Tradition, culture, and commerce cry like antsy children. Across America, parents wake to the call of hungry babies and sleepless excited children. Restless uproar. Boxes, bags, and bows bestowed beneath trees quickly torn apart. Tossed paper remnants and reminders of months of work and sacrifice. Remainders of recent roof top landings and chimney sweeps. Santa Clausing. Effects of midnight flights, and jet stream bounding reindeer. This is fun. Also overdone.
“Get up! Get up! Let’s do presents!” they call. We did this too for many delightful years.
As quickly as these moments come, they are gone. Leave you asking…
“What did all that mean?
This morning our baby girls did not jump up to screaming. Our babies are grown. But, I think I can hear someone in the shower singing Phantom of the Opera. The hum of a hair dryer. Most definitely television noise in the front room.
Babes in Toyland… I have never seen this movie. I can hear the original, or adaptation down the hall. The delightful songs of children are compelling. I would love to spend time loving on this thing but choose to write instead. Somehow the sacrifice does not feel a sacrifice at all. It feels more a blessing, a labor of love.
This blessed morning our babes are not in toyland. They are fevering and cramping in surviving the flu and in living the lack luster of finding very little under the tree.
Our babes are teenage daughters. No longer babes in the infant or toddler sense. They have become “babes” in curvy maturation warranting “the talk,” increasingly catching the eyes of young men. Never-the-less, still little girls at heart and longing for Christmases past. Screaming down the hall and stairs to bounty underneath a tree. Wonderous discoveries. spoiling. Not so today.
Lost. Lost is this outburst. Lost are these indulgences. The lies once perpetuated. Lost in my choosing differently….for us to give rather than to receive. “For unto us a child is given.” I think I should take all of this advise every day of the year.
In receiving this Christ child, I feel we have unmistakably given up a small part in gaining something larger. We have given up a disposable part. Part of a once greater disposable income in giving Him a broken heart and contrite spirit instead of slippery things to each other. Discarding things not needful sometimes greedy prideful THINGS.
This all too cold turkey and tragic for a fourteen and seventeen year old maybe. Requiring some not so jolly old St. Nic-o-TEEN gum. I’m not offering it though. Gum chewing sure to be over done and TMJ a side effect of consumerism…TOO MUCH JUNK.
Our front room is far from Toyland. Toyland happened some fifteen or so years ago. Now quite barren compared to Delanie’s instagrammed friend photos of presents overflowing under perfect trees. Families posed in ridiculous footed pajamas and moms and dads tieing door knobs closed across narrow halls in an effort to prevent night-time flight risks and peeking. Sounds fun.
Some of these are immaculate decorated homes of privilege. A wonderful contrast to our simple country lived in rambler, or a snap shot of me in boxers wearing cowgirl boots and sweeping. Mark asleep in the lazy boy over a game of football. The girls up to their own devices, reheating reruns of Hallmark movies. I prefer our own homemade makings. They suit us well.
Our chosen Christmas more a Charlie Brown one. And while I love a cut, or live tree…..an artificial one loaded under elementary trimmings is best. Postage stamp pictures of preschool Donavons, Devons, and Delanies hug my memory. I am happy in this. Happy that Mark and Delanie put up the tree.
Some day my girls may be more willing to approach my altered thinking. Not yet. They receive it like an ugly sweater. Not much room in the inn when teens are expecting “stuff.” And yet they are kind in concealing it, in trying not to show it. The look of rejection is unmistakable though. I am slightly saddened. Someday our girls will be gone like their brother. Don’t want to imagine these things.
“Merry Anti-Climactic Christmas!” I cheer. “Sorry if you are disappointed,” I sigh.
My girls slump into me and MacChelle. They bounce on my bed willing Christmas to commence in all it’s lacking.
“Let’s do stockings,” they happily chirp.
“Okay. Can’t wait to see what you came up with in your shopping adventures,” I say.
They give me looks. Roll their eyes
I wonder if this is the “tough love” that my ginger step-son, Justin, and I spoke of on our crunchy snow walk yesterday. Reflections of a thirty-something single man, packed with confessions and philosophies of child rearing. In my girls’ words and body language I am hearing realities of a neglectful mother. Truth is they are well enough off and they know that I love them. I hope.
In her certain, sure disappointment, Delanie is quickly opening a few clothing items and moving on to a redesign of Christmas. A Search and Rescue. A salvage of a different hoped for holiday. Since Donavon is calling/skyping us in the morning……
“Let’s “delay” Christmas morning by 24 hours,” she suggests… “for Donavon!”
In my mind the skyping cannot come soon enough, while I am thinking…
“More presents ain’t happening. There isn’t anymore…..And, the stores are closed.” All of this I do NOT say. Rather,
“Um….okay? Morgan is coming over too. How about we have a nice big breakfast, either before or after Don’s call?”
“Donavon doesn’t care about breakfast! He will just be glad to Skype,” Devon informs matter of factly.
Neither girl cares about breakfast. They don’t eat breakfast. I have missed the mark in this thing. Not quite. Mark cares about breakfast. Breakfast it will be! Besides, this was the tradition of my childhood.
Suddenly I am remembering a sad Christmas breakfast of childhood. It was cold in Texas. No heat , and only a hot-plate for making scrambled eggs. Frozen and broken water lines. My brother and his friend ran into a water main while riding haphazardly on a golf cart. This raised h***.
Simultaneously, a bumbled and dropped electric frying pan, cursing, and egg beater spatulas spattering across the plywood floor. Better than on rear ends.
Scraping. Scraping and serving an awful omelette on thin, flimsy paper plates. Poverty…. but mostly power, and force. Love-less-ness. Fright-full. Ho ho hope-less, I thought.
“You’re eating those eggs!” barked my angry father. No amount of ketchup helped any more than my own once-upon-a-time tomatoes on overdosed baking soda pancake attempts. The ruining of childhood and self-taught cooking lessons. I knew ruining very well. Now I was dosing them. Ugh!
In being gifted tough parenting, I assure Delanie that things will not be all that different materially in just one day. I remind her that items are coming in the mail. That there is promise in online surprises. That all of this requires patience.
I must remind myself that I am grateful to be a parent. That I must to be patient. That I am grateful that I am not repeating the same generational parenting cycles. I hope. I proceed in faith. This like my writing and so many other things in life. Parents, teachers, children…. we continue to hope for things not yet seen, but believed in.
Devon then offers yet another approach to a Christmas remodel in observing Three Kings Day on January 6th. This will provide additional time for the girls to find “new shoes” to put out for filling. More time to salvage a consumer Christmas in after Christmas Sales. Baahh!
They don’t get it any more than I get the constructs of writing. As they persist though, I think my girls will get what they seek for most. I hope this includes Jesus. Me too.