I talk on the phone to my parents and Mom laments. After the initial holiday enthusiasm wanes, after her annual Christmas craft faire is done, after her festive packages are mailed, there is the let down. The perfect Christmas seems to elude. Quiet waiting is all that is left.
Then it’s my turn …..there are no kids or grandkids dropping by. Because we moved away. We. Moved. Away.
There are no recitals to attend, no noisy gathering around the table, no messy baking in the kitchen.
“Will it get better” ….
“Yes”, she offers, “but different – – it will always be different”…
As a long-time great-grandmother she knows all that I am learning.
I think if we could have one more Christmas together, I could make up for missteps of the past…. the impossible standards I held myself to…. never enough money to buy that perfect gift… stressing over table settings instead of savoring the moment … all the things I thought were important but really weren’t.
Paulette was Andrew’s and Daniel’s Sunday School teacher in Alaska. She was the kind of mom I dreamt of being, especially at Christmas time. Her home was beautiful and spotless, her pot luck dishes were gourmet, her gingerbread cookies were mini works of art. And her two well-behaved little boys were dressed appropriately every Sunday morning – complete with neck ties. And in spite of this little rant – she was the sweetest person I think I’ve ever met.
On the other hand, I typically dashed from school to laundromat, back to school, to emergency room, home to thaw the drain pipe so the toilet would flush, to hockey practice. Night brought us home to a place which was (to be generous) rustic and homespun. My gingerbread men never came perfectly out of the cutter and were devoured long before decorated. At one infamous potluck my ravioli dish landed upside down on the newly carpeted sanctuary floor. And our Sunday best – flannel shirts, jeans, boots and parkas – me included. I figured the main thing was to get there without frostbite. With four boys I didn’t have time for “fancy”. It felt like I constantly ran but never got anywhere.
I berated my lack of perfect, the “less than” home we lived in, the misshapen gingerbread men.
And now I’d give anything to have it back….. the messy baking, the creative gift making, the ice skating. Was that perfection?
This past weekend the grown up versions of Andrew and Daniel came along to give their Dad an assist – – out with old windows and in with new. They and their older brother Ian have given countless hours and lots of muscle power during our move.
And just like the windows they replaced, their holidays change.
They live east and north – with families, careers and their own memories to make. And the thing is… I’m really very happy about that.
Truth is, I think Christmas perfection only happened once….. the day hope and promise was born into the world… in Bethlehem… in a barn……
…….all quite rustic and homespun………