Thursday, December 4, 2008

So This is Christmas

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
-John Lennon

So far I am really enjoying every bit of this holiday season. We put up the tree and lights the week before Thanksgiving, both of which give me a sense of contentment whenever I see them. The radio was also tuned to the Christmas station that week, although I've had to dial back on that just a little...wouldn't want to get sick of Christmas songs too early in the month!

Advent is my favorite aspect of Christmas. The anticipation of Jesus and the joy he brought to earth is the whole point of the season, after all; the traditions and memories are just a way for humans to represent that joy in our finite terms. We have been pulling figurines out of our advent calendar pockets each morning for four days now, and enjoying a little candle time before bed each night as we discuss different aspects of Jesus' significance to us.

For all the years we travel or seem to be "between" stages at this season, this year seems for me to have become that traditional childhood Christmas we all seem to spend our adult lives looking for. We have done a few Christmas crafts, and had a few friends over for a Christmas party, complete with a birthday cake for Jesus. And I haven't even begun baking yet!

I suppose part of the explanation for the lightness of my heart in this season is that I haven't yet been weighed down by the shopping and planning that so often threaten to consume us and steal our joy at this time of year. I have bought a grand total of one gift so far, and have no specific plans in the next few days to even begin this part of the season.

Frankly, I'm hesitant to begin for the exact reason that I am enjoying myself so very much, and I know that starting to think about purchasing and shipping and fairness will weigh me down. Don't get me wrong, I love to give gifts. But every year I seem to go overboard and end up with more debt at the end of the season than I started with. And that's not a good feeling.

Nor is it something I think Jesus intended for us. He certainly didn't go into debt to give us his great gift. Indeed, his gift paid a debt. Maybe my Christmas would be more honoring to him if I could figure out a way to give gifts without breaking my budget. I know, I can plan ahead better next year. But for now, I'm still pondering how to walk the line this year, of blessing my loved ones without sacrificing my contentment.

Meanwhile, I celebrate the gifts I already feel I've been given this year, starting with a home of my own that exceeds my wildest dreams.

My children are growing by leaps and bounds. Yesterday Boo Bear came to me for the first time ever and requested me to put ponytails in her hair. Significant because she has never liked me touching her hair, and any mention of her hair seems to end with us both in a foul mood. I am not exaggerating.

She has also had remarkable improvement in her behavior in the last three weeks. I knew in September that the bright spot in the challenges she was facing with controlling her actions at school, home and everywhere she went, was that it would be obvious when she began to develop a little more social maturity. And so it is; it got harder for awhile, then seemed to smooth out dramatically. We are so proud of how she is growing up. Just in time, too, to play the role of big sister once again.

I have been telling Rooster for weeks that all I want for Christmas from him is to be done with diapers for this month and next until the baby comes. Rooster informed me yesterday that he is now potty trained, and in fact has not had any kind of accident (other than nighttime but that's not on my hit list yet) for days.

Not sure how ready he is for a baby in the house. I'd love to know what's going on in his head. He sometimes talks about how his big brother is growing in his own tummy. Then this morning, we were standing in an elevator together and I reached down to see if I could still touch my toes. Suddenly he seemed to notice my swelling belly for the first time. He reached up and touched it reverently and said, "Wow, Mommy, your tummy is getting really big! Guess we'll have to punch out its lights!" Wow. I laughed so hard I wouldn't have been surprised if the baby made a sudden appearance right then.

And my loving husband is my treasure, my greatest gift of all. He works really hard all day long, then comes home and plays with the kids, helps with dinner dishes, and makes sure to talk and pray with them (the kids, that is, not the dishes) before bed. He makes sure I get my mommy nights out, as well as whatever writing time I need. He speaks encouragement in my ear constantly, affirming me whenever I need it. I feel so blessed to be eleven years into a marriage that has brought me more good than I ever thought possible.

And so this is Christmas. Maybe this year we can all take a breath and try to separate from the frenzy of the season, as we breathe in the wonder and joy of the gift given when Jesus came to earth to experience humanity for himself. Maybe we can celebrate the pure joy of knowing he made a way for everything to truly be "all right." I know that as long as I hold on to the wonder and joy that the season is meant to inspire, then that is the most important thing.

May God bless us all in special measure this Christmas.

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