Letters to Jesus and Other Topics

I turned to my daughter last night in the kitchen, her hands tearing bread to make the topping to a casserole, and asked, “What do you think Dada would like for Christmas?” Her wide eyes met mine as she said, “But Mama, I already got him something. I got him cut-up paper.”

And she had. Two weeks ago, we were working on crafts at her wooden school desk, when she decided to make him a present. She got so excited about the idea that she nearly tripped while getting an envelope, and then again as she walked down the stairs to put it under the tree. I smiled when I heard her say in a warning tone, “Dada, you can’t open this until Christmas. Ok? It is cut-up paper.”

Being present can feel like a lofty goal at times. How to stay present when the grading pile is huge and the to-do list for home runs the length of a paper? Well, to my daughter, it is simple; that is the world she lives in all the time.

I cuddled her while watching one episode of “Daniel Tiger” on PBS. Her neck nestled mine as she sat on my lap, cups of tea nearby. Fifteen minutes left. It was already dinnertime. I knew she would be hungry as soon as the show was over. I debated getting up and making our meal so it would be ready, and then I continued to sit. I sat with her on my lap for the next fifteen minutes and realized how much better of a decision that was when we were “cooking” together side by side [she taste-tested and I chopped].

When I had a rare couple hours to myself in a quiet house, I found myself walking in circles. Put this there. Find this. Forgot something, go back. What was I doing again? After a text to a friend admitting my insanity, I made a cup of tea and sat. By the window and Howard by my side. I fought the urge to multitask and instead opted to soak in the silence. I felt the frenzy float away.

Even though I aim for a simple, stress-free holiday season (don’t we all?), I found myself getting caught up in a to-do list. I asked Linnea if she would help me with the Christmas cards when they came. She glanced up and taught me yet another lesson about living simply and utterly in the moment…

“Let’s make one for baby Jesus instead.” And with that, she chose a yellow piece of construction paper (his favorite color, don’t you know), and grabbed a marker.

I did too.

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