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L

Make Room

11.30.2016 / LIFE

Months ago, in the pink city, my Indian friend Raj offers me a stick of kulfi from his favorite street vendor.

Oh, I couldn’t, I say, still digesting our afternoon plates of curry and naan, cookies and chai. I’m stuffed!

Not so, says Raj, as he pays the vendor, hands me the ice cream. You make room for things you love.

In my current season of life, I’m stuffed. There is a new baby to welcome into our world, a new book to welcome into yours. There are a million questions to field within my own four walls, a handful of which I can answer: What’s for dinner? Did you write the check? Can you pick up goat milk while you’re out? When’s the book tour? Will you pass the salt? Mom, how does a cloud know it’s a cloud?

I am stuffed, in the good way, of course. You make room for things you love.

I’ve had a long-standing, self-imposed rule about holiday cards. It’s simple, and sometimes not so simple:

Write something that matters.

Last winter, I hand-wrote long letters to old friends, staying up until the wee hours of the night as a fire kindled nearby. Red wine, Bing Crosby, the dogs snoring beneath the dining room table. I shared memories and dreams and half-regrets, none short on sentiment, none short on space.

This year, could I do the same?

OK, I say to Raj as the cars buzz by, as he reaches into his pocket to pay the street vendor. I’ll take just a bite.

Yes! he says, excitedly. Now we understand each other!

The kulfi feels cool to the touch on a hot afternoon. It looks rich, refreshing.

It tastes incredible.

I am remembering this.

I am remembering that big efforts are a series of small steps, tiny bites. I am remembering that a little bit goes a long way. I am remembering that space is perception. (That life is, too.)

I am learning that, when our days gets overwhelming, when things feel stuffed, when long holiday letters seem nearly impossible, there is room to be made.

In the spirit of abundance and kulfi, I head to Tiny Prints to order my cards early this year.  They arrive in a flash, in their foil stamped and brush stroked glory, matching return address labels to boot. In lieu of long letters, I offer tiny bites. Each family member receives a timeline of highlights from a template customized on the back, small milestones to mark our year:

Scout: Resident party animal / crafts artisan spit bubbles / recent accomplishments include belly laughs and charming strangers / purveyor of pacifiers (takes night shift).

Bee: Local inquisitor / expert tower-builder and brother-soother / marketable skills include reading, whistling and riding a balance bike / current employment: dog feeder and unofficial fact-checker for the Wild Kratts.

Erin: Accredited scrambled egg maker / gatherer of dirty socks / equally proficient in kitchen dance parties and lectures / reigning Uno champion / author of Chasing Slow, now available for pre-order on Amazon(!!!).

Ken: Certified chili maker and fire-builder / highly adept at managing female emotions / carpentry phenom and endorsed foreman of toddler towers / business owner and master baby swaddler (also takes night shift).

The card is full of photos and musings; there is little space left in the margins for a message. But I know better. You make room for things you love.

A postscript for each, then.

You made my book what it was. Thank you.

Remember when you taught Bee to whistle? She hasn’t stopped!

Your chili recipe is still leaving its legacy. Merry Christmas!

Just a bite.

Ken’s grandmother used to offer two pieces of advice – in kitchens and in life:

  1. When making pasta, never forget to salt the boiling water.
  2. Always leave a postscript.

And I think what she was getting at is precisely what Raj knew, what many of us know, what we are continually forgetting in a season of what can sometimes feel like overwhelm, on a holiday where we’re often rushed and frenzied:

Make room. There is space.

For a pinch of salt, a slice of kulfi, a simple postscript.

For something that matters.

Or more precisely, for someone you love.

 

This essay was written for Tiny Prints; thank you for reading! Wishing you many postscripts this holiday season.

 





  • Jana

    Seriously so good! Every. Single. Time. I love this perspective. Tiny bites, making room for things (people) you love. Perfect way to start December. Thank you! And Merry Christmas! Your book will be a long awaited Christmas gift to myself:)

    • oh jana, you’re so kind. i’m so so excited for you to get the book!!!

  • We just got back from a week’s vacation, I’m deep in the chaos of an office move (that’s me, the blur stuffing things in crates), all my weekends in December already have some sort of plans, if not 3 different ones…and this year I’m considering cards. I’ll keep your “tiny bites” in mind as I decide if it’s doable! xoxo

    • hahahahah oh gracious! maybe teleport them this year? ;)

  • Beautiful. I just ordered ours and am waiting for a (long) night with wine to write (so many) short notes. By the way, how have the boys gotten so big?! I think our Myles is just slightly younger than Scout and the back of that sweet head reminds me of just how big they’ve gotten. Time. Sigh. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday, Erin!

    • omg you’re right — these kids are weeds over here! :) and those letter-writing + wine nights are some of my fave of the season. happiest of holidays to you, friend!

  • Jordan

    Thank you! I can never understand why Christmas cards have become a picture card stuffed into an envelope and nothing more. Gone are the days of family letters or even something as simple as signing your name on the back. Its like a mass text delivered to the mailbox. I always type a little blurb about how the year was and sign my name in pen at the bottom before sending it off to distant cousins and old friends.

    • those cards with a little blurb are always my favorite, jordan! i’m sure your recipients just LOVE getting yours. :)

  • love those two bits of advice! the sweetest :) Your writing always makes me happy!

  • How do you do that? Writing bits of wisdom, exactly on a moment when I need it.
    And now I know what to write on my christmas cards :-).
    Make room for what/who you love.
    Beautiful cards by the way! Just a little too far for me to order.

  • I was drinking coffee out of a Christmas mug this morning (the only Christmas item I’ve managed to get out of storage so far), after settling my baby boy in for a brief nap, and decided to hit Design for Mankind for those few stolen moments. I can’t explain how, but you wrote about ice cream and Christmas cards, and I’ve spent the last two hours thinking about stories and experiences, and how truth reveals itself in them. I’m thinking about my own truths, recalling how I learned them, and wondering which of my life’s simple moments taught them to me. The way you write is really inspiring Erin. It’s such a cliche thing to say, but very true. You share simple ideas that inspire real action…and you do it like a craftsman.

    • oh maddie, what a sweet note of encouragement! thank you for taking the time to send such a kind note (i know it’s precious with a babe in the house!!!). you’ve made my day brighter. happiest of holidays to you!

  • April Hale

    So simple and good! Love your grandmother’s 2 thoughts of wisdom. <3.

  • “You make room for things you love” is now scribbled on a post it note near my desk. A needed remind that there is space for what matters… and that I get to choose what falls into that category. Thank you for writing!

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