i'm laying my burdens down...

i am just gonna say it.
i may be attacked by all the crafty domestic goddesses in blog land,
but i am gonna do it anyway.
don't you ever feel completely burdened by the festivities that we all just collided with?
i mean we work and work
and have such high expectations for our special traditions and relationships, and then real life happens.
and that real life just happens to take place on Christmas Eve and Christmas day....and it isn't as perfect as it was in our imaginations.....

as i mentioned before, this is a new kinda christmas for me.
my sisters weren't here.
my sisters are a HUGE part of what keeps me connected to the fact that i had an awesome "first family".
i mean, really people, if you like the reed life, you shoulda seen the life MY mom made for us when we were little.
She was the best mom in the world.
really the best.
and i have been trying to think critically lately about why i think that.
what made her so great?
was it her traditions?
was it her cooking?
was it her loud head flung back laugh?
cause those were all awesome.
and, not being the shy type, some of those things you could come to my house today and recognize in me and my reed life....
but i don't think that is what made her so great.
i think the thing that made her so great was her unreserved willingness to love her family in whatever circumstances she was presented.
i think i would miss the point if i was to hold onto a certain tradition of a brunch or a special food that she made, because that in itself was not her love.
her love was in the fact that no matter what was happening that year she could figure out how to show her love.
maybe time was limited one year, or money was short another, or there was plenty the year after that.
maybe some years it was just our family and other extended family would be in town.
she seemed to be able to roll with things and not get caught up in the details.

now don't get me wrong, she was not perfect.
she did take on alot.
and that is where i personally sometimes get stuck, since i think her personality could handle a bit more action than mine can.
the key is that, from my memory, not often did she allow things to get to the place where the "things"(traditions and food and stuff) were the focus over the relationships.
now as a kid, it is hard to separate that out.
it's a little deep.

i remember one year, my main memory was that we had a formal christmas brunch and at every place setting was a ginny doll for my sister and i. wowza. that's crazy.
then i remember another christmas and my main best gift was a VHS tape that she had recorded  dozens of "I Love Lucy" episodes on while i was at school.
both took some effort.
i think the second one, she probably felt may have let me down, since that particular year had been tight financially.
but as i look back on those two very different years (they must have felt like night and day to her)
one thing stands out as a common tradition.
my mother new me.
she had a relationship with me.
she saw me and what i liked and loved me with whatever she had.
she didn't let different circumstances get in the way of communicating her love to me.

well, this is my point,
this is incredibly freeing.
i think that since she has been gone, we(my sisters and i) have tried to hold onto some of the traditions that she loved as a way to hold onto her love,
and that is not a bad idea, as long as we don't get mixed up into thinking that the actual tradition was the thing that made her that great mom that we love and miss every day.
the tradition was an avenue for her to show us love.
and i just bet that she was hoping and knowing that one day we would understand her heart and gain more than a childish view of her mothering.
there are alot of things i may do differently with all of this in mind.
i may throw away more.
i may buy more premade food items.
i may allow myself to take a year off from something with the excuse that i have 3 kids  seven and under....and i just don't want to do it!
i may choose the option that sounds fun to me, since this is where the big laugh can enter the picture.
and in choosing each of those things that on the surface look unfamiliar and different than what she did, i will remind myself that i AM choosing her shoes.
she taught me to choose and to edit where necessary.
this IS the tradition.
the tradition is limits and love, so that my mother's legacy of love will live on in Jake, Ty and Ella and their memories of the reed life.

i am telling you all this in hopes that it may free you as well.
there are SO MANY things to be inspired by on blogs, and i love looking around at the amazing ideas.
but you also need a heavy hand to remind yourself what the real value is in all the crafts and treats and tips.
the value is that those happy inspirations are avenues to show your love to your families, and nothing in the world should be put before really looking at your children and seeing what THEY need.
it may involve time (which is the the hottest commodity around here) and if it does then i MUST figure out how to get that.
it may involve listening, so i MUST tune out other voices in my head.
and i may need to prioritize some down time for myself  so that i can be healthy enough  to offer anything to these needy little beings,
since i am just fooling myself if i think that kids can't pick up on a mom who is not at peace with herself and afraid to be alone with her own thoughts....
so this is me laying some burdens down.
i know if i trade in my sorrow and shame, of not engaging with my family at christmas the way i dream about,
i can lay those things down for the joy of the Lord.
that's what my mom, Cindie had.
the joy of the Lord.
and everyone knew it.
that's what i want.

just some food for thought friends.....
just a bit.
i know this is a lot to throw at you when you are just trying to take down the stockings and tree.
i have been so so sick, so this is coming at you through a fog of coughing and fevers, so if i seem rambling and incoherent, let's just blame it on that, kay?
any thoughts?


  1. I think that was beautiful, and just what I needed to hear. Thanks for sharing your heart...your mom sounds beautiful...it is hard to miss people so dear. She would be proud of you for sure.

  2. Shauna, you broke my heart and rebuilt it all in one post. This is beautiful. I only met your mom a few times over the years but love was always there for you all. Larger than life. Your post makes me reflect on my own mom and how my sisters and I do the same thing - try to honor her with her own traditions. Since we are so very fortunate to still have her, it's more important than ever to focus on the root of them and why they are there in the first place. Our purpose to be grateful for that love now; yours for continuing to heal. Thank you for exposing your heart so openly. And feel better, poor girl.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing. This Christmas has been the worst to date- my mom spent half of December in the hospital following surgery for brain cancer. She was home for Christmas Eve, where we were able to celebrate many of our traditions, then went back in on Christmas Day with some complications. I know that I have very limited time left with my mom, and have been thinking so much about the things I truly love and will miss about her. She, too, isn't perfect (and who is!?!) but I'm finding that it's not the frustrating or disappointing things that I want to remember and fixate on- it's the amazing ways she has loved me and my children.
    I'm finding myself in so much of what you're writing these days, more than I ever thought I would- as I begin this new road. So, thank you.

  4. It is so right, all leading up to Christmas was 'other' stuff. Things that took me away from what I wanted to do and I have been thinking since Christmas day that it wont happen again. I took too much on last year and my family suffered. I love being a huge part of my community but not at the expense of my children, my husband. Your blog is wonderful and the way you capture your children is beautiful. I think we need to relax on life and realise that by giving our children everything we are giving them nothing. I am realising that by overwhelming my children with toys I am stealing their imagination, and remembering that I loved my Christmases despite there being so very little under our tree. I have to stop worrying what society will think of me if my children have the smallest pile of gifts ever, or if they have holes in their already second hand clothes because I am tired of buying, buying, buying to replace the holes!
    So I am waffling now so I will stop but I am just trying to say I get ya! I will try even harder to live to the great Beatles...All you need is love!

  5. Well, this is just my favorite. I can't get over the VHS tape. That smacks of my mom and our lean years. If my kids can look back on life and see that kind of love in me, then who cares that some of our "traditions" fell by the wayside this year. This is beautiful, Shauna. You are spot on. And your Mom sounds entirely amazing.

  6. I've never commented here before (I don't think) but this post was more than enough to yank me right out of my silent lurking. Your words were beautiful and the sentiment behind them even more so.
    I was able to get rid of some of the stuff this year. I didn't send out Christmas cards, I didn't make many gifts, my baking list was shorter, we turned down party invites...and it was wonderful! Being with my family - laughing, crafting, playing with my family - was way better than any of that other stuff. It was worth it. I got some Bah-humbugs and other backhanded comments from people but that's okay. Those were people who were still stressed on Christmas Day that they didn't give their kids enough. And I know my kids have a whole month of new memories tucked away which is better than any new toy any day.

  7. beautiful...just beautiful!- the heart behind this post as well as the words... a joy to read!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Many Blessings!

  8. perfectly said....and a great reminder that I needed to hear! Thank you...<3

  9. Totally agree - you've said everything I've been thinking. Simplifying life and getting back to what really matters... Have a wonderful new year!!!

  10. it's true.
    i don't remember any real traditions in my family.
    we drove to the grandparents.
    and it was boooring.
    so i am doing the opposite. making traditions to keep it meaningful and fun. not boring and daunting.
    but you are right that the most important part of all of it is love.

  11. Perfectly put: "she had the JOY of the LORD and everyone knew it!"

  12. i love this. thanks for sharing your heart and pointing us in the right direction. the joy of the Lord, for he is worthy.

    your mom sounds simply wonderful.


  13. oh so eloquent, Shauna! I love how I was just able to read your heart - thank you for sharing that.

    Such amazing reminders that the reason for the season is LOVE - The Lord sent His only Son because He loved us - and we are to love our families through our traditions, crafts and even the VHS tapes. ;)

    Precious memories, words and thoughts - thank you for sharing!

    Happy 2011!

  14. Ah sister friend. I WaS going to make stockings, didn't happen. I WAS going to do an advent calendar because I saw so many cute ones out there in blog land and I wanted to try it. Didn't happen. I WAS going to make homemade cinnamon rolls Christmas morning even though we weren't home but at someone else's house. Didn't happen. I have craft supplies for a fun craft to do with my kids waiting for me. Didn't happen.

    I SO feel your words in my own way. I still have my mom. And that woman ROCKS. I am always amazed at how much she gets done. I wonder sometimes what is WRONG with me, why don't I do as much.

    I feel conflicted between the traditions, the food, the extra effort not equaling Christmas. If it wasn't for those things, then wouldn't it be just any other day? After this Christmas I have been doing some serious thinking about my standards. I think that trying to live up to my mom's Christmas traditions and ways is actually hurting me. Yes, I will incorporate MUCH of what I grew up with, but I will also have to figure out how to do this my way. I will soon have three kids, my mom had two. There are many more differences between us, our personalities. I gotta be at peace with that and make our "zanes life" be just that. A zanes life, not a repeated gordon life. Okay, thank you. That was very therapeutic! Wow. I feel much better now. Thanks for expressing your feelings here and indulging me to do the same.

    A happy, festive, blessed new year to you and yours. -Vicki

  15. Such perfect insight into what our mamma had to offer...Isnt it great to be an adult with a clear enough head to actually learn and grow from the the things that life and our past has taught us. Im so greatful. God has blessed us so much. PS I remember the year that we got the heart family barbie set under the stairs. Magical! But I remember most about 4 years in a row mom getting me a new walkman or disc man to try to find one that wouldnt skip when I went running! None of them worked...But She knew me so well and so badly wanted to bring me joy. I still have the last one she got me...I remember that the ipod (that never skips) came out like the year that she died and I was so heartbroken. I would never trade those moments or that old disc man... not for a million ipods. Cant even keep from crying right now...I love her so much.I love you too Shauna-na!