Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Aiming for Norman Rockwell

Michele and I were talking today about just how big Christmas has always been for us - and how we've potentially made it even bigger as we've become moms. It's more than just a holiday - it's a "season" - and I love it.

However, I have to admit, I feel like this year I'm three steps behind on any given day and "running just to catch myself". There seems to be a central focus for any given day - whether it's shopping, wrapping or baking - but somehow the laundry and the messes never got the memo that they were supposed to take care of themselves on that day. (Not to mention the headaches that have taken me out about once a week!) Yes, there is a huge amount of things to be done, all because I've chosen to have this be a part of our Christmas experience, but this year, I think it's the extras that are dragging me down.

On Facebook today, one of our friends posted that many people's Christmases do not look like Norman Rockwell paintings. Would it be terrible to admit, that at times, ours does? And, because it has that potential - I aim for it every year. And, often, we hit the mark. But, what you see in these pictures in these blog posts are snapshots of moments that are caught and recorded - all sifted through pictures that didn't even make the cut. What it doesn't record is conversations like this in the car this morning, on the way to drop the kids off:

"You guys are going to end up with lumps of coal in your stockings. I'm serious! And, in your Countdown Calendar tomorrow, the activity will be each of you cleaning a toilet. Because I am so TIRED of your arguing. Each day, each moment you two are able to make a choice - Do I honor my mom and dad - and my Lord, by behaving and responding with grace and love to my sister or brother? Or do I act completely selfish and yell, and pester, and pick at one another? It drives us nuts and is ruining my mornings......."

Yeah, that's Norman Rockwell, huh?

And, while I'm being totally honest, I think I expected my involvement in general with the college ministry to end once they got done with their term. But, instead, I've found that to be "the straw that breaks the camel's back". The day the Countdown Calendar said to bring cookies to the houses owned by the church for the college students, I about lost it. Now, this was my own stupid doing.....I planned it that way, and I decided it would be something I would do (by baking). I should have eliminated that. Besides, the cookies didn't turn out very good anyway. What it all ends up being, as folks pop up on Facebook and suggest getting together - and in my mind I think, "Are you kidding? Do you have any idea just how busy and crazy and CAREFULLY ORCHESTRATED my days are right now?" - is guilt. Guilt for having a bad attitude. Guilt for not being able to get together and meet their needs. Guilt for maybe not prioritizing right. Guilt for feeling really selfish.

So, on days like today - when I abandoned the couple of errands I could potentially get done on the way, and instead wandered through Ruthie B's trying to just soak it all in - I think, yes, I made the right decision. In those moments prior to everyone else's arrival, I absorbed this Christmas season - as I really should be through each and every day.

It's really no wonder that up until last year, we planned our Sunriver vacation for the week prior to Christmas - so we could stop and take in the wonder of it all. I'm glad we've switched it until the week following - it's so much better for so many reasons. But, with any luck, all the lists will be crossed off by the end of this week - so next week can be my own little Christmas vacation right here in our own home - rejoicing in the birthday of our Lord and Savior.

P.S. - I almost considered "disabling comments" because it would make me so sad to receive any comments telling me how commercialized or off-track I've let the holiday become, or that this would appear that I'm trying to solicit any pity or advice. But, I couldn't do it. I've never stopped comments before, so why start now. Just know that I think I know what I need to it's a matter of putting it more into action!


sara said...

I think if we are honest, we can ALL relate to this post! It took me so long to get into the Christmas spirit this year due to many of the things you listed....all good, but just too many on my plate.

My goal is like yours, to get everything checked off by Friday so that next week when I am off work, I can really enjoy everything. I plan to do a lot of baking, puzzle building, and game playing with my family!!!

StephieAnne said...

Amen Sara - same here!

Mary said...

Checking your posts daily helps me to dream of future holidays with my own family. I generally skim your posts during my lunch break and admire all the fun/family/creativity :) I have to say Halloween 2008 posts might be my all time favorite :) Happy Holidays to all of my favorite Eugene families! Miss you lots.