Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm almost afraid to say it aloud, but – I'm finished with my Christmas shopping! This is almost unprecedented. I am one of those people who is usually still picking things up on Christmas Eve. To have all my gifts bought by December 19th – and most of them wrapped – is a shock.

To be fair, we are buying for fewer people than a few years ago. Our goddaughter grew up. Sam is beyond the age where we buy a bunch of teacher gifts. We have cut back on the wretched excess that used to characterize my exchanges with my mom and sister. Etc.

But still, this amazes me. And mildly disorients me.

We haven't sent Christmas cards since 2004, I think, and we decided to send them again this year. But then we found that we cannot locate an old address list to start with, and without that starting point the task looms too large. So we may send just a few to out-of-town people whose addresses we can easily find, and leave it at that.

Similarly, I considered stepping up to more holiday baking, since my mom and sister have become too infirm to do the amount they used to do. But the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced I would mainly only make the four residents of my house a little fatter than we already are. Oh, certainly, we would give some away. But I found it hard to believe we wouldn't eat the lion's share of them. And that just seemed like a bad idea. So I will stay with the very limited baking I have done the past few years, and I think we are all better off.

We have choir rehearsals the next two nights, then one night off before the holidays are here. And I already know what I'm wearing to the Christmas Eve Masses – yet another stressor removed. Bob and I are leading the music at the 6:30 overflow Mass in the parish hall, and then the choir does a 30-minute prelude and sings at 10:00 Mass. Christmas Day we will spend with my mom and sister, then we get a week of playtime.  I really want the season to be a time of rest and joy for all of us, not another excuse to stress out and overdo. 

Finally, we go to Bob's hometown to finish up with his family's Christmas get-together, which falls on New Year's Eve this year.  Bob's is a classic big, rollicking family, and I always LOVE Christmas with the Beasleys. It is the perfect way to end the season. We had hoped Warren could come with us for the Beasley Christmas and meet the extended family, but he was fortunate enough to get Christmas off instead.  I'm disappointed that he won't be with us, but I think some quality holiday time with his family is probably the best thing for him and thus, I'm happy even in my disappointment.

So that's what the holidays look like for us. They seem less stressful than I remember, but I suspect it's because my perspective is different than when I was younger. I am so grateful for the wonderful life we live and for the dear people who share it with me. I know that's what matters, and since I am blessed with that life and those people 365 days a year, Christmas is just icing on the cake.

Here's wishing you and yours a beautiful, blessed Christmas that features just the amount of hubub you enjoy!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

I was surprised to see that it was two weeks since I last posted. Since then we have been through Thanksgiving and definitely turned the corner into the Christmas season. I can't believe how quickly the days pass! I'm not complaining, really, because I love having a full and busy life. I just marvel at how fast it moves!! The coming weeks – and even months – show no sign of slowing down. We have so many exciting things to look forward to.

The job alluded to in my last blog post did not, in fact, pan out for Warren, but last night he got the good news that he has been hired as a clerk at the nearby UDF. (For non-local readers that stands for United Dairy Farmers and is a combination gas station/convenience store/ice cream parlor.) This job has two big advantages, we believe. One, it does not involve cooking or kitchen work; and two, it is a comfortably short walk from our house, so it does not involve coordinating the entire family's schedule just to get him there and back each day. Please join me in praying that it turns out to be a job that will work out for him for a nice long time. I feel strongly that he really needs to experience the stability of staying in the same job for a year or more, and begin to layer additional new experiences, like college classes, on top of that base. My belief that Warren will go on to build a successful, productive, satisfying life has not wavered, nor has my commitment to help him realize the many wonderful positive character traits I see inherent in him. But the five months he has lived here have involved a lot of false starts and struggles and “two-steps-forward, one-step-back,” and for his sake I ache to see him experience a period of unambiguous forward progress.

Sam, having completed his Eagle project and submitted all his college applications, is in a bit of a lull these days. He has nothing but school work to focus on, which is sometimes a bit of a hazard for him. But so far he seems to be keeping his grades where they need to be. I anticipate that after the first of the year he will have some acceptances, and will then have to focus on choosing which college will be The One. I keep reminding him that while money isn't the only factor, it is a factor in that decision process. And mostly, I keep praying ardently that God will give us clear guidance on which is the right choice. I don't so much care which school he chooses, just that we have a strong, clear sense of which one is right - preferably, that he, Bob and I all get that same sense about the same school.

Today we started doing some Christmas decorating. It will probably be another week before we are done, but it is nice to have some lights up and a few things to make us feel like the holidays are upon us. I have done some Christmas shopping – which is pretty early for me – and I have scheduled a vacation day for this Tuesday to try to knock out as much of it as I can while the stores are not jam-packed with people. Then we have some Christmas parties to attend, two Masses to sing at on Christmas Eve, and celebrations with both the Emerson and Beasley families to look forward to. The Christmas season usually moves even faster than the rest of the year, and I hope to do everything in my power to savor it as it glides by.

So really, I'm just full of anticipation: of sharing in Warren's new job experiences, of sharing a wonderful Christmas season with loved ones, of seeing where Sam ends up choosing to go to school, and of the many unforeseeable changes, challenges and thrills that make our life so much fun. Never a dull moment!