I will let you be the judge on this one.
First, the holidays for me went into an upheaval when one of the adult children got sick. It meant that I left home four days before Christmas to help out in whatever way I could. That also meant that I left my house with a bedroom full of unwrapped gifts and several errands and chores that needed to be done. Of course, this is because I REFUSE to shop for Christmas gifts until after Thanksgiving and wait until a few days before Christmas to wrap things and put them under the tree. All in all, it is pretty trusting of me to believe that no one rummages through the bags looking for their gifts. It also means that the bags are fair game to the mail dogs in our house who feel they have the right to "lay claim to them." Anyway, as I was hurriedly packing to leave, I was going through bags and the Ninja was marking them and was to take charge of having them wrapped with the assistance of anyone left behind. Please do not think that I am complaining. . . there was a lot of work to do. But. . . of course once I got home on the 23rd, I went through packages organizing them under the tree and realized that several were missing. Not to worry! After endless hours of searching and occasionally by accident, everything was located. I don't know why, but someone gave Pook the pen to mark the gift tags. If you know him then you know that he deliberately turned that into a joke and labeled a significant number of gifts to other people from him. This totally messed with my head as gifts were distributed Christmas morning because the adult children do a gift exchange and I assumed that these were from his portion of the exchange and did not distribute them.
Late Christmas day, after we have spent the entire day in pajamas after Church, we had to decide how dinner would proceed. Eat in the dining room or not??? I like to have everyone sit at the same table, but how do you fit 26 people at one table? Simple. You eat in the living room at three banquet tables laid end to end! The problem was locating enough chairs. But we managed.
Of course their was the usual squabbling about who helped more than anyone else. Someone wasn't going to help with dishes because someone else didn't help cook or set tables or whatever. Of course their was the group working on a complicated jigsaw puzzle in the kitchen, who only worked on the jigsaw puzzle because they were possessed!
The real issues started after Christmas. More running to doctor's appointments which was actually the most relaxing thing to do. I was out of the chaos that was our home. "Mommy's" birthday was coming up and we were expecting almost the whole group to return for dinner with her which meant getting organized for another massive guest barrage. No... wait.... a reprieve or further punishment! More than half of the family came down with a stomach virus that put them to bed when they weren't in the bathroom. Of course, anyone with small children knows that they very often don't make it safely to the bathroom. God blessed me with health and I, at least so far have not been stricken. That also means that I have washed no less than 15 loads of laundry. Some blankets and bedding got washed, put back into use and put back into the laundry within hours. Toys were scrubbed, and sheets were bleached. As of last night, another wave had started with the few victims remaining. I am praying to not be included in those numbers as we are trying today to celebrate that birthday!!!
So today, I got on my knees and thanked God for the opportunity to serve my family. Sounds odd, doesn't it. I couldn't get upset over it all. I just smiled and knew that God had us all in his hands trying to comfort us and I was his tool. May you enjoy the remainder of the this holiday season. I hope your Christmas was merry and that you have a Blessed and Happy New Year!!!
Is anyone else exhausted from preparing for the holidays? It can't just be me, right? I know a lot of people have taken to shopping online to avoid the hassle of going out among other shoppers and traffic and for convenience. This is the time of the year when we need to be reminded of how important people, and not things are to us. I love going to the stores and talking to the clerks. I think I drove "Mommy" crazy a few weeks ago because every store I went into, I came out knowing about the person who helped me. Christmas should remind us that Christ came to save us. People. Not computers, not clothing, not jewelry . . . but us.
I know what it is like to pack up the family and go off to visit. To cook and on rare occasions actually bake. (Truly, I do not have a clue where my girls got their love for baking! It is proof though that some things are not genetic). I know what it is like to wrap presents for a family of seven children, then their spouses, and their children and of course special people in your life. I know the love that goes into every activity and action. It is love for those people.
I know what it is like to not have your child home for Christmas. I don't care how many people fill your house, there is still an empty place in your heart. So, I LOVE hearing from my family that they will be home for Christmas! It doesn't matter that the chores increase exponentially with the announcement. The joy that comes with the anticipation lifts you to an unearthly level and that joy and love gets you through it all. My gang will all be home for Christmas. My heart can barely take it! Some will be here to celebrate "Mommy's" birthday right after Christmas too.
Please, don't ever forget to put love into all you do. Some day, your children will understand what you have accomplished. It may take a while, and they may not know until they have the blessing of doing it too one day. When they realize what it takes to be a mom at Christmas, you will just know. It will show in what they do, in how they treat you and the love they share. Then you will know, that all of the love and hard work that you put in has come back to you much greater. You will watch them shop and talk to strangers and laugh as they select gifts and know that you have passed this on to them too.
May you all have a blessed and love filled Christmas. Focus on people and what is really important. Forget about trying to make things perfect. God already did that, so make sure you enjoy the gift of his birth and the gifts he has blessed you with! Merry Christmas! Christ is Born !
We are always looking for the perfect moment. All you have to do to believe this is look at the lines at the all where Santa Claus is. During the holiday season, hundreds of parents drag their children to the mall to see Santa and capture that perfect idyllic moment where there child is sitting on Santa's lap, telling him all of their Christmas dreams. You can just picture the snowflakes falling, the rosy cheeks, the perfectly coifed hair and Christmas outfit. Be honest parents, we have all tried.
I actually got my gang to go on their own for pictures at Christmas time. Imagine, seven adults and teenagers gathered around Santa for a group photo!!! Some of my favorites.
Oh sure, there are those rare families like Mommy's and Superson's. Their lovely little darlings are perfectly dressed. They are loving Santa and have big smiles on their faces. The look at the camera at the perfect moment and are captured forever in print. There mom's and dad's are so proud and smiling also.
And then . . . You have the rest of the world.
God bless her, Mini-Me's children fall into that category. They are threatened and cajoled into getting into lovely outfits and combing their hair. On the way to the mall, they are given instructions on how to behave and asked what they will tell Santa. After all, we don't want any surprises, like maybe Stitch telling Santa he fahrted. And you stand in line waiting your turn while wrestling the children who are no longer perfectly dressed. You watch all the other children take their turns and say "See, how they are doing it. That's all there is to it." And then it is finally your turn. One of them is anxious to sit on Santa's lap and starts talking and won't stop. But she is smiling! The baby has a totally confused look on his face, and Max does all the talking for him. And finally, Stitch is dragged into the picture, shoved into place and held there by his mother's outstretched arm (to keep her out of the picture). It is difficult to keep him in place. He is leaning away from the rest of the family and Santa. Finally, his grandmother steps in and threatens him with his life. He is placed on a box, a full foot away from Santa and his siblings and is photographed with a scowl on his face while Max also tells Santa everything that he wants.
Truly, Christmas isn't about the perfect moments. It is just about the moments as a family celebrating the birth of Christ. The extra stuff, like Santa Claus and gifts just adds to the special time we are all sharing. May God bless you with moments, no matter what they are like, whether idyllic or crazy. Make sure you spread joy and love to all, even the Stitches of the world and have a blessed holiday week!
I had no idea that I had not visited all of you in one month! My apologies! Those of you who know me, know how much I love the holidays, especially Thanksgiving and mostly Christmas! Our gang, well actually I decided that this year our family would celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday. It is very difficult for a group our size to navigate all of the "In Law" dinner times. So, the kids did Thanksgiving on Thursday with in-laws and Friday with us. It was a blessing and maybe a little curse (but not really!) For the first time, we had very few left overs because everyone actually ate our food instead of already being too full from other meals. It was successful with respect to our turnout also. We seated 21 people at the dinner table! We were only short two family members who had to work. Plenty of mouths to fill, plenty of help and a few spats among those we love. The perfect holiday!
I start decorating for Christmas the weekend of Thanksgiving and not a day before! It is a two week process at a minimum. I do a lot of it myself, which is okay. I don't argue with myself about where to put things or what to clean before I decorate. I don't argue that it is ridiculous to clean. I don't argue about whether or not I really need to put everything out. I just do it slowly and quietly, watching Christmas movies or listening to Christmas music. My own little world.
I also do not shop before Thanksgiving and definitely not on Black Friday. I tend to avoid the stores that choose to open on Thanksgiving. I really believe that we need that day with family and people should not have to work in a retail store for the greed of the businesses. So, the second weekend in December I travel to "Mommy's" house for a weekend of shopping, visiting with her family and attending a performance of the Nutcracker. The perfect holiday weekend! I used to spend a lot of time panicking over what to get everyone for Christmas. Ever since I started my trip to Mommy's a lot of my stress has been alleviated. She is my organized and in charge child. She keeps me on task and calms me down when I start to panic.
Every year before the Nutcracker, we drive around some of the neighborhoods by her to enjoy the lights. Last year one home connected their lights to a local radio station so that the lights blink and flash in time to Christmas Music. They did it again this year, but when we went past, it was not Christmas music. It was a yard party. So, sadly we watched lights blink to Uptown Funk. :(
The ultimate drive by never disappoints me though. She as one "neighbor" who lives in a duplex. On the left side of the duplex are a few tasteful decorations intermingled with some patriotism. Then . . . as your eyes move to the right, your brain immediately imagines an electric meter spinning out of control. And then you realize that Christmas has thrown up in the yard on the right side of the duplex. There is not one square foot of empty space. There are lights and decorations everywhere with no rhyme or reason to them! There is no theme. Santa is mixed in multiple times with candy canes, snowmen, stockings, lights and more lights! I am positive everyone on the block suffers brown outs at Christmas and has had to buy shades or special drapes to sleep at night! And this is not just in the front yard. The flow of activity wraps itself around the side of the house and into the back yard too. There is no escaping it!!!
I do enjoy Christmas and I get a kick out of those who are overly exuberant. With 13 days to go until Christmas Eve, I have a lot of wrapping to do! there are 23 people that are involved in Christmas at our house and that is just family! WE ARE TRULY BLESSED and today I am taking a minute to give thanks for those blessings. I hope you have a festive week. God Bless.
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!