There is so much to do! Start checking off the long list:
Presents… ’Tis the season to bustle about, rushing to buy presents. Make sure you don’t forget anyone! Is this the right size? Oh, forget it. If a mom buys clothing for a teenager, it just ends up on the closet floor anyway. This mom definitely doesn’t know what is cool. Is cool even a word anymore? I think they say “hot” now. Personally, I would rather spontaneously combust than call my daughter’s clothing “hot”. Good grief. The thought of my little girls someday being hot is enough to engulf me in burning flames of panic. That is hot. Better stick to books. Maybe if I buy them books, they’ll be more interested in the library. Libraries are safe and quiet. And socks. Books and socks. They’ll be so pleased with their Christmas presents…
Decorate… Must I? The house is so cluttered already, that I can’t bear to do it. Can’t we just arrange your Playmobil characters on the mantel in a Christmas-y, manger scene and be happy? You can add the giraffe and the orangutan, too, Dear. I know they all want to see Baby Jesus. I’ll even light some candles. But that didn’t go so well this year. The first night of advent, the lone candle flickered in the darkness, a glow of warmth like a halo while we sang Silent Night. Then the flame scorched a hole in a lampshade. I knew it was too cluttered in here! I am done with candles.
To the delight of the kids, we do now have a tree in the living room. It’s not enough to have a huge family, a dog on the couch, and a rabbit dwelling in the living room. We also have a Christmas tree. It is completely covered with hundreds of sparkling things. We had a lot of lights to string up. This fake tree is supposed to automatically light up, but it is old and mostly doesn’t work. After searching for stored strings of lights, finding the lights in the garage, untangling the lights, testing the lights, dropping the lights, cleaning up the glass from the broken lights…I had enough of lights. But one side of the tree was clearly still dark, and all we had left were nets of lights that are supposed to go outside on shrubs. We have no shrubs. Why do we own lights like this? I figured no one will ever notice if we throw them on the Dark Side of the Tree. The next day, my mom came over to visit, and see the tree. She ooohed and aaahed and praised me completely for my newly-emerged home decorating skills. Then she looked at me quizzically. “Why did you use shrub lights?” Why, indeed.
Let this be a lesson to you.
You can’t fool Mom.
Bake… I did it. I specially adapted my grandmother’s Christmas cookie recipe to be Gluten Free. After years of trial and error, and more trial and error, they were finally perfect! “These are great, Mom!” “Can we frost them now?” “I get the green sprinkles!” The kitchen was filled with warmth and sugar and lovely memories of my grandma. We can only do just one cookie sheet before bed, I warned. Just one. We are not eating all of these cookies before Christmas! This is just a sample! So we rolled and cut out and baked and finally, we all crowded around the table to frost and decorate the one pan of cookies. As little hands grabbed for stars and trees and gingerbread shaped cookies, one little hand knocked over a rather large glass of water. Yes. Right onto the cookie sheet. “Save the cookies!!!” the cry rang out. Now, some cookies might be strong enough to be dunked in coffee, and enjoyed. But not my gluten free genius cookies. They did not fare well with the mild drowning. We decorated the few cookies that survived, trying not to stare at the mush in the pan. At least we hadn’t baked them all.
Clean… Clean? I have nothing to say on this matter. The more I clean, the more I realize that the walls need fresh paint.
You know, I can barely juggle my own regular stuff. How can I add Christmas preparations as well?! It is so frustrating! It will never be clean, let alone perfect! Our Christmas dinner will be loud and crowded, probably burnt, and someone will spill their drink, and the plates will have to be pushed aside and the tablecloth lifted and scrunched, and we will all laugh and be soggy and happy together anyway. Reading books. In our new socks.
I guess that is our "perfect".
In all my preparation frustrations of last week, I grabbed my camera and went for a walk. I needed some peace and quiet. I needed an ‘all is calm, all is bright’ kind of moment. A new perspective. In the frosty cold of the morning, with the sun just beginning to rise, here is what I found:
But this barn is all that was needed.
It's all I need right now.
I stood at the barn door, thinking about the holy night in Bethlehem long ago...
This is all I need to get ready for Christmas.
I will muck out my own barn by going to confession, and saying I'm sorry to those I have hurt. I will sweep away the stones of cynicism, and instead try to repair faith by putting the stones to more constructive use.
I will add some hay of gentleness.
And I will wait.
I'll be ready for Christmas, after all.