The title for this week’s column is just about as basic as a writer can get. What I’ve come to learn more and more however is how one seemingly ‘small’ thing can be so much bigger once the dirt is unearthed.
Such would be the case directly attributed to this word ‘simplicity.’
This word first crossed my consciousness as a friend shared the de-cluttering and cleansing her family was doing in observation of the Lunar New Year. In all honesty, it’s one of my most favorite times of the year as her friend. Learning and hearing about the customs of the culture and the meaning behind them.
That same weekend I opted to ‘take the day off.’ To clarify, this had nothing to do with my job here at the Leader, it was bigger and more meaningful than a simple day not spent in the office. I took a ‘day off’ from being mommy. This was huge and somehow I had no idea how huge until the day had ended and I truly felt the results.
It began quite simply as agreeing to let the kids spend the day in their pajamas. There was nothing pressing, which needed to be done. Oh, sure it was a beautiful 70-degree day outside and part of me felt a slight twinge of guilt not being out enjoying it. Yeah, I got over that.
Once the kids were fed, my coffee was made and our plans (of nothing) were solidified I returned to my comfy and welcoming bed. Yep! You read that right… I went back to bed. In complete truthfulness it felt both odd and slightly irresponsible. What about the kids? I really should be playing a game with them or reading with them or at very minimum sitting in the same room with them.
My room is not far off from our family area and my bedroom door was open the entire time. I could hear all the mischief and there was actually very little.
At one point during this day of complete ‘lazy’ I messaged a friend, almost as a confession. ‘Both kids losing valuable brain cells to television and video games. Yup! Superior parenting at its finest.’ The reply placed it all in perspective as I was reminded I was simply allowing them to be kids. Novel idea, really.
We don’t sit idle very much. I’m coming to realize this is not necessarily a good thing. Monday through Friday our lives are on over drive. Maybe a once a week ‘day off’ isn’t so horrible. Interesting.
Oh, sure they still had to be fed and reminded they were ‘not completely alone.’ I do like to think, however, that my retreating to another room gave them a different sort of freedom and joy. Both children managed to pop into my room a few times during the day for a hug, kiss, tickle or simple ‘I love you, Mommy.’ That’s a pretty great paycheck for a day off.
As the day came to a close, I could not help but take a collective survey of how my duo felt about this day of idleness.
My son spoke first, ‘It was not really okay,’ he said. I of course sat up and probably grimaced a bit and then he said, ‘It was AWESOME!’ Phew!
My daughter proceeded to echo what her brother had stated. She demonstrated dance moves she’d created, sang a few original numbers and even shared that her baby was all better from that ‘horrible fever.’ Side note: this baby had been sick since New Year’s Day, who knew she too just needed a day off?
Webster’s defines the word simplicity: the state of being simple, uncomplicated; freedom from pretense or guile; restraint in ornamentation.
In keeping with this, I’d like to offer a few words from my girlfriend on some of the Lunar New Year practices. She offered this: “In the New Year, it’s traditional for many countries that celebrate Lunar New Year (China, Vietnam, etc.) celebrate abundance. At first it seems the opposite of simplification. However, the abundance here revolves around love for family, love for your village and harvest. “For us it’s a way to reflect on what we have and shed and/or donate things we don’t need before the new year. It’s a good way of getting rid of all the unnecessary baggage, bad karma we may have accumulated over the course of the year. It’s a good time to start fresh with a clean slate. That’s the beauty of it all. We let go of things (material possessions and emotional baggage) that we never truly needed and it’s refresh, reset, rebirth time.”
What an amazing practice and what a blessing to have a friend who not only still observes such home based simplicity, but teaches it to her children (and now mine). ‘Celebrate abundance of love of family, love for your village and harvest.’ Wow! What an amazing and valuable lesson. Imagine what this world would be if we each paused to do this type of reset on an annual basis.
Regardless of the God you pray to, one would be hard pressed to find fault with such a simple, yet selfless practice. The ‘things’ after all, the stuff which occupies time and keeps us from life … eventually it all fades, breaks or is forgotten. The love, the laughs, the memories which come from ... simplicity.
Teresa Hammond is a former reporter and current circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.