I make no apologies for the fact that my love and heightened anticipation for the holidays is a little off the charts. I'm not being "P.C." here (in use of the word "holidays") I'm just pointing out that from September/Harvest time on...through Halloween and Thanksgiving....it's all just the opening act leading to the crescendo of Christmas. I guess that would make our trip to Sunriver the encore performance - that one song you were dying to hear and knew the concert wouldn't be complete until you heard it.
This time period is almost regarded like a vacation for me - not a "vacation" as lounging and relaxing, but with the same amount of time and preparation put into it to try to make it as absolutely perfect and "Norman Rockwell" as it could be. As the days draw closer to the 25th in December, I retreat further and further from my normal routine and nearer to my own family and anything that can celebrate the season. Finally, on the 26th, the actual "vacation" commences. It's no wonder that by January 1st, I'm an emotional wreck. It's been a long, intense roller coaster ride, and I have no desire to get off.
This being all said, it's been a work-in-progress over the years to accept that life doesn't always fit into my expectations and laid-out plans - and actually very rarely resembles Norman Rockwell artwork.
Sometimes it's not a white Christmas. (For those of us living in Eugene, it's only been one perhaps 3 times in my 41 years of life....definitely not a realistic expectation. However, snow in Sunriver is, and that is definitely a seasonal point of concern and worry).
Sometimes we get sick on Christmas.
Sometimes we suffer loss on Christmas.
Sometimes we fight on Christmas.
Sometimes we just don't get what we want on Christmas.
For me - these statements aren't just limited to Christmas - it's "Christmas time..." - and yes, that stretch from September 15th to January 1st is an awful long time to expect perfection.
It's a fine line though between hope and expectation. But a huge shift in perspective. Over the years, I've tried to turn my views more into hopefulness than my own self-centered anticipations. Because, we have experienced all of the above. Actually, each of those things have happened on Christmas day for us. I wrote a post several years back of the "Christmas Calamities" that have happened right around Christmas for our family and the list is not short. My grandpa died on Christmas day. My grandma died 51 weeks later. We had to put our beloved dog down on Christmas day (and not in an easy manner, either). When I was three, my mom was admitted for a month-long stay in the hospital on Christmas Day. We've had the flu on Christmas day. We've fought...(that's sometimes just a given in any relationship). And, all of those mean I haven't gotten what I've really wanted on Christmas - many, many times over. But, still I hope - and over the years have tried to model to my children that just because one thing doesn't go your way, it doesn't mean "everything's ruined". You roll with the punches. You look for "Silver Linings". Above all, you seek to give glory to God for the adversity, believing in the promise that He will use all things for good.
This year, our obvious "punch" has been John's eye injury. We can recite many, many ways that good has come from this - and John and I both try to do that as often as we can. But, in our own home, when we let down our guard, we can also grieve a bit for the losses. He's taken a huge hit in his health and livelihood. He's rebounding, but it's not been easy. He doesn't feel "great" a majority of the time.
We've taken a huge hit financially. You can't remove the person responsible for sales in a small company without everyone feeling it within the company. As much as Tyson has covered for him, it's still meant a loss - one I feel bad about in that it affects more than just our income.
We've lost quality time together. Yes, we had all those days off - and I will treasure them despite the pain he felt. But, especially now as he returns to full time, once he gets home from work - he's spent.
Finally, and really the whole point of this post - we'll lose his presence with us during half of our trip to Sunriver. He'll join us during the weekend we're there, but not on the bookend weekdays. We anticipated this reality once John had his injury, knowing there was no way to take "vacation" days off after being graced so many "sick" days. Perhaps we should have tried to recoup our investment in the vacation then and canceled it. But, I couldn't concede to that. Brayden's lips were quivering, Mikayla couldn't even finish her dinner - and I was just silent at the thought. You CAN'T take away Sunriver. It's the "encore". It's what we've waited for... I justified my thoughts on the decision by recognizing we were already past the point of getting our significant deposit back - but I know that John's ultimate conclusion that we carry on with the trip was not because of that, but because he knew how much it means to me. That will definitely be the most sacrificial gift he'll give me this Christmas.
Thankfully, it's not just Brayden, Mikayla and myself. The Schilling family will be there along with the Whites. (I can't wait to witness Whitley exploring this house and "Ohing and Oooing" over all the fun to be had there!). I'll be counting on them more than ever before to help unload and reload and even ensure that we'll arrive safely with my driving. (More thankful than ever for all that snow driving practice). But, much more than that, I'm so thankful for their presence on behalf of our kids and myself emotionally to "make the best of the situation" - to take John at his word when he says he absolutely wants the show to go on without him. And, of course, for the 48 hours he'll be with us, to celebrate like there's no tomorrow. (One of those days is Mikayla's birthday....nice timing, huh?!).
Another year of learning. Another year without a white Christmas. But, another year with so many enormous blessings and gifts, I'm determined not to discredit them, by focusing only on the setbacks. Let's do this, family.