October 24, 2021 6 min read

It’s officially Fall, y’all! The first cold front (well, a cool front when you’re in Texas) has come through. I’ve even seen some people in sweaters, but I don’t know how they manage to keep them on all day. Right now, Texas weather fluctuates between the 60s in the mornings and 90s in the afternoon…it’s why layering was invented!

Halloween decorations are going up, pumpkin spice EVERYTHING is out and about, and by this time of year, I’m usually in full-on Christmas mode, but I haven’t made it there, yet. I’m working on it, but I could use your help.

You see, the world seems like a vary heavy place these days. In the last couple of months, among my friends and family, that includes members of our Christmas Pickle VIPs family, there’s been more tragedy than I care to think about. I’ve had friends lose loved ones to COVID…I personally know more people who have passed from COVID in 2021 than in 2020, and I just knew it would be over and done by the time we got to Fall this year. I have a friend whose grandson lost members of his Marine Unit in the explosion at the Kabul Airport. Still another dear friend is battling a cancer resurgence and infections which are a direct result of what the doctors are doing to fight the cancer. There’s more on the list, but I think you get the idea…while my immediate family is doing well, many people I love like family have endured unfair hardships the last few months, and my heart goes out to them.

We launched www.ChristmasPickleTX.com in 2020 as a way to find JOY and stay connected to everyone even while socially distancing, and it worked! We reconnected with old friends and made new ones and had a blast talking Christmas from July on. But, this year, we’re behind. Life is much more hectic than at this time last year. While I’m grateful for our children being back in school and resuming their extracurricular activities, I miss the calm and quiet that 2020 provided in many ways even amongst the chaos of the unknown. Life has returned to normal in many ways, but the pandemic continues to cloak the world in a shroud of uncertainty. That uncertainty and the unknown that lies around the corner seems to be stealing JOY from many of us this year, so how do we combat it?!?

It’s something Whitney and I have been discussing the last few weeks, and I really didn’t have any insight to share until recently. My husband was supposed to be out-of-town one day, but because circumstances beyond his control changed, he didn’t end up being gone. So, he worked Saturday morning, and then he and I were able to run errands together. It was a simple day. We picked up feed for all the farm animals, had lunch together in a sit-down restaurant…no drive-through lines, and we went grocery shopping together…just the two of us. We talked about it, and we couldn’t remember the last time we had a day like that…just the two of us.

It was a nice reminder that when we actually have time to spend together, we still really enjoy each other! If he hadn’t ended up at home, I probably never would have left the house, and I think I needed to be out and about. The next several weekends were busy at shock shows, and when I see weeks like that coming, I have a tendency to hunker down and soak up time at home as much as possible, but laundry, housekeeping and chores don’t generally do much good for my mood! Can anyone relate?

It was in the simple act of spending a few uninterrupted hours with my husband that I remembered there are little things I can do to lift my spirits and find my Christmas JOY. So, I thought I’d share some ideas with you in hopes they might make their way to someone else trying to muster up some extra JOY, but also in hopes that you’ll share your ideas with me, too, and that way, we can help each other through the heavy times.

  1. Take time to disconnect and reconnect – This was the obvious one to start with but, it’s important to point out that for most of our 4 hours together we didn’t have our phones in our hands, and if we did, we were looking up something that played into what we were discussing. We were engaged with one another even if one of us was on the phone. Adult conversation was fun even if it was about paying bills, what was on the calendar for the upcoming week or what chores needed to take top priority. By talking it out and putting a plan together, life won’t seem so overwhelming
  2. Change Your Scenery– I don’t mean you have to leave town…although, that’s not a bad idea! I mean something as basic as straightening up your office and pulling out your Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas decorations and putting out a few basic things just to remind you there is more to come. For me, I organized my office (although it’s not like it should be, yet) and plugged in a couple of mini-Christmas trees. The soft glow of their lights makes me smile every time I walk by and see them. It also helps my mood and concentration when I’m working in there. You may find the same JOY from football season, hunting season, pumpkins or chrysanthemums. Whatever it is, use it…It’s a great visual reminder that time is continually passing, and tough times don’t last, but tough people do!
  3. Engage Your Senses– This picture of a homemade cookie and coffee in a Christmas mug was actually taken this summer. Don’t judge…it made    me smile!                                                                                                                                      I always hear about the use of essential oils or aromatherapy  to calm anxiety, boost immunity and improve mood. My point is that smell and taste can trigger great memories or encourage feelings of JOY, relaxation, and exuberance, among others, so use them. Another great way to engage the sense of hearing is to incorporate music into your daily routine. With all the options among streaming services and music apps, you’re bound to find something to lift your spirits. Just in case you’re wondering, you can find stations through IHEART radio and others that play Christmas music all-year-long!! However, one of my favorites that I discovered while living in the Houston area is KSBJ 89.3. It's a Christian radio station, and the DJs are funny, inspiring and family friendly. I'll never forget the day I was driving Joe to preschool and all of a sudden I hear him singing at the top of his lungs, "God's Not Dead, He's Surely Alive"! He has no idea how real he made that for me! There was unforgettable JOY in that moment!
  4. Find Something to Look Forward to– I think this is a big part of the reason so many of us find JOY in the Christmas Season. It’s a guarantee that a celebration is coming, regardless of how hard the year has been. We all need something to look forward to that serves as a distraction from the mundane day-to-day tasks that can sometimes consume us. Christmas always feels like a rebirth, a reminder that better things are yet to come, and that no matter how other people are treating you, God loves you so much that he sent his only begotten Son to save you. I never want to lose that faith or the JOY I find in the annual reminder, but it doesn’t have to be Christmas….start planning your Halloween costume, or book a vacation, or plan your menu for Thanksgiving or make a list of how you want to celebrate your next birthday. Make a diagram of what your spring garden will look like, buy tickets to a concert, start saving a little cash each week with the promise of buying something new for yourself or your home when you reach a savings goal…whatever it is that makes you happy, start planning for it now! It’s never too early!!

So, what did I miss? How do you find your JOY when the world is weighing you down? I’d love to hear from you, so please comment on this blog to share your ideas with your fellow Christmas Pickle family members or email me at ChristmaspickleTX@gmail.com if you prefer to share your thoughts in private. Be sure to join our Christmas Pickle VIPs group on Facebook to follow along this holiday season. We’re Christmas Enthusiasts sharing our JOY and lifting each other up…and sometimes we mix in a little retail therapy!!

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