Saturday, December 21, 2013

*Calendar Schmalendar

Merry Christmas!  Yes, I know that today is December 21, the day of the winter solstice.  Yes, I know that Christmas is not until next Wednesday.  Well, CALENDAR SCHMALENDAR.  We're celebrating today, and I've been wide awake since 3:30.  I've always been a bit of an insomniac, but I'm even more of one on Christmas morning.  "The children are nestled all snug in their beds..."

I feel so, so happy knowing that my boys are asleep in my house.  My sweet daughter-in-law is here. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner last night with my mom and stepdad. It was a lovely evening, full of pleasant conversation, good-natured teasing, and warm feelings. I had been so worried, and it all went beautifully.

Ever since my daughter's ANNOUNCEMENT two Christmas Eves ago that she was moving away from Utah to Colorado, Christmas has been an emotional time for me.  Last year Sierra flew home to join us, and we celebrated our Christmas Adam with her.  (Christmas Adam (December 23) comes before Christmas Eve (December 24), in case you were wondering.) This is our first Christmas apart. Sierra is such a ray of sunshine, I just couldn't imagine a holiday without her.  She had asked Bridger to Skype with her during our family gathering.  I wasn't sure how that would go, but it gave me a glimmer of hope that it would feel like she were there, somehow.

During the most random moments during the last week, I have erupted into spontaneous tears. Over nothing.  One chilly afternoon, I finally mustered up enough enthusiasm to take Marley for a walk on the trail by the canal.  In an effort to warm up my hands, I shoved them into my ski parka, and discovered a Bob's Sweet Stripe Stick.  It was perfect, lint-free, and, I just have to say it, it was in "mint condition."  I have no idea how it came to be in my pocket; I was just glad it was there, my little Christmas miracle.  I think Bob's are the most perfect peppermint, firm enough to suck on, and soft enough to chew, being sweet with a hint of powerful freshness.  They always make me think of Christmas.  I broke the stick in two, and popped half of it in my mouth. good.  I took in a big breath, and enjoyed the cooling sensation as the peppermint mingled with the crisp December air. And I burst into tears.  

My mind flooded with our plans for Christmas Eve, which we would be celebrating on December 20. Dylan and Jamie were coming to join us. Bridger was heading our way after school. My mom was making rolls and mashed potatoes for our holiday dinner.  She was coming with her husband. And my sweet daughter and her boyfriend would be in Lakewood, Colorado.  I miss her so much I sometimes have to force myself not to think about her, unless I feel like crying, and then I just let the tears come.  

Now I realize that technically, Christmas is next week for many people in the world.  (Did you know it isn't until January 7 for the Orthodox Christians?  I learned that yesterday from one of my friends in Russia. I'm so glad I never had to wait THAT long for Santa to come!)  As a mom of independent children, I am learning that flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to holidays.  When your married kids have the weekend before Christmas off of work, and offer to travel to your home, whatever time you spend together becomes Christmas.  When another married child agrees to bring your precious grandsons to a Christmas morning breakfast, that morning becomes Christmas, and the calendar just happens to concur.  CALENDAR SCHMALENDAR. 

Friday morning I set two intentions for my day.  I wanted to be of service to others, and to experience joy.  Lately, I think I've had a serious mindset, and on this day of celebration for our family, I wanted to be light-hearted, and open to delight.  With those two lovely thoughts in my heart and head, I set out to have a very good day.

Bridger arrived before the big kids, and headed downstairs to wrap the last of his presents and play his guitar.  When Dylan and Jamie arrived, we all visited while I set about making the house smell like the holidays with the scent of sage, rosemary, and thyme.  Mom and Richard joined us, and after dinner, there was a football game silently playing on the TV and a Scrabble game going on at the bar. As I sat in my recliner, enjoying the camaraderie around me, I realized we needed our girl. "When are we Skyping Sierra?" I asked no one in particular, but hoping Bridger would get right on it.  

As soon as I saw her making silly faces on the screen, I relaxed, and I laughed.  That's my girl for you.  She naturally puts everyone at ease with her random humor, and her easy way.  Dylan does not like communicating unless it's face-to-face or texting.  (He even deletes every voice mail message on his phone, in case it's bad news, and he avoids anything like Skype.)  Learning of his aversion just as Bridger was dialing Sierra, I was so pleased to see his joking with Jason and Sierra on the computer. That big brother's love for his sister is stronger than his distaste for techno-communication.  

We took a family photo, which is the poorest of quality, but it's my favorite photograph from the evening.  Surrounded by my Utah family, I held Sisi and Jason in my hands on my laptop, and we were all smiling at my mom as she took a photo during our Skype session. We WERE all there, in the same room, at the same time, laughing and talking, just like old times.  My heart was light and happy.  
I saw this poster on the internet from Cheryl Richardson.  It has been my guiding thought as I have planned for the holidays.  The date on the calendar doesn't matter.  Following traditions to the tee, doesn't matter.  Loved ones matter; that is all.  

Sierra and Jason will be joining us in January, possibly on Martin Luther King, Junior's holiday weekend.  And guess what?  My tree will probably still be up because any time my kids come for a visit is just like Christmas for me.  Calendar schmalendar, indeed!

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