For years, our family has spent the holidays away on vacation. For me, the stress of holiday decorating, cooking, shopping, cards and charity work (which I do regardless because we celebrate at home AND while vacationing) is always a challenge.
Does my family appreciate all the arrangements, the extra bag I pack and carry or the FedEx shipment that is timed to arrive on December 24th at the hotel? I’m not really sure anyone notices. Our special family traditions include attending local church wherever we are and setting out cookies for Santa. Decorating, having a nice dinner and opening gifts can happen anywhere because truthfully, Christmas comes without ribbons or bows. It is the renewed and thankful feeling on the inside that matters.
Personally, it has taken me a very long time to give in. Give into what? It’s hard to say. I feel selfish and I feel scared to tell the truth but here I go…
This year, we are having our holidays right here at home in Chicago. For me, as much as I like vacation, there is no place like home. I cannot remember the last time I woke up in my own bed on Christmas morning and in the moment feeling complete with my life. The holiday season has been in my heart since my dear partner Erin Spears had her baby on November 8th. Kennedy Marie Spears was a topic of conversation from the day I met Erin. As she says…I was born to be a mother. It’s no secret by having five kids of my own that I love my children and everyone else’s. My faith is renewed with joy by seeing my family and friends’ dreams come true. I am grateful that when Kennedy arrived, I could hold her within hours of when she came into the world. She was born at The Fifield Family Labor and Delivery unit at Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital.
That night I brought dinner, baby clothes and my oldest daughter to share in the joy at the hospital. When Alexa was holding Kennedy in her arms I looked over and thought how blessed I am to have this moment of watching my baby lovingly hold another person’s newborn.
The spirit of Christmas hit me right then and there as my eyes welled up with tears. The simple things, like that moment, are where the soul is touched. From that day forward, on even the hard days (and there are plenty), I take a moment to reflect upon how many people I love and how I have been protected, helped, nurtured and cared for in a daily interaction. So many people have been kind to me beyond my wildest dreams. I get a lot of pleasure from paying it forward and returning these simple gestures in return to others. I pray every night and many times in my prayers I say out loud that I am grateful for what went well and even for my problems. In these moments I hear the whispers of wanting peace. It seems like the more I notice these moments, the more they occur.
My friend was able to get me four seats in the Michigan Avenue tree lighting parade. Spending time with my grand boys having unique adventures makes ME feel like a kid. I enjoy their questions, insights and their impressions. I also love their cuddles, kisses and how they nestle into my arms and slide into my bed when they wake in the night during their sleepovers. My hope is that by having these special experiences, they will grow into men that will recreate these traditions with their loved ones and I will remain somewhere inside their hearts.
I opened our home for a 14-person Friendsgiving and all the food turned out delicious. It gives me great joy to see people eat. This was followed by a terrific Thanksgiving holiday of seeing the play Hamilton, watching movies, putting up the tree, ZooLights, riding a carousel, friends stopping by and even a Sunday afternoon visit from Kennedy, Erin and Mark. It made me happy to get emails, texts and cards sending love and good wishes for a happy Thanksgiving. Mark and Erin brought the most beautiful flowers to decorate the entry of our home and they will last well throughout the season as a generous reminder of their love and respect for how our lives have grown together.
A new thing I tried this season was creating a hot chocolate tray! We have gone through four bags of marshmallows because while you may not want hot chocolate everyday, those tiny white puffs of sugar are addictive!
I am looking forward to spending the night before Christmas at Fourth Presbyterian Church – where my children were baptized – and listening to holiday music. I am dying to see Sing (the new holiday cartoon movie out on December 21st) and to open presents with everyone on Christmas morning in the family room. I have planned a game night, a visit to Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier, poppers at dinner, massages, doctor check-ups, teeth cleaning, closet reorganizing, long walks, yoga, Pilates, facials and lunch and dinner plans for our staycation. We are also spending New Year’s Eve with family and friends in Chicago as well. In planning and writing, I feel I am prepared for 2017 to arrive in my hometown and I remain thankful for being able to be brave enough to TRY to push the off button on travel. I accomplished my 2016 goals posted last January in 16 for 2016. I think posting on the blog has held me accountable. Remember to share your goal list as it helps to achieve the desired outcome, and you may gain a partner to co-create along the way!
Lastly, I would like to say a big thank you to you! Writing the blog this year has allowed me to grow in all sorts of ways. I am touched that my friends, family and sometimes people I do not know personally approach me to say they have read the blog and it contained some take home value to them.
P.S. I am grateful that our children are supportive of our endeavor to build the Sinclair. Below is a photo of us on the job site the day after Thanksgiving, handing out snacks and gratitude for the teams returning to work!