Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Best Laid Plans...

I finally succumbed to my husband's overzealous Christmas spirit.  While the holiday season begins the day after Halloween for him, it does not begin until December for me.  Even then, I do not tend to want to put up a tree until a couple of weeks before Christmas.  Although, I have to admit, having smaller children once again has brightened my spirit...there's just something about the awe and wonder of a small child discovering the magic of Christmas.  And by magic, I mean the things that we forget to appreciate when we're older...the things that do not have to do with the commercialization of the holiday season...or, if they do, it is purely because it really does seem magical to them.

For instance, my three-year-old waking up, glimpsing out her window and being heartbroken to find out that it had not snowed overnight.  I'm not going to lie; I do not like the snow.  It makes me think of scraping windows, shoveling walkways, and taking an extra 20-minutes each morning to bundle up children before they leave.  But there is something about a tiny girl looking to the sky, waiting for the sprinkling of powdery snow...with dreams of snowmen and snow angels...that make me *almost* wish that it would snow.  And, I admit...I am very curious to see the twins' reactions to their first real snow experience this year.  It almost melts away the Scrooge inside of me.

Thank goodness for this...because without it, I'm not sure how I would get through the holiday season.  Or the weekend we decide to put up the tree, for that matter.  You see, I have this internal battle inside:  I have my "stressed-out, wishing everything would end already, trying to make ends meet and buy presents, detesting all forms of Christmas music because my husband has been forcing it into the household since Halloween" side duking it out with my "wanting to give my children a magical experience, live in the moment, appreciate everything, and live it up at the holidays" side.  They do not mesh well.  I'm an inherent over-achiever residing in a worn-out, lazy body.  My mother-in-law, who has perfected the art of not only surviving, but hosting, planning, and enjoying the holidays, would laugh at me, and give me a suggestion for an easier way to do things.  My mother, who painstakingly makes every effort to make gatherings "proper" and full with tradition (I must make the eggnog, she puts great-grandma's beads on the tree, while the men put the lights on the tree,) would applaud my efforts and claim that I am Supermom.  I just feel like all my attempts are in vain:  I'm a Martha Stewart wannabe trapped in the body of Mr. Bean.

For example:  while the children put up ornaments, I tried to make red and green pancakes in the shapes of snowmen and Christmas trees.  They did not turn out perfect...but...I think it was still cute.  However, while trying to shape pancakes and not burn bacon, I notice that Owen has become extremely quiet.  These are the moments a parent must worry:  when a child cannot be heard, it usually means that they are up to no good.  I round the corner to find him sitting on the floor, with red and green posterboard rings in hand (another attempt at being crafty and fun:  I had the three older children make red and green links, tape a Hershey Kiss to each link, to be torn off each day leading up until Christmas.)  The boy was covered in chocolate...from his face on down to his feet.  All I could imagine was the red and green tin foil that he would be pooping out over the course of the next few days as he had been sitting there, plucking each Hershey Kiss off, and devouring it whole...wrapper and all.  Meanwhile, the older children are arguing in the living room...Jaylond was upset to discover that after spending a half hour in the bathroom, his sisters had decorated the entire tree. 

Needless to say, the holiday season has not gone how I planned at all.  My pancakes did not *really* look like trees and snowmen.  I believe the older girl even made a comment about the food dye making them taste funny.  The toddler boy wrecked his older sister's Christmas countdown craft.  The children argued nonstop.  An ornament or two shattered.  The living room floor was now covered in fake pine needles and newspaper wrappings.  I still cannot stand to hear Wham's "Last Christmas" or that song about the Italian Christmas donkey. 

However, somewhere between standing outside with Irelynn while putting up her beloved blow-up Christmas Snoopy and hearing Owen, for the first time, point at a picture and say "Santa," my heart melted.  Maybe it was the snow that gently fell while Irelynn and I put up lights, with her telling me all of her grand plans for what to do when we get "real" snow.  Maybe it was watching her bravely tell Santa the one thing she really wanted for Christmas.  Or maybe it ws noticing, that despite all the imperfections I saw...the kids all really enjoyed my silly attempts to make the holiday bright. 

I'm not sure when or how...but I think my heart grew three sizes this month.  It seems that while I was busy worrying about presents and money, thinking the kids only appreciated things that came from the store...I didn't take time to look through their eyes, and see that the season was much more.  Snow forts and cookies, music and magic, although fighting was apparent, it wasn't that tragic.  Christmas specials and crafts, lights and elves, though nothing was perfect, it was all heartfelt. 

Now...if I could only find a good deal on roast beast...

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