Your Only Job During the Holidays

The number one reason that folks feel depressed during the holidays is because they do not feel welcome, a part of a village, or loved as they are. There are habits that have been acceptable for a long time that we as parents and friends must change. If this is the season for kindness, than we must go beyond random acts of kindness to strangers and really be kind and absolutely loving to those around us.

From top left: my husband, Doug, my oldest granddaughter’s dad (and Emily’s ex), Bret, my son-in-law, Reed (Emily’s husband), my son, Andy, his girlfriend, Bree, my granddaugher, Maryjane, my daughter, Emily with Ayla, Bret’s brother, Bailey, me, Shyanne’s boyfriend, Jake, and in front is Shyanne. They are all apart of my family.

Now, this is important- Number One- no nagging. For god’s sake, we don’t really think that nagging will endear our children to us, do we? Your grown children make decisions every day- hard ones- and are becoming the people they are meant to be (whether they are eighteen or fifty-five!) and they need support, not “advice.” Once they head out that front door as a young person setting out into the world, their business is no longer yours. They are more likely to come to you for advice and friendship if you are not already badgering them. The way they raise their children is not your business either. They can homeschool, travel the world, be strict, have no rules, or send them to private school. Our only job is to show by example unconditional love. Unconditional love. That is what this world needs more of, especially around the holiday table.

Perhaps your daughter brings home a young man with a mohawk or her new girlfriend. Or your son brings home a woman your age, or someone of a different religion. Maybe your child quit college to your dismay and your daughter moved in with her best friend who has less-than-admirable habits. (None of that is your business.) Our job now is to be undeniably loving, welcoming, supporting, hugging, happy and accepting examples of love. That is what people need. Unconditional love.

I adore all of my kids’ friends. Many of them call me mama. Everyone knows that we can squeeze in more chairs. I will have plenty of food. Everyone is welcome at my table- mohawk or not. They also know they can call me to talk or if they need advice.

My mother used to say (following the advice of many parenting gurus) that she is not our friend, she is our mother. That is too bad, because she is still not my friend, sadly. Be friends with your kids, their friends, the neighbors down the street, the woman who just lost her husband, the coworker without family here, the people that Creator sends into your life. They are not being sent to you to be saved, they are being sent to you to be loved.

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Let’s make this holiday season a bright one for others by accepting them as they are, opening your home and table to them, offering respite from expectations, and offering unconditional love. See how that doesn’t just change your world and the world around you.

And A Child Was Born

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Thick flakes of creamy white snow dance past the hospital window, the world anew.  Where all strength seemed to be gone, in the depths of her soul she found one last push.  Hours of standing next to her holding her hand, holding my breath while she held hers for every push.  Prayers muttered silently near constant.  Twenty-nine hours later the most beautiful child was born.

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SAM_0166 Maryjane Rose, 4 lbs 12 oz, 19 in, cute as a button.

To see pictures from the shower last Saturday- http://everydaysunsets.blogspot.com Thanks Brandon for the great pictures!  The shower wasn’t a moment too soon!

Happy Birthday Papa!  Doug got an extra special present for his birthday.

A Letter To Young Parents…(to avoid the woulda, coulda, shouldas)

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Dear Parents of Small Children,

There are some things that are not told that should be told.  You may hear that time flies and you will be left alone, so enjoy your kids.  That is the extent of what we hear!  My youngest turned sixteen yesterday.  A brilliant young girl, soon to be a mama herself.  Quiet and serene.  We were always trying to make her talk more.  People still want her to talk more.  Do not people please!  These are your children and no matter what well meaning family or friends say, these are your children and they will turn out well by example and a lot of love.  Do not force them to be anything other than what they are.  I sometimes wish I were as quiet as Emily.  I often stick my foot in my mouth and wish I could just be quiet!

When the kids cut their own hair, laugh and take pictures.  When they cut their hair thirty times, laugh and take pictures.  She can cut her hair beautifully now and any and all making her feel bad from us or other well meaning family and friends was unnecessary and hurtful.  Let kids be!

Should they draw all over the walls, take a picture, laugh, and perhaps join them.  Maybe make a designated wall, maybe just get them a big sheet of paper, either way, paint is cheap.

Listen.  Sometimes it is hard when they are bantering on about crazy ideas, but don’t interrupt, just listen.

Don’t spank.  It is just you being mad and they know that.  They will never remember what they did wrong.

Be outside as much as possible.  Children thrive with sunshine, water, and air.  Just like plants, they grow…and smile, and become great nature people.  That is one thing I did right (I hope not the only!), no video games.  They would say they were bored, then have half the neighborhood out exploring creeks and parks, and having a great time while making memories and became closer siblings.

Dinner at the table as many evenings as possible with real food.  Not fake!  No processed lab stuff, real food.  Start a garden and have them help grow a few things so they know what real food is.  You would be surprised how many kids (and believe it or not, adults) do not know what meat actually is or where vegetables come from.

They will become teenagers and no one warns you of the utmost desperation you will feel, your powerlessness, your broken heart.  No one talks about this, but it happens to everyone.  But as soon as you feel like you have been crushed, smothered, and broken hearted enough, they will come out of it and love you even more.

And as they get older, do notice for yourself as we do, that we anxiously avoid any well meaning family member that feels they have to lecture us about our life every time they see us.  Past seventeen, your done.  Enjoy.  They are their own people!

Above all, even though you are human, try with all of your heart to say only nice things, only positive things, make lots of great memories, trips, holidays, family gatherings.  As many hugs and kisses as you can muster, even if they are naughty….none of it matters.  You will not remember it and if you do, you will laugh at the memory.

Just think….if they die tomorrow, will this matter today?  The answer is probably not.  I would love to go back and try again.  But I know now that is why grandmothers are amazing and so loving!  They figured it out!  This is our second chance at loving kids and not worrying about what we are doing right or wrong.

So dear parents, enjoy the journey!

Love, Katie

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