Christmas morning. With older teenagers, we no longer have the urgency to start early in the morning. The first person up turned on the Christmas lights. I put on a Christmas worship CD, but it was soon drowned out by the noise of family life. The showers are busy, the coffeepot is started. My second son decides it is time to wrap his gifts. The kids give the dog their gift of dog biscuits which causes him to suspect that all of the packages under the tree might contain treats.
Relaxing over coffee, my thoughts are filled with memories of all of our Christmases with children. The pictures flash by like a movie on fast forward. The early Christmases, when they were toddlers, and we taught them to sit and wait for us to give them a gift and to take turns, interrupted sometimes by a tantrum or meltdown. A few years later, our floundering attempts to teach them the Christmas story while their imaginations were more focused on the presents stacked under the tree. The elementary age children sneaking down Christmas morning to discover that the number of gifts had miraculously multiplied while they slept. Then the joy of watching them learn to give gifts to others, small surprises thoughtfully considered for each other and for us. So many Christmases that went by so quickly.
Today I will savor our time together. Friends have tried to warn me that things will change, but I am not yet ready to hear their warnings. For now, I am happy to cover my ears to the rumblings of my children’s subversive plans to grow up and leave. I know that eventually I will have to gracefully release them, but for today, I will indulge my need to clutch their childhood with greedy hands, not yet willing to let go.
Rather than attempting to create a special experience, I find myself simply sitting back and treasuring the amazingly special ordinariness of being “us” together. In the setting of a holiday meal and the space of a day with no other obligations, we enjoy moments of togetherness that are all too rare in the hustle bustle of our everyday lives.
There is laughter and teasing amidst an excessive amount of popcorn tins, peanut M&M’s, and new DVD’s – Ratatouille, Evan Almighty, and Live Free, Die Hard – to name a few. I remind everyone to pace themselves with the candy and to not spoil their dinner, knowing no one is really listening, but I still have to say it. My husband is busy finding ways to pester everyone with his telescopic squeegee, one of his favorite gifts. My daughters each knit me a scarf, my favorite gifts.
After dinner we will play games together. My oldest votes for anything but Pictionary. My cold and calculating second son would like to play Risk. My husband refuses to play Monopoly with me. Although with a little Christmas wine, I might mellow out and let someone else win. Once we figure out what to play, I’m sure we will have a good time.
This coming weekend we will be traveling to spend time with our parents. We will cherish our time with them also. My mother survived stomach cancer this year. My father-in-law is recovering from a heart attack that he had a week ago. My husband’s sister is faltering in her long battle with a rare type of lung cancer. Time together, precious and much too short.
When we were younger, time together looked like it stretched out in front of us generously, year after year. But all too quickly, the years become scarce. We suddenly find ourselves looking back at the last time we spent together with someone we love, unable to turn back time. Not all of the changes are losses. Some of them are simply changes in the seasons of life. This year, I am surrounded by the people that I love. I can not take for granted that I will have these special moments every year with my parents, my sisters, or my children. And so for today, I will treasure the moments and the memories.
Merry Christmas to my friends and readers here at the blog. May you experience the treasure of amazingly ordinary moments with the people you love.