To help you through Decemember

This morning, as the family rolled out of the driveway for school, little Cate shouted out the window, "Happy Christmas Eve!"

Oh, boy.

But in my house it might as well be Christmas Eve. It's now officially December, and that means the season is upon us. 

But before I get to that, I wanted to tell you about Thanksgiving Break.

Last week, Abby and her family came to Charleston for a visit. As many of you know, our friendship formed online years ago, through our blogs, and we recently started a project together on Instagram. 

Abby has two sons who are the same age as mine, and for years, I anticipated the day our boys would meet. I had a sense that they would instantly connect, running off into the worlds of their imagination, of Pokemon and Minecraft and good guys and bad guys. 

Walking along King Street

Walking along King Street

The Charleston Battery

The Charleston Battery

I was right. It was exactly as I imagined. (Cate added a little spice to the mix.)

And so, as we say hello to December, I'm thinking a lot about expectations. Many of us have a vision for the holiday season. Sometimes that vision comes to life, and we get exactly what we imagine—like when Abby's family came to Charleston.

But sometimes, many times, and especially during the holidays, expectations aren't met. Our vision falls apart. 

So, to help us maintain perspective during the most wonderful time of the year, I decided to revisit some of our favorite posts from Christmas past. These posts practically wrote themselves. 

Like the time I was trying to hang the lights on the tree and went all crazy mama over a can of spilled diet Coke. 

Or the time I decided to put on pajamas at three in the afternoon. A reminder that when things get crazy, just don't do it. 

And let's not forget the quest to capture that "perfect photo" for holiday cards.

Or the days when my growing-up-too-quickly son still believed in Santa.

Even though it was time, having "the talk" was bittersweet.

But I don't regret it, because pulling him over to the other side of the magic has been really fun, especially when his younger sister decided to touch the elf. His quick thinking saved the day.

The holidays can be hard. Some of us are missing loved ones. 

But if you're hoping and praying for a miracle... look around you just might find one. 

Here's what brings me comfort and joy: It's the fact that sometimes, we DO get exactly what we want. Even if it arrives in a package we didn't expect. 

Happy December friends. I hope you have your moment.

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A hodgepodge of gratitude

Last week, I got the urge to decorate. Not for Christmas, although I understand that people are already doing that. I wanted to decorate for Thanksgiving. I wanted to create some centerpieces, a thankful tree, and some silly clay turkeys. 

Silly me. Who knew that I'd go to the craft store 10 days before Thanksgiving and find not one shred of fall? 

To be clear, I'm not complaining about the rows and rows of Christmas things. I was simply confused. I mean, it was 10 DAYS BEFORE THANKSGIVING and I couldn't find anything. Not one stem, not one leaf.

Maybe I was missing something. When I asked the sales associate she said, "We sold out of everything last month. Right around Halloween."

"Wow," I said.

Apparently I need to get with the whole seasonal decor program. 

A few minutes later, I overheard another lady ask, "Do you have anything for Thanksgiving?" 

Yes! I thought. I'm not the only one. 

Now I was on a mission. Despite the promise I'd made to myself to keep it simple, I decided to drive across town to another craft store. There wasn't much left. After explaining my situation—This is my first time here, and I'm obviously late to the Thanksgiving party. Can you please help me?—the sales associate pointed me to the remains, which was all marked down 50%. She even gave me some ideas about ways to put it all together. 

After that, gathering the rest of the supplies was easy. Turns out, there's no shortage of googly eyes, construction paper, and turkey feathers. 

And, the kids were willing participants:

IMG_5854.JPG

I did all of this, knowing that once Santa arrives on the Macy's parade float, it will be officially Christmastime in our house. 

But here's the thing: It doesn't matter what's in stock or out of stock, what's on sale, or the fact that Christmas music has been playing in the background since October. 

It's never too early, or too late, for gratitude. It's not seasonal. (click to tweet)

It's more than a holiday. 

We can be make a decision to be thankful, all year round. 

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Did you know that many of us have a limited tolerance for feeling good? In my latest post for Best Kept Self, I admit that I have an upper limit problem. Do you? Read the full article here. 

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A day in the life

I had a meeting with a marketing client recently, and when I opened my Google calendar to set up our next meeting, he took a look at it and said, "That's your schedule?"

Not only does my calendar appear pretty full, but blocks of time are also color-coded by category: work, exercise, the kids' schedules, and my shared calendar with my husband. I like the colors because it takes a full day and turns it into a candy rainbow.

The colors help me visualize time. They help me prioritize and focus. I've finally accepted that multitasking and I can never be friends. My brain and my sanity can't handle it. 

I've worked hard over the past year to create a weekly routine that feels manageable. Truth? I've been working on this for almost a decade, for as long as I've been a parent and the kids have been throwing wild cards. But they're a little bit older now, and so this past year was the year I really fought for that damn candy rainbow. 

Last week, I was invited to take over Best Kept Self's Instagram account for a day to show them a day in my life as a writer and a mom of three. Although Instagram is its own special brand of candy rainbow with its filters and stylized photos, my photo diary was a pretty accurate illustration of a day in my life. 

Consistency is a discipline for me, it's something I have to work at. When I worked as a television journalist, the daily deadlines dictated my day. The clock was a countdown to "live", ready or not. After that, freelance work and children dictated my day. But these days, I'm less inclined to let outside forces control me. I'm less willing to let my day happen to me. I'm doing my part to co-create it. 

Being the co-creator of my own day has really helped me keep all of the unexpected things that happen (which is still quite often) in perspective. 

And, as I write this, I look ahead to the holiday season. I respect and accept that in the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year, I'll have to temporarily redraw the lines on my candy rainbow calendar. 

Having a framework, a place to return, keeps me grounded.

What about you? What does a typical day look like for you? Will the upcoming holidays impact your flow? How do you manage it? 

You might also like Best Kept Self Founder Shauna Mackenzie's thoughts about how daily inconveniences can actually be a gift of time. Click here to watch the video.

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