Taking time to slow down is not one of my strengths. I remember chatting over dinner with some good friends of ours back in Pittsburgh when I mentioned a change and followed it with, “oh, I’ll find something to fill up my time, I’m sure!”
He replied with, “why? Why do you need to fill it?”
I teeter-totter between Santa elf cheer and Scrooge during the month of December. The race down the stairs to turn on the Christmas tree lights each morning. The giving of gifts, the sending of cards, the joy of walking to the mailbox to see papers with faces of those I love. Yet, the schedule fills up too quickly, and my desire for a simple and slow holiday as a family seeming further out of grasp with each passing day. I load up the guilt, I lay on the pressure, and I’m constantly reminding myself to just stop the doing and choose to be still.
We’ve been reading Gingerbread Baby almost every morning, and I love seeing Harlow’s imagination come alive as she pretends he is indeed hiding quietly inside her carefully constructed house. She and Andy worked on the construction together, meticulously wiping away excess frosting (otherwise known as an excuse for a sugary treat). The construction began in the evening before bed, and as soon as the sun was up, Harlow raced into our room before Andy left for work, asking him if they could please go put the roof on her house.
Andy and I talk often about Love Languages — how can we improve the ways in which we love each other, but also how can we speak the love language each child understands best as well. I think part of the reason it’s always a conversation piece is due to my inability to decide on one, or even two. Is it possible to just want love in every language possible? That’s a rabbit hole I will ignore for the moment.
Observing the way our children naturally love others is one of the surprises of parenting I hadn’t thought about before. Gifts and time are most definitely the languages Harlow speaks and receives best. I remember Christmas when she was 2 and you would have thought every gift she opened was pure gold.
Gifts is pretty high on my list too, so I love that we speak that language well together. Time is the tougher one for me. I think out of all of the defined Love Languages, quality time is one of the lowest on the list for me. Maybe that’s why I’m so good at filling my time with a myriad of things? I need to process that more.
Lately, I’ve been coming to her room during quiet time to ask her if she wants to come read with me instead. Her face lights up, we grab a handful of books, and we head downstairs to the fireplace to curl up together and read. I’m working to stop and ask her specific questions about her art work, clay creations or playmobil set ups. How are they related? Why did you use this color? What is this special spot over here?
Even as I type these words, the perfectionist in me rears its ugly head — I wish the giving of my time came easier to me. I wish I was able to slow more easily. I think, however, because it takes such intention and discipline for me, those times end up being all the more impactful for me. When I’m just sitting — without scrolling something on my phone or even reading or listening to music — my mind feels uncluttered and able to think. It feel awkward, to be honest, but I’m committed to carving out these times, even if only a few minutes, because I know it’s needed and important.
So we decorated that gingerbread house. We played Christmas music in the background, I frosted, she placed. And while I was surprised for a few seconds by her meticulous directions for me with my frosting application and tedious candy placement (followed by frosting swiping, of course), I then laughed as I remember who her parents are, and that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
And after we finished, I asked her to share with me her favorite parts of the house. She giggled as she told me about all the frosting she licked.
A new staple for our holiday home will forever be mistletoe. I made some felt mistletoe shapes, cut them out of various shades of green felt, and glued mismatched colors together. I used my ScanNCut2, of course, but you could definitely cut with a scissor too. I added some floral wire to wrap them at the top and create a loop to hang it. The felt balls I purchased from this etsy shop, along with the felt I used for the mistletoe as well.
It took a few hours to make two — I highly recommend it. The extra smooching this time of year is definitely necessary.