Wow. Christmas was a rush. Many presents... anxiety… like, some sort of performance anxiety.. will they like their presents? What if they open them in the wrong order? What if I don’t like my presents? Will I feel disappointed at the end of the day? Then Christmas will be over for nothing.
But when I pause to see in between the harried, superficial, moments, I see the moments of warmth: watching the kids open something they like.. seeing them enjoying a new toy.. playing together. Watching the Polar Express, with the kids and my dad on the futon on the floor in front of the TV.. hearing Dad explain to the kids stuff about the train or what’s going on in the movie. Seeing the love and effort that went in to that too-big mountain of toys... how our family is trying to compensate for the imperfectness in our lives.
But you know what? All lives are imperfect, and our hand of imperfections is a good one compared to others’. What IS perfect? There’s no such thing. What are our values? Family. But just because this family doesn’t match the definition of a Picture Perfect Nuclear Family, is that cause for alarm? If a woman's boobs have cancers in them and she cuts them off to be free of the disease, is she not lucky and grateful? When she sees her boobless form in the mirror she doesn't mourn for the loss of her Perfect Image, she rejoices.. because those scars across her chest are badges of victory - proof of her body stitching itself back together and healing. 'Yes, but there are real disadvantages here.' says the ever-worried Brain. Just like a boobless woman cannot feed her child and thus puts her children’s survival at risk, so too is my little family unit at risk with only one parent. But, as for the mother who can use bottles and wet nurses, so too is the single parent not without options. Yes, it scary in that it is one less link in the chain of survival, one step closer to needing that safety net of society, to not being self sufficient - which is a very unsettling notion. We are a strong family, we breed self dependency and resilience and grit. We come from a long line of people who survived because of those values. But we also come from a long line of helpers, too. Because no one and no thing is perfect. And that is why we are family.
Do we need to compensate? I DO think so.. we need to put in extra effort to connect and love each other and these kids. And buying gifts during Christmas time is one way of doing that. That instinct for strengthening our connection drove us to have a big, perfect Christmas.. not greed or materialism, as my dad fears. Let’s keep acting on that instinct all year round.. gifting is only one means of connection, there are other ways: a special movie, a little day trip, a craft or project, board games.. TIME with the kids. Kids spell ‘love’ as ‘time’ with their parents. Let’s do this, 2019!
Lily dancing to the Hallmark Snowmen
Lily dancing and playing our little clay ocarina.