Christmas caroling. Boo and Sophie were angels and Dooby was a shepherd and they sang "GLO-oo-ooo-oo-ooo-OOOOORIA" most gloriously. We all had a good time, but by 8:30 the kids were done. On our drive home as I sat trying to rub the ache from my forehead in the midst of back seat melt-downs, I had a childhood flashback.
It was in Provo, and my family of 7 stuffed into our Chevette (yes, 7 in the Chevette, you didn't read it wrong) to bring Christmas cheer to Dad's friends and co-workers. Dad had promised "just a quick trip!" and Mom had our favorite soup simmering on the stove awaiting our return. But it was not a quick trip, because we got lost. And then there was the fighting, crying, and complaining of 5 children. By the time we got home the soup had burnt, and any Christmas cheer we'd initially experienced had gone down in flames with it.
Now we are the parents, trying to bring that Christmas spirit to our family as we try to teach them the value of giving even as they are tired, whining, and complaining. We are the ones who will go home, put them to bed, and then stay up cleaning the toys, doing the dishes, wrapping the presents, and folding the clothes. But you know what? I'm so glad that it is our turn to experience it all, because somehow joy manages to weave itself through the work and stresses of parenthood.
we were talking about our favorite with the kids and told them about 2003, the year we surprised Grandma and Papa twice by showing up in Effingham, IL. all the way from China and then telling them we were pregnant! We got out our family videos and let the kids watch those joyous surprises. We explained to Sophie that it was such a surprise because we didn't know if she would ever come to our family, and that we were crying happy tears! What a turning point that was for us. The beginning of the end of our honeymoon existence, which has rapidly gone down in flames. We used to have such a pristine clean home. We slept in every weekend until 10, ate a big breakfast, and then took a nap. We flirted shamelessly. We went on vacations, just the two of us! Now we eat the cold left-over spaghetti out of the kids' bowls for dinner, complain nightly about throwing away all the toys because we're tired of cleaning, go out on a date (if we're lucky) once a month, and bicker over who will get up with Dooby at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning. It's such a different world, but I can't imagine living in the old one. It would seem so empty now.
During this season as I reflect on my memories, I am grateful for my parents who worked so hard for me and taught me that sacrifice and service was more important than burnt soup. I'm grateful for my husband who loved me when I was youthful and flirtatious, and who still loves me when I'm tired, cranky, and flabby. And I'm especially grateful for my 3 precious children, who changed our lives that momentous of 2003 and made me smile to myself tonight as they belted out "GLO-oo-ooo-oo-ooo-OOOOORIA" at the top of their little angelic lungs. Merry Christmas!
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