Life is different now.
Every day, I make a list. At the end of every day, I find myself frustrated by all the things left on it.
Work is piling up. Mail is piling up. Emails need to be answered.
And the vegetables don’t wait. As I stand by my sink, snipping the ends off purple beans so I can blanch and freeze them for winter, I can see one of the two drainage streams in our yard. They stretch as far as I can see from my window, and they’re so overgrown with weeds that you can’t see the water in them. This is a problem, because rainy season is coming and if they’re blocked, we’re just asking for our property to flood.
Homesteading requires a ton of maintenance. There is no downtime, and we haven’t even turned our property into a homestead yet. It’s just a really big lot with a garden on it. But with my new business, the kids at 3 years and 6 months old, my husband’s overtime…it’s taking all we have to just barely keep up. And the things that need to be done? They don’t care about how hard we try. Whether we’re worn out, tired, or not in the mood, they still need to be done just the same.
The ditches are on the list. They need to be taken care of soon, and it will take an entire weekend to clear them out. But for now, I look down at my daughter with her brand new tooth, trying to perfect her downdog pose on the floor (she is so determined to crawl any minute) and I keep on snipping, trying not to look at the clock.
Because one thing at a time, mama. One thing, one day, one week at a time. You’re doing a good job, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
Oh, I shudder to think of some of my old bad habits…
There was the crazy frosty blue eyeshadow…
…and the pager I used to carry…
…and don’t even get me started on the musicians I used to date!
Luckily, I’ve outgrown those, along with another nasty habit that I’m really not proud of: wasting food. Continue reading
Sure, I love holiday traditions like drinking spiced apple wine, baking cookies with my Mom and making this fantastic casserole out of our yearly crop of sweet potatoes.
But, in recent years, my family’s way of celebrating the holidays has undergone a little facelift.
I suppose the “recession/economic downturn/suckiness/whatever you want to call it” of the last several years has affected different people at different times. The worst time for us was a few years back when some extended family members found their breadwinner without a job. It was sudden, unexpected, and truly felt like a death in the family. The loss was nothing short of devastating, and it was cause for a whole lotta changes.
Money was tighter and priorities shifted, especially as we prepared for the holiday season. But you know what? Amazing things happen when a family stands strong together, supporting each other. Sometimes life throws you for a loop when you least expect it, and that Christmas was one of the best ones I’ve ever had.
Here are some lessons I learned, that I still hold on to today and plan to carry with me no matter how big or small my bank account might be.
- Presents, schmesents. Who needs them? At least not traditional ones. That first year, I copied family photos for my brother, and he wrote my Dad a song (that’d be them, below.) There wasn’t much under the tree, but we were all together around it, and it couldn’t have been better. Get crafty, get sappy, get out a piece of paper and a pen and simply write a letter. Just be thoughtful, and you can’t go wrong.
- Food is the glue. You have to eat, so you might as well celebrate it, right? Do what you can afford (from scratch, to save money) and enjoy the time and effort spent preparing it. Nothing brings a family together like gathering around the table to break bread – on the holidays, or any other day for that matter.
- If you are going to do some holiday shopping, do it early. Things have improved a bit since that scary year when the future seemed so uncertain, and I do spend a little bit more now. But I try to do it throughout the year, snagging bargains as I go, so that the end of the year doesn’t overwhelm me. Who needs that kind of stress?!
- Think “practical” gifts. Gift cards? Some may say they’re impersonal, but I love ‘em! Your recipient will most likely get more for the money if they are shopping right after the holidays with a gift card, and they’ll get just what they need. Food also makes a fabulous gift. Every year I get my
macaronitarian vegetarian brother a big box of natural and organic foods I know he’d never buy himself. He gets to eat, and I get the peace of mind from knowing he’ll have a few good meals. And since he’s a grad student working on his dissertation, I know he’ll probably get me back with a really bangin’ box of food when he’s all rich and successful.
- Your holidays should be anything you want them to be. Nobody – not relatives, friends or even retail marketing folks – should be dictating how you celebrate this very special time of year. The fact is, if you believe there is a reason to celebrate (whatever that reason may be), you should do it the way that feels right for YOU. If that means shopping till you drop and piling brightly wrapped presents under your tree, so be it, but if it means simply sitting under a tree on the winter solstice, feeling thankful for a great harvest, that’s perfect too (and you go on with your bad self, you crunchy hippie.)
I created this post as part of Frigidaire’s Talk Turkey Campaign. Share your own recipes and tips at Frigidaire’s Make Time for Change site. For every recipe or tip that’s shared, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save The Children’s U.S. Programs, which creates lasting change for children in need.