The December issue of La Cucina Italiana lies on the floor, completely unread. My kitchen is a barely bearable mess. I just hung up roughly 25 articles of clothing, and there are three more loads of laundry at various stages of the washing/drying/folding/hanging process. My Christmas tree probably needs water, there is a random folding chair in my living room from, I think, a week ago that is driving me bonkers to look at, every floor in this entire house needs to be cleaned, and I can’t find my favorite grey wool trousers.
And this…is our life.
Tonight was date night for me and the Livster. I picked her up from school, and we hit up Target. A little Christmas shopping, a little restocking our home. Then we headed back towards the house. I was just about exhausted, and I really just wanted to get in the house and get comfy. But I had already told her that we would go out to dinner. Now, I know that she’s only 2, but this kid remembers things. So I decided to test it out. I drove past our favorite little hole-in-the-wall down the street from our house, and sure enough, from the backseat I hear: “Eat!” So we went in and had dinner. A — thankfully — relatively uneventful dinner (except for some spilled milk and one minor cry-fit) and we were ready to get to the house.
We came in and opened a Christmas box (her name for our Advent calendar), she watched some Dr. Seuss, colored on books that she probably shouldn’t have colored on, tried to get me to play ring-around-the-rosies (Mommy gets dizzy, y’all), washed her hands, brushed her teeth, laughed, climbed, ran, made mischief, and just generally reminded me of the fact that nights like this ought to not be the exception rather than the rule.
I’m looking forward to a slower pace after this weekend.
I have really struggled to reframe Christmas this year – to eek some joy out of it, get into the spirit, feel warm and glowy and benevolent, you know, all that jazz. The last Christmas that I felt this absolutely icky was in 2006. I would find out that I was pregnant three days after Christmas Day. I had gone through a surprisingly painful breakup that October, and I really think it left me a little angry, so naturally all of that pain had to go somewhere (thank you, Martina McBride)…it went into skinny jeans and late nights and Damien Rice and downtown. I really just can’t even talk about how I really and truly felt right then. It is just that private, and so very few people know exactly what was going on during that time. But I ended up pregnant. And the next two Christmases were great. In 2007, Livi had just been born, so I was loving all of the shopping and planning and scheming…for a 3 month-old…that goes along with baby’s first Christmas. Last year, I was dating Bo, and everything seemed so perfect and wonderful, plus we were living in the Cove, and I had just taken the job at AREC, so there was all of that newness and excitement to keep my sleigh in the air. But this year? This year.
This year has kind of sucked.
And I don’t even feel like explaining myself on that one. Just suffice it to say: it’s been a hard one. But then I feel like such a jerk for not being able to say: but grace has prevailed. Even though it has, it’s almost like it’s done so in spite of all of my best efforts. Lately I’m astonished at just how much God takes care of me, despite my own hard-headedness, my questioning, my flightiness, my…buoyancy. Ouch. So I am releasing myself from this burden of guilt for not swinging from the rafters just because that’s what you’re supposed to do this time of year. Am I grateful that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us? You had better stinking believe it. But when you’re identifying more with the sinner and less with the saint, it can be a little difficult to put your hands on just a whole lot of that grateful joy. It’s more of a sober, humble, solemn gratitude and petition for betterness. Like the man in the temple who cried out for God to have mercy on him, a sinner, while the Pharisee beside him was thanking God that he was not like other men. (And God was up there thinking: I wish you were!!)
So that's where I am right this second. And maybe, in a few days, I'll be somewhere else. I've got some thinking to do about Mary. And I have a feeling that's going to swing a door or two wide open.