Such a hustle that I forgot to put in some kind of important stuff:
Like how the girls were huffy at each other all afternoon before we left.
And how two of them started howling when I suggested we make it fancy and wear dresses.
There were multiple eye-rolls, some drama, some moans and groans about fun things the teenagers would be missing while we were watching those ballerinas. Sure, they had been looking forward to this, but as the evening drew closer they began to realize what they would miss. Darn that social media!:)
One of them burst out in tears three times before we left (not the teenagers…the eye-rolls were enough for them).
And I, in sleep-deprivation mode, had to count to ten at least that many times trying to stop myself from morphing into “mean mom” and calling the whole thing off.
Wait, you may say, that stuff is the important stuff you left out?
Well, yes, it sure is.
That stuff is just as important as the magical-ness that did indeed come a little later. That stuff is probably actually what made it magical because we had something to contrast it to.
Sometimes we have to wade through the not-so-great things to get to the heart-swelling ones. Isn’t that how life is in general?
But oh how I adore those heart-swelling moments. The ones that come when we’re still enough to catch them and let them fill us up.
Sometimes that can be tricky during the Christmas season.
Yes it’s all holly and jolly and beautiful. But sometimes, I think especially for women, the divine and holy seems to get lost intermixed with the hurricane surrounding us trying to check off our lists. We see everyone else seemingly “doing it all” and we start to think something is wrong with us. Why can’t we keep up? How are we supposed to keep a Christ-centered and joyful Christmas when a tenacious toddler is doing their best “fingernails-on-a-chalkboard” whining with a constant vice-grip on our leg? Or when we are far away from loved ones our hearts yearn to be with. Or when every time we turn around there is another mess to clean up or meal to make, more toenails to trim and homework to help with and more neighbor gifts and service to give. When our hearts want to “be there” with those children, with that husband, with that neighbor who needs extra love, but our body can hardly muster up the energy.
I am convinced that that joy we seek, that we want to fill up our souls and bring the divine and holy into Christmas, is to be found not only in grand vistas of glory that are easily recognizable, but in the small moments. Moments that come amidst the swirl of activity where everything stops short and our hearts fill up.
I had one of those “moments” on Sunday night at Dave’s parent’s house.
It was the annual Christmas talent show/white-elephant gift exchange. There was the usual scramble to figure out the right gifts, talk Lucy into brushing her hair, finish up the dinner mess before heading out the door…all mixed in with the excitement of getting to be with cousins.
The talent show began.
It was a funny one this year. There were a few family acts alongside the regular piano numbers and poem recitations (love those!), some of them in depth enough they required hiding the set-up prep:
We had dancing chipmunks singing Christmas carols:
Some seriously awesome lip-syncing to the classic Drifters “White Christmas:”
A pretty wonderfully choreographed (and funny) dance number:
…just to name a few.
About mid-way through the “show” I had to run out to the car to grab my extra camera battery.
As I walked down the front pathway I started getting nostalgic about Dave’s parent’s house. About all the things that have happened there, from raising nine children to hosting this specific party each year and everything in between. This wave of gratitude started to wash over me.
But the “moment” came when I was walking back up to the house, windows glowing, glimpses of laughing and talent-organizing going on inside.
As I looked in those windows I stopped short in my tracks. “I am part of that,” I thought to myself, and my heart was about to burst.
I was so filled with love for this family I get to be a part of. For the things I have learned from them through the years. For the son they raised so perfectly to be mine. For the sacrifices they have made and the joy each of those people in that window bring to me and to each other.
I just stood there for a minute and let the gratitude wash over me as my eyes welled up just a bit.
Then it was on to the white-elephant exchange:
First the little kids…
…always with the express number-one-rule: “no crying.”
They did the “big-kids” this year too:
Max had just arrived home the day before and we were all loving him up.
He and Dave were having shenanigans trying to touch the lower-hanging light in the entryway…
(Dave was convinced he could touch it with his head (not quite) and Max walked up and touched his chin to it easy-peasy.)
There was sneaky football-watching multi tasking with the talent-listening:
And people putting up with me taking group shots.
I couldn’t help it, my heart was so full of love for these people I needed to capture them right there, right then.
So grateful for these grandparents who adore their grandchildren as well as their God.
Who are responsible for this gaggle of people and so many more who we wish lived closer and could join us.
…and who’s actions show that they not only love us all, but even more that they love that tiny baby who’s birth we celebrate this season.
May we all strive to be still enough to recognize the “moments” this Christmas.
I know that as we seek and listen for those velvety moments amidst the hustle and bustle, and let Christ fill up all the nooks and crannies amidst the busy-ness, that joy we are seeking will fill us up like never before. And the chaos will wash away.
At least for a moment. But the moment will be enough to feel that love. The kind of love that comes from up above.
And that, my friends, is of course the reason for all this hoopla we run around frantically for.
Christ’s love for us. And us for Him, that tiny baby born in a lowly stable under that bright star so long ago.
I adore this video that helps me remember what’s most important this season.
I I cannot watch without crying.