On these short, dark days before Christmas I never seem able to sleep and get frustrated with myself lying in bed doing a tally of gifts bought and gifts to buy, instead of counting sheep. I feel that as a mom of four young adults, wife of the husband, daughter of the parents, sister of the siblings, too much shopping has fallen on my shoulders and the emphasis at this time of year, by my own doing, has gone terribly wrong.
This morning on the fourth shortest day, when I leave the Christmas lights on all night to brighten the weary dark, I was laying in my warm bed and decided, most consciously, to think hard about what it is I am anticipating for the next week – a week that will come and go a hundred times faster than the slow build up since Halloween.
What are the moments I want to be in? Not in a distracted, on to the next bit way, but in a truly aware and mindful – this is what we all waited for – way?
The first son home this year went with his dad and together they picked out a glorious tree. A few years back their dad and I had decorated the tree for our kids arrival home – only to find they all wanted to be part of the ‘boys act like they don’t care’ while supervising from the couch watching something like, Saving Private Ryan, while the girls hung even the sloppiest kindergarten macaroni decoration because they “remembered making it”. We have learned to save the tree decorating and I promise I will be in those moments.
In the past I probably helped too much with gift buying, the older they got the less money they had to spend with rent and groceries and parties to attend to. I was resenting becoming the mother-of-all shoppers. But in the last few years, maturing as they are supposed to, these young adults of ours have managed to think ahead and somehow put aside funds for gifts they have been excited about bestowing on each other and us – small, inexpensive, partially homemade sometimes – but all tokens of love and affection. I will be in those moments of anticipation – watching the dance around the wrapping, the shouting out for tape, or for no one to come in whatever room, and then the sneaking the package under our sparkling tree.
It will take until Dec. 23 this year but finally we will all be under one roof again, something that hasn’t happened since Easter. When I lay in bed that night I will toss aside thoughts of organizing, turkey stuffing, having to run out for whipping cream as always, and where did I put the stockings about 350 days ago? Instead I will be completely, entirely immersed in the feeling of having them all so close, though they may be up into the wee hours listening to hip hop or watching DVD’s of The Office and laughing together – eating the butter tarts a day early and sharing Christmas-y secrets. I think I will wrap myself in a blanket and sneak down to be with them, saving sleep for another time, knowing in my heart that these are the moments of the season that I have truly longed for.