|Photo by Ellie Holman, age 10|
Monday, December 30, 2013
Sunday, December 29, 2013
When I was a kid there were two days during Christmas break that I just loved. Christmas, for obvious kid-ly reasons, and New Year's Day for the annual Collins Family Reunion. My mother's sibs took turns hosting every year, and with armloads of yummy food to share, we gathered around card tables and sat on piano benches and had a blast. We hugged aunts and uncles and measured ourselves against growing cousins. We got to eat cookies and skip the veggies and have whole cans of orange and grape soda all to ourselves. I loved it.
Then one year, who knows which, plans were differed to the summer, when it would be warmer, and that year, it all somehow...stopped. The reunion never happened, not that year, and not ever again. The next time I saw my relatives, I was a married mama and it was at my uncle's funeral.
I didn't make a Christmas card this year.
I let it go.
I have made a card almost every year since Guy and I got married, and it is "the one thing" I get done even if I don't do anything else. But this year I decided that if it meant getting all stressed out, the card would not be worth it. It was so much easier to let it go after the year we have had. A few folks lament not getting "their card" this year. To them I can only say, I love you anyway.
I didn't make many homemade gifts, or bake. I didn't hang the Christmas cards on the wall like usual, or take a billion goodie plates to friends. I started to worry. Was I letting go of my traditions? Would I lose something that I would never get back?
The week before Christmas I decided to put up my village. I hadn't gotten to it, or to much else besides the tree. I thought about the fact that I didn't put it up last year, and I decided that it was okay to let some things go, as long as I didn't let go completely.
And the ghosts of Christmas's past poked their heads out of the box and said, "Hey, lady! We're baaa-aack!" And then I found him.
The tiny alligator that lives in our village. It roams the streets and climbs the porches, terrorizing the tiny townsfolk. And if you are the lucky one to find him, you get to hide him again. Long before the elf climbed up on any shelf, this little roving reptile has been wreaking havoc in Holmanville.
|Ellie during her gymnastics performance. She did great.|
|Pulla (pool-a), a lovely cardamom spiced braided bread from Finland,|
handmade by Guy, cuz he's awesome.
|And just to prove how awesome, look at the rest of our Christmas Eve spread! |
Yes, those are Cannoli and See's. Man cannot live on Pulla alone!
|"I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus!!!"|
|The Three Princesses|
|It's all about the Legos and Playmobiles, baby!|
|If you look closely you will find 6 human beings in this photo.|
It's like a Where's Waldo, but messier.
May your days be merry and bright!
Sunday, December 15, 2013
“Just go, take care of your shopping, and I’ll stay home with the kids,” he said, and walked me out to the van. I pulled out of the driveway and headed down the block, the Christmas lights on all the houses blurring with my tears. Guy was right. I didn’t feel like shopping for the little monsters either. Only I couldn't see how I could help the situation, and I knew crying about it wasn't going to help, and may get me into an accident. I said a little prayer as I drove a few house lengths, and immediately felt like I should turn the van around. I circled the block, calling Guy (hands free, of course) and said, “Get the kids in their shoes and coats, we need to go do some service.”
And I say most nights, because we try, but we don’t do all the things we ideally would do each day. We are like all families. We are trying. And sometimes we are selfish and sometimes we are not. No families are all bad or all good, just as no people are. And there is no such thing as “always” and “never”.
Monday, December 9, 2013
A bit ago Adam asked me if he could take the sleeping baby for me. I told him I was fine, but what I really needed was something to prop up my leg. He frowned at the thought of getting up from his cozy chair. “Oh, so you were willing to get up to get the baby,” I teased, “but not a footstool?”
“Well, taking the baby benefits me.” He smiled back, and then got up and got both the footstool, then the baby. He curled her on his chest and rocked her sweetly.
Tonight we had Advent. All by our little-old selves. For the past few years we have been invited along on the tradition with Kathy and Wayne’s family, but tonight they had plans with their extended family, so I announced to the family earlier this week that we would be having Advent all by ourselves.
“But we’re not Jewish!” Ellie argued. *Sigh*. Clearly, I need to work harder on teaching world religions in homeschool. I’m guessing she meant to say German, since Kathy is, and her Advent traditions include a lot of lovely wooden decorations from Germany, but with Ellie, you never know. I just laughed and explained it one more time.
After church I snuggled up with Natalie and we took a delicious nap in the living room. I awoke to see Guy putting up Christmas decorations. “For Advent.” He said, simply.
And so tonight after a candlelit dinner of a simple rice and sauce, Guy prepared the goodie table for Advent following the traditions Kathy has shared. At some point during my sale yesterday he had slipped out and bought fancy cookies and chocolates. He set out homemade fudge, peppermint tea and cocoa, lit the candles in the humble Advent wreath I made last year, and turned on Christmas carols.
Our Advent looked different than when Kathy does it. We ate and chatted about Christmas memories. Adam reminded me of how we sat up late last year making an Advent calendar out of match boxes for our friends the Motts, whose new baby was in the hospital, wrapping each tiny box in pretty paper after emptying out the matches. He then informed me he had taken said matches, scratched off the tips and made a pile, which he then ignited. He claims I was sitting just a few feet away. How did I miss that? The girls talked about leaving carrots for Santa's reindeer. Jonah ran around like a maniac, jumping, singing, taking his clothes off- the usual. Soon we were singing carols, but since we don’t have a tidy little homemade book of carols like Kathy does, we just did our best from memory. Ethan accused me of massacring Frosty the Snowman, which indeed was true. The girls asked me to join them in a rousing performance of Rudolf, wherein I sang the actual song and they did all the “Like a light bulb!” parts. Their version of reindeer games included Chutes and Ladders and Parcheesi.
At one point I really wanted to share a song from my childhood that talks about the meaning of Christmas, but as I sang, my voice was being drowned out by Jonah and the big boys, who were taking turns being his personal trampoline. “Never mind,” I said, “no one’s interested.”
“This is their way of bonding.” Guy gently reminded.
And it’s true. Just a few days ago I was lamenting that these last two little kids won’t have really “grown up” in a house of six children. By the time Adam leaves for his mission, which in essence means he will have left our little next to strike out into the world, never to really return, Jonah will be 8, and Natalie only 5. These are the memories they are making. Right now.
And at some Advent years from now, the memories Jonah shares could be, “I remember how Ethan and Adam used to let me use them as a jungle gym during Advent.”
Adam is asleep now in the chair, with sweet Natalie on his chest. She won't remember tonight, but maybe he will.
Monday, December 2, 2013
Jonah has taken on “three” with gusto. I am not used to it. Yes, I have six rug-rats, but you have to realize that I haven’t had a little boy in many years.
When Adam was three he threw a fit once. Once. I was so shocked, I said, “Who are you, and where is my little boy, Adam?”
He burst into tears. “Is me, Mama! I me!” I had broken his tender little heart.
So, really, I haven’t had a wild child since Ethan was little, well over a decade ago. I’m outta practice, man. My crime yesterday was not letting Jonah play with my phone before his nap. When he woke, the chant began.
“Mama not yike me!!!!” he accused. I wandered into my room and saw a lump under my quilt. It whimpered. I sat on the edge of the bed.
“I’m so sad,” I lamented, “I miss my little boy and I can’t find him anywhere. I’m sad because I love him so much.”
The lump began to cry, and insisted that his mama didn’t like him. I curled around him, and lifted the quilt off his head. I wiped big round tears off of his big round cheeks, and put on my best mommy voice, “What’s wrong sweetheart?” I was surprised at the depth of his sadness.
“Mama not yike me.” He wept, as though he were talking about some other woman, some other mean mama, confiding his secret to a trusted friend. I just held him close until the tears turned into giggles.
Tonight we had an encore performance when I said no to a third tortilla before bed (I know. Call CPS. I’m so mean). But with tonight’s show he took it up a notch. Now I not only don’t like him, I apparently don’t even LUB him!
I’m a mama. I am other things too, but it’s my first and best job.
In the past week I have been able to do a couple of other jobs, ones I also love. When I do those tasks, though, it does take me away from job #1. I got to help a dear friend this week as she welcomed her baby boy into the world (more on that later!), and I managed to get through the-day-before-the-first-day of my sale, which lasted until three AM and is way harder than the actual day of the sale (and more on that too!). I've been busy in happy ways, even too busy to post here. But even though I am a doula, and an artist, and a wanna-be-writer, I’m mostly just a mama.
And despite what some little boys might think around here, I lub my job.