The six of us sat there at 10:00AM in our jammies, watching a new movie Will gave Henry for Christmas. The scattered remains of the trappings of Christmas were all around…bits of festive paper and tape on the floor, pine needles, Christmas books and movies, boxes of cocoa, cookies, leftover fasnachts, snowflakes — elaborate, beautiful snowflakes cut by the children — all taped to the windows, and piles and piles of gifts. And among all that is dust…a lot of dust. The sun cast its warm light in a small patch on our floor, where I could see dog hair, powdered sugar, and what appeared to be cookie crumbs. I didn’t care all that much. I looked at Kate. The light from the windows illuminated her face and cast just the slightest shadow which puddled in the shallow dimple on her chin. Her hair lay across her shoulders in long tangled strands. She’s in that awkward middle place between childhood and adulthood… She is the most beautiful kind of awkward I’ve ever seen.
I did some cleaning today. And laundry. The Laundry and The Cleaning have a mutual agreement to never take a holiday, though I really feel they should consider doing so. I made my mom’s beef stew today. It was way better than my beef and barley soup, according to Will, and pretty much every one else including me.
I spent some time looking at the antique jar Mom and Dad gave me. It is full of the most beautiful treasures — bits of rock, and coral and shells that they themselves picked from the beach. I love that gift. And then we walked to the river and hung the bird feeders we made.
I think I will remember today. (And I will remember how every time I type the word “will” it is autocorrected to “Will” because a child in my house made his name the default correction for “will” on my iPad and every other device in this house. Very clever. Also, that particular child and his hooligan big sister changed “yes” to “yaasssss.” And “totally” to “totes.” And I am just inept enough to not know how to fix it. Good times.)
The last few days have been full of good moments–moments that stood out to me for whatever reason. Like looking down from upstairs on Christmas Eve to see Henry fully dressed in his finery — silk tie embroidered with nutcrackers, wool herringbone trousers, white button down shirt — yes beautiful red-haired Henry all dressed up and sliding across the kitchen floor on his belly in an attempt to crash into the house of cards he built.
And Ella, who has about one thousand pairs of matching jammies, 75% of which could be considered in a Christmas theme, and yet what she chooses to wear on Christmas Eve is a red flannel nightie with tiny pink and yellow flowers, along with olive green pants with chocolate brown labradors all over them (hand me downs from her brother). She looked at me and pushed up her glasses in that way that she does, and I thought, why?! And then I remembered that this is the part of her I love. This is the funky. Right now she is walking around in her new earmuffs, stretching silly putty into long, thin strands all over the floor. Boy do I love her.
Will appears to have fractured his arm last week. Again. I’m skeptical about whether or not it’s actually a fracture, but I’m also not a doctor so I guess that pretty much renders my opinions on the matter a bit worthless. Anyway, he sits here on the couch, in his undershirt and jammies and arm brace and stocking hat watching Andy Griffith with David, who appears to be biting his fingernails. Will has worn that knit stocking hat for two days now. It was a gift from his little brother, who used his birthday money to buy presents for his brother and sisters.
Christmas brings these moments…I call them epiphanies…where for a few brief, intense beats of my heart I feel His presence in my life. These instances are never the grand, planned and shiny moments. They are always, always ordinary, often messy and disorganized, and without pretense. And all of the sparkly, twinkling things I think I need mean so little in comparison to the beautiful lives that surround me right now. (I hope I can remember this feeling when I’m scraping scotch tape and snowflakes off my windows in January.)
In all seriousness, these are the moments that give my life meaning. These are the trappings of a life well-lived.