Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Sunday, December 15, 2013


I have deliberated over writing this post, but I think I will write it anyway.

Because this post is not about what we did, in some self gratifying way, it’s about effort.

Every year Guy tells me that we should have a present-free Christmas.  It is usually a pressure invoked response to nasty squabbling kids and stress-filled days leading up to a Christmas that feels more worldly, more self-centered and less Christ focused than Guy and I would like it to be. 

We got up early-for-us Saturday so we could go to the church Christmas breakfast.  Five tired, grumbling children staggered out to the van, complaining. They did have fun once we got there, eventually, but it took a bit of effort for them to relax and enjoy the event.  After that, Guy and I planned on braving some stores while the kids went to a Holiday cookie decorating party.  But the kids were being pretty obnoxious just before leaving, and though he tried hard not to respond, Guy was really feeling the strain.  Finally cornering him in our room, I asked him what was wrong.  He shared with me his disappointment over how our kids were behaving, and how much it was sapping his Christmas joy.  I gave him a pep talk, rehearsing to him all of the good qualities our children have, that despite how they could act, they didn’t really “always” and “never” do the things that we were noticing lately.  In fact, I don't think they are being any more lame than their normal everyday-lameness. We were just noticing more as Christmas approached.

When Guy and I finally made it out shopping, the store we entered was crowded and overwhelming to me.  I haven’t truly rejoined the human race yet, staying away from crowded stores, gladly welcoming my hubby’s propensity for bargain grocery shopping.  Everything seemed so expensive, and I felt awash in pre-buyers remorse.  Stuff just holds little meaning for me anymore.  Even so, another part of me wanted to offer my children a few nice things for Christmas.

Our plan was to hit a few stores, pick up the kids and drop them at home, then head back out.  Upon arriving home to drop off the kids, however, several quarrels broke out.  Soon the devil-spawn that are our children were taking turns performing demonic possessions on each other.  Guy threw in the towel on our shopping date. 

“Just go, take care of your shopping, and I’ll stay home with the kids,” he said, and walked me out to the van.  I pulled out of the driveway and headed down the block, the Christmas lights on all the houses blurring with my tears.  Guy was right.  I didn’t feel like shopping for the little monsters either.  Only I couldn't see how I could help the situation, and I knew crying about it wasn't going to help, and may get me into an accident.  I said a little prayer as I drove a few house lengths, and immediately felt like I should turn the van around.  I circled the block, calling Guy (hands free, of course) and said, “Get the kids in their shoes and coats, we need to go do some service.”

We went to the local dollar store, and began gathering things that someone who lived in the streets would need.  Only one rule: we would not look at or talk about anything for ourselves.  Every one helped, and soon we had a nice pile of non-perishable food and hygiene items in our cart.  As each item was suggested, the kids all talked about how it could be helpful, and what else might provide comfort or relief for someone who had no home, was not blessed as much as we have been.

When we got home we worked together on making bundles.  It didn’t take long.  Not the bundles, but the attitudes being changed.  And I don’t think it was necessarily the kid’s attitudes that changed, but Guy’s and mine.  We felt lighter and more appreciative of these 6 blessings.  Without the drone of a computer or television, we spent a mostly quiet evening together.  Guy read our nightly Christmas story, and as the evening came to a close, we prayed together as we do most nights. 

And I say most nights, because we try, but we don’t do all the things we ideally would do each day.  We are like all families.  We are trying.  And sometimes we are selfish and sometimes we are not.  No families are all bad or all good, just as no people are.  And there is no such thing as “always” and “never”. 
And it’s not only about what we succeed in doing or not doing, but the effort.


rebekahmott said...

It has been along time my friend, but just like always it was nice to read. Part because your a great writer and party because it isfor some reason nice to hear that I am not the only one that struggles. Thank you for sharing.

rebekahmott said...
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