Do more of what brought you Joy.
Ice skating on the boat basin while the white, peaceful, frozen river murmurs ‘I am still here’. You may not see me skipping over stones and babbling around curves, but underneath the stillness of the ice, here I am.
The snowman in the backyard that was done in a harried fifteen minutes with three kids while my tween waited to be picked up from school. The dog repeatedly claims him as his own so he ends up looking as if he needs a pair of Depends.
The snowman is misshapen and irregular, but aren’t we all?
The four year old stands at the front door and looks back, ‘c’mon guys, let’s go.’
The dog hears her and makes his escape out the door.
I have places to be. This is not in my plans, but I watch him roll joyfully in the snow, frolicking from mound to mound.
Take a deep breath.
Candles and lots of them. Reminders of warmth.
The fire crackling.
Cut down the Christmas tree bringing part of nature with its pine smells indoor and showing the kids trees are living, breathing, growing things that the earth provides and not just another mass produced item found in a Walmart parking lot.
Watch the birds and be grateful for their glimpses of color.
Before your body reminds you to with a cold.
Keep in mind the ‘Scuba Diving’ theory of parenting because it is even more important this time of year to watch your oxygen levels and plan your escape hatch.
If you think your husband is buying too much, let him.
He can worry about the wrapping, the balancing between kids, the storage, removal, set-up and all those other demands when your oxygen levels are low.
One to two gifts per child is all they need. Don’t get caught up in the ‘behave more, get more’ mentality. Don’t buy into ‘it’s about the giving’ when to you, it feels more about the excessive cardboard, waste, plastic, impermanence and toys that are quickly discarded, thrown about, misplaced and broken all requiring more energy from you.
No matter how much you buy or how little you buy, there will be complaints and whines and disagreements. Keep Your Own Balance.
Save your energy for what matters. Connect with your family and friends. Giggle. Read. Be Inspired.
Instead of going to church with its increasing crescendo of attendance and wardrobe demands, stay at home, let the little ones play, while the rest of you read from something inspirational, be that the Bible or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Eat balanced meals but this doesn’t have to be difficult. Carrots with ranch are a favorite anyhow. And the kids eat those mandarins as if they are candy.
As far as cooking the grand meals, Do Nothing.
If it works out, fine.
If it doesn’t, fine.
But either way, don’t stress about the particulars of where, who, when and why. And no matter what, do not, I repeat, do not call in-laws looking for help for your errant husband’s ways.
They will not be on your side.
They will instead, with your depleted oxygen levels, detail what you did wrong which will lead to an explosion.
They are probably right.
They are probably wrong.
It doesn’t matter.
Speak your truth, but for gods sake, do not e-mail it.
Especially not at 3:00am in the morning.
Watch your oxygen levels.
When your house is clean, and you have spent the day restoring not only the order of your house but the order of your soul, when you have saged out all that negative energy careening through the walls and over the baseboards, you can handle the car full of toys and direct them all straight up to their rooms where you can watch their enjoyment and excitement both of the children and your husband.
Be happy for him that he is doing his best to recreate the warm memories of his childhood while discovering just how different it looks from this vantage point.
When he blames that difference on you, take responsibility.
Don’t take responsibility.
In the end, it is just about making a Christmas cake – a little bit of that, a lot of that, some of this and some of that. All mixed up together and sorted and sifted, careening over the sides, spilling on the counter, jostled and sometimes intentionally thrown by a toddler, somehow coming together and going into the oven to turn into a wonderful fragrant creation. But sometimes not.
Look down, and there is your four year old looking up.
‘There are no sides, Mommy, we are a circle.’
When your kids throw your words back at you, you have to catch them.
Whatever life throws at you,
Try your best to catch It.