We had a busy month from Thanksgiving to Christmas…comings and goings as everyone else does…and yet most of the back and forth was in my head.
Our Thanksgiving was spent with friends. Asked to bring a vegetable dish (I think I was asked something specific, it’s all such a blur!), I tried something new. My first attempt at summer squash cassarole was successful, if not cold by the time it was put on the buffet, but it heated up well and Ava and I had no problem finishing off the leftovers by the following Thursday. I should just determine my contributions to meals based on what Ava will willingly eat over the next week. Somehow though, pasta salad can’t just be a standby for everything. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s not a great side for turkey.
Blended holidays are tricky. Especially for two people with such dramatic differences in family. For mine (we’ll leave his past alone), even with arguments and tears, there are few scars (a vaguely remembered tree decorated without me whilst I washed dishes), and more traditions and surprises and things to hold onto. I’ve released with the necessitity of climate the need for a fresh tree. Between paying too much for what would soon become kindling and then paying to “recycle” it, we should have just set fire to $70 and been done with it. Last year we bought a pre-lit tree and though I am delighted with having to neither water it, nor pay for it every year…to my dismay, I found myself adding colored lights to our white-light tree. The job I’d always delegated to others has now been delegated to me. This year at least I knew it was coming.
I’m not sure exactly when we put the tree up…I’ve forgotten. It’s been up and lighted prior to December 11th…the day Ava and I left for Florida for a mini-Christmas, mini-visit, mega-surprise with my grandparents. We were not the surprise. My mom had plans to visit her sister (and boyfriend), who is also in Florida and strongly suggested that I hop a flight and come down too, but visit my grandparents without them knowing she was around. It was really hard to be in the same state, probably a half-hour away from her for two days before getting to spend a day and a half with her. It did give my grandparents plenty of time with Ava all to themselves. Pepa became Ava’s new best friend. She spent most of her time playing with him and following him around, looking for him when he wasn’t in the room, trying to find a way through the sliding door while it was closed. Somehow she just couldn’t get her feet through. It was a nice weekend, a short visit, great warm weather and swimming in the pool, especially since we left 10-20 degree weather behind, but we did have to trade it for excessive humidity. Ava’s hair was wet and sweaty the whole time and apparently she has curly hair, but you wouldn’t know it living here.
Christmas was spent here, in our home, just us. Court bought “me” a 42-inch flat screen TV early this month as a Christmas gift. In my mind I would have preferred to get it yesterday instead of a month ago, but there were other factors involved. We had decided to give our old TV, DVD player and entertainment center to one of the interns that Court works with and there was an unspoken timeline. Court’s mom gave us the money she was planning to use to buy gifts for the two of us and we bought a love seat and ottoman and the TV cabinet (with some of the funds being padded by the sale of our old couch). They were delivered two days later and the TV the day after that.
Court got a new laptop for work…the holy grail of laptops for him anyway…and it was delivered (he picked it up from FedEx) on Christmas Eve, there was no better gift for him, unless he wasn’t paying for it. So with the exception of a pair of sunglasses for me (that I LOVE) under the tree, all the gifts under the tree were for Miss Ava, and really it’s as it should be…not that I’m willing to do like that again next year.
I was a little stressed…we didn’t shop for a single thing for Ava until December 23rd, but it only took us 2 hours. Gifts, wrapping, bows, some groceries. It was fine, and for her (from us), around $100. Her favorite toy was a $6 matchbox car. Not an appropriate under 3 toy, I know, but I know the only thing my girl puts in her mouth are those two middle fingers, so I’m not concerned about the wheels being a choking hazard for her. The dog on the other hand…
We spent the day at home, or at least in the neighborhood, had our friends over for Christmas dinner…deep fried turkey (try #3). It’d be nice if the authority that is the internet would get its act together and be consistent. It was delicious though, could have come out 5-8 minutes earlier and thankfully we cooked it 3 minutes less than we’d calculated. It’s especially good now in a baggie in the fridge with a little gravy in their to keep it all moist and delicious. Yummy sides of mashed potatoes and stuffing (Stove Top) and green beans…and holiday jello salad…apple crisp and some chocolate mousse pie from the store, enough leftovers to gorge ourselves on for a few days and fall into a sugar coma in time for New Year’s and all our resolutions to kick in.
In the aftermath, Ava is a study in using things for the wrong purpose…maybe it’s just toddlerhood…I just found her using her new Silly Town as a bench. It does look like quite a comfy seat for those of the mini variety. She’s also tried to put the paci from one baby doll into the other’s mouth, hit the silly town “people” with her new maracas and brushed her hair with the jingle bell stick. Whataryagonnado?
I wasn’t sure when this would turn holy and reflective, but here it is…using something for the wrong purpose… We spend a month…for some many months…and still others the entire year…gearing up for Christmas. Buying the perfect gift, making the perfect cookies, looking perfect..doing the perfect whatever. The perfect Christmas gift has already been given and is so often overlooked. The perfect gift came in the most imperfect setting. I was thinking about Mary the other day, when I was fretting about when we’d finally be able to go shopping for our gifts to Ava. What must she have been thinking as they traveled to Bethlehem for the census? “Oh this man! Why did Joseph not make reservations! Why are we waiting until the last minute? There’s no plan!” I highly doubt that mother Mary was a Type A, control freak, I mean, God’s no fool…and controlling women do not say “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)…Just sayin’ you who are Type A among us know this to be true (I’m more of a Type A- myself…maybe B+).
I think Mary was a roll with the punches kinda gal. Donkey ride to Bethlehem while 9 months pregnant “If you say so”, might have to camp, “alright”…well, how about a barn that smells like donkey and cow poop…”well, if that’s the best we’ve got, at least there’s a roof and a manger for a cradle”
Commercials and morning show segments and Martha Stewart flaunt the possibility of a “perfect” Christmas or excuse me, holiday, “whatever” in our faces and some of us can achieve perfection. Usually it’s another that may find your attempts perfect while all you see is where the hot glue globbed in your centerpiece. I for one, rearrange my tree ornaments daily leading up to Christmas because when the lights are off, I see all the holes….and along my banister, I see the tag sticking out of the lighted pine boughs…and the spot where the holly berries fell out of the wreath on the front door. Who cares? Who’s seeing it besides me anyway? We seem to spend more time on the outside than we do on the inside and that’s the spot where the important someone (Jesus) is looking. The perfect present to mankind is not expecting a perfect present in return, He’s expecting a heart of gratitude. He’s expecting a yearly (and throughout the year) acknowledgement of the gift He became. Instead He’s been passed by, passed over if you will, for the search for the unfullfillable. We watched a lot of Christmas specials this year and there were far too many filled with the worry that “Christmas was ruined” or “Christmas wasn’t coming” and many times, by the way, due to inclement weather. If Christmas can be ruined and it’s the worst thing ever, then your focus is on the wrong thing…and Christmas can never not come. It’s not determined by a Saint and his petting zoo and a sleigh and the predictability of his sweatshop labor. It’s not determined by the economy. It’s not determined by inconvenient pre-Christmas blizzards, enough baking, whether or not there are cookies and pies baked. Christmas happened. The most important baby that was ever conceived was born and we remember the anniversary of that day (regardless of the actual date). History confirms that He lived and died and lives again and still. He is God and He is King. Rejoice…The King has come, God has come near.