Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Bright and Precious

"All the bright, precious things fade so fast... and they don't come back." ~ Daisy Buchanan, "The Great Gatsby"

It's my spot.

On the couch, right in the middle.  I can see the tree, the multicolored felt "Merry Christmas", and the lights I always wanted lining the roof just out the window.  We're all still in our warmest pajamas, still wishing and hoping for snow.

I always wanted this.  Two boys and a girl, this husband, this house, this dog.  This mom.  Always.  This is what I wanted as a young girl in the backseat fighting tears as we rode back to Kansas, with Mother, Nanny, and all my other comforts in the rearview mirror.

Home.  Just home.  Warm and together.  No looming threat of separation.  No real drama, other than the usual occasional sibling spat and the minor marital snit.  It happens to all of us.  But the big thing... there's no remembering not to talk about the people dearest to me to avoid those flashing blue-green angry eyes and the storm that followed if I dared admit I missed them.  No pretending to be happy to be there.  No trying to forget that my comfort zone is six hours away.

It's all right here.  Eric is in the floor with Maelynn, Ryan's head is on my lap, Richie is snuggled on the other end of the couch.  I'm in my spot while we watch more stories of the little blue train.  Also what I always wanted... boys who love trains.  We will travel a bit, but together.  As a family.  My kids won't be pulled away from me or their father for more than a day's work.

They know nothing of that life.

They know nothing of leaving their daily life, people included, and going alone to very unfamiliar territory to live as a guest on the couch.

They know nothing of having to pretend.  And fear?  They have fears... but thank the Lord their father isn't one of them.

Their father is warm, caring, loving, and not the least bit unstable.  And Lord willing, they will wake up right here Christmas morning.  Their stockings will be right here, their presents, their clothes, their toys, their everything... right here.

It's nothing short of amazing.

It's all I ever wanted, right here.  Yes, there are flaws.  There always will be.  But it's still wonder-inducing that I have all this.  In all that wonder, there's this desire to drink it in.  Hold on as much as possible.  Carve the memories into our minds and onto our hearts.  DO IT ALL.

Add that to Pinterest and I always feel like the time is slipping through my fingers without even close to enough care and effort to make those memories.  Make these days count.  Help them know how great this is, make sure we've made every effort to show them the amazingness of Christ's coming and indulge their childhood wonder at the other things, like the lights and the reindeer and the pictures of the guy in the red suit.

Of all the things I know in my head I want them to understand, I'm stuck in the frame of mind of a kid who always wanted all this.  And the achievement addict in me wants it planned to a T.

There's just so much of it that I can't plan.  And there's so much of the things I can plan that, if I hang on too tight... the making of the memories becomes the crushing of the wonder.

Time is a funny thing.  The tighter you hold it, the more you panic about it running away, the faster it runs.  And the more you let go, look around, and laugh at the funny things, let the tears flow when they want, do the fun things when they'll be fun, and not feel guilty about doing the things that have to be done, the more it offers to stick around in your mind.

Balance.  There are things that must be done.  The mundane... the vacuuming, the dishes, the laundry... all have to be done.  They need keeping-up.  But so do the things that are fun and special.  It all needs time, and it all must have what it needs.

It's when one or the other takes over that the time begins to be our enemy.

The clock's tick, the flipping of the calendar are gifts.  Each changing number is a reminder that it won't stay this way.

When I was a kid, it was a reminder that I'd be home again.  That someday I'd be able to choose where I spent my time.

As an adult, it's a reminder to grab the camera.  Put the dishrag down and watch her dance.  Plug in the vacuum because they'll be here soon.

It's a promise that where we are is not where we will always be.

January will come.  The 25th will be here and leave in a breath.  Each day is a little Christmas.  Every cookie we bake and present we wrap, every time we listen to the Chipmunks sing "Jingle Bells", every time we turn on the tree and the lights outside is a lump in my throat.  It's just so wonderful.  Too wonderful for one day.

But why?  We don't have the best lights on the block, the biggest tree, and my degree in music tells me the Chipmunks aren't the tippy-top of the music world.

Because our Father, who art in heaven, gifted us with it all.  He gave his son, his precious companion, so that I could not only have it, but so that I can see it all for what it is.  So that I could have a grateful heart.  So that I could see the importance of the manger, and all the beauty that it inspired.

Thanks be to God for the right now, and for the then that gives the gratitude.

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