Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dear children, in december

To my kids, in December-
Greetings from the December version of your mom. First, thanks for putting up with her. She's a weird version of me, I'll admit.  She's cheerfully making cookies one minute, then you ask her what's for dinner and suddenly she's yelling everybody out of the kitchen! Here's a secret: it's because she forgot that dinner was even a thing, that you people need to eat three meals a day EVEN during the holiday season!  All she thought of was those cookies with the kisses in them but she forgot to buy the kisses at the store where she waited in line for 30 minutes to get the flour and someone's baby was screaming and the cashier was slow so now she's just making peanut butter cookies and they'd better be good because they're probably what's for dinner anyway and how dare you even ask when your homework isn't done yet!

Let me try to help you understand her.

You see, kids, December is this magical time of year, or at least it was once, maybe, in your mom's memory.  Vague feelings and memories float around like snow flurries, and they were so sweet and wonderful, I'd like to pass them on to you if only I can capture them.

It seems like I remember hot chocolate, cookies, reading books by the Christmas tree, watching the snow fall from inside, playing for hours outside, lights strung everywhere, carols and family and peace and harmony and hundreds of presents. And in the background, there was that weird little Rudolph Christmas special with the fake-looking abominable snowman that you can't even believe I used to think was scary but I did.

Back then, I was a child, and I took the Christmas moments handed to me like cookies on a Santa plate, eating them up as they came. Now, I am the one who has to create those moments, or at least I think I do. "What are some holiday treats that you guys like?" I ask, and you guys list twenty different things.  You already have SO many wonderful food-related memories of Christmas time that I must be doing something right, or something dreadfully wrong... but food is pretty great, so whatever, let's eat.

And almost every day there is an event that requires us wearing something other than Pjs in the evening and finding a shoe for every single foot and leaving the house all so that we can hear or sing or do something that's supposed to feed that Christmas spirit, or at least listen to carols while we go to the next basketball game.

Lots of work goes into all this magic, kiddos.  And this sugared up body of mine is fighting a cold, too.  But Pinterest and Facebook and my own happy memories set the bar so high for this time of year.  It's tough to balance this pressure to create Christmas magic with my own two hands with the desire to be "in the moment" or to "seize the day," while of course I'm ALSO focused completely in my heart on the baby Jesus- the real reason for the season, that sweet baby in the manger who keeps getting buried underneath the snow that somebody should probably go shovel!

 It's this kind of crazy scattered "focus" in my mind that makes me feel like I'm doing some complicated yoga pose, trying to hold it all together just right to things go smoothly... and then you come in and fight over the last bit of hot cocoa and marshmallows go flying!  Why is it so impossible to keep things smooth and under control in this house!?  Everybody go take naps!

And yet, Christmas moments come despite my inner battles.  The snow came down heavy, and you all got a day off.  The Christmas tree is up next to the fireplace, and our living room feels magical. We read books and entertain and reminisce and take naps here.  You practice your piano pieces here.  Even while I clean my kitchen, from little lips pour rhyming words of truth as you prepare for your Christmas program.

It's not all magic, but some of it is. And most of it, I don't create at all. Like you, I receive.

Like the spontaneous trip to the movies on Saturday morning, even though the house was a disaster. "I'm not caring about you!" I said loudly to the after-party mess in the dining room. "This is me, children, NOT caring about those dishes and walking out of the house to go have fun instead of cleaning." I said it loud because I know you kids will help me not care about the mess. "Oh, I got this," said my daughter, and she echoed me, "We do NOT care about you! Ha! And we're leaving now!"  Yeah, you kids are pretty good at that.

The December version of you all is something to see, too. One gets sentimental and wants to look at scrapbooks and write letters to old friends. Another isn't happy unless he's shooting something (that's true all year long) or throwing snowballs at brothers or cars (not ok!) One hates the cold so much he acts like his legs won't support him every time we leave. Some of you want to go to every party possible, while others want to be quiet at home.  Some of you fight the sideways pressure you feel to buy gifts for people, while others want to hand-make complicated projects for EVERY SINGLE PERSON THEY KNOW.  Music performances loom large, and I don't even know if you all have dress shoes that fit. And between all of you, there are 12 boots to keep track of; and we own at least 60 gloves but few of them match, just like our socks. Sugar is coursing through everyone's veins, so there's wrestling and teasing and crying and noise! Oh the noise, noise, noise noise!

In and with all of this, Christmas is coming. Into this very chaos, our Jesus comes to us again.  By this grace, we

will keep on putting up with each other, even in December. I love you guys. Merry Christmas.



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