. In order to not get myself stressed out over getting these activities done in time for bed, I’ve decided to let go of an on schedule bedtime. It is more important to me that my family establish meaningful Christmas traditions than the kids getting to bed by 9:30 sharp. You can’t really control them anyways. As much as we hate to admit it, they’re going to fall asleep when they want to.
My one rule this Christmas season is to not stress. If at any point I’m getting stressed out over something, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate why I’m doing it to begin with. Christmas is about hope that is so big that it inspires unimaginable JOY. Not stress.
Since it was bedtime and since the kids were super grumpy from not getting a nap earlier, we left out the craft portion of the card. I really only put multiple activities when I thought of them so that we have options should we need them. The ‘quiet game’ is one of my own invention: one person plays Gabriel and the rest play Zechariah. Upon learning of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the Zechariahs lose their voices and can’t speak. I know it sounds stupid simple, but the kids LOVED it! Just a simple, silly game that got them engaged in the story and allowed us to bond with each other.
They didn’t even notice that the candy in there was leftover piñata pieces. Mom for the win!
I hope you all had a wonderful day!
The Previous Days of Christmas: