Have you heard the saying, “Somebody pinch me so I know I’m not dreaming”? That is exactly how I felt.
My husband and I had a long time dream and were about to make it happen. The time for saying, “One day we’d like to” had come to an end.
Too many times we have let opportunities pass us by. This time we weren’t going to look back in regret, wondering what it would have been like.
Plans were set in motion and initial preparations were started. We told others about our plans. It surprised us to hear how many people wanted to do the same. Not only were we going after our dream, we would also be living that of many others as well.
We packed up Vanessa, our 1996 travel van and headed across Canada.
Intentionally, we kept our schedule flexible. We had a rough idea of timing for some areas and commitments for specific dates in others. For the most part, we were free to go where the wind, or whim, took us.
Nine weeks and over 16,000 km on the road in a camper van was certainly the adventure of a lifetime for us. We witnessed firsthand the diverse beauty of our country. We were inspired by people we met. We overcame challenges and shared frustrations and laughter.
I learned to be content in a small space. I enjoyed not knowing what we might see during the day or where we would stop for the night. Having our food and accommodation with us gave us incredible flexibility. I am convinced this trip helped me to embrace a spontaneity that had been hidden for far too long. That in itself was a gift.
Now instead of saying, “One day” we have amazing memories of pursuing our dream and turning it into a dream come true.
Do you have any special Christmas traditions? Are there activities, outings or special foods that signify the season for you? They may have been carried forward in your family for years, decades or generations.
How easy is it for you to adapt to changes in your traditions?
I grew up in a home where we were able to choose one of the presents under the tree to open on Christmas Eve. When I got married this changed. My husband was of the opinion that all gifts waited until Christmas morning. It was time to form new traditions together.
When my children were young teenagers we would pick my mother up in the afternoon of Christmas Eve and bring her our house to spend the next few days.
She would come to church with our family on Christmas Eve. Afterwards, we would drive around various neighbourhoods admiring Christmas light displays. Upon returning home it was time for hot chocolate and cookies.
One year, my husband made us clubhouse sandwiches on Boxing Day. Little did he know this was the start of a brand new tradition! Boxing Day has been synonymous with clubhouse sandwiches ever since!
Some traditions change out of necessity. My mom is no longer with us and our kids now have families of their own. One thing has not changed in over twenty years. We may not all be together to open gifts or enjoy a turkey dinner on Christmas Day but nobody wants to miss out on our clubhouse gathering on Boxing Day!
It’s funny how something little like this takes hold and becomes such a big part of our lives. Tell me about the traditions that have become part of your family heritage?
Have you completed your Christmas shopping? Some gifts are purchased, some are lovingly hand-made and others come straight from the heart.
Of the many gifts given and received over the Christmas season, often those most valuable are the ones that don’t come from a store.
One of the most thoughtful gifts I ever received came from my daughter. She didn’t have a lot of money but wanted to do something special for me.
I had a drawer full of recipes cut from the newspaper, jotted on scrap paper or passed on from friends. My daughter took the opportunity to go through these whenever I wasn’t home and neatly print the favourites onto recipe cards, which she placed in a small file box. This allowed me to find the ones I wanted with ease. Almost twenty years later, I still use and appreciate this gift.
My children, now grown with families of their own, don’t remember a lot of Christmas gifts received while they were young. What they do remember is receiving a new board game every year. We would spend hours as a family playing these games. The time spent together is what their memories are made of.
Over the years I’ve given and received some wonderful gifts. I’d be happy to share more of them but would rather hear about yours. What are some of the best gifts you remember and what make them special.
I’ll do a draw from the comments I receive and one of you will win a gift from me!
Recently I took an enjoyable stroll down memory lane. My husband and I were sorting through a box of old photographs. These were the kind of pictures where we didn’t know exactly what was captured on film until it was developed. Not like the digital ones today where we know exactly what we’re getting.
Some were better quality than others but all held precious memories. It was like having the lives of our children flash before our eyes. One minute they were babies, the next they were teenagers. Today they have children of their own. Stories and laughter abounded as we recalled events over the past few decades.
As I looked at the photos, I was struck as much by what was missing as what was there. When our children were little we spent countless hours with them. This is evidenced by the number of pictures from those years.
Just as we didn’t know how the pictures on the roll of film would develop, we also didn’t know how our lives would develop. There are chunks of time not accounted for in the photographic history of our family life. I like to think it was just the camera that was missing and not my presence in their lives. That may not always have been the case.
Time passes swiftly and looking at these pictures, I was reminded of the importance of quality time spent with our loved ones. My goal is to ensure the legacy I leave will be one of pleasant memories.
“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll
Did you know that new vehicles no longer come equipped with a CD player? My husband found this out when renting a vehicle for a business trip. He’d taken some CD’s along to listen to when the radio reception was poor.
His disappointment was short-lived when he discovered the satellite radio. There were stations for every genre of music. What he enjoyed most were the stations dedicated to each decade.
As he listened to songs from the 90’s, 80’s, 70’s, and 60’s memories flooded his mind. Music is so much a part of our lives that favourite songs from each decade took him back to various moments in time.
Later he told me the good memories far outweighed the bad. We talked about our tendency to look back and dwell on things we wished we’d done differently. Those are minor compared to the positives we’ve experienced.
When going through trials we feel that they are insurmountable. When I look back on them I see the lessons learned and how far I’ve come. I heard a quote that said “We change for two reasons; either we learn enough that we want to or we hurt enough that we have to.” Either way, the experiences of the past are what has shaped us into who we are today. I’m happy to glance into the past and reminisce but have no desire to dwell there. I know my future lies before and not behind me.
It’s necessary to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and allow him to lead me into the bright future he has planned for me.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2 NLT)
A Dickens Christmas Village is set up on my hearth. The lights in the church, shops and house shine onto the little village scene. In one area Charles Dickens reads from A Christmas Carol to a crowd gathered around. Nearby are a group of Christmas Carolers. Some children are playing in the snow.
Gazing at the cheerful little village brings back precious memories of receiving the various pieces throughout the years. My adult children enjoyed moving some of the people to unusual locations in the village to see if I’d notice. Grandchildren loved to gaze at it but knew not to touch the porcelain pieces.
This village brings me peace and joy. It also reminds me of love shared with my family, who are the primary members of my personal village.
Christmas is about peace, joy and love. There is no better way to honour Jesus than by sharing the love that he so generously gives to me. That is what I plan to do with those I come in contact with.
I want to express my appreciation for each of you who read my posts. May you feel the blessings of love and peace not only this Christmas but throughout the coming year.
This is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9 NIV