It’s December 7 and my house doesn’t look any more Christmasy than it did November 15th. Is that OK? I haven’t even hung up the beloved advent calendar I made to remind me of my mother.
Is this the beginning of the end of Christmas decorating for me, or a one time blip? With my daughter in her sophomore year at college, she is a bit more adjusted this year. The “coming home for Christmas thing?” We’ve done it and we know it works just fine. We’re comfortable reuniting as a family. So I don’t have that agitated feeling of gotta-get-the-house-together-to-make-things-alright.
Is this why I was always frantically decorating? Because I was agitated inside and wasn’t sure it felt like home?
Um….if the answer is yes, does that mean I’m a bad mom?
These days, when my son gets home from basketball at 7:30 and I’m still busily working on my computer, he’s happy. I’m happy. I greet him. I hear the news, and, after he’s settled in for a bit, we cook dinner together, connecting as we chop veggies and keep meat turning in the skillet.
If we’ve had enough connection in the kitchen, we watch a show like Modern Family while we eat, laugh and then, this hulking kid lays his head in my lap and I rub his back while we watch a little longer. If we’re lucky, his dad will get home and join the couch pile up. His dad works wacky hours in the ER, so sometimes he is leaving, even as we are going to bed.
If we’re really lucky, his dad will have been home all day and we’ll be eating something tasty at the table. I’m a fine cook, but I got tired of cooking a couple years ago and now I put things on the stove because I need to feed people. David cooks because it’s an adventure, and because, 2 years ago, when we hit a really bad bump in the road and he asked, “What do you need me to do?” I said, feed me.
Like many women, I’m hungry in my marriage. I’m hungry in my family in general because I’ve been cooking and lighting the way for a long time. It’s lonely out front.
My boys might notice if I decorate the dining room table for Christmas. But they might not. I can tell you this for certain: hanging lights in the yard for Christmas is not how they want to spend their precious Saturday time. So until I’m certain it’s what I want, I shouldn’t drag them through that.
For years I hung Christmas lights up to help me create a cozy family feeling inside my house. I wrapped trees with lights, painting with purple, blue and green until my yard was a completed canvas. I won the award at our student housing apartment and got a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. Each consecutive home got treated to lights until I’d lighted them all up with love.
This was what I needed.
I needed a home with love. I needed a family. This is important for me to notice. Because all to often I think I put up all these lights for the other 3 people in my life. Surely they benefited. No doubt. I’m so glad they benefited. I adore them! But when I get hungry and resentful, I want to blame them for why I’m tired of lighting their way, when really, I drew inspiration from them to light the way for myself.
I am fed on the bread of juxtapositions. Jesus came to be a king and was born in a feed trough. Did you know that’s what a manger is? Sometimes we clean things up too much.
I listened as my Pagan daughter attended church and texted me raving about the singing. I watched as my fierce hunter son snuggled with our dog and tended to her wounded neck. Our dog stayed prone, trusting this boy completely as he squirted syringe after syringe into her gaping gash.
My kids are complicated puzzles. They keep me guessing, and that excites and ignites me. Perhaps this ignition is why I’m not so compelled to light up my lawn this year. The to-do about Christmas is too much for me. My heart is already bright.
Why do I feel embarrassed about this in hindsight? Well, not really embarrassed. It seems like a normal path. We do things externally to make them internal. I practiced on the outside what I wanted to feel inside.
And it worked.
I can be proud of that.
Pride is another thing women have a little trouble letting in the front door of their lives. Is there a yard ornament for that?