12/20/2013 12:03 pm ET Updated Feb 19, 2014

How I Slowed Down During the Holidays

I have back pain -- the kind that makes bending over, getting up and lifting my son into a car seat nearly impossible. But this pain is forcing me to slow down during a time of year that pressures us to rush, rush, rush.

Normally at this time of year, I'd have an epic list of errands that need to be run on a Saturday. Last weekend, instead of a long list, I had one objective: Go to a craft store with my oldest son, Noah, to get materials for his hot-cocoa-and-cookies party that he's hosting for his classmates.

I pulled into the oversized parking lot slowly (it's not comfortable driving, either). A woman in the car behind me honked. And then she shook her head as she passed by and turned in the opposite direction.

We've all been there. Judging others. Impatient. Filled with road rage. Our needs are more important. We are the center of the universe, after all. We forget that, perhaps, there are legitimate reasons for the delay: back pain, a broken leg, a baby in the backseat.

The holidays are always my favorite and least favorite time of the year. The mad rush toward the end of December. Every year my to-do list seems to grow and every year, when it's all over, I swear I'll do it differently next year: Buy less, begin earlier, say no. But I never do -- as I'm sure most of us don't. We are who we are -- and nothing's going to make me shop on Black Friday, even if my mother-in-law finishes her shopping in November and I'm kicking myself come December 23.

But, this year, with this pain, I'm just letting it go -- and instead of pushing Noah to speed along so we could get to the next store, the next item on the to-do list, I enjoyed -- really enjoyed! -- an hour together with my son, shopping. We strolled through Jo-Ann Fabrics, walking down every aisle as Noah ohhed and ahhed at all the stuffed santas and glittery reindeer. He pointed out ideas for Christmas gifts. We laughed. Like we had all the time in the world.

Then we went to Panera for bagels, and we parked on the top floor of a structure which, normally, would drive me to swear words at people's inability to park correctly. This time, I let myself appreciate the view of the city of Chicago laid out in front of us like a winter wonderland. Noah said, "I can see everything from up here." And we stopped -- actually stopped -- and stared out at the 13-degree sky, and it looked magical (even with Target obstructing our view). I saw the world like a child -- for the first time in a long time -- and I felt thankful, yes, thankful, for this back pain.


How are you forcing yourself to slow down this holiday season?

Originally published on Evelyn's blog, First Page Last.

Follow Evelyn Lauer on Twitter or Instagram.