Today a special, quirky, extremely funny girl turns 7. And in 3 days another child will celebrate her 9th year earth-side. And although there is not a lot to show, my heart sings happy at the simplicity and pleasure we receive from the small things. Today, there is no party with other kids. No cake ( I will do a combined one later, only simple though), and only a few small presents. One packet of knucklebones (a few dollars, which in the past would have been only the starter/stocking stuffer type present), is being played with joyfully by all the kids at the bus table. It is not that we have turned into scrooges, but that I think we have all learned to find joy in the little things. Joy.
This morning the older kids had the joy and independence of walking to the bakery alone for some croissants, then off to IGA for Nutella and jam. In this small town we are already recognised by the staff. Off they run with the responsibility and excitement of money in their pocket. We don’t generally eat grains or sugar, so this alone is a real treat. It sounds like an everyday occurrence for many I know, and it may sound silly, but for my kids it holds magic. Croissants, Nutella and knucklebones, and Miss 7 is beyond happy.
I have a thought that perhaps in the past I gave my kids too much. I wonder if my obligation of having to find the perfect gift reduced the joy for them? I was so focussed on finding just the right thing, and often more than one thing, but the thing they want most is simple: love, and a day that feels special to them. Simple, stripped back. I have a realisation- obligation kills joy. When I think back to presents bought this year, I purchased from a place of joy, not worrying that the price and gift was only small. Not trying to reach a specific budget.
Because we don’t have the space to keep things we don’t use (or play with) they love every small thing they have, and tend to look after these things better (although this is still struggle). Perhaps they value more because they sense my attitude surrounding it is also different. In the past I expected them not to be happy with smaller gifts. I assumed they would not be, and that may have altered their reaction. Giving too much gave them the attitude of “yeah? OK what’s next”. I was wondering why our things would get lost, mistreated, broken at home but I think they had too much, and therefore were complacent and did not appreciate any of it (I am exaggerating/generalising here, I am sure they appreciated some, but not how they do now). We have pared back to the basics, and everything holds joy again.
It is only the morning and the day holds more, but the finale that brought warmth to my very toes was that my eldest daughter (11) made Miss 7 a present of her own. She has been learning to crochet, and with amazing skill and absolutely no help from me, she made a turtle and a snail. She only showed them to me a couple of days ago and I was so impressed, and I knew Miss 7 would love them. So wonderful that she had thought to surprise her sister without even consulting me, or being nudged in any way. The stuffed animals really look great, and she packaged them up with some textas, some friendship bracelets she made, all contained in a little plastic tube she had from a gift she received. When she gave it, she announced they were so Miss 7 could have friends for her stuffed turtle called Turtalis (who was also a free gift, second hand from friends). I held back a happy tear.
So I here sit, heart happier and fuller than I thought possible from croissants with Nutella and jam, home made stuffed toys and knucklebones. Later I will give Miss 7 a special application of essential oils called ArōmaTOUCH which she asks for often, but I do not often do for her. I think her day will be perfect, and it all comes from a place of love and joy instead of expectation. The simple things. Thankful.