Nostalgic and Real Christmas

Christmas is such a lovely time of year. There are so many opportunities for special occasions of good cheer, and we have tried to take advantage of that as a family.

It all starts with a lovely family Thanksgiving. Molly Mae wanted a carrot cake this year and so she helped make it.

This Fall meal is my favorite setting.

 I tease my Mother about using silver entirely too often, but I did ask her to bring up my grandmother silver for this meal. Isn't it beautiful?

The Carrot Cake was delicious even though I'm not sure Molly even had a full slice.
After my parents left, we kicked off the Christmas season with my taking Anna Cate & Molly to see the Christian Youth Theater's production of "A Christmas Carol." The days that followed leading up until Christmas were full of other celebrations of the yule tide -- parties, parades, ginger bread house decorating, an outing to see The Nutcracker, a children's Christmas performance at church. It is a lot of wonderful Christmassy things.   
We squeezed in a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. 
We try so hard to fill these girls with memories of this season and joy for the holidays. I also slipped off to go see Messiah by myself one Sunday evening. 

They both still believe in the magic of Christmas and I try to preserve and take advantage of each time to celebrate it.

And these are things that I hope they will remember. The words of Dickens, the prancing of Tchaikovsky, and melodies of Handel are what I  believe to be the essence of life. but in the midst of all these happenings, we still are working and then the girls got sick. Since November 20, we visited a doctor for Anna Cate at least 4 times -- she had two bouts of strep, a virus and pneumonia. Molly had strep and pink eye. Anna Cate tried out and did not make a play.  They still have extra curricular activities on top of my trying to create Christmas magic and last week, I snapped.  I guess I could leave my blog at the stories of the good times, but I cling to the real as fiercely as I love the sentiments of the season.

In the midst of all of this "good cheer" I felt empty and burned out. I said things I shouldn't have said, yelled at BJ and the girls, and basically lost my marbles.  It was all just too much for me.  Combining all the good stuff in our life with all the necessary stuff and the illnesses left me wiped  out. And in truth, it carved into my time for myself to work out. 

My need for a few hours hours a week to myself to sweat is both a blessing and a curse for our family--it keeps me healthy, but missing it makes me grumpy. Going without those endoprhins and the self-esteem booster leaves the ugliest emotional toxins possible trapped inside me and unfortunately they were released on my family. I felt like Anna Cate wasn't acting grateful for a Christmas gift, like BJ didn't appreciate my efforts to enjoy life and get gifts to all the teachers, and well, Molly wakes us up every night. 

I'm not proud of it but I bet I'm not alone, and the more I thought about it, I took some solace in this little nativity set.  
I realize that just like our images of the nativity we put out as Christmas decor, the scenes of the seasons  involve many stories.  So too will my children's treasure bank of memories hold many stories, even if they aren't all rosy. 

In the story from Luke, there is mention of shepherds. Yet in the story from Matthew, there are no shepherds and we read about a bright star and the magi, the wise kings. In another source, the gospel of James focuses more on Mary and her childhood. While there is no mention of the shepherds with the kings in biblical accounts, every nativity set we put the shepherds, a star, the angels and the kings together.  These images in the stories work together to make the nativity.   
It's all a part of Christmas --the shepherds and the wise men. The hustle and the stress; the overwhelming to-do lists with the abundance of culture.  The illnesses of my children come along with this amazing opportunity to care for them.  The trials and the joy make up this journey. 

Whatever we believe about the divinity of Jesus, I can't deny the fact that for over a thousand years, millions of people have looked to celebrate his birth because his life and legacy were so meaningful.  For those of us who do believe there was divinity in his spirit, I still take solace in the fact that what we celebrate in this Holy Season is humanity, a birth story. So I am reminded to be ok with both the divinity of the season in all the good stuff and the humanity of it in my own shortcomings. For if it weren't for my shortcomings, I wouldn't need something larger than myself to celebrate. 

I think I've picked up my marbles and been able to regroup. We celebrated as a family before making the trip to Tennessee. We have much to celebrate and many memories to make. And if those crazy mom memories last in their head, hopefully they will remember happy scenes as well. 

“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”  ― Charles DickensA Christmas Carol