Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat.
I remember driving to Grandma and Grandpa's for Christmas and singing the round with my sisters. We especially liked the "doodle oodle oo, boom boom boom" part, back in the day. I guess most of you have no idea what I am talking about...
Singing in the car whilst driving somewhere for holidays is a part of my childhood experience. I thought about that while the kids and I drove to the big city for a last minute holiday extravaganza this week. I hurried to finish up deliveries of bread on Tuesday afternoon so we could drive up to Odessa to meet our friend. We went to the mall. We ate at restaurants. We ice-skated. We slept, all piled in, at a hotel.
Sounds like fun, right?
Well, the honest to goodness truth is, that occasionally we had moments of brilliance. Kids laughing. Songs being sung. Oohs and aahs over pretty Christmas light displays. And interspersed through it all were moments of pain, tears, fussiness and complaining.
After a not too brilliant moment of me trying to remember how to ice skate, I felt pain wash over me and couldn't stop crying. I retreated to a corner, as merry christmas music washed over the place, tucked up my ice skates, and tried to discreetly weep.
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to weep discreetly?
For a moment I tried to get my bearings, wondering why the wave of pain. We were celebrating Patrick's 16th birthday and the luxury of a day in the big city with my dear friend. Why the tears?
All of a sudden I remembered that on that day I would have been celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary if Philip hadn't died.
And all of a sudden, the insecure feeling I had on the ice, wobbling around, trying to find my balance, while ankles quaked and body tensed, seemed way too much like the way I feel in real life.
I cried a few tears, felt embarrassed, and my dear one gave me a hug and understanding. The kids gentled themselves toward me and interestingly enough, a brief moment of vulnerability on my part opened them up to compassion. We got through the moment, and managed to get through the day, and even though we were all severely over-stimulated by the mall and noise and lights and horrible exhibits of consumerism, at some point, I think when we were eating supper together at Rosa's, and Patrick was playing with the little robot creature the other kids gave him for his birthday, I had the feeling that everything was going to be okay, no matter what.
Holidays are a bit rough for those of us who have been dealt loss at some point of life or another.
Is there anyone out there who hasn't experienced some loss or another at some point in life?
So we muddle through.
This morning I didn't really want to get up and work, but thanks be to God, had enough something in me to get up, make coffee and grind the wheat and spelt. It helped to have some orders waiting. Different people dropped in to pick up bread and I was glad to have a purpose. I told Rachel on the phone that I felt worn out, discombobulated, and in pain. I don't know what to do with myself, now that Philip is gone, friends are in Virginia and New Jersey and we are too far away.
Wonder of wonder, another anniversary passed, some bread got baked and the children survived. I remembered that two years ago we were in Texas, in Big Bend National Park, camping out on Patrick's 14th birthday. Philip was in Va, in a blizzard. We didn't know we had so little time left, but a dream told me to be aware.
There is an Andrew Peterson song i like that says something about falling down isn't graceful, but it is full of grace.
I believe that grace filled up my day today, as i hurt, but endeavored to fill up bread orders anyway.
We are definitely finding our way, on this path laid out before us. We didn't exactly choose this path, but here we are, anyway. And in the middle, God is good. I missed my friends so badly today and felt quite alone. Taking a risk, I asked a new gal friend if she would like to hang out with us tonight after work. Her daughter is friends with one of my dear ones. Kids played and ran around and made homemade pizzas and hot chocolate. New friend and I ate dinner the two of us and shared stories. We all sang "Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel" around the advent candles and believe it or not, in the middle of the pain I felt the presence of God.
Life is a mixed up bag. I want to be grateful for the beautiful moments that are given me in the middle of it all. Kids telling me thank you. Nora and Rose looking up recipes. Seeing Maggie and Rose gracefully glide across ice. Nora, conspiring, visions of sugar plums dancing in her head. Big boys helping me carry. Tender hearts planted in their wonderful masculine chests. A dear one, great big hands tenderly telling me that I am loved, even when tearful and fearful.
Christmas is a wonderful time for me. Even since it became painful. The meaning of Emmanuel, God is with us, means more to me than ever before. Oh how grateful I don't have to get it all right, all perfect, all finished before I can enjoy and appreciate Emmanuel.
Well, better get to bed. Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man's hat. If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do. If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you!