Thursday, December 18, 2008
A No-Panic Advent, Part XIV: A Week Before Christmas -- Do You Know Where Your Daughter's Tights Are?
One week until Christmas!
What do I still need to make? Buy? Wrap?
Who has a birthday in December that I've completely forgotten? (I'll remember Jesus, of course, but others? Friends? Family? Who needs a birthday card?)
Have I thought about those stockings that will soon hang over the fireplace, and about what will go in them?
Speaking of stockings, when Christmas Mass rolls around will all of my children have tights/socks without holes/hose without runs? Clothes that fit? Shoes that won't send them into last-minute snits? Some mothers might buy festive new clothes each Christmas, but others do a little jig of joy when everything from last year (or in Ramona's case, the most current Christmas hand-me-down) fits. Yes. That'd be me.
And, let's be totally honest here. The problem with writing and running a "No-Panic Advent" series is that at some point any sane, normal, writer-mom will panic.
I did. I have panicked.
"Hi, my name is Karen, and I'm a fake."
Well, not really. I haven't had any cataclysmic meltdowns, haven't taken anyone's head off (well, not completely, and I did tell Anne-with-an-e that I was sorry for being snippy), and I haven't run from the house, ripping my hair out and screeching, "I thought I had more gift bags!" (No, I calmly drove to the store, and merely felt like screeching when the check-out clerk insisted that the "50% off all Christmas wrap" sign directly above the gift bags was not misleading because the bags were not, and have never been, on sale. Okay.)
But I've had my moments. Suddenly, it seems, Christmas is almost here, and there are things I've forgotten, things on which I fell behind, things I haven't gotten around to (and actually, for you sticklers, that should be, "things to which I haven't gotten around," but as Winston Churchill said of preposition placement, "There are some things up with which I will not put.")
Last night, when I went to have coffee with two friends, I practically threw their Christmas gifts at them and said, "Now I can cross you off my list." I was kidding, of course, but there is something to that awful, "Must ... Do ... During ... Advent .... " spell under which we all fall.
Sometimes things providentially pop up, things that help us rearrange our priorities. For example, although we always celebrate St. Lucia Day, this year was different. Some friends were available at the last minute and able to have our kids overnight while Atticus and I ran away for a one-night vacation. We've never left all three of our girls before, so it was the proverbial big deal. We jumped on it and were thrilled we did. We had a great time, and Ramona survived the separation (although, after our reunion she noted, "I did miss you more than I can say. And I love you dearly.") We missed doing our traditional St. Lucia activities (the bread, however, had been consumed and eaten two days prior), but when I felt a pang about that, I reminded myself that "no panic" means accepting what God allows.
Sometimes it's a refreshing one-night vacation.
Other times, it means someone is throwing up on Christmas Eve.
Whatever happens, we can rest assured that He knows about it. And He'll get us through.
So, when I start to panic, I go back to my prayer. It grounds me. It reminds me that Christmas is not about shopping and doing, and not about presents (with the exception of the Ultimate Gift.) Rather, it is about sin and redemption, about panic and apologies.
And, it will come, as the Grinch learned, whether it is surrounded by all our cultural, habitual trappings or not. It will come to our sloppy, imperfect selves, and when it does, I need only ask myself, "Is Jesus pleased with what I've given Him this Advent, and in this Christmas season, or is He wagging His finger at me?"
If I sense any Divine finger-wagging, then I can get a head-start on the next to-do list: spiritual resolutions for the new year.
Because He's all about beginnings, this God of ours.
Now, I'm off to cross "tights" off my shopping list.