Sometimes we need to release our expectations about how things "should" look and gracefully accept how the actually are.
Gwenn came to stay with me after the surgery.She took care of me. Then Melody and the girls came and continued to care for me. When the house was quiet again I started to dive in to projects that have been neglected for years. Thus the start of a "perfect" holiday.Less than a week later Gwenn and Nick were robbed in Haiti and shortly after she was back with the three American children. Let me just say up front that I am so glad to have her and the children here! I have never had a Christmas with these grandchildren.
We had already planned to spend Thanksgiving with Melody and Chris and the girls in PA and had a really wonderful few days with them. Chris even go tickets for Steve and I to go to a play while we were there.Honestly, Melody and Chris are amazing hosts! And what fun I have with Melody and her thrift store/yard sale passion! Evie makes me feel like I am really someone special!
The night before Thanksgiving I rolled over in bed and actually heard a "pop" coming from behind my right knee.The pain can only be compared to childbirth...except it was in my leg :) Thanksgiving AM was spent in the ER and here I am after Christmas and have not had a follow up appointment and still hobbling around and not kneeling down.
All this to say that Christmas was not shaping up how I imagined. Sometimes I felt frustrated by the fact I had not pulled out even half of my Christmas things. Frustrated that while the greens are gathered I still have yet to make my yearly wreath for the front door. Frustrated that while I have bought all of the ingredients for cookies I have not made the first cookie.Frustrated by the pain in my knee not allowing me to move freely. Frustrated that I have not been the "fun" grandmother doing all the holiday "fun" stuff with the grandchildren. Oh sure we did do a bunch of cool things (saw the Manteo Christmas parade for the first time ever!)..but I was not always 'fun'. "Micah...what are you crazy??" , "Josiah, you are too loud!", "Johanna! get down!" , "Nia, not now." , "Nico, you and your brother go watch a movie." , "Pick up your coat...hat...shoes...toys......brush your teeth.....STOP IT!!!!" Not exactly the fun, silly, loving, gentle, and playful grandmother I long to be, once was...hope to be again....kind of grandmother.
One night when I looked at a Santa Clause mug I told the kids about my own (hated) great-grandmother who kept me and my brother and sister apart from our father when he came to deliver very similar mugs to up after the separation of my parents. Her rage that day separated her from my affections for the rest of her life. I still can not think of one good thing to say about her. I don't know why I told them the story but they have asked to have me repeat it nearly every day. The only thing she taught me is that I don't want to be like her.
In my times of frustration when things are not so 'perfect' I understand how important it is for me to not let my expectations cloud my reality. So what if all the decorations did not get up. So what we didn't make cookies or wreaths. Really..so what!!!
I had a Christmas break through. I was with Gwenn and the children at Gwenn's church Crosspointe in Cary. A song about relationships was being sung. I remember thinking "not very Christmasie but really pretty." And then it came. I felt tears well up as I had this quiet moment to reflect. I found thoughts rushing through my head. "I am alive this Christmas! I did not die from cancer. I did not make Christmas a really bad time for my family by being dead. Gwenn is alive! Nia and Nick and Josiah and Nico and all the other kids!!! Alive!! The robbers did not kill them!Ruby was born beautiful and healthy without the problems that had shown themselves in the pregnancy. Gwenn did not die from staph and Josiah did not die from what ever he had!!We have a home that while messy and small is a haven where my grandchildren feel safe and loved! This in fact is the BEST Christmas ever.
Well not really, there was one that was better. It was another messy and loud one. It was a Christmas that did not meet the expectations of the family. No cookies or decorations. No wreath. Just a baby in a barn and parents to keep Him safe a warm. Parents willing to do whatever needed to be done to keep their family together. Even if being together meant to be separated for a time as Gwenn and Nick are. Christmas. Not always pretty. But always beautiful.Thanking God for getting the "stuff" out of the way so I could see His heart.
(Looking at these pictures I think..hmm...maybe I WAS the fun grandmother!)