It’s Here!

Every year, for the past two decades, the Christmas spirit has settled upon me at various, unexpected moments. I never know when or how it will be ushered in. Last year, it came like this. The year before, like this.

Sometimes the falling snow is key. Sometimes it’s a song, like when my friend Helen sang the angels down at Joshua Baptist Church years ago. Sometimes it’s Charlie Brown.
This year, it was a late afternoon realization that slightly inclement weather – i.e. some wet snow – caused the cancellation of the evening’s planned activities. Miraculously, all of us were going to be home on Saturday evening.
Sarah and I were driving home from Richmond – in the snow – when the call came. We decided to make a detour and pick up a tree. After some discussion, we thought we could get away with an artificial tree this year; after all, we’re overwhelmingly busy. Nobody was going to go out to cut a tree in this weather, although that’s been a fine tradition. We called the house, told the other kids to get the stuff out of the attic and get ready – that we were getting an artificial tree on the way home.
Shannon was adamant. “This is just WRONG!” she exclaimed.
Then I called Tony to fill him in on our plans. “NO WAY!” he exclaimed.
We had two very virulent protesters of our plan – not the decorating, but the artificial part.
So, we relented. By the time we got home, Tony had a real tree in the house and we had the makings of a good dinner in hand. We spent a few hours getting the decorations up. Harry Connick sang us through, with both his recent Christmas records. Syd put the star on the tree. A good time was had by all.
Traditions are so powerful. They bind us to who we were, and give us insight into who we are yet to be. Last night was special, and provided another opportunity for buckets of grace-filled memories.
And the Christmas spirit? It landed hard all around us, as Sarah and I walked through the drizzling snow in the Lowe’s parking lot, singing “Winter Wonderland”.
It’s here.
Merry Christmas, y’all.

This was the interesting nativity scene this year; Joseph’s head turned up in a box. It was, honestly, a relief, as this was the scene two years ago:

I guess we’ll never know what really happened…

Thanksgiving Thoughts

It’s Thanksgiving Eve. The house is quiet – just me, the laptop and a little mindless television. It’s been a busy day.

We had a house full of fun and food and laughter all afternoon. We call it “Fake Thanksgiving”, and it’s an every-other-year event. My favorite holiday – I can’t stand to skip it when the kids spend the “official” holiday with their dad. We just pretend Wednesday is Thursday and nobody seems to mind. Elijah and Travis are here, on break from school, and their presence filled the house in a joyous way. Katie joined us as well, and the touchstone of her presence throughout the last several years – in our lives and also with my parents – made her place at the table very special.
Plus Katie brought pies. But that’s another (delicious) (fattening) subject.
I’m a very thankful girl these days. Little things settle in my heart and give me great peace. The house is clean and uncluttered (for MY standards, anyway!) My family is safe and sound. My parents are healthy and present in our lives. My job is rewarding and fulfilling. My friendships are solid and meaningful. I love a man deeply and powerfully and truly and he loves me in return.
I’ve arrived at some point in life that seems to mark a turning of sorts. As if I am standing on the edge of a river, about to step forward. It’s the truth, actually; much is changing. My kids are growing older – I’m learning to parent young adults, which is much more of a challenge than I ever imagined it would be. I’m reevaluating my role in my workplace and excited about what lies ahead and what challenges and opportunities await our community. I’m about to enter into a partnership with a man – a marriage – that feels so new and unique and unlike anything I’ve ever done, and yet will be settling and familiar.
Seems like I’m growing up. I find it somewhat disturbing that it’s taken me 46 years to get to this point. Aren’t I a bit late to the game?
Is this the way other people in their forties feel? I mean, for all these years, I looked at people in this stage of life and assumed that they had things figured out. Seemed like you live this long, get your kids halfway or mostly raised, and you had it together. By this point, you had the house, the cars, paid the bills, worked your job, knew the ropes. Knew who you were.
But I’m looking at my friends who are my age and I’m thinking, “Shoot – they are still figuring it out as they go along – just like me.” And I KNOW that I’m still stubbing my toe on the big and small issues of life.
So being a grown up must be relative, I guess.
I do know this – there are some lessons I have learned. Some mistakes have paid dividends. Perseverance has paid off. Love always wins. Investment in children is never wasted.
Some things I’m starting to get.
There’s my Thanksgiving ruminations. Tomorrow I’ll hang out with my parents and be thankful – so very thankful – for all that has been and all that is to come.