One of the joys of the season is upon us. No matter how rural, remote, urban or metropolitan you are, Christmas concerts in your area schools and churches are in their final practices and preparations. Add in winter sports seasons starting plus other seasonal activities like parades, tree lightings and community concerts, and you can fill your December calendar quickly.
A year ago, my wall calendar was blank, without Christmas parties, concerts or a full winter schedule of games. Indoor activities have always pushed me through the short days and dark months of the long winter on the prairie. I thrive on something to look ahead to. However, I will admit I loved having a little less to do last winter when we stayed home more during the pandemic, looking ahead to COVID-19 vaccine options and the reopening of the world.
Filling in the once blank and now scheduled December calendar reminds me: These are the golden years. Those are the words of an older woman who used to join me and others for a Christian book study in our living room years ago. The woman, who was a grandmother and great-grandmother whose children were all grown, shared your golden years aren’t your retirement years. Your golden years are your most hectic, child-raising, home-cooked meals for crowds of kids, hustling to the next concert or party years. The years where the laundry pile never disappears, when you visit with your spouse in short conversations before getting to the next place, when you sleep less and cheer more for your kids than you do as you get older and become an “empty nester.”
I loved the emptiness of my 2020 calendar. It was a year I needed to heal, recover and cocoon with my family after the upheaval we journeyed from our son’s accident and spinal cord injury. I relished in extra family downtime last winter with fewer places to be and a cozier, at home evening time for hot chocolate or tea, board and card games and watching an overload of Hallmark movies with our girls.
But now, being back into the swing of coordinating and cheerleading a sixth and eighth graders' schedules while managing a full-time career alongside a husband working long hours in small business, I embrace the calendar filled days ahead of the holiday and winter season. But on those few spaces I know we have space and time, I make ginger tea for myself and hot chocolate for the girls, and we play a game or watch a movie together rather than solely trying to tackle the laundry. I treasure my golden years more in 2021 than in years past.
Bundle up this month. Attend a school concert, Christmas program, tree lighting, community Santa Day or local game. Invite a friend or family member over for cookie decorating or a holiday movie. Choose to fill at least a few empty spaces on your calendar with the golden joys of the season.
Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.