tree down, tidy up, cleaning after the holidays

by rebecca on January 11, 2015

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The Return to Routine: tree down, tidy up. I love a good party, but I love returning to the rhythm of routine even more. Lemon water in the morning as I light my candles and write for 20 or 30 minutes before the house wakes up, then breakfast and dishes before I get dressed. I adore all the befores because there is the comfort of something coming after.

Before Christmas I put up the tree and it was important to my son that we got one tall enough that it bend over before the it hit the ceiling. I laughed at this and felt like we were living in a Dr. Seuss storybook for the month of December. Afterward, I noticed how memorable this tree was and how much I enjoyed being a mom with no agenda except listening to what my child wanted for a Christmas tradition. Previously I needed to be in charge. I needed to orchestrate. Perhaps that is how it is: I need the befores of many Christmases when I am creating a rhythm so that there is a framework in order for my children to feel safe bending the rules, just like I did in so many areas of my spiritual life. I needed fences to feel safe knowing where to explore.

After Christmas…long after when my tears of feeling I had failed because we never got ornaments onto that bent tree had dried and the joy of playing in the snow and making angels returned joy to my cheeks and heart… I asked my children about their favorite Christmas traditions. I don’t do nearly as much these days as I did when they were younger. We are busy now with college schedules and basketball games. I am worn out and I’ve realized that it is no fun to have a grumpy mom at the dining room table.

bent Christmas treeWhen I asked and they answered, I was comforted by their responses because it would be easy and fun for me to keep their favorite traditions alive. “I really like cutting down the tree,” said my son. He makes me laugh as we tromp through the waist deep snow. He points out the tracks of a variety of animals he spots in the woods and, inevitably, he shakes a tree in my face, or throws a snowball and covers me with frigid winter down my neck. He wants to be outside. And he wants to be outside with me. What joy.

“My favorite thing is the singing,” said my daughter. Every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember, we light all the candles and, just before we say goodnight, we sing Christmas carols. We linger on the “5 golden rings” of The Twelve Days of Christmas and we fumble our way through Frosty because none of us know the words, but I sing an amazing descant on Oh Come All Ye Faithful and I’m impressed that my non-Sunday school kids know the words to so many of my favorite Christmas hymns. Perhaps I’ve swaddled them more Jesus than I knew because of my deep love. We end with Silent Night and pass out kisses eager for Santa to come.

christmas candles on the bookshelfI’m cleaning up another year that I don’t take for granted now that my children are grown. Who knows how many more Christmases I will get to have with them under my roof. But my joy is great and quiet and filled with all of the years and mistakes that it takes to make a family. My New Year’s wish is that everyone will one day have a tree with no ornaments and as peaceful a December as I had.

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