Friday, December 25, 2015

Because of Him

As I reflect on the wonder and awe that Christmas can bring, my heart is heavy as I think of those close to me who have recently lost someone dear to them. Those I love who are spending this special day, of all days, without someone they love. Perhaps for the first time.

Husband. Father. Mother. Son. Sister. Brother. Daughter. Grandparent.

I ache as I imagine how difficult it must be to face this day with that deep and abiding loss. I search for meaning. And for answers: What does it all mean? Why?

It seems so wholly and intrinsically unfair. 

What cheer can Christmas bring to those who are suffering so profoundly? Is it not just another glaring reminder of the one(s) they are without?

I have struggled with feelings of how undeserved and unjust it all is. That this day, of all days, should be faced with such deprivation. 

Is there any cause for happiness and celebration?

Is there any contentment to be found for those who are filled not with delight on Christmas, but with tender sorrow?

It is my prayer and longing that there is. 

That those who have lost someone precious and adored can find joy on this day. 

That the knowledge of the events that transpired thousands of years ago, that we now celebrate, will bring peace to their hearts.

That the uncomplicated essence and meaning of Christmas will bring comfort.

That a quiet benevolence will fill their spirit.

As I think of the babe, laying in the manger, in a cold and squalid stable whose birth we commemorate this day, I think of the hope. Of the unconditional and profound love that this simple birth represents for us all.

Because He came, there is meaning to our mortal existence.

Because He came to earth, we have a perfect example to follow.

Because He came, we know how to reach out to those in trouble or distress, wherever they may be.

Because He came, we gather to worship Him.

Because He came, death has lost its sting, the grave its victory.

We will live again. Because He came.

-Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Blessings

Truth: I feel like a failure. A lot. 
My kids need more time. My husband needs more time. All of them need me to be nicer. My house...oh, my poor filthy house.  It needs love. Some serious love. 

Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace & love & goodwill & all that jazz. For me, Christmas the last couple years has been like a giant magnifying glass for all my failures. A neon billboard screaming: You're the worst!

I have finals at Christmas time. So when I should be making treats and decorating and snuggling with my kids watching Elf and Home Alone, I am studying. And when I am not studying, I am so exhausted that instead of doing all of the things I should be doing I am laying prostrate in bed, useless and depleted, binge-watching The Office. 

Not only do I not have the time or energy that my family needs from me, I can't even make it up to them by spoiling them with gifts. Because I also have no money. Which is no fun the rest of the year. But is even less fun come Christmas time. 

And I know. It's not about money. My kids have everything they need. (Except cell phones, which they're not getting. Even if they are the last kids on earth without them. Which they are totally convinced they are.) But I'm obviously not making them anything. Or spending any time with them. Or taking them anywhere. So it would be nice to be able to buy them something

And we have always loved being able to do Angel Tree gifts. My kids surprise me every year with their thoughtfulness & generosity in choosing gifts for others their age. (Yes, I said surprise. I love them, but they're not always the nicest.) But we just can't do it this year. Which makes me feel sad. And failure-ish.

These were the feelings rolling around in my head this past Sunday afternoon. Like marsh-wallows in my thought chocolate. As neighbor after neighbor delivered kind & thoughtful gifts. Which is one more thing we've had to forgo this year. (Because I still haven't come up with a clever enough rhyme to make packages of ramen a suitable gift. Common? Lawmen? Bombin'??)  

And then at about 10 o'clock at night there was a pounding at the door. Like some seriously scary knocking. I thought for sure it was the police or some crazy serial killer (who murders people but is polite enough to knock first.)
So I made my husband answer it, because if it is a homicidal maniac...well, age before beauty, right? Only it isn't the police. And it isn't a well-mannered home invader. It is bag after box after bag of gifts for my children and food and other household items. 

And I'm not going to lie and say that it is easy to be that family. The one who needs. Because it is not. Holy crap it's hard. Really really hard. And I thought we were doing okay keeping it on the down low. I just kept asking over and over again, Who knows we needed this? Who knew how broke we are? (After which my 5-year old started exclaiming, Who knew we needed a box of oranges??) And my first thought was to be crazy embarassed. And to think of the many people who need it more than we do.
But the looks on my kids faces as they looked through bags for gifts with their names? (Which probably was similar to the look on mine when I saw that case of toilet paper. Case. I wanted to spread it all out and just lay in it.) 
It was priceless. And it was enough to make me swallow my pride and just be super duper grateful. 

Extremely. Magnificently. Grateful. From the bottom of my bursting, happy heart. 

And it has brought a little joy. A little peace. A little hope back into my life this season.

They say that it is better to give than to receive. And that may very well be.

But receiving? It's not easy. But it's pretty freaking awesome, too.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

In Case You Were Wondering: Things I Say to My Children

I promised you a series of blog posts designed to make you feel better about yourself. But like Ed McMahon with my giant Publisher's Clearing House check, I have not yet delivered. 
(Ed McMahon might actually be dead, though. Which gives him, at least, a valid excuse.)

I have been feeling a little down about recent events going on across the world. And when I feel down, I like to publicly shame myself in hopes of making other people laugh. And letting them know that no matter how bad of a parent/partner/person they think they are...I can top them. I'm fairly confident in this assertation.
(Plus I have a ton of studying to do. And I don't want to.)

Sometimes I say things to my children that should not be said out loud. They should probably not even be thought in the first place. But, oh, I think them. And worse than that? Yeah, I actually say them. 
And then I jot them down somewhere for above mentioned purposes. 

On that list:

* I'll give you a dollar if you go away. No? How about 5?

* Mommy DOESN'T like to be TALKED TO AFTER 10:00!!!
 (In this instance it was PM. But I'm not gonna lie and say this doesn't also apply to AM most days.)

* I'll roll your head up in the window if you don't stop singing that song.

* You look like a hobo. I hope you don't think you're going anywhere with me.

* If you pee on my toilet seat one more time, I will chop off the thing with which you pee.

* Did you not brush your hair at all this morning or did you just get attacked  by a flock of mad pigeons on your way home?

* I will buy you anything you want if you don't make me take you to the store with me.

* Oh. You don't like dinner? That's ok. I don't like you.

* You smell a like an entire Olympic wrestling team. From Russia.

 (I know. There is nothing wrong with Russians.They probably smell the same as any other wrestling team. But I grew up during the Cold War, so...)

* I find it hard to believe that something so stupid could come out of the mouth of someone who came out of my body. 

* Do your friends not make fun of you? They probably should.

* If you wipe one more booger on my wall, I will cut off BOTH of your hands. And then keep them. And use them to pick MY nose with.

And that's just a sampling. Yeah. I'm a monster. I know. I also consistently call them names they don't get like Dweebil Zappa and Alexander Dumas (cuz, ya know, Dumas.) In addition to the dork, the shrimp, the loud one, and the annoying one when I can't think of their names fast enough.

They will either grow up to be strong and have a wonderful sense of humor. Or  they will need therapy for the rest of their lives.

Let's just say if one of them becomes famous, there will definitely be a memoir. I doubt it will flatter me.

At least I don't beat them with wire hangers.