Simply put, it’s the simple things of life I find steeped with meaning. Otherwise why do we go around capturing photos of trees full of colorful leaves, flowers blooming, steamy mugs of coffee and selfies with friends wherever we go? Isn’t it because there is something beautiful in the simple moments and pleasures? In a few still moments on a gray cloudy day I sit here wedged between two holidays writing about the simple things even though the world has attempted to siphon off all the simple joys from the season.
Just a little over a week ago I was checking the turkey, shaping the rolls and mashing potatoes on a hot southern California day with no air conditioning. Midst conversation, cooking and eating chocolate chip cookies as appetizers those special, simple moments happened. And the best memories aren’t the food. It was the moment I realized the candles had burned down and dripped all over the table runner. Sheepishly, my daughters informed me the damage was done when I turned on the ceiling fan. We had a good laugh! And another good laugh a few days later in the remembering of the incident.
It was the moment in the living room, coffee and dessert in hand, while discussions flew about settling into a healthy space of “agreeing to disagree.” Then it was by the fire pit where stories were told and laughter launched over the neighbors’ fences. And last but not least it was dividing up leftovers and doling out hugs, saying how glad we were to spend the time together.
I may not remember the new recipe I used to cook the turkey (nerve wracking) or what recipe I used for the rolls; because I am always trying something new, but I will remember all the simple moments for a long time. I will treasure them in my heart. You see, when changes happen in the family one often notes more closely the simple things – the things you want to live over and over again. My oldest daughter is moving to London, England to get her master’s degree at Central St. Martins and who knows where the winds of fulfillment will direct her. And so it may be a long time before we all sit around the fire pit and laugh together or quite possibly the same mix of people may not be around. I know there will be other beautiful, simple moments to treasure but I cannot help but savor these a little longer knowing things are changing.
The mere fact things are always changing forces to the surface the simple, precious moments we have with one another. It seems so many of us are working hard not to miss these moments with our photos and our posts. Photography is a wonderful way to focus on the simple pleasures of life, but I want to be present in them as well. My heart longs to squeeze out every drop of significance from time spent enjoying loved ones and the beauty around me. But there seems to be something even in the squeezing that leaves me deflated. Could it be that just being present and grateful is enough for receiving the blessings of these moments?
Simple pleasures weren’t designed to be held onto tightly until they fall flat. Gratitude is the one sure way to hold lightly to the meaningful moments, offering simple pleasure to the One who gives these good gifts in the first place. Gratitude serves up rest. When I am grateful, I realize I did not create the simple moments overflowing with meaning. I am unable to design and create such moments. All I can do is be present to receive and give thanks. Maybe this is why the simple, everyday moments seem to be the best; I am the receiver, not the creator of these moments. They happen by His design, therefore I can trust that even though things are changing there will always be simple moments to experience and treasure.
Richard Foster puts is well: “The discovery of God lies in the daily and the ordinary, not in the spectacular and the heroic. If we cannot find God in the routines of home and shop, then we will not find him at all. Ours is to be a symphonic piety in which all the activities of work and play and family and worship and sex and sleep are the holy habitats of the eternal.”
So while another holiday presses me to move forward, leaving behind the last, it is my desire to be aware of the greater things this season offers. It won’t be the big moments but the simple pleasures I can easily overlook if I get too caught up in the making big memories. What are the simple pleasures you and your family enjoy this time of year?