Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas at the Browns



A Hallmark family we are not. I believe that part of my struggle with the holiday season is that, like many other people, I have unrealistic expectations. Expectations so far from the realm of reality that if they were someone else’s, I would laugh.


Months prior to Christmas – even though history has proved differently time and time again—I anticipate experiencing the calmness and peacefulness that this holiday deserves. A quiet celebration of the birth of Christ, respectful and traditional ushering out the short, dark nights, the burning of candles and so many other things. In the heat of summer, I dream about wintery evenings spent in front of the woodstove, reading or working on a quilt by the light of the Christmas tree. Of the children quietly playing a board game or working on a project or something. My fantasy includes my dogs—all 5 of them—languishing under the coffee table, lying on my feet keeping them warm, cuddled up on my lap. I can actually feel the warmth of a mug of peppermint or chamomile tea in my hand, enjoyed with homemade shortbread cookies.

That is so not what is happening.

For instance, I have two nights left to finish quilts and 2 pillows—quilted by hand, no less (part of the sitting by the woodstove fantasy). My family has literally eaten ALL of the cookies as soon as they were baked. Not kidding about this. All I have left in the freezer are these rotten pumpkin cookies that even the dogs won’t touch. Last night I fought with my 13 year old daughter about whether or not the eggs that were collected from the chickens were still good (they were). From that, the fight progressed to the point where I remember this morning that we aren’t speaking although I can’t remember why. And my sweet 13 year old daughter told me to ‘chill’. I thank God everyday that my parents allowed me to live through my teenage years.

I did however, sit in front of the woodstove – after I woke up at 2:30 a.m. in the bitter cold—realizing that the fire had gone out. I sat in front of the woodstove blowing on the embers to get the logs to light. Not quite what I had imagined—all the while, the dogs were jockeying around trying to steal the ‘warm spot’ under the blankets that I had left. Man’s best friend?? I think not. The Christmas tree did look beautiful and its sparkling lights shone merrily upon the bits of aluminum foil that one of the dogs had ripped apart and strewn across the living room.

At this point, Christmas seems like more of an endurance race than a celebration, which is a shame. I do know (again, based on experience) that in some crazy way, everything will come together and we will have a wonderful time with plenty of laughs, a few tears remembering those family members who are spending the holiday with Jesus, and more than enough food. We will remember to be thankful for everything that we have and on Christmas evening, I will be reflecting on a day well spent with family and friends in celebration of the birth of our King.