Hello, friends. It's that time again.
It's the most . . . wonderful time . . . of the year!
For those of you who haven't been following this blog very long, our family has developed a tradition each December of celebrating Advent in a particular way. Instead of using a traditional Advent calendar, opening a little carboard door each day, and eating a chocolate (which actually sounds manageable and satisfying to yours truly right about now!), we excavate a little "fortune" from the string of 25 fabric fortune cookies I made a few years back. Each fortune presents an activity, which we then try mightily to achieve. It's more fun and more difficult this year than ever: Fun because Oscar is old enough to "get it"; difficult because, well, if you haven't noticed, time seems to have become my most precious natural resource. There's never quite enough of it. Where do all the minutes get spent?
Nowhere. And everywhere.
For instance, I'm trying to finish this post right now, but have been repeatedly and urgently called away to help Oscar peel tape off of our furniture. Apparently, it has to happen now.
As does everything else.
You know, I had a job interview last week. And upon learning that I'm currently parenting two children aged one and four, a women on the panel sincerely congratulated me on having combed my hair that day. "Oh my gosh, you're in the thick of it," she said.
It's the hap, happiest season of all!
(Hey, that's me!) How do I describe what I"m feeling these days?
This year, one of our Advent activites was going to see the Seattle Argosy Christmas ships. It happens every year around these parts, for the entire month of December. You go to one of the little pre-determined viewing landings at the right time of night, and meet the boats, all lit up for the holidays, and they drop anchor for twenty minutes or so while a choir onboard does what it does best.
And, you know, it was cold out there by the lake. And dark. And I realized quickly that I wasn't wearing the right footwear. Still, standing there by the black water with twenty other people, the music was like a promise -- or perhaps an invitation to believe -- that everything is actually all right; that perhaps the challenges that I and those I love are experiencing now are not exactly errors. That they are all a part of being human, and to be human is wonderful. Oh ho, tidings of comfort and joy.
Oscar must agree. He loved making and decorating gingerbread men with me. He used up both tubes of icing on roughly four cookies, all because he was determined the make the little men more human. He insisted on putting in their bones.
"There is your spine," he told one.
"There is your heart. And now here are your lungs."
The cookies began to resemble little Day of the Dead totems, really. A tongue-in-cheek nod to the riddle of our humanity.
With the kids jingle-belling
And everyone telling you
"Be of good cheer!"
We did a lot of stuff for Advent this year: wrote poems and hunted down light displays, watched Christmas movies and made special drinks, but one of my favorites was our family dance party. Because when I discover I've no hope of wiping all the noses and reading all the stories and crossing off all the items on the endless list, let alone even starting to sketch out the Big Picture, sometimes I do reach a moment of clarity. And I decide it's time to boogie.
And hearts will be glowing when loved ones are ne-e-e-ar . . .
That kind of is the Big Picture, isn't it?
It's like driving downtown on empty streets and watching as, one by one, the lights turn green just for you. It's like Someone saying, Yes, it can be easier. For you, it will be easier sometimes. It's a miracle.
Hey, I take them where I can get them.
My friends and loved ones, I wish you a greenlit Christmas, a moment of ease, a wink of true delight, a breath of heavenly peace.
Oh, and I think you should visit See Your Impact and give them a little bit of your money.