1) The !@#$ Gingerbread Train: In my past life as a Pampered Chef person, I acquired some stone cookie molds, including really cool Christmas train and village molds. I envisioned my son happily assembling some gingerbread Christmas trains and villages as part of the "fun family" memories of Christmas that are sometimes so dear. I bugged my husband incessantly over the weekend, and happily awakened from my nap on Sunday afternoon to the heavenly aroma of baked gingerbread. After our typical Sunday dinner gathering, a bunch of us got together to decorate and eat these gingerbread trains. My son had a great time. We played Christmas music. It was awesome. Simple pleasure = Christmas gingerbread trains beheld by a four-year-old little boy.
2) The !@#$ Nutmeg Logs: As a little girl, I remember Christmases past that included a heavenly cookie called the Nutmeg Log. I am such a cookie monster, but these treats were the ultimate Christmas cookie to me. I have so many happy memories of my mother baking these little log-shaped cookies with a nutmeg icing, which were given out to neighbors or served at family functions. Yum yum yum yum yum.
For years, however, the recipe was lost. The great Nutmeg Log Apostasy. The cookie dark ages. I searched every recipe index I could find, every cookbook - whatever. I was a woman on a mission. Last year I came across a Christmas Cookie book at a kitchen store, and EUREKA! A recipe for Nutmeg Logs! I baked them last year and danced on my toes as the aroma and taste brought back all of the happy ghosts of Christmas Past.
This year I couldn't wait for them to appear in my kitchen again. My mother was visiting for the weekend. My big agenda item (after the Christmas train thing) was to MAKE NUTMEG LOGS! Every time I walked into the kitchen, I demanded the status of the nutmeg logs. No, Krista - maybe tomorrow. We have other stuff to do. Everyone rolled their eyes as I continued my desperate pleas for NUTMEG LOGS!!!! Yesterday was Mom's last day visiting. She took me on a short shopping trip in the morning, and insisted that I go home and rest. It was time for a badly needed nap. But as I turned in, I begged to awaken to the smell of nutmeg logs before it was time for her to leave. And so it was, yesterday evening, I walked into the kitchen to behold Mom putting the icing on the cooled NUTMEG LOGS! Hooray! We nibbled at them all evening, and the happy ghosts of Christms Past were there. Simple Pleasure = NUTMEG LOGS!
This morning I realized that I had one big agenda item for the day - to find my driver's license. This valuable ID card has been ever-elusive as merchants, doctor's offices, and hospital administrators required its disclosure at every turn. I remember showing it last at the hospital on the day of surgery, but hadn't seen it since. A desperate search of my house revealed nothing. My husband and I groaned together at the idea of having to go to the DMV today to get a duplicate license. Ugh.
However, this morning there was a glimmer of thought that finally broke through the clouds and led us to - TA DA! - my license! It was in a weird spot that was revealed finally by this deductive reasoning process. No more prospect of waiting hours at the DMV. Our plate is cleared again for activities that are more pleasurable. Simple Pleasure = DRIVER'S LICENSE!
The scriptures talk about the "tender mercies of the Lord", which to me are simple helps and reminders of blessings that surround us even in the midst of adversity. We have seen many tender mercies and experienced simple daily pleasures, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Being told at the hospital that despite an anticipated $65,000 charge for my surgery and stay, our copay would only be $150. We have awesome insurance! (Thanks again, Mary Kay!)
- Finding a way to wash my hair without getting the stitches wet (makes me feel like a human again!)
- Awakening from a nap to a kiss, hug, and smile from my son, who then climbed on my lap for storytime. (Talk about a "let's stay frozen right here in time" moment!)
- Getting a poster from my son's preschool teacher, telling me what a great day he had at school.
- Getting daily phone calls, from "what can I do for you today?" to "I just made some candy - I'll bring it over", to "I have a floral delivery. Can you give me directions?"
- Driving around the town to look at beautiful Christmas lights. It is so fun to see so many celebrating this special time of year.
- Putting on my "party pants"! I saw a book title the other day that was called, "Life is Short - Wear Your Party Pants". I am always on the lookout for comfy and fun pants, from silky pajama pants to velvety yoga pants, etc. Party pants. I add fuzzy socks and I'm ready to party.
- Having a house full of people. We moved into this home last May, and it has lots of room for family gatherings. I love it when we have people crammed in here, playing here, crowding around dining tables, packing around pillows to watch movies, making everything a big mess but loving each other too much to care how messy it gets. We have so much fun together.
- Watching my brother's disco DVD. A video recording of him doing his best John Travolta impression to the Bee Gee's "You Should Be Dancin'". It is soooooooo cool! It makes me wish my husband and I had videotaped our own smashing fun clogging routine last year to "Dueling Banjos". Dancing is so fun and full of life.
- Watching the photo DVD scrapbook that my sister-in-law made for their family. My adorable niece and nephew in animated pictures set to music, recapping some earlier memories of a family reunion.
- Receiving Lance Armstrong's book last night as a gift from my cousin. (Thanks, Ron!)
- Getting encouraging emails from professional and personal contacts, all of whom share a positive message.
- Hearing the angelic voices of children who have come a-caroling at our door.
- Having my husband tell me that he has taken care of the garbage on pick-up day. And that he did a load of laundry. What a keeper!
- Talking with my mom about Disneyworld and Manhattan: two trips that have been donated by kind family members once we figure out the details.
- Petting my beagle, Buster. Dogs are therapeutic and fuzzy and warm. He is also good for my son, and my son is good for him. Every boy should have a dog.
- The smell and feel of my husband's neck when he holds me tight. He always has been, and always will be, the great love of my life.
Once again, there are too many more to list. But I find myself looking each day for these simple pleasures and tender mercies, and they are easy comforts to find.