December 31, 2012

grinch-y thoughts

It is New Year's Eve .... and I am remembering Christmas Eve:  snow falling outside; the presents wrapped, the halls decked, the children reviewing their lines for a program at church that night.

And I -

- I was thinking grinch-y thoughts.

This is exciting:  snow! and Christmas Eve programs! presents! and family reunions! feasting! cookies to & from neighbors! bows! ribbons! secrets & surprises!

The trouble is, I don't want exciting.  I mean, I like it, at first.  I feel .... well, excited.  And then I feel tired.  Let-down.  Longing for a quiet place to think.

[disclaimer:  not everyone is like me.  I know that.  It's okay if you LOVE LOVE LOVE excitement and just can't get enough of the Christmas adrenalin.  I just speak for some of the rest of us:  not everyone is like that, either.]

~ : ~ : ~

Midway through my day, I forgot about the Christmas Eve program that my children would be participating in.  I savored the thought of an evening together, candles and children and movie and popcorn and hopefully someone begging to open just one present, pleeeease?? so that my Farmer and I could say yes.  My very spirit sighed at the respite in sight:  a quiet space, for us to rest in each other.

And then I remembered - oh yes, the program.  The program, for which we would need to eat supper over an hour early so we could get to practice, and keep Lil' Snip up [again!] past his bedtime, and have no time together to savor the last hours before we celebrate Jesus' birth.

Grrrrrrrinch-y thoughts, mine were, dripping with sarcastic accommodation .....

~ : ~ : ~

It's true, though, no one twisted my arm to make me sign Sugar and Spice up for the Christmas play.  And so we went, rushing supper to drive through swirling snowflakes, to arrive in the church parking lot ... before even the director had gotten there.

Reverent music filled the sanctuary, dimly lit with [flameless] candles.  Ahhh ..... !

Peace reigned .... briefly, until more children trickled in, fairly warbling with excitement, and were garbed in appropriate costumes.  There was an excited run-through, excited not-so-quiet whispers in the front pews, and excited shushings.  Family and friends arrived to watch, murmuring excitedly about the weather.  The program was executed just as Christmas Eve children's plays always are:  with enough precious bumbling - and a real baby! - to satisfy all the parents and grandparents in attendance.

Afterward we chatted with a few friends, and then brushed the still-novel snow off our cars to head home.

Tucked excited children into bed by the light of the almost-full moon.  Wrapped that last present and set it under the tree with the others.

And then?  Did we two snuggle on the sofa and contemplate the incarnation, enjoying at last the quiet?  Make room for reverence there in our home?

The truth is, I don't remember.

All I remember from that Christmas Eve night is the few music-and-candle-rich moments in the sanctuary, the magic of children on a spotlit stage, and the wonder of the snow ...

... and that was enough, even for a grinch like me.

Merry (belated) Christmas, and a very happy new year to you all!

December 19, 2012

goodwill toward men

Today, I went shopping with my children - all four of them, even two- and a half-year-old Lil' Snip, whose strong opinions are not always welcome on outings.

We went to the discount grocery store, and the health food store, and the post office, and the little country store (for specialty cocoa, therefore "the cocoa store" according to the aforementioned toddler), and the library (& its used bookstore), and the big grocery store, and the burger joint.

[I do not, for obvious reasons, attempt this kind of excursion with any regularity!!]

And you know what I discovered, shepherding all four children through seven destinations in the thick of the holiday season?

I live in a friendly town.

People smiled at us.  Held the door.  Wished us a Merry Christmas.  Laughed across the checkout lines.  Offered my children lollipops.  Complimented my handmade scarf.  Let us go first at intersections.  Made jokes with my children.  Struck up conversations about whatever was right in front of us, just out of sheer goodwill.

We were not perfectly behaved.  Spice and Nice were a bit spicy (& not-nicey) at times.  Lil' Snip was singing that famous toddler song that sounds suspiciously like whining, a few times when lunchtime loomed a little too near.

Why was an outing that could have been a challenge, a blessing instead?

Maybe it was Christmas cheer.  

Maybe it was happenstance.  

Maybe it was purely a gift from God.  

I'm tempted to think that it was because I was in a good mood, and did a better job than usual at using my pleasant voice, no matter what.  But I think I'll let the analysis go, for once, and just accept the gift.

I live in a friendly town, where folks, given half a chance, are chatty and helpful - and so, I'll bet, do you.

: : :

Merry Christmas!

December 2, 2012

O Christmas Tree

Tonight my Farmer put the Christmas tree together (yes, we're one of those) and the excitement in the room was exhilarating (if you like that kind of thing).  I stayed out of the way, catching up on my blog-reading (in which I discovered that two good friends, in two very different parts of the world, just bought/moved into their dream homes.  More later, maybe, on my conflicted internal response.).

Here is how I shared about this precious family bonding time, on facebook:

"It's awful but I don't even like the way they decorate the tree - I know it makes me Terrible Mother of the Year, but I would really love to have a color-coordinated tree, without all the trinket-y ornaments ... true confession."
"So, after they all go to bed, I get to put up the rest of the decorations, where I want them, without excited children dogging my every step, offering helpful choruses of suggestions."
"It's trinkets all the way here (and multi-colored lights- ugh).  And of course the irony is that when they're all grown and gone, and I can do the tree how I want it, I won't want it anymore, and I'll miss their excited gibbering."

Here is what I didn't share on facebook, that happened just a bit later:

Lil' Snip came into the livingroom and, unfazed by my laptop shield, exhorted me to "come see the lights, Mommy!  Come in to this room!!"  (Lil' Snip almost never speaks without exclamation points).

So I came with him, into this room, to behold the ugly multi-colored lights with my son.

The room lights were off, the better to admire their awkward handiwork.  The bottom half of the tree was highly ornamented.  There were dark, unlighted regions where the string of lights had been a little too eager to get to wherever it was going.  And under the tree, as close to the glory as they could get, lay my children.

They invited me to join them.  On the floor.  Under the tree.

So, I did.  I looked up through the branches at the lights, listened to Lil' Snip's nonstop excited commentary about the "sparkly-feeling" tree needles, watched his twinkling eyes reflect red, blue & yellow, and when he drummed his feet on the floor in sheer exhilaration, I joined him and drummed mine.  He looked at me, surprised, and smiled.  "Slowly, Mommy," he told me, slowing his own rhythm down.  Spice yelled "Mommy's having fun!!"

And I was.

They sang Christmas carols - O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming and Go, Tell it On The Mountain  - around that ugly, beloved tree.  Lil' Snip gave everyone goodnight hugs and kisses and was trundled off to bed, pleading "can we leave it up?"

The tree is up.  And thanks to the innocent delight of my children, so are my spirits.

I might even let them help decorate the rest of the house, tomorrow.

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