I met my friends in the dark this morning just as snow began to fall. As we ran along the familiar streets we discussed our plans and stresses and to-do lists of the day. We all want to enjoy these days with our children and yet so much burdens a mother’s shoulders on Christmas Eve. As we parted, I said to my friends, “My Christmas wish for you is to enjoy it; drink in every happy moment.”
All month, I’ve shopped and wrapped, attended concert after concert, baked and folded and mailed– and I’ve soaked it in– laughed and listened, skipped through trees hung with lights, stood still, closed my eyes and felt the spirit of love and goodwill all around.
But today, I’m too busy. I’ve put off so many tasks, I can feel the stress buzzing through my veins, my to-do list repeating in my head. I’ve had too many late nights and early mornings; I can feel myself about to break. And I don’t like myself this way. These are the times when I say something snippy, hurt someone’s feelings, forget to give a child a hug. I’m afraid. I don’t like to nag or scold or grumble. I like to be nice. I want to create magic without being manic; to know when to abandon the last batch of cookies for a snowball fight and leave ribbons off the packages in favor of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Driving home, I prayed, “Please help me to be patient, to be kind. Please help me, on this, the eve of my Saviour’s birth.”
Yesterday, we crowded into our favorite pew at church– I’m afraid we were a little rude (sorry Olsons)– we always try to sit by the Dudley’s grandchildren. My big boys fight over ten month old Charlie, while Gabe compliments little Audrey on her on her dress. Just for Christmas, straight from Boston, came baby Marjorie. I know there have been other babies just as beautiful and just as loved, but never, never has there been a baby more beautiful or more wanted than sweet little Marjorie.
As I held Marjorie and sang, “Angels from the Realms of Glory” I felt heaven all around me. I carried that feeling into Nursery where eleven happy toddlers laughed and played, fingered my Nativity set and danced as we blew soap bubbles. “This is Christmas.” I told myself over and over.
Arriving home from running this morning, I found Mary, Gabe and Xander reading under the Christmas tree.
I crossed out half my list and recruited the kids for present wrapping. They came in shifts so they couldn’t see their own presents.
Their wrapping is pretty impressive, yes?
Gabe and Mary delivered gifts in the storm (they didn’t last long).
Mostly, I left everyone alone to just be. To play dumb games, watch Phineas & Ferb, for Erik to finish Les Miserables before the movie (only 600 pages to go!)
and I scrapped the last few scenes and effects for Ben’s Christmas video. It’s good enough, really silly, but more than a little obnoxious (and I look all stressed and bug eyed in the mailbox scene because a car almost hit Gabe two minutes before).
All day, I felt an angel beside me, soothing me with an extra measure of patience and humor, energy to spare. Perhaps it was my mother who also wanted to stay calm and happy on these days and struggled too.
Because God knows all, and gives us what we need (not necessarily what we want), I often hesitate to ask for specific blessings. But I believe God delights in answering little prayers, sending love notes from heaven, especially when, in His wisdom, He is not granting our big prayers. They same way I’m happy to make sugar cookies for Gabe, but I’m not going to buy him a motorcycle. God listens; He is ready to bless us, we simply need to ask. Oh, I’ve had times when I prayed to behave well and I simply couldn’t. But today, heaven’s help flooded in.
Tonight I’m grateful for the gift of a peaceful heart, for a Father in Heaven who loves us completely and Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the babe of Bethlehem.