After a bit of a wait, Christmas did come to us in the little house. The evening of the 28th, when we were all finally together, began a string of celebration days. In navigating the circuitous path that is gift-giving and holiday-celebrating, we took what we hoped would be a simple, easily accomplished, yet thoroughly-loved approach. To feel like we succeeded is one of the best gifts of all.
From the simplest of evergreen trees decorated with nothing more than white lights and pinecones, to a juniper garland draped over the front door, to a pine-scented candle dancing light across the wall, to Bing Crosby singing the familiar, the backdrop to our celebration was anything but extravagant.
Christmas Eve gifts of flannel pajama pants were gift-wrapped in shirt boxes wound up with an ombre of yarn (wrapped around the boxes was a bit of each: copper, gray, and black). Fabric gift sacks were stuffed with lots of tissue paper, books, new winter gloves, and each boy's favorite sugary breakfast cereal (the kind Mama doesn't usually buy). Mixed at random among all this was a good wad of cash, in twenties and fifties, earmarked for an end-of-week shopping day at their favorite sporting goods store. In the middle of the candy in their stockings, they found day passes to a nearby ski resort, slated for the sunny weekend. All this plus thrice eating out and once going to a movie, had the boys loving how Christmas was, like, four days long!
As I sit here this Monday morning and reflect, I realize that every year is a patient teacher. Every year I am the student, learning about this holiday, learning about myself, learning about my people. Yes, it was beautiful, yes, it was stressful at times, yes, it was emotional at times, yes, there are things I did that I wish I could do differently (kindness, Carmella, kindness). There is no fairy tale here in the little house. It's real life, all the way. Real people with real struggles and real hopes. Thank goodness we're not after perfection; we're after hearts, often in a messy, broken, bumbling sort of way. You, too?
Fitting, then, that this very season was about what we all need most: infinite grace. This I'm taking with me into our brand new year.