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A Simple Wish

By Jennifer Whitcomb

I stumbled through the dining room this morning, bleary-eyed and hung-over on last night’s dose of cold medicine.  My vision was cloudy, but I laughed as I passed the wooden box with the word “simplify” written decoratively across the front.  It is overflowing with cords, spare chargers and every unclaimed accessory to random electronic gadgets unclaimed or misplaced.  It seemed a box of irony to me.  We have been counseled on many occasions to simplify our lives, and this tangled nest of wires and adapters stared at me as if to mock the carefree life overflowing with free time that hovers always out of reach.

I have been reading the biography of Thomas S. Monson.   I marvel at the accounts of how he spent his youth; hunting, fishing, raising pigeons and having adventures along the banks of a river in a favorite canyon.  I went to lunch with my dad yesterday, and enjoyed hearing him recount fond childhood memories of adventures along the railroad tracks and in the woods.  It’s hard to imagine my kids having the freedom to fit that kind of a childhood into their regimented weeks.  (How I’d love to write “skip stones on the lake” on my calendar every Tuesday afternoon!)  And yet twice in the past week—once when I put myself to bed with a head cold and the second when I heard that my brother had received a serious concussion that would restrict his activities—it dawned on me that it takes a serious slap upside the head (in this case, literally) to get us to slow down.

As much as it is right and good to be involved in our communities, schools and churches; as much as we should be encouraging our children to have well-rounded lives that include athletics, culture and academics, are we doing ourselves a disservice by forgetting to relax and play?

All I want for Christmas is a basket full of memories like the one that happened yesterday afternoon:  I plopped on the couch in front of the cozy fire, and waited for my kids to come in the door from school.  When I saw their rosy cheeks and happy-to-be-free-from-school expressions, I grabbed them and pulled them down on top of me, where we enjoyed a giggly reclining hug.  My nine-year old then said “You’re the best mom in the whole world.”

Mmmmmm…. It left me hungry for more.  All I want for Christmas is the simple life.

I wish it for you, too.

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19 thoughts on “A Simple Wish”

  1. I feel like our family has a good balance of lots of time to be able to play. The problem for me is that some of our teachers (especially for my son in junior high) give the kids ridiculous amounts of homework. I really hoped we wouldn't have any over Thanksgiving break, but one of his teachers piled it on.
    If she decides to hand out homework for Christmas break, I will be emailing her and the principal and saying sorry, we're not completing it. Family and a good break are necessary for good mental health!

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  2. I finally decided to just do it. I read "The Time Starved Family" by DeAanne Flynn, and it gave me the push I needed to pull my boys out of sports for a while. There are so many other fun things we want to do together as a family, and I am tired of my schedule (and thus the whole family's schedule) being dictated for us. My kids aren't sad at all. Instead of three boys being on three different basketball teams this season (meaning that basketball would rule our lives for 3 months), we are going to play "family ball" on Saturdays and invite other families to join us. They unanimously voted for that option. I finally realized the benefits that being a big family provides and want to enjoy them.

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  3. Stephanie2, I love your "family ball" idea.

    Jenny, thanks for the reminder of what's important. Because I have a large family, many have asked me "what about sports and activities?" as if kids NEED those things to develop. It's good for me to remember that for hundreds and hundreds of years kids were raised without classes and teams like soccer, gymnastics, basketball, football, karate, and the like. I'm pretty sure most of them turned out okay. They created their own fun, and I want some of that child-created magic in my home.

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  4. Its not just the scheduled things. Its the electronic stuff. TV, video games, etc. Without those you'd be amazed. However, it is too hard for us to break away (my husband refuses).
    Life is just so different now.

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  5. The best gift anyone could give is the gift of time. Time away for the stress of life. Time to savor and enjoy relationships with my family. Time to think about what matters most. Time to live life to it's fullest. I keep telling my husband this is what I want for Christmas. Maybe one of these days he will get it. I don't need another sweater. I need time.

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  6. hi jenny. we have that same scary basket of electronic cords in our house too and it haunts me with the uneasy feeling of reckless abandon. to me it smacks of a privelidged life that streaks by so fast i can't even find the time to figure out what device each cord belongs to. here's to a simple, peaceful, meaningful holiday season for all of us. (and your missionary too! we think of him often.) ps. your dad is a great man!

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  7. My husband and i think we are just about the last generation of free spirit children that we growing up. That weren't at 100 things and were allowed to cross the street.
    I instructed music and art thru the years and was amazed how many kids came in and fell asleep or asked to lie down.

    We got rid of TV 3 years ago and only watch library movies about once or twice a week. No wii, mp3, etc at all. this simplifies.
    As an athomewife i do my volunteering in the day time, except for once a week when we both volunteer an evening.

    We also found by making many of our food it helps us slow down. We make our Yogurt, Cheese, Cat & Pup Food, bread, etc – and trying to grow much food. This really helps, because you have to be home!

    It's hard, and yes, we don't always say no – and things are always up for revision – but it is worth it.

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  8. Jenny, thank you! I love this post. I can totally relate to your box of irony. I'm going to send this wish on to my friends.

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  9. Especially this time of year I hate not having simplicity. If I take a moment to enjoy the glow of the Christmas tree I am assaulted by the mental list of holiday to do's!

    My kids aren't in extra curriculars and things still sneak in to take our time. Thankfully, I feel a cold coming on so I'll be able to beg off a few things 😉

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  10. Watching other women deal with these things is really helping me to decide the kinds of things I do and don't want in my home, and how I want to raise my children. I'm glad to be able to glean from your experiences. It makes me feel more prepared to make the sorts of choices I will have to make for my children in the future.

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  11. I agree with jks about the electronic things. I say that I want a simple life. And I do! But even on days when there is no scouts, or lessons, or meetings, I sit here with my laptop (while my kids are in front of the TV) and then I wonder where the time went!

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  12. Loved this post, Jenny. One of my favorite little books along these lines is entitled Mitten Strings for God by Katrina Kenison. The whole book talks about slowing down and simplifying. I recommend it to every young (and not-so-young) mother.

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  13. Great post Jenny! I'll have to read Pres. Monson's biography. It's so hard that today, we can't just let our kids go out exploring like in the past. So glad you still have tender, sweet, and playful times with your children.

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