Thursday, December 4, 2014
The season crashes into my kitchen like a thunderbolt. I pretend I can’t hear, didn’t notice that giant flash, but then I force a glance at the tattered family calendar on the counter next the granola box, and I see that there are just over two weeks left before winter break is here. THAT must be why I’m seeing so many Facebook posts of cute families toting around tall evergreens. I better get moving! Two weeks to finish draping the garlands, lighting everything alive down the driveway. Two weeks to finish scribbling the list of gift ideas twirling around in my head. Snap cool photos of the kids, make a better card than last year, create address lists and mail cards before Valentines Day. Craft thoughtful handmade gifts, mail cards (didn’t I just say that?) Wrap presents. Or should I let Amazon do it all? Two weeks to demonstrate my gratitude to the One who created me and saved me from my own very frantic self while I hum a jolly tune, bake gingerbread men, mop up spilled egg nog, and prance around looking as good as possible in my newest red or silver sweater and snowflake earrings that I just bought... Wait, where did I put them again? Two weeks (plus the week of Christmas) to lose a few pounds before I’m on the warm sand in Florida, sipping a lemonade in my hot pink bathing suit… Me merry? Crap!
And then down the stairs pops my eight-year-old. “Mom! Guess what? Only two days before we go get our Christmas tree!” I watch him patter down the hallway in his soft cotton socks, brown clumps of hair sticking in all different directions. “Oh YES, I love this thing! Can I hang the next ornament?” he asks as he peeks into the 4thtiny pocket of the advent tree my sister made us a few years ago. His fingers pull out a miniature word ornament pronouncing “Noel.” The three dimensional word is trimmed in gold with a shiny safety pin on the end of a thin shimmery thread. Lost in my chaotic, frantic thoughts, and the smell of burning toast, I would normally miss this little moment all together. But my eight-year-old gently shows me a different world. He carefully rises onto his toes, pinning the word “Noel” to the cloth tree. Even though it is a fairly plain ornament, it shines when I peer at it through his eyes. Gently he steps back and the curve his lips create is like a giant upside down rainbow. He is very, very merry.
As I write this I am learning that there are magical lessons to be learned from our children during the holidays. The word “Noel” is speculated to have been derived from the French word “nouvelles” or the Latin word “natalis” meaning birth. My eight-year-old showed me this morning that the light of birth, newness, youth, magic, unexplainable joy….this light shines in to even the most chaotic, old, distracted minds like my own. If we let it.
This holiday season I pray that we find a way to allow the Noel, like the young mind of a child, to shine its light into the madness of our days. May we stretch our minds to pierce the distracting and disappointing bubbles of busyness we live in, and to embrace, on the other side, a joyful, magical world. May we be merry because of the small stuff.
Listen. If you haven’t already, sit down for a minute like I just did, and take a tally of the magic you have already missed today. Maybe just a word, a smile, a song, a drawing, or a quiet question. And then give thanks.
You will be merry-- I promise!
I'm a writer, artist and mom of three kids all born within three years. I'm working on my first novel while working on essays that have been published in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Mamalode, and soon a piece will run on Brainchild Magazine's blog. My oldest child has special needs. Motherhood (and its complexities) has reshaped my ideas about God, my art, my marriage, my purpose, and especially about those who are marginalized. My passion is in sharing some of the honest pictures of life and the lessons that have come from our family struggles and our triumphs. I'm also influenced by my work with the homeless, my relationship with my father who suffers with Alzheimer's, and some of the other interesting characters I've met along my journey.