We had Lena's preschool Thanksgiving party where all the students dressed up like Pilgrims and Indians and ate goldfish and popcorn (you know, authentic Thanksgiving day fare), then we headed up north for Thanksgiving with Rich's parents, which was super fun and special but far too short. We threw in a movie on the way home from Chardon and, the next day, had Sam's nearly-a-month-early-monster-themed birthday party.
Last weekend we had the Wingers (minus Matt) over for dinner, nearly had simultaneous heart attacks with every man, woman and child in the Columbus area while watching the OSU game, and went to Jack's Christmas pageant at their church, which was adorable and all the kids did so well. And this week Buddy the Elf came to live with us (the kids are equal parts creeped out and amazed, but either way both are on their best behavior = score!).
This weekend is our annual ride on the Polar Express in Newcomerstown, but we have to come home right after because our kids have their Christmas pageant at church Sunday morning and then will be singing some selections from the pageant later Sunday evening at our church family potluck (my band is also performing at both).
Then it's my birthday, Sam's school holiday concert, Lena's preschool holiday party, Sam's birthday, Christmas in Chardon and then the Kraft family Christmas Eve party at our house complete with grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, kids, gross amounts of food and a visit from Santa Claus, culminating with our church's (and the band's) Christmas Eve service.
It seems like a lot as I write it all down. And some days it feels like a whole lot more when it's mixed with all the other day-to-day stuff going on at work and the kids' schools and our house. Fitting in quality time with the kids and Rich, making special Christmas memories, finding time to make good meals, buy presents, address cards, write blogs, and work on the rocking chair I dug out of someone's trash, and, and, and...
Sometimes these dizzying days flash by me too quickly to hold onto any of them as tightly as I'd like, to let the true reason for the season fully sink into me. And my memory is for shit, so next week I'll forget which kid said what tender sweet thing to the other when no one was watching or that special hug Rich gave me when I really needed it or what Pastor Frank said during the sermon that struck me so true.
But some moments stick. Some still quiet moments within each day pull at me, remind me, calm me, center me.
The simple perfection of reading book after book to the kids in a big overstuffed chair in our living room, all snuggled under a blanket, their little faces illuminated by the lights of the Christmas tree beside us. Thursday lunches with my sister, catching up and laughing and commiserating and eating and connecting and fostering that relationship because, for me, it's one of the most important relationships in my life. Sinking into the couch beside Rich every night after we put the kids to bed, feeling his quiet love and strength beside me. The tingling goose bumps I sometimes get when I'm singing with the band, when we're all feeling the song and the holy spirit fills us and everyone in the room with its palpable presence. The way the morning sun hits the water of the reservoir, throwing silvery white light in every direction...it's so awesome each time I see it that gratitude to God for such beauty consumes me, as do meandering thoughts that include whether that warmth of glistening watery sunlight in any way compares to the light I will surely see when I finally gaze upon His face.
So yeah, even with my shit memory and our rushed holiday schedule and the speeding up of time as I age (what's with that, by the way?), all is not lost. Tis the season to be stressed and jolly and crazy and joyful, right? That's life. It's up and down and sideways and slantways and longways and backways. Is it better to have no messes, no noise, no rushing, no stress, no inconveniences, no worries if it means having no friends, no family, no joy, no relationships, no love, no laughter? Because one doesn't exist without the other.
Life is messy. You can either wish it way or wallow in it.
I'm ashamed to say that sometimes I wish for a day to be over, for a bad day to hurry up and end.
But today...today I wallow.