Thousands to share…

When my friend and I get together, it’s quite the opposite of the “5 loaves and 3 fishes” story. We always over-do food. Not sure why but we both do, so when we are together, we could easily add a few more people and still have plenty. For many years, we have gotten together to do our Christmas baking. We aren’t even sure how it started. Likely it was while we were on a walk one time when we were still neighbors. I’m guessing we got to talking about holiday baking & thought that since we both liked to bake, it would be a great way to do it together. We would try to get together once a month for a group meal. Maybe we talked about it then. Not sure. It all started with her bringing over her baking supplies and using our double oven to make the baking go faster. Of course there were lists involved (who made which one and how much). We each picked our favorites to make. Eventually we found some new ones and got rid of some others.

We made a full day of it each year. Our husbands were in charge of dishes, packaging & the babies. Now our kids are much older and we don’t need the pack & play or diaper bags. The year I was diagnosed with cancer, we still baked. We made an extra batch of everything & took it to a neighbor who was also battling cancer. I was still numb from my diagnosis- still not sure what path my treatment would take. Baking has always been like therapy to me. Not sure why, I just love it. Last year we didn’t do baking day. We had moved into a rental and things were crazy. Between the two of us, we didn’t have a good weekend to do it and my double oven was gone. When we were cleaning out our old house, I cried when I saw sprinkles under the stove – so many memories of baking in that house.

So, this year, we took baking day “on the road.” Her friend wanted to join too, so this time, I packed up 1/2 of my kitchen and hauled it to West Fargo. We spent 4 hrs the night before having some wine & just doing “a few things.” Sunday was Game Day! It was an 8am start, and when we left at 5, they were still doing their cut out cookies. After seeing the pictures on Facebook, several people asked if we were doing a bake sale. It’s not why we made that much, but I am taking some of mine to a bake sale at work. We do a fundraiser for Relay for Life. Usually, we give most of it away. We like to eat some of course, but we mainly just love to share it. Several years, we have packed up a bunch to take to the homeless shelter. We give it to teachers and neighbors & co-workers. The fun is in the laughs that we have while we do it. It’s an all-day, 12-14 hr marathon. Our feet are sore, but our freezers are full and we have plenty to share. Her husband likes to keep track of numbers. Final count was 3500 treats, aside from our separate cut outs and the puff corn & reindeer chow.

I ended up sick but it wasn’t from eating too many sweets. Just a bug. Or God’s way of slowing me down. Or maybe I’m getting too old for this. Regardless, the treats were all divided into 3 groups by our packaging department & will be shared throughout December.

Whatever your talent, be sure to share it. This time of year is a great time to reach out to a neighbor or volunteer somewhere. May your journey of enough contain enough sugar for your cookies, enough music for you to sing along and enough laughter to make the time fly. I’m thankful to have had all of that and more yesterday.

Sweatpants and fleece thank-you’s …

A friend and former co-worker made me this neat fleece tie blanket as a going away gift. It’s cozy and comfy. It reminds me of her and of our new Minnesota adventures. It also makes me think a little deeper.

We recently celebrated Christmas. It was filled with family, food, games and travel. It was a “dress shirt event.” Christmas pictures, church programs and services… special times. My dad comments every year about the number of people who appear at the Christmas service. The church is full, there is candlelight and extra songs. It’s a special event. It brings people together and is a reminder of God in our lives. We remember the big gift he gave to us by sending his son. We are more likely to go to church and to perhaps thank God… to pray.

I believe that God loves our “dress shirt” thank-you’s but I think he also loves our “sweatpants and fleece” thank-you’s…The every day prayers when nothing out of the ordinary is going on. It’s easy to remember God when times are tough because we are usually asking for help. It’s easy to remember God when amazing things happen – births,  weddings or other great things because  we are so thankful for the good fortune. It’s harder to remember to be thankful for every day things.

I’m reminded of this each night when our youngest son says his prayers. He’s a kid of rituals, routines and familiar things. Each night we read from a daily devotional book for kids and say the Lord’s Prayer, then we thank God. For years, that was my section. In the past year or so, he has started to do the thankful part. It’s interesting to hear what he says. It’s a great reminder to be thankful for the “every day.” Some days he is even thankful for stuff he wasn’t necessarily excited about. He’s thankful for someone else’s good day or exciting event. He’s thankful for ice fishing even though he doesn’t love it. He’s thankful for my good day at work. He’s thankful for going out for supper. It always ends with “thank you for our family and all of our blessings.”

Sometimes our journeys take us down scary paths. We might not have expected a loss or life change, illness or move. We struggle to find meaning and hope. In those times, but also in the regular “lounge in fleece days” I hope you are able to be thankful. I know some days that is the last thing you may feel like doing. It takes strength but it also takes practice. I feel like our daily prayers make God smile because it means we are thinking of him. What are you thankful for today?

Peace be with you on our journey of enough. May you have some sweatpants and fleece thank-you’s to go with your dress shirt thank-you’s.

Season of enough…

Are your cards sent? Did you order enough? Are your cookies made? Did you bake enough? Are your presents wrapped? Did you buy enough? As we enter the Christmas & holiday season, we are bombarded with messages that we aren’t enough. Sales that remind us how much time is left or that time is “running out” often create a false sense of urgency. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the material side of Christmas. (Pardon the wrapping pun) I find myself forgetting what I’ve already wrapped if I don’t have a list. When we moved, I found presents that I had “hid” a little too well! Those gifts were perfect for the boys at the time, but they have outgrown them. Those gifts went to the toy drive instead.

Whatever your level of preparedness, I’m guessing that it’s better than you think it is. Many people won’t remember what gift they got last year, but they will remember the time together. 2 years ago, I was recently diagnosed with cancer. At our family Christmas Bunco, I had a little too much to drink – I’m guessing that will be more of a memory than the gloves I gave someone. I remember my mom doing Wii bowling that included some interesting leg movements (she was not drinking). I remember our games of spoons, my nephew showing off his impressive auctioneering skills, & that one time when we went yulebaching.

I’m blessed and thankful to get to spend time with my family over the holidays. My kids will be fed and loved and given gifts. They don’t fully understand how special that is. I know that there are others experiencing loss, faced with a diagnosis or struggling with other issues. I hope that they can find comfort & friendship this holiday. As you rush from one Christmas concert to another, try to cram in some last minute shopping or bake a few more treats, I wish you enough.

Enough family to make you feel loved. Enough food to make you feel full. Enough activity to make you feel vibrant. Enough peace to last you for the coming year.
Peace be with you on your journey of enough. (& save a cookie for Santa)