Finding Joy in the Ordinary Days

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The buzz of the holiday season is all around us, and there’s talk of magic everywhere you turn. Elves on the shelves, visits with Santa, Christmas villages and trains covered in lights. From school events and community celebrations to the traditions we carry out in our own homes, the weeks leading up to Christmas have become a big deal. Seriously, parenting during the holidays is essentially a full-time job (and that’s on top of the full-time job that is PARENTING, plus the full-time jobs many of us have outside of the home). It’s fun, it’s chaotic, it’s wonderful and it’s totally ok to revel in the madness of it all. Holiday magic is an essential part of childhood (in whatever shape or form your household takes) and there’s nothing wrong with going all out.

But I have a confession to make: I love the ordinary days most of all.

We have holiday traditions and they’re a lot of fun, but that’s not what I think of when I reflect on favourite memories with my kids. In fact, the best times we have as a family aren’t centred on holidays, birthdays or big events – they’re special because of the everyday magic we create together.

My favourite days are the ones we do nothing – or at least, nothing of note.

I love the mornings we stay in our pajamas and make pancakes or waffles at home. The times we watch a movie together, the kids curled up on pillow-beds they’ve constructed on the living room floor. When everyone is content simply hanging out, enjoying the comfort of our home.

There’s something great about the simple pleasure of grabbing a hot chocolate with your kids on a cold day, or taking them out for ice cream in the summer. Letting them stay up past their bedtime to finish a craft or Lego project. Saying yes when we’re passing a drive-thru and they ask if we can have cheeseburgers for dinner.

In good weather, we go hiking along our favourite trails. I love how excited the kids get when they feed a chickadee from their bare hands, or hand a shelled peanut to a chipmunk along the path. How they laugh as the run ahead, knowing the trail just as well as we do. How they don’t care how dirty or sweaty they get, because they’re happy to be running wild through the woods.

I love hearing my kids sing along to the radio, talk with their friends or regale us at the dinner table. When they ask to help me cook dinner or bake muffins, and when I find little drawings they’ve left on various papers and scraps of cardboard around the house. Taking them to swimming or snowboard lessons and seeing the excitement on their faces as they make progress. Reading their report cards and feeling pride at the teacher comments at the end.

It’s time with family that makes life magical, and the everyday moments are often all that you need. In a world where we all go too fast and do too much, it’s so important to slow down and remember that it doesn’t take an elaborate vacation or over-the-top holiday celebration to create memories. Sometimes, all you need is a few carefree hours with the people you love.

My favourite type of ordinary magic is listening to my kids talking sleepily at the end of the day, slowly drifting off to sleep while we snuggle up in one of their beds. How they want me to stay “for one more minute” and then one minute more, again and again. How I sometimes wake up to find that they’ve migrated to our bed in the middle of the night. How we can all just be together, talking and laughing, enjoying the everyday, ordinary joy in our world.

This Christmas, all I want is more of that.
Picture of Erin Pepler

Author: Erin Pepler

Erin Pepler is a freelance writer, mom, and reluctant suburbanite living outside of Toronto, Ontario. She is usually drinking a coffee, or thinking about getting one. Erin is prone to terrible language, though not in front of her kids, and yes, she has an opinion on that thing you’re talking about. She loves music, books, art, design, cooking, travel, and sleeping more than four hours at a time (a rarity). You can find her at www.erinpepler.com or on Instagram, where she documents her passion for motherhood and caffeine.

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