I honestly cannot believe that 2016 is almost done… Less than a month from now and 2017 will be here. I’ve heard people around me my entire life say that “time keeps going by faster and faster”, but the older I get the more I have to agree. It’s all too easy to let time just slip by you as you keep your routine going. Pretty much the same thing happens to us, and about this time every year, we are blessed with an opportunity to slow down and take it all in. There are a couple of themes that seemed to stick out this year as far as areas of our life that are becoming more important. In taking a break from the finance-related posts, we want to reflect on a few things here before moving forward and closer to Christmas!
Above everything else, thankfulness seems to be needed more than just about anything else. I believe this is so because it’s not our default response when things don’t happen how we want or plan. Thankfully, we have an opportunity in late November to intentionally do this and that’s the celebration of Thanksgiving. We started and tried something new this year, Steph made dinner at our home for Thanksgiving this year. We haven’t been blessed with children yet, but one thing that we’re realizing more and more is that we’re more than just a part of our extended families, we’re our own family now and we’re growing (we added a puppy this year!). We wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving in the home that God has blessed us with as a way for us to not have to rush around and be anywhere in particular. We have so much to be thankful for, and spending it as a family at home reflecting on the blessings we have received this year and those that we continue to enjoy through the years is exactly what we needed in our home. It’s too easy to take what you have and especially who you have for granted, so make that time because once the opportunity slips through your fingers you’d give anything to have it back if you didn’t make the most of it.
The next involves contentment, or the lack thereof. I don’t want to sound like a Grinch or a Scrooge here, but Black Friday just doesn’t make any sense to me. How is it that we in America take an entire day to celebrate and be thankful for all of the people and things that we enjoy in life and the very next day forget it all? We’re thankful for one day (if that as companies are starting sales earlier and earlier into Thanksgiving), and then turn around and literally lose our minds over “sales” on stuff we probably don’t even need. If you want to see what I’m talking about head over to YouTube and try searching “Black Friday Crazy” or something similar. We spend a day being thankful and supposedly “content” for what we have and then go do exactly the opposite. We understand that it’s time to start celebrating the Christmas season after Thanksgiving. We love to hang up the Christmas lights, find the Christmas CD’s and DVD’s and Steph loves to start decorating the house on Black Friday. In our home, we try to carry over the spirit of Thanksgiving into the days after by being content (especially with all the leftover turkey!) and enjoying the time together as a family. In recent years we have seen Black Friday creep backwards into Thanksgiving all in the name of a “bargain” for the customer and profits for the corporations. If the customers did not participate in this nonsense, it wouldn’t be happening, but as long as there is another dollar to yank out of a wallet it will not stop. In the home of Jason & Steph, we cannot control what happens out in retail-land, but we can control what happens here. Rather than letting the pursuit of more and more “stuff” drag us away from our family-time we’re making it a point to push Thanksgiving into the days past it’s calendar date. We want to use this time to allow our contentment to grow with what we have and truly be thankful for it.
Seek Peace & Quiet
Finally, where we live, the opening day of deer hunting season begins just a few days after Thanksgiving (the Saturday after to be exact). This is the final point we want to spend some time reflecting on as Christmas quickly approaches. For us, it’s not about any “bragging rights” or trophy to put up on the wall or even a competition with others to see who bags the biggest deer. For Steph and I, it’s about being out in the woods and close to the nature that God has blessed us with. It’s about having the opportunity to be blessed with meat to fill our freezer for the year ahead. It’s about the peace and quiet that we when it’s just her and I miles into the woods away from any other people. No matter if we have a deer to bring back to our home or not, if we had time out in the woods to just sit in the absolute stillness of the forest and make it back home safely it’s been time well spent. It’s hard to describe how much you miss when you just walk through the woods. With as much noise as you make and the speed you’re traveling, the life that is out there will avoid you. After we slowly make our way to where we’re hunting we sit down against a bank or a tree and just quietly wait. We have to be a part of the woods so that means no loud breathing, coughing, talking or rapid movements. Over the next half hour the woods will come back to life and you get to see and listen to life return. It’s humbling because you realize just how much of the world exists and continues to live without your involvement or existence. It helps put into perspective the fact that there is so much life around you that you need to take the time to slow down and find some peace and quiet to take it all in. Should the wind favor you, the weather hold out and too many other conditions to list work out in your favor you may have a deer come across your path. The encounter that you have with the deer is simply the end of the hunt, you have to learn to appreciate everything up to it to truly understand what keeps us going back into the woods year after year.
As Christmas gets closer and closer, we pray that anyone reading this finds thankfulness, contentment, peace and quiet in their lives, their careers, their families, their homes and anywhere else it’s needed. Take the time to seek after these things in the craziness that the culture seems to embrace this time of year.