Tag-Archive for ◊ traditions ◊

• Monday, January 05th, 2015

I stepped into the kitchen the other day and Willow pointed to an open journal on the table.  “Chad thinks you should put some or all of that one on the blog.  He thinks folks might enjoy it.”  She looked at me with a familiar expression on her face–the one that says, “I don’t get it, but I’m willing to try.”

So, with a cup of the mint tea she grew and formulated herself in hand (remind me to tell you how she did that), I sat down at the table, rested my sore arms and even sorer back (this baby sure is taking a toll on my body!) and read.


December 26th

Another Christmas is over–done.  People told me that as the years pass, Christmasses without Mother would become easier.  They were right.  What they didn’t tell me is that they would also become more precious and, in that regard, more difficult.  The older my children are, the harder I find it to be without her.  I want to ask so many questions–things I never imagined needing to ask back when it was just the two of us working here together. Chad says that I forget how hard she found parenting me in the beginning.  I haven’t forgotten, not really.  But Mother had a beautiful quality.  I can’t find the right word for it, but she knew how to learn from her experiences and mistakes and grow with them.  She didn’t repeat those mistakes over and over.

To be fair, she also didn’t try to overcome all of her faults and weaknesses. Some she used as a mantle of protection.  But despite it all she tried.

Of course, this has little to do with Christmas. But pondering our times together made me think of Mother and sent me on that tangent. As we put away our decorations each year, Chad always says, “This was the best Christmas ever.”  I don’t know if it’s some tradition in his family, if he really thinks it, or if it’s a momentary expression of gratitude for all that the Lord has done for us throughout the year.

515068635But this year really did seem like “the best Christmas ever.”  The boys were old enough to appreciate the deeper meaning behind the tree, the gifts, the lights, and the joy of the season.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget my Liam’s face as he listened to his father reading Luke–again–and understanding dawned.  “Jesus was really a baby!  Like Kari was.  Like Aunt Aggie’s baby in her belly.”  He looked up at me and said, “Why?”  I suspect he was remembering Kari’s diapers.

I told him, “Because He loves us.”

And, apparently infancy is an even greater misfortune than I had ever imagined, because Liam’s response was simply, “He must love us a LOT.”

Lucas, on the other hand, while very fond of our nightly readings of the story of Jesus’ birth from one of the gospels, seemed to be most affected by our traditions.  I think he used the word why until, had it been minutes on his cellphone, he would have gone way over his limit. “Why do we have a tree, Mama?”  I explained how the tree came to be in use at all and how we choose to see a tree in our family. I don’t think he liked the idea of repurposing a pagan tradition to celebrate Jesus’ birth, but Chad’s discussion of choosing to use familiar things to tell a Bible story–kind of like Jesus’ parables and Paul’s sermons at the Acropolis–seemed to strike a chord.  His twenty-four hour disdain of the tree became a constant source of questioning and observations that seemed wise beyond his years–at least to me.  “Does the tree make Jesus sad?  He died on a tree.  A baby would be sad.”  And when I told them to let their lights shine before all men–even their little sister *cough*– he said, “Mama!  Like the lights on the tree.  Jesus dying on the tree helps us be lights for Him!”  Where do they come up with this stuff?  It’s so profound in a childlike way.

They know most of the words to most of the Christmas carols.  We sang them all day every day until I was thoroughly sick of them.  But it worked.  Even now as I write, I hear the words to “Joy to the World” interspersed between “Vroom, vrooms” of their cars and whinnies of their horses.  I wonder how Handel and Watts would like to hear the song with the percussion of little boys at play.  I suspect they’d like it better than said children’s mother.  But despite the repetition that sets my nerves on edge, my heart is blessed to hear the sounds of my sons singing praises to the Lord at their young ages.  It’s genuine.  It’s heart-felt.  And isn’t that what matters more than variety, peace, or quiet?

And little Kari, despite her constant trying of my nerves and patience, developed a heart for giving.  I had to limit her–direct her every step, but she gave each one of us one of her greatest treasures for Christmas.  Daily she brought me armloads of things to “Wrap pretty, Mama.”  And daily I had to redirect her to choosing just one thing for each of us.  Becca’s baby will have Kari’s favorite stuffed toy–a puppy I made her as a baby.  The poor thing cried a little as it went into the box.  I tried to talk her out of it, but she was determined to give Becca’s child “Fido.”  Yes, Chad named the silly toy, “Fido” and nothing I did would convince her to change its name.  She only has a couple of toys that were strictly hers and masculine enough for her tastes.  But she gave them to Liam and Lucas with such joy.  “For Jesus.”  At first, I didn’t understand her.  I kept correcting her by asking which one was for Lucas and which was for Liam.  She answered the same each time, but as we wrapped and decorated the packages, she kept patting them with a satisfied air and saying, “It’s for Jesus.”

I get it now.

I’d like to think that Mother can see us–knows how rich our lives are.  I know her fears, as with her tears, are wiped away in the arms of Jesus, but I would like to know that she is blessed by how the Lord has blessed us. I know that we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” but I am not confident of what that means.  Does it mean that all Christians who are with Jesus now observe and pray for us to remain strong in the faith?  Or is it referring to just those who died shortly after Jesus’ death?  I suspect the former, but I am no theologian.  Maybe that’s what I’ll study this year. Maybe I’ll find the answers,, and even if I don’t, that much time in the Word won’t hurt me.

Christmas is gone.  Easter beckons. While some say we weren’t commanded to celebrate the birth of Christ–only His death and resurrection through communion–the angels did.  The wise men did.  And we could not celebrate His death if He had not been born.  So, I’ll say it again.  Happy Birthday, Jesus.  Thank you for the greatest gift of all–You.