Before too many days pass in the rush of winter break, in the joys of Wiirritation (the particular brand of argument that breaks out in front of our gaming system), and in the flurry of endless activities, I’m going to take a moment to reflect on my favorite things about this Christmas.
I know. Poor blog form. What’s done is done, right?
I can almost hear my busy brain chanting, “Eyes forward! Hasten to the New Year! You are wasting time! Move, move, move!”
But then I listen to my heart, and it tells me that what’s done forms the foundation for what’s to come, and that it’s OK to check what’s beneath my feet before scurrying to the next item on my “to do” list.
Reflection, it is.
I rewind the whirlwind events of past few days, and I play them again in my head.
My 2-year-old nephew, the one who’s spent an inordinate amount of time in the hospital this year struggling to breathe, races around our house screeching, “I running! I running!” before taking a blissful nap on my brother. Their chests rise and fall with easy breaths. And the rest of us breathe, too.
My preschool son, the one who explained to me that “candles lit with fire are far too dangerous for kids, Mom” finally – and with great reluctance – agrees to hold one at our candlelight Christmas Eve church service… and then drops it, burning, to the church floor. He spears me with an “I told you so” stare full of such fiery passion that I’m shocked the church doesn’t catch fire from his fury alone.
My oldest organizes her siblings for their 3rd annual Kids-Only Stocking Opening Event. She doesn’t bother to ask permission, but instead slips the reins of leadership from my hands and proceeds as though it’s her due. I’m the oldest, too; I understand.
Under the guise of “letting mom and dad sleep in,” Abby instructs the four littles to wake each other anytime after 6:00am. She readies the hot chocolate and mugs the night before. She makes sure they all understand not to disturb our slumber.
On Christmas morning to shouts of “IS IT 6?” and “GO! GO! GO!” and the even louder shushing – “SSSSHHHHHHHH!” – they stampede down the stairs like rugby-playing elephants.
I lay in bed, wide awake, like every year of the past three. I’m terribly sad to be missing out. And I’m achingly glad for an oldest daughter who uses her tools of leadership to sculpt a joyful whole from five separate parts.
Forty-five minutes later, a 5-year-old lands on my bladder with great wailing and gnashing of teeth because one of those little sweeties bonked him on the head. I grin, hiding it the dark, and I head downstairs to referee.
We arrive at church Christmas morning in our pajamas. Grown-ups sport everything from bright red Elmo jammies to elaborate Japanese robes, teenagers appear in footie pajamas, and littles run around with pajama-clad glee. Hanging out with a crowd of total weirdos who are willing to laugh and play and show up at church in pajamas on Christmas? I call that family.
My mom hands me a tiny package. In it, a charm from her own charm bracelet – a cheerleader bullhorn – the symbol of motherhood. And my dad passes down a charm he once gave his mother – the Marine Corps emblem. He includes these words in his note: Semper Fidelis. Always faithful.
My father-in-law gathers my children to listen as he opens his newest book, “All The Ways I Love You.” Instead of grandpa’s voice, though, they hear the recording of their 5-year-old cousin’s voice. She reads with a strength and confidence that’s a beautiful and bittersweet counterpoint to her ongoing battle with cancer. I watch the lines of his face, and I swear I can hear his heart reading the words back to her.