With the first week of December under our belts, many of us are starting to feel the "crunch" of the approaching holidays. Even though many of us have seen displays and decorations in our local stores since the middle of October, everyone is really in 'high gear' now in regards to Christmas shopping.
I have started to feel a bit anxious as well – even though my own Christmas season is rather low key. With my children and grand child living many miles away in Chicago, for the past several years I have had rather quiet Christmases, celebrating with my "Canadian family" of Bernie and Ellen and their daughter Cindy and their families, and my partner Keith's family more recently. But even those demographics have changed for me. As I am getting older, the families are more and more widespread. Cindy's children both live out west, where jobs were a bit more plentiful. Keith's dad is no longer with us and he is so greatly missed. And my own children are healthy and happy in their own lives and with their own families, and it just isn't in the cards for us to get together this year. But that is the way life can be.
There are times I feel a little sad about how things have changed. But when I really think about it, it is the cycle that so many lives seem to follow. Seeing your children grow and change is part of the ever-changing demographics of our lives. While it can sometimes be slightly painful to not have things as they once were, when we really think about it we realize that this process has always been happening. Children grow. People leave us. Things change.
Those days of late night wrapping of gifts and preparing the house for throngs of people with an over-abundance of food are forever gone for me, I believe. That stage of my life is now only a sweet memory that I can relive time and time again in my own heart.
I am not sad about these memories, for they brought so much joy and laughter to me for so many years. When I hear my children speak of them and of our Christmases past with happiness and excitement, I know that they are joyful for them as well. I am certain too that they are in the process of making their own memories with their own families and the cycle will continue. How much more could I want?
The past several months have been incredibly busy for Keith and I. We are so fortunate that our little business is thriving, and we hope it continues to do so. We know of so many small businesses that fail, or just can't make ends meet, and we realize just how fortunate we are.
But that success doesn't come without hard work. And time. Some don't realize that in order to succeed, it takes a great deal of work, time and patience. There is no such thing as "overnight success" I believe. Not if you are building a lasting business. People need to get to know you and know your products and trust is built only after some time has passed. I believe the reason we are doing well is not because of 'luck' or 'chance' but because of the slow and steady effort we put into our business. And for that reason I hope it continues to grow and support us, no matter which direction it takes.
But all of that hard work and effort can take a bit of a toll on us if we don't take breaks now and then. The last several weeks, I have been feeling a bit anxious and tired. I have so many ideas in my head and there just aren't enough hours in the day to implement them. I hate to go to sleep at night and it is hard for me to stay in bed past the early dawn hours, as when I awake (even when it is dark out) I begin thinking of all that I want to do and I wind up getting up and getting started. It is starting to make me feel a little worn around the edges.
It is fortunate that I take this time in the early morning hours, when my world is quiet, to think things through a bit. I usually plan my day and write my posts here and get a foothold on the day to come. The mornings are my best thinking time and many times my favorite time of the day.
As I watch the pages on the calendar quickly turn, I am beginning to realize that before I know it, the year will come to an end and along with it, the holiday season will be once again just memories. I don't want to look back on it and wonder where my joy was. I don't want to look back on this year as being one that was successful, but a year that I didn't take time to enjoy some of the simple pleasures of the season. Things like watching an old Christmas movie, sipping peppermint tea with a cookie in the evening, or spending some time with my family and friends. I never said I was the best businesswoman in the world, and while it may not seem practical from a business point of view to back away a little just now, I think in the long run it is the right thing for me to do. I need to follow my heart on this one.
As with anything, the holiday season is what you make it. No matter which faith you follow – or even if you don't follow any faith at all – there is so much you can to do enjoy the time and make a difference in the world. There are so many things to do and ways to enjoy even the simpler things around you. It is easy to do so if you only slow down long enough to stop and look.
Growing up in Chicago and moving here to rural Nova Scotia shows me that no matter where you are, there are possibilities. In the cities, there are a variety of events which help you enjoy the season, and even though I live here in a small town, there are plenty of things to do here as well. There are many events, fairs and performances that are available if you look hard enough. There are even many that cost very little or nothing. You don't have to spend a fortune to enjoy the season, because I believe that everyone – no matter where you are from – are also looking for some MAGIC of the Christmas season. It shouldn't always be about buying things and presents. The greatest gift you can give to each other is memories.
Yesterday Keith's mom and I went to see a performance of The Nutcracker ballet in nearby Yarmouth. I had seen advertising posters of the event for the past month or so all over town and one day, when I was extremely busy, I was coming out of the bank and saw a poster on their bulletin board. I paused long enough to take it in and thought – YES! That is what I am going to do!
I have never seen a ballet before and while I knew Keith wouldn't enjoy it very much, I thought his mom might. When I asked, she said she had never gone to the ballet either, so we both decided to go.
It was a beautiful performance and a wonderful day! I thoroughly enjoyed the dancing, costumes and entire performance. Afterward, we did some LIGHT Christmas shopping, as we needed to get a couple of things that have to be mailed out, and we went for an incredible Italian dinner. The restaurant was one I hadn't been to before, and the food was incredible as well as the atmosphere. They had a HUGE Christmas tree and soft music playing and it was one of the nicest evenings I had in a long time. We made a memory!
I am going to be rather 'low key' these next few weeks. While I will still be posting from time to time, I feel that I want to just 'play' for a while. I don't know exactly what that will entail. Maybe I will bake cookies. I will certainly decorate my own tree and our little place here. But most important I want to spend some time enjoying the MAGIC of the season and all that entails. With things like SKYPE, I can visit with my own children and grand daughter a bit as well, and it won't feel as if they are so far away. I will probably do some new designs, but not with the deadlines and urgency that I usually feel. Of course we will fill orders from the site and do all that is required on that. I enjoy interacting with our customers and many of them become long term friends. I think it is the perfect time to step back and enjoy what we have worked so hard for. Otherwise, what are we doing this all for?
I hope that you all have a great holiday. I also hope you all remember why you all work so hard and take some time to enjoy the magic of the season.
"Memories are a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose," – Unknown
Happy Monday to you all! I hope you find your own MAGIC in your day?
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"