Like the song, I have a peaceful, easy feeling today. Everything around me is quiet, like a Sunday morning should be. No road noise, just the flutter of bird wings, an occasional tweet, and the sound of some leaves lightly brushing against the house.

We all need peaceful moments for those times when we’re looking for a life preserver during stormy times, difficult family challenges, or facing a crazy world. My least favorite thing in life is going to the mall for obligatory Christmas shopping. I try to only go once a year, and the last two years I’ve avoided it. Why run around like crazy trying to buy something for someone they probably don’t want anyway? Perhaps that’s a bit skeptical, but, though I love the holiday season, the pressure to perform can be a bit overwhelming. Yet with some downtime or peace, I can face anything, even shopping.

Maturity Works

The gift of maturity is another form of peace. The old, younger me used to get worked up, tense, bothered, and worried. The new me, the last decade or so, takes most of it in stride, and avoids getting worked up till there is truly a reason to jump into fight or flight. Even things that probably should get more of a reaction, I tend to take with calm strength.

Lingering Fear

Life’s lessons tend to kick us in the teeth. Once we’ve experienced a lot of really hard days, sometimes they become less hard. For instance, as a kid I used to worry about my parents dying, to the point of obsession. That fear stayed with me for years. Yet when it actually happened, it was not as awful as I had imagined (though it was awful). I can remember my dad telling me that he did not really grow up until his dad had passed. I found that odd, but it came true in my own life. Suddenly my parents, and most of my aunts and uncles, are gone, and we are the next generation. It’s sobering, yet invigorating at the same time. And one day, our kids will be seeing the torch passed. As my wife reminds me, it’s life on the farm. It’s what happens. No one escapes.

By Example

But of course now it’s in my hands to keep the family together, create family gatherings and memories, and teach my kids how so they will do it for their own families. I never received the manual, but I did have some great examples to follow.

With Christmas dinners and time to spend “hanging out” and not as busy as normal, the sugar plum fairies are making me wonder about what I can do that is deliberate, but feels natural. Something that will create moments my kids will tell their kids about. 

In the past I’ve mentioned the idea of being deliberate, but now it’s taken on a whole new meaning.

The Gift of Home

Because we’ve not traveled in a couple of years as a family, we asked the kids what they wanted to do if they could go anywhere in the world. Their answer was just to be home. For a brief moment, that made me feel as though I had accomplished part of my goal. Keep ’em home and wanting to be there. Probably the reason is because something from before created a memory for them.

The challenge never ends.

Two weeks from today, we celebrate Christmas. We will be rushed getting ready, and then, hopefully, things will stop for a while so we can just be together.

These are the moments I live for.

Eric Rhoads

PS: I’m still working on gift ideas. Anything but going to the mall, hopefully.

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