Counting My Blessings at Christmastime

Ben dino x-mas tree

Artwork I commissioned my six-year-old to do. “A T-Rex eating a Christmas tree.”

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on December 23, 2015.

As I write this, my nine-year-old is completing the last class of his homeschool chemical engineering class, and there are many blessings in that. 1) He enjoyed the class and learned a few things, which I’m glad about. 2) It’s the last day I have to drive him to this class, and I’m probably gladder about that. In fact, I’ll have a couple of weeks when I don’t have to drive my kids to four different appointments. It’s a small blessing, but I welcome it.

I feel extremely blessed that, for the most part, I am in charge of our schedule. We already took a break from spelling, handwriting, math etc. so that we can prepare for the holidays. Our tree is decorated with lights and ornaments, many of them hand-made, and lights are draped along the wall. Another small-lighted tree sits in the front window. The boys are bubbling with excitement as Christmas day approaches.

The Christmas books have been pulled from their storage place, and we’re reading about the true meaning of Christmas as well as the trouble Curious George causes this time of year. One day my six-year-old told me he had an idea for how to make some Christmas ornaments, so we got out the cardboard, scissors, glue and paints, and he’s been working on those. Both boys make a good supply of paper snowflakes each year too.

Despite the challenges and financial stress homeschooling comes with, I feel blessed to see the boys grow and have the time to pursue their interests. My nine-year-old was in his first piano recital this month – a Christmas recital – and my husband commented on the fact that if he were going to school, he wouldn’t have much time to practice. I doubt he’d be taking lessons at all considering homework and the downtime he would need.

We took advantage of one of the warmer days recently to visit Dauset Trails nature center near Jackson, Georgia, and we were delighted with the small zoo and trails they have there. We’ll go back again to explore. I feel blessed to live in a state with such a rich assortment of national, state and private parks and other sites to visit. We never run out of places to explore. On top of that, we never run out of things to learn about. Our whole world is fascinating and beautiful, if you know the right things to put your attention on.

I enjoy Christmas and the holidays, and this year is promising to be a good one, but I know many people have a hard time at the holidays, and I know I’ve had some sad ones too. If nothing else, this time of year always reminds me that I don’t have the close, extended family I would like to have. Divorce, lifestyle, beliefs, politics…you name it, and there are more reasons for why my family members each stay in their corner of the United States at this time of year.

But the blessing here is that as we grow older and become more independent, we have the power to begin anew with our own families, start our own traditions, and try to do better. We can put our attention on the people who do make our world a better place, and even though it can be very hard sometimes, we can work toward our own goals. And as we get even older, we’ll continue to meet and greet new people into our lives who make this world a better place. Cultivate love, and your life will bloom.

As I wrap up this column, I can see my son in his classroom, shaking some kind of chemical concoction in a plastic bag and laughing with his classmates. I know that on the way home, he’ll tell me what he was making in the class, and he’ll tell me the odd thing or two he learned today. That is always my favorite time of day. It’s a big blessing.

I hope that your holidays are a blessing to you. I hope you are warm, healthy and with the people you love. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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