Tuesday, December 22

The Christmas Spirit

I'm having a hard time getting into the "Christmas Spirit" this year. The tree went up Thanksgiving weekend, I'm finished buying 80% of the gifts we'll give, we've had hot cocoa, we've looked at lights, we've been singing Christmas songs ad nauseum.
What I'm missing isn't the things we do, but the way we're "supposed" to feel.

Last year's Christmastime was exceptional. It was a bad year. It was bad year that followed a bad year. My dad died in August. While I was on vacation. Then Jeremy's dad died. Three days later. While I was five months pregnant. Then I had a baby six days before Christmas, and was still expected to get out and about and show off my SIX DAY OLD BABY to all the germy-sneezy-coughing-loving family members. All I wanted to do was nurse and sleep. I didn't eat, I didn't shower, I didn't do any worthwhile parenting when I came to my older kids. Last Christmas was rough.

So, I'm at a loss as to why this Christmas is just... not happening for me. I have three beautiful, healthy children. I have a husband who dotes on me and spoils me and is my best friend. I have good friends, and I have a good extended family. (Don't confuse "good" with "not crazy," though. They're crazy. Both sides. All sides.)
I feel like there are things keeping me from diving in whole-heartedly this Christmas. My brother has a child that he has chosen not to know, which means, by extension my mother and I can't know the child. There is a situation within my husband's family that is causing a rift, creating "sides." My mother and step-father are struggling on a one-and-sometimes-one half-income. I have been in a very rare, and usually short, funk for several weeks now.

I'm just not feeling it this year. The only time I feel truly Filled With Joy is when I am at home, surrounded by my babies, sitting by my husband. We play games together, cook meals together, brush teeth together. If this is some sort of (temporary!) attachment  phase, if I'm being co-dependent on my husband and children for happiness..... what better high is there? (And really, oh really, that's another blog post altogether!)

But then, I remember the whole "true meaning of Christmas" bit. It's about Jesus. It's about the Word made flesh. It's about the Most High choosing to become the most lowly. It's about the Christchild's birth... but His birth and life was only meant to facilitate His death. So that we might live. The celebration of Christmas --the birth of the Savior-- is really only an introduction of, and a prelude to, Easter --the resurrection of the Savior.

We are deep into the Advent season, a time to prepare for the coming King, and I haven't prepared a thing. I haven't opened my heart and cleared out past hurt and anger to prepare myself for truly forgiving my father- someone who never asked for forgiveness. I haven't prepared myself for what possible changes are in store within my extended family. I haven't even prepared a single sugar cookie.

I want to reevaluate myself this Christmas. I want to experience the joy, the "thrill of hope." I don't want to sit passively, angrily, lazily, stubbornly aside and let this opportunity for new growth pass me by.

I'm going to make a list, and make sure to check it more than twice, of changes I want to make, tangible and intangible things I want to discard, and positive, joyful additions I want to make in my life.

And... we'll see how it goes.

Monday, December 21

Yes'sir, that's my baby!

My baby is a year old. 366 days now.
I could get all gooey sentimental, and I probably will, but for now I'll just post some pictures of her wonderful birthday party.

Tuesday, December 15

How much death is too much death?

Today, during a rare quiet moment, I found The Girl in her room. She was sitting in the small green rocker that I use to nurse The Baby. She was holding her Tinkerbell and wearing a sad face. I asked her what was up, and she said, "Tinkerbell died, so hers Mommy is sad." Upon further investigation I found out that Tinkerbell had died "from a gun that shotted her". So The Girl, being a good fairy mother, put on her sad face and was holding a vigil for the fallen pixie.
All kids play death, right? Little boys shoot and shank and blow up things. Little girls... well, do little girls play death?

Ordinarily pretend play doesn't bother me. I encourage lots of dress up. We have had makeshift fire stations, business offices, veterinarian clinics, castles, teepees, and enchanted forests rule and ruin our home. Both of my big B's have very vivid, and incredibly detailed imaginations. Which is great. Which I love.

But I've put a restriction on playing dead lately. Why? Why would I hinder any amount of inventive play?

Because we've had 6 dead people in less than 3 years. (None of them, by the way, were "shotted" to death.) My kids have lost 2 great-grandfathers, an aunt, a great-grandmother, and both grandfathers (not to mention 2 beloved dogs).  They were close with all but one of these people who have since gone on. They also know that they have a baby cousin in heaven, and that she went before we had a chance to meet her.

We've had a lot, a LOT, of dead lately. We've had more where/how/why/when/who discussions about heaven than any 5 and 3 year olds should have. The Boy was not even 3 when all the dying began.

Death has been an ongoing conversation in our family, and really, I'm sick of it. So, I'm imposed sanctions on the dead play.

I know, I know, the kids have their own ways of wading through, of processing the heavy load of information. Play is good, play is contemplation, play is expression.

In our house we don't play dead, and we don't kill. They kids, even at their tender ages, already know about the brevity of life and the finality of death.

And I just wonder... am I doing more harm than help? It's not that we've put Death in a jar in the shelf above the refrigerator never to be mentioned again. We talk Death. We've talked Death, well, to death. We just don't play death.