I find it interesting that the Christmas season follows a holiday of thankfulness and plenty. Thanksgiving reminds me that I have enough, and that what I have is quite good. Then suddenly the day after Thanksgiving, I realize, "No! Actually what I have is not enough at all!"
Maybe I shouldn't have opened the Christmas decorations trunk the day after Thanksgiving because that's what started it. I keep a limited number of decorations. I'm not a fan of clutter and garishness. I like a monochromatic nativity scene here and a few classy Christmas cards there, a wreath on the front door and some plain white Christmas lights around our front windows. It took less than an hour to put these things up with the children, and when we'd finished, Lee and Rose danced around asking, "Is that all? Isn't there any more?"
There came upon me a panic, a fear, a feeling of insufficiency. You terrible mother! You haven't done enough for your dear children! They'll be grown in a few years and you'll look back on this time and wished you'd said "Yes!" more often.
I began devising plans. We could make paper chains and string them up around the crown molding. We could paint Christmas scenes and tape them to the walls. We could put paper snowflakes in the windows. We could pick up greenery at Home Depot and drape this around the doors. We could go on a gathering walk and collect seed pods and paint them. We could take the children to see snow on the mountains some weekend. We could take nighttime walks to see the Christmas lights. We could make baked apples and cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate!
While I was growing more and more stressed thinking about all I'd have to do to make up for my deficiencies, the children had gathered all their red and green marble-run tubes and scattered these around the house. This did not satisfy their decorating itch, but I was too frazzled to do anything but put parameters on their activities.
My feelings of inadequacy continued, especially over the next several days when we entered stores. "Mommy, can we buy a little Christmas tree for the table?" "Mommy, can we get a gingerbread house?" "Mommy, can we have an inflatable snowman on our front yard?" "Mommy, can I buy Grandpa that?" "Mommy, what fun thing are we going to do today?" Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!
I don't know why this catches me off-guard. It was the same with Halloween, except they wanted spider webs and ghosts. I get whirled into their requests and forget to ask myself, "Do we already have enough? Is what we have good?" And then, obviously because what we have is enough, "How am I communicating to my children that what we have is enough?"
I do want to do festive things with my children, but not to make them happy or to prove I'm a good mother or even to make great memories. I want to do these things because I want to do them, because my heart is in it, because I desire to love them like this, because I have enough and it is good.
So now, perhaps even more than last month, is the season to remember how my cup is full. It's really the best cure I know of to that inner panic that tells me I need to do more, get more, and make more memories. The truth is I have enough to be grateful and joyful and at peace, and I have enough to reflect all this to my children.
So here's a few things I'm remembering that I have:
|Miss Esther and her special celebrations with my kids|
|That Rose was in the right place at the right time to save Benny from a raccoon in the laundry hut|
|Little sandals that have joined the kids' shoes in their basket|
|An abundance of laundry: three little piles for three little people|
|Lisa Francis allowing me to take her children to El Dorado Nature Preserve|
|Benny in rain boots up to his knees|
|The amount of playtime the children have gotten out of this nativity set. I like to call this set up "O Mary, where'd you go?"|
|New-found confidence to take other people's children to the Huntington Library! This is the fog chamber in the children's garden.|
|Buddies snuggling and listening to The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe dramatized|
|Everyone able to walk together now!|