Joy in the Quiet Times

Jan 3, 2014

After the holiday hustle and bustle, an empty datebook can seem anticlimactic. But in my estimation, those empty calendar pages feel like a benediction to the frenetic season just past.

Children are pushed through holiday observances on the crest of their families’ schedules and their own adrenaline. But as those special times wind down, regular life once again takes center stage.  And for most of the little children I know, regular life is a pretty big deal.

When granddaughter Lulu and I were reflecting on holiday events over the last month, we were talking about our favorite times.  With stars in her eyes, she contributed hers:  “Washing dishes!”

I had to chuckle, as the holidays see me washing plenty of dishes and I hardly consider that chore a favorite time. But Lulu was reveling in the calming sensation of pulling her hands through warm water at a time when the world was entirely too stressful.

We adults note the progress of our days by marking events off one by one as we complete them.  But children immerse themselves in each one.  Leave it to children to register the beautiful snow falling as we struggle to get groceries in from the car.  While we live by the calendar, they live by what their senses teach them in each moment.

As we reenter our lives following the holidays, we enjoy their ordinariness. Children teach us that the joy of life is to be found in the simple events of each day that connect us to meaning and help us discover who we really are.

In Lulu’s case, dishwashing gives her the satisfaction of doing something well and knowing she can contribute to her family.  During the holiday rush, her opportunity for mastery was limited.  It was all she could do to hang on for the exciting ride.

But in the quiet of the down days after the holidays, she can rediscover her own competency in simple tasks.  And that feeling of satisfaction is something we could never have given her wrapped up with a bow.