What Will Your Story Be?

New Year’s Eve. 

2016. It’s been a rough one in many ways – my son hit the lowest of his lows, my daughter has had to learn to balance being herself and being a good sister, loved ones have died, marriages of people close to us have ended. It’s been an emotional and exhausting year. 

It’s also been amazing in many ways – we finally found the right treatment team for my son, my daughter is blooming into a confident and compassionate young woman, and we’ve found our voice as a family. 

It’s that last part I will hold as the best part of 2016 – we have found our voice as a family and it has opened up a dialogue with the world. On this day in 2015, I would not have dreamt that this blog would exist. But it does. And so 2016 became the year we truly began to write our own story. We don’t get to choose all of the circumstances, but we do get to guide the outcomes. 

I am excited about what 2017 will bring. And look forward to continuing to write our story. Happy New Year my friends. I wish you blessings, love & laughter as you write your own stories in 2017. 

From my perfectly imperfect family, to yours…

It’s late morning on Christmas Eve day. Hanukkah also begins this evening. A scroll through my Facebook feed shows me most of my friends and acquaintances all over the world are engaged in some form of last minute holiday preparations. I’ve been sick for the past couple of days, and am pretty weak and tired, so the things we normally do in the days leading up to Christmas – mostly baking – are not going to happen this year. And that’s okay. 

As I was thinking about what I wanted to share with this community as a holiday wish, I saw an Instagram post from the amazing Glennon Doyle Melton. In just a part of her message , she managed to say it all…”Rest. Love your people. Done is better than perfect.” 

We know that family is real, raw, broken and beautiful all of the time. Holidays magnify that. And that’s okay. Live in the moment, laugh at the messiness, and love with all you have. 

So from my perfectly imperfect family, to yours…Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Peace be with you. 

I Believe in Santa Claus

I adore Christmas. To me, Christmas has the ability to bring out the best in people. Christmas  is equal parts magic, wonder, joy and love – all things this world could use more of on regular basis. The stories of both the birth of Jesus and of Santa Claus fill my heart and my soul.  I love the decorations, the special traditions at church and home, the choosing, wrapping and giving of gifts, the tastes and the smells. But most of all, I love the music of Advent and Christmas – the church carols, the traditional secular songs, the modern versions of traditional songs, the corny and sappy songs made famous in Christmas cartoons. I love all of it.

Growing up, my mom had a “rule” about when it was acceptable to  pull out and start listening to the family collection of Christmas music. The record albums and tapes (first 8-tracks and then cassettes!) were off limits until the day after Thanksgiving. But once we reached that magical day after Thanksgiving, it was pretty much all Christmas music all the time. This “rule” has stuck with me through life, and for the most part I still follow it today. I adore Christmas music, but it loses it’s magic when you listen to it too far ahead of the season!

My “favorites” have changed over the years. While I still appreciate and enjoy almost any version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town or The First Noel and , my favorite albums tend to change from year to year and are somewhat reflective of how life has shaped me over the course of a given year. Right now I have an eclectic mix of Christmas albums that I’m listening to in heavy rotation – Vince Guaraldi Trio, Rend Collective, Jewel, Francesca Battistelli , Straight No Chaser, Lady Antebellum, and Pentatonix have been playing on my phone in the car and in my office pretty much nonstop. There’s some really amazing stuff on these albums – some that is soul stirring and some that is just joyful and fun to belt out in the car.

While those have been my go to albums this season, there were a couple of times this past week when I got in the car, tuned to one of the Christmas stations on the XM radio, and was greeted by an oldie but goodie from my childhood. It is a song I hadn’t thought about in years, but was one in my mom’s frequent rotation for a good part of the ’80s & ’90s.

That song is “I Believe in Santa Claus” written by Kenny Rogers, and recorded by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton in 1984.

The first time I heard it on the radio this week, it brought back a flood of childhood Christmas memories. It was warm and fuzzy and lovely. The second time I heard it on the radio this week, I really listened to the lyrics and was blown away by the fact that the lyrics speak to not just what I love about Christmas, but also about what I fundamentally believe in as a person.

I am particularly struck by the last verse of the song:

I believe in viewing life
As a journey that we’re on
And looking at our troubles
As another stepping stone.

And I believe that everything
That it is what it’s meant to be
I believe there is a God somewhere
Although he’s hard to see.

I believe I am so therefore
I should do all that I can
To be a better piece
In the puzzle of God’s plan.

And I believe in Santa Claus
I believe in Santa Claus
I believe there’s always hope
When all seems lost.
I believe in Santa Claus.

So very much YES! These lyrics capture what I love about Christmas. The words inspire  magic, wonder, joy and love. But they go deeper than that. The lyrics also capture the essence of how I view the world, how I try to live in the world and how I hope to inspire my kids to live in the world as well.

I do believe that we can reap the most good out of the bumpiest parts of our life journey. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. I do believe that God is everywhere and in everyone (although I don’t agree with the premise in the lyrics that God is hard to see – He really is everywhere if you just look for Him). I do believe that we all have an obligation to go out and do all the good we possibly can in our own way each and every day. I do believe there’s always hope. Kenny Rogers was spot on with these lyrics.

I do believe in Santa Claus!

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