The ramblings that appear when I'm driven to write what's in my head, rather than what's in someone else's.
The presents have been opened. Christmas dinner has been eaten and (mostly) cleaned up. The bickering and squabbling has commenced. But the moments I’ll remember over this Christmas season aren’t of the “Mo-om, he’s not letting me…” or the less-than-sportsmanlike conduct after losing at the new board game. I hope.
The moments I hope will stay with me are of Ethan’s face lit by the glow of the battery-operated candle while he sang “Silent Night” during the Christmas Eve service. I want to remember him hugging his new bow and arrows and bow case, and grinning–even though he asked for the Star Wars Hoth Lego set. I want to remember the weight in my lap when Wil climbed up there during the Christmas story at church, and again while Granny read “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” aloud. I want to remember Elisa’s willingness to hold the door at church, and to finish the muffins for breakfast. I want to remember Dad’s head propped on his hand as he and Ethan chased a chess game down to a three-piece finish.
The moments I will look for when I need a gleam of hope that I’m not a miserable failure of a parent are of Ethan asking if he could take $10, instead of the suggested $5 for the angel tree project at school. Or the kids spending the 20 minutes at Runnings picking a name from the angel tree instead of in the toy department. I’ll remember the prayer that Wil whispered in my ear before Christmas Eve dinner, “Dear God, thank you for our food and for our good family. And thank you for sending Jesus to be born so he could die on the cross so he could have our sins…”
At 6, 9 and 10, the pretense of Santa has largely been allowed to lapse at our house. We still set out cookies and milk and we still talk about Santa coming, but I think they’re starting to realize that Christmas is what we make it. While I may also look back and cringe at the memory of my unkind, impatient responses, I can see that out of the mess that is humanity–mine in particular–they are grasping strands of beauty, and weaving them into something sturdy and lovely.
In the middle of the chaos of single parenthood and working motherhood, it’s those silent night, holy night memories that give me hope. And for tonight, now that it’s bedtime, all is calm, all is bright.