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.


love happy, fierce, and vulnerable: like mom

May 10, 2014
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My step-mother was a bra-burner and a banana bread maker. For years I wanted her to choose. Now I’m eternally grateful that she did not. If I take a lasagna to a sick friend or a new mother it is because my step-mother taught me to do so. But she never let artful domesticity keep […]

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don’t call me stupid

April 30, 2014
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I’m slow. I’m a slow reader. I process things slowly. I take a long time making decisions. Sometimes this makes me feel stupid. But I have been telling myself for a long time that slow is many things that look like dumb. Slow is deliberate. Slow is intentional. Slow is methodical. Slow is enjoying the […]

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how dying eggs is a story about grace

April 20, 2014
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My friend puts her lips to the egg –an intimate gesture – and I can tell by the way her feet get wobbly underneath her that her head is about to explode. Perhaps ¼ teaspoon of egg white has appeared at the bottom of her egg and we both burst out laughing. “You’ve got to […]

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how I walked my way right past 1 million

April 3, 2014
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I’ve been taking nearly 10,000 steps a day for 30 years. At age 18 I began taking a walk every day. It was for my mental health. I preferred the outdoors to a lifetime dose of anti-depressant. Occasionally I miss a day. But my average is better than 6/7 days, probably more like 13/14. In […]

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are you afraid of being buried alive while you get a gallon of milk?

March 20, 2014
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Are you terrified of rocks falling on top of you and burying you alive? Not a very realistic fear unless you drive a canyon full of rocks each time you need a gallon of milk. Recently two of my friends arrived at this rockslide just as the dust was settling. It not only made the […]

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my family is where I belong

March 4, 2014
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I found where I belong by simply writing about my family for the past 4 weeks. This is a small miracle to me. Such an easy cure, such an elusive problem. Several decades ago I went to hear Tony Robbins speak and he described 4 categories of people. I don’t remember the names of the […]

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how to love more and love better: lessons from my dog

February 25, 2014
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My dog, Ode Yedder, is sitting beside me, where I frequently can find her. She follows me down the hallway when I’m going to fetch the laundry to take it to the other side of the house. Is it because she wonders if I’m getting ready for a walk? Or does she simply long for […]

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this day I daily wed

February 18, 2014
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I took off my wedding ring this week. I put it in the precious box my daughter made for me. Then I began to listen carefully for the voice of my own longing. I realized I was missing that voice when I felt envious of my best friend’s tires. We went to Steamboat together and, […]

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8 hours of pause to parent for 8 seconds? worth it.

February 11, 2014
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Because my son plays high school basketball, I’ve gotten to see a good portion of Western Colorado. I spend my weekends traveling around the state to watch his games. I sometimes drive 2 or 3 hours each direction to sit for 1 or 2 hours and cheer. This is parenting. Lots of traveling to capture […]

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what church and show tunes show me about my daughter

February 5, 2014
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I’m listening to a mix CD my daughter made me as I drive through snowy mountains. The occasional barn makes its appearance, but mostly it is vast open space. White, rolling silence. I live in the Rockies and stones make themselves known underneath all the white. They peek out their faces to smile at the […]

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