Sunday, November 25, 2012

My kids remind me to choose joy.

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Yea, I hit the jackpot. Okay, to be fair in the comments I disclosed the ulterior motive. On Tuesday, I explained to the kids the plan for the next few days as my kids really like to know the plan. We’d have a sleepover at Aunt Emily’s, they’d watch the Macy’s parade and look for mommy and daddy with their balloon, and we’d have dinner. We’d head home, and the weekend would be filled with cleaning the house so we could get all the Christmas decorations out!

Wednesday at 6:45am after they showed me a clean playroom and living room (which was pretty impressive), the shrieks began begging for Christmas decorations. Kids, this was not the plan. I did manage to get them off to school and then head to my sister-in-law’s, but it was not an easy task.

Thursday night, we drove 2 hours home arriving with two sleeping kiddos. As we attempted to transfer them to their beds, we were met with yawn-filled but somehow still urgent, “can we get the Christmas decorations out now???” Sigh. No. Go to sleep.

Finally, it was Friday morning. I have done no shopping or list making. My inbox is taunting with me sales of every kind. The to-do list grows by the minute. And the house is a disaster. Everything needs a good deep clean and de-cluttering to make room for Christmas. But, you can imagine what the kids did when they awoke.

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Holy moly, 51 likes? See, ya’all get it. It was good to know I was not alone. After one measly cup of coffee, I relented. The kids had already ran around getting every fall decoration down to pack away and were practically vibrating by the basement door waiting for someone to accompany them for boxes.

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From Fall to Christmas….

And then something happened.

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They stared into each bin with such wonder and amazement. With every item we unwrapped, the squeals, the oohs and the aahs, just got louder. It was like Christmas morning! The joy and excitement filled the air. You couldn’t help but breathe it in! With just a few bins worth of stuff unpacked onto the kitchen table, they ran off to put on a Christmas play with the Christmas stuffed animals.

And there I stood. Christmas had vomited all over my kitchen. The rest of the house was still a mess with nowhere to put up any of the decorations. Our power outage survival center still took over my dining room with water jugs, flashlights, and candles spread all over. The kitchen was littered with bags yet to be unpacked from the last few weeks of travel along with scraps of to-do lists I kept trying to make but somehow couldn’t even finish making the list, let alone accomplish the items on it.

That morning, I was overwhelmed. I was feeling the weight of the season on my chest. Stress and anxiety growing. So much to do. If I wanted the season to go well, it all needed to get done right now. This weekend. Get it all done before Advent starts so we don’t miss out. I was tired of being *that* mom, the one scrambling to come up with Advent calendar activities each morning, the one who arrived at Christmas Eve realizing all the things we’d forgotten to do. I didn’t want to go through another holiday season spending my days trying to get it all done, all the while missing it all.

After we got out those bins, after my little tornados tore through with their bouncing and squealing, I was still overwhelmed. But now, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.  I was overwhelmed by gratitude for the opportunity to see Christmas every year through their eyes. I was overwhelmed by their joy over a simple box of decorations we get out every. single. year. They didn’t care if the house was a mess or if they had the perfect place for the decorations to go. They felt Christmas coming, bubbling up inside of them. The joy, the wonder, the excitement, the anticipation. And they couldn’t wait to share it! They put on one heck of a Christmas play with all those Christmas stuffed animals.

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It was with that in mind that I accepted a last minute invite to go see a local tree lighting. I left physical therapy exhausted both from my workout and from the last few days of holiday fun. I checked my phone and found a text. The tree lighting stated in just 45 minutes. It would take me 25 minutes to get home and 25 minutes to get there. I was sweaty and gross. I called the husband who sounded exhausted and reluctantly said he’d go if I really wanted. Nah, I got this. Get those kids dressed, fed, and in the car and I’ll be home in 20!

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We rushed. We got there. We forgot coats. We stood in crazy lines with wiggly kids. We saw Santa. We took pictures. We waited in the rain with tired kids to ride a horse-drawn carriage whose battery-powered Christmas lights died shortly before it was our turn. And it was wonderful. 

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I could have chosen my to-do lists, fatigue, and stress instead. There was plenty of reasons for me to decline the invite and head home for an early bedtime. But I’m so glad I chose the childlike joy of Christmas instead.

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And so were they. Those joy-filled tired little boys both slept the whole night through. That was the first time they have ever done that.

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