A respite...we all need it once in awhile. This holiday season, believe it or not, has been wonderfully low key, and scattered with little pleasures that mean a lot. Heading into it, I was not in a good place. For a variety of reasons, it has been a difficult year, and I am ending trying to ignore a lot of doubts about myself that have settled in. There has been stress on many fronts, most of it willingly shouldered but not necessarily desired. Then I made some decisions to initiate a few changes, and became intentional about establishing some much needed boundaries.
Of course, guilt set in. Doesn't it always?
One of the decisions I made was that Advent was going to be Advent, whether others tried to intrude on it or not. I am so very glad I didn't let it all slip away. In that decision, God provided much needed moments of warmth, of acceptance, of peace.
Sometimes, you just have to say "enough", and mean it. In our case, one of the things I said "enough" about was the stress and disappointment over what we couldn't provide the kids. I shed a couple of tears over it, and then recognized that we had already made Christmas about the important things and really it was MY sense of letting them down that was the problem! For them, Christmas has become about so much more, and shamefully, I admit, I wasn't getting it and was actually focusing on what I have worked so hard to get them NOT to focus on all these years! Old habits die hard.
We have spent the past few days doing the things that small town people do, all the things that make living here so special for us. We went sledding, we greeted friends traveling home after their Christmas a state away with dinner and hugs. We have visited and been visited. We will be having game night and football afternoon over New Years, where many of us will gather whose lives are intertwined. Right now, there is the sound of two other semi-adopted LaJoy's playing in the TV room with the kids. The kids have all taken turns working with Dominick at the airport, each one taking on a little more responsibility this year and proving to be better employees than we ever could have imagined at their ages. Matthew has spent hours and hours loading our CD collection onto iTunes for us, a task I have long wanted to do but been unable to find the time to dedicate to it, and he keeps finding songs and turning to me to say, "Hey Mom...I love this one!"...and I hear him playing a Steve Miller Band hit or something from Jackson Browne, and my heart is warmed.
We have cleaned kitchen cupboards out together, and then laid around to watch a movie. We have talked about taking the tree down, only to talk ourselves out of it :-) We have talked and talked, played games, and read books. Poor Dominick is the only one who has been unable to kick back, but as we lost an employee and had another not show up, he knew he was supported as every single one of us offered to fill in and help him out.
We are recharging for a new year. This Advent has been a time of waiting, of expectancy, and also of much needed rest. It has been a time of physical and emotional healing, and of appreciating all the good things that circle us, for no matter how hard life gets, no matter how much conflict or stress, this place...these people I live with...all is the greatest gift a wife and mother could ever ask for. I know how blessed I am, I know that my life is so, so rich! Our home, thankfully, is a haven from the hard things of the world. Our friendships are our anchors in so many ways.
So, as we try to have everyone home at the same time (and feeling well!) so we can do the pie in the face, we are also soaking in the comfort and peace of home.
I hope that your Advent season has been as intentionally peace filled as ours has been!