Monday, November 28, 2016

A December List

by Terri

Several years ago, I wrote this post about focusing on joy during the holiday season. Writing that post really changed how I approach the holidays. I just went back and reread that post to remind myself what I want to focus on again this year -- the joy and beauty of it all.

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we go forward into the Christmas season full speed ahead and it’s hard not to get lost in all the hustle and bustle around us. When we lose focus then the Christmas season has the potential to become this crazy hectic want-to-pull-our-hair-out month where we breathe the sigh of relief that it is January. That isn’t what I want this month to be and I don’t think it is what you want either. 

What has helped me the most in the past few years is to focus on that “joy list” that I talked about in my post. This means making a list of the things that bring me the most joy and making sure I focus on those, letting other things take a back seat. I may get everything done, I may not, but at least those things that bring me the most joy are front and center and I make sure to give them priority.

So here’s my list of things that take priority over everything else – because they bring so much joy. Our “Porter girls’ shopping day” with my daughter-in-law and granddaughters is something on the top of my list.

Baking day with a friend is something we always make sure to schedule. We each make 3-4 different kinds of cookies and trade them. It’s always so much fun to get my baking done and spend time with her at the same time.

One of the things I do to make time for myself away from all the hustle and bustle is to work on my December Daily album a little each day. It seems crazy to take on this project right in the middle of the most hectic time of year but it calms me down and gives me the creative time I need and I love having all our Christmas memories from each year in a basket for us to go through during the holidays.

Another thing I make sure to take time for is playing with my camera. There is so much beauty this time of year that just HAS to be captured!

Here's a list I've made for myself this year. Maybe it will help you focus on what's important to you and what brings you joy:

  1. Take time to slow down and appreciate the little things. Keep your eyes open for moments of magic.  
  2. Baking makes a mess. It also makes memories.
  3. Take some time out for yourself, even if it’s just a few moments a day. Have a cup of tea by the Christmas tree.
  4. Even if life isn’t perfect, there can still be beautiful and joyful moments.
  5. Know that there are going to be crowds and lines. Don’t be in a hurry. Just slow down and enjoy the holiday decorations and maybe even get to know that person in line with you. It will make the time go faster.
  6. Spending time is so much more important than spending money.
So what are your “must dos” this holiday season? Whatever you choose to do, make sure it brings you joy. Wishing you a merry and joy-filled December!



Sandra said...

Your list is very sensible and I agree with 'slowing down' and only doing the things which are really important! Take the time to enjoy the moments without rushing to the next thing! I lovely all your sparkling photos and the shopping with your granddaughters! My grandson has already asked if he can come over and bake his favourite cookies. Of course! Sweet memories for us both!
I love the idea of the December Daily Album!

AFishGirl said...

Lovely post, Terri. I remember many moons ago seeing a shot of your feet and tree and the bokeh and thinking one day, one day I will take a picture like that. That shot is indelibly etched in my mind. A fond good memory. November has been a month long minimalism project for me (based on the work of "The Minimalists") so my December list goes something like this...
Continue to get rid of three items a day for the month of December (Goodwill or trash). Do not go to stores on weekends (unless I'm scheduled to work in which case yeah, I'd better show up at the store). Continue to keep gift buying simple and minimal. Buy baked goods at our local deli because I am so fond of the owners and baking is not my strong point. Continue with the 366 project. Catch squirrels (don't ask, don't ask...). Buy myself "A Boy Named Christmas" by Matt Haig on December 1st as a present to myself. Be kind. Go outdoors when it snows because I am incredibly fond of being outdoors when the snow is falling. Play board games with my son (he has a great stash of them). Avoid magazines (see minimalism) which, for me, incite consumerism and longing and a feeling of not quite making the mark (ala thin thighs in thirty days, etc etc). Commit random acts of kindness. That's my list. Thanks for asking me to make it. Big hug to you and FOLers.

Carol said...

I love this message and your pictures are particularly beautiful! I just adore the one of you and the girls. You just put the spirit into me!

heyjudephotography said...

Your photos alone make me want to slow down and savor! They are stunning! A great message to all as we enter this very busy time. (And I too love the pic of you and your granddaughters) :)

kelly said...

oh my terri...thanks for a good healthy dose of Christmas spirit!! my to-do list is really more of a to-don't list in that I want to not let the hustle take over the magic. an I love your idea of putting your DD albums out in a basket for everyone to enjoy. totally putting that on my list! :) xoxo

Dotti said...

Thank you for a very timely reminder for all of us! My method for slowing down is simple: shop early, wrap early, decorate early. Then I can play with December Daily (and PL - how will I keep two going?) My shopping is 90% finished, decorations are done and this year I scaled back, actually enjoying the feeling of fewer "things" around the house, and this week, we'll wrap up the wrapping.

Barbara said...

I am so glad I read this today. I am a bit overwhelmed. I have photo obligations to several which of course, immediately takes the joy away for me. We have a lot of family birthdays in December. My husband's work schedule will impact our Christmas for the first time so I have been making a list of things that are really important to us. We want to spend at least one night looking at lights, another going to our vintage theatre and watching a Christmas movie, baking our traditional pastry, hopefully a day up the mountain to enjoy some snow and beyond that, we'll see what kind of time we have. I've already decided to cut back on my normal "too much to do and too much to eat" holiday dinner. Usually by the time we sit down, I am ready for a nap. I am making lasagnas on the 24th and popping them into the oven on the 25th. All we will do is make salad and garlic bread. Everyone else can bring the desserts. We will have enough for everyone and it will allow me to enjoy the day much more. I want to spend time (guilt free) with my camera or reading by the tree with a cup of tea. In a couple of more days, I should be able to do that. And because Pam said so, I will get that book too. :) Love to you all.

janel said...

Beautifully written and photographed. I think each year as I get older, the priorities do change a bit and for me, and I embrace.."less is more". As I set my December Daily albums out, I am also realizing that each year, each album reflects more simplicity in my life. And I want to tell you that the last photo posted is one that I just of my favorites...and I have never been able to re-create anything as lovely....I just LOVE it. Thanks for all your inspiration!

Cathy H. said...

JOY, that is what Christmas should be about. As a list maker, this is right up my alley! My list includes: hanging the ornaments on my tree, a December Daily with stories of the ornaments that are special to me, seeing the lights at Garvan Gardens, touring our Governor's Mansion, baking, sitting in the dark with only the tree lights on, listening to Christmas music each day, all day, and spending time in nature. I'm looking forward to a joyful December. I'm with Janel. I've always wanted to recreate your last image, but have hot no success. Maybe you could teach us how!!

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