31 Days: Cyber Monday – The Day After

christmas gifts
Every year at the beginning of Advent, I begin to plan two things – the handmade gifts I will make for Christmas, and the huge deals I will take advantage of on Cyber Monday. It seems that second plan never materializes.

This year, I was determined to knock out a big chunk of my Christmas shopping on Cyber Monday. We’re a little tight on money these days (who isn’t?) and I was sure I could get a bunch of good deals for a lot of the people on our list. I camped out on the computer all day. I thought and rethought. I compared prices. I added and deleted items from my shopping cart for hours. 

And I didn’t end up buying a single thing.

Every year, the desire of my heart is to give those I love intentional gifts, thoughtful and meaningful and full of my love for them. I abhor the buy, buy, buy mentality that I usually still end up falling into come late December, when my extravagant handmade intentions have not been realized. And buy, buy, buy is exactly what you are supposed to do on Cyber Monday. If you don’t buy this TODAY, all the websites scream, you will miss out on this amazing deal! Do it now! Don’t wait, don’t think, just buy!

Now, is it possible to buy affordable, thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list on Cyber Monday? Yes. Was this my attitude yesterday? No. Will I hand-craft the perfect gift for everyone on my list this year? Yeah, right! I never do. But at least I can try. And I can refuse to let the people I love most turn into a check on my to-do list. Christmas gift-giving seems to have turned into a burden these days, and I hate that. What is burdensome about giving those closest to you in the world something that will bring them joy? I’m challenging myself to give gifts of love, whether they are from Target, or off of my knitting needles. How about you?

31 Days: An Empty Sink

water in sink

“When you don’t know what to do, do the dishes.”

When I was part of a group studying contemplative prayer through Thomas Merton’s writings, our facilitator used to say this. He meant that when we are confronted with the big mysteries – God, peace, eternity, fulfillment, silence, what does it all mean? – sometimes the best response is to do the menial, daily task that happens to be right in front of you.

Pretty good advice.

There are so many things I should be doing at any given moment that it’s easy to get lost in the midst of all of them and end up doing nothing. Or end up doing a lot of things, but not doing them very well. When all of the tasks – menial and monumental – are swirling around me, calling for my attention, sometimes the best place to start is the dishes. There is comfort in picking up each one, rinsing it, putting it in its proper slot in the dishwasher, and in its proper place in the cabinet. I may not know where I’ll be in five years, but the dishes? Those I can do.

If only the rest of life were that simple – pick up a dream, a goal, a career, put it in the right spot, and everything falls into place. Voila! Your messy life is clean, your sink empty and gleaming.

So it’s not that simple. But at least it’s a start. Now please excuse me. I have to go do the dishes.

 

Cool Air

I’ve been away for a long time.

But the lethargic and stifling season I’ve been in is slowly disappearing into cooler, clearer days.

I’m energized by the change. If spring is the world newly born—pale, sweet and unfurling—then fall is the world in its prime—bright, outrageous and sharp.

I’m beginning to dream again…

that I can write;

that I can make some work out of being creative;

that joy always returns;

that I will re-find and remember who I am.