Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our Christmas

So Christmas redeemed itself for my family and I after my little rant on a previous post and I've happily overcome my Scrooge feelings. To explain; this year has been one of the most difficult years of my life since we've struggled financially due to the home market pretty much crashing and nobody wanting to buy a log home, Dave's job and our primary income. As we've shifted from unrewarding job to unrewarding job, continuously overcome huge amounts of fear with faith, and learned how to survive this torment, we knew Christmas was going to be about as dissapointing as everything else that involves money in our current lives, but were we ever wrong.

We started out the Christmas season as usual with a tree and decorations because we already had them and didn't have to purchase anything to put them up and meanwhile wondering how to make Christmas magical for little ones without money. We began to think creatively and had some friends donate used toys to us as well as found some decent toys at local second hand stores for minimal costs, thinking these things would just have to suffice because in all honesty, our bills would come before Christmas gifts in the financial department.

But then a few weeks before Christmas, the true spirit of Santa began in our lives. We received gift after gift from loved ones, most anonymously, of generous amounts of money to allow us the opportunity to have a splendid Christmas. We even received a few bags of presents wrapped and labeled for our children and ourselves. As a result of all the kindness of others, our Christmas was just as good, if not better, than any Christmas we've had as a little family for the last 8 years. The children had no idea that our past response to their pleas for things, "because we don't have any money" could have also affected their Christmas because it appeared as if it didn't. It was as if for a day we were able to pretend there was no struggle in our lives and we were at ease watching them open each gift with surprise and wonderment, as well as for ourselves, since we didn't know what the presents were either. It's hard for me to put into words the effect this experience has had on Dave and I. One thing we do know is the frustration we've felt in not being able to appropriately thank those generous givers that magically changed our world for just a moment, at a very special time. My cousin Braden put our feelings best, when he wrote on his own blog:

I Believe in Santa Claus
I'm 37 years old and I believe in Santa Claus. I really do. Let me tell you why--and then maybe you will also. It seems a good thing to do for a Christmas Eve post.I didn't always believe in him. In fact, while I was growing up, I didn't believe in him. My sweet mom really wanted the focus to be on Baby Jesus (and rightly so), consequently Santa just wasn't a big part of our celebrations.I was never anti-Santa, I thought he seemed harmless enough, but he just didn't figure in to my life much. Until I was married with children.A lot of you know the next part of the story. On my mission, I became quite ill. I managed to struggle along through the complete two years, but I came home severely weakened and exhausted. I fell in love, got married and we started our family. Then I relapsed and the sickness came back with a vengeance.Those years are a blur for me. For basically three years I could do nothing but lay in my bed and sleep. On good days I was able to watch a little tv. I had to drop out of school and it was impossible to work. Poor Mere was a single mother for all intents and purposes--two little boys to take care of in addition to a sick husband. It was terribly, incredibly, perpetually bleak during those years. There was not much to cheer us as we trudged through the soul-numbing bleakness that was always there.We're coming up on the anniversary of my healing, and for those interested, I'll write more about that as we get closer to that. Eventually, though, I was healed. But what I learned was that the absence of illness did not make me strong and healthy. That was a process that came slowly. I went back to school and work. But after three years, we were in a pretty deep hole--financially and emotionally.Christmas came the next year. We were grateful that I wasn't sick any more, but there were a lot of residual effects. I was way behind in school, we had no money, and Christmas was going to be fairly sparse for our kids--and now there were three of them. That was ok. We weren't miserable or anything--but it wasn't exactly terribly festive, either. Then, one night we heard a noise outside. Someone left a beautiful artificial Christmas tree on our doorstep. That was followed by decorations and some other things. That really brightened our holiday. Then, several nights before Christmas, we heard the distinct sound of bells outside. I opened the door and went to see what it was. I opened the door and Santa Claus walked in.
I'm not joking. Just like that. He came in and asked if he could sit down. He had a helper then bring in several laundry baskets full of gifts, all wrapped beautifully. The new tree, by the way, is in the background. David and Spencer were in bed, but we ran and got them. Thankfully, we had film in the camera! Their eyes were like plates. Sadly, Toria was a baby and was asleep, so she missed out. There were lots of gifts for all of us--things we wanted, things we needed, and everything was in the right sizes, too.
Of course, the gifts were nice--really, really nice--but the greater gift was the way our hearts were lifted up and the love that was so clearly manifest. To this day, we aren't sure who was behind this. We racked our brains and went over every possibility. But we never found out. And they made that Christmas for us. We remember--and relive this--every year. Whoever you are, thank you so much.
And then I realized that we didn't need to know. Santa Claus was behind it. He was responsible. That was when Santa became real to me. And what is Santa? I believe that he is the embodiment of the kindness we show each other. He is the name we give to the urge to do something nice for someone else. He is the incarnation of all the good will that we feel during this time of the year.
I've never felt a conflict between my belief in Santa and my belief in the Savior. To me, Santa is the name for doing what the Savior would have us do. Ultimately, the Savior is the source of the goodwill that finds an expression in the acts we perform as Santa. Perhaps that's redudant. I don't know. But it works for me.
All I know is that Santa is real. I met him many years ago on a cold night in Wymount Terrace.
Merry Christmas, everyone.

Our hearts go out to all of those of you who have helped others or us because we know that it is because of that kindness and love that we were able to have an amazing Christmas! Thank you for your kindness, all of you! Dave and I are so excited for the future so we can find ways to help others as we've been helped. What a glorious opportunity to portray the Savior in his kindness in doing for others what has been done for us. What a glorious holiday!

Besides the many gifts given to our children from others for Christmas, we were able to give them new bedrooms in anticipation of our new arrival this coming February.

Harris and his new bedroom in his new pajamas.

Brigden and his new bedroom (shared w/ Harris) in his new CARS pajamas.

Halen and her new bedroom in her new pajams

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bah Humbug, Merry Christmas!

Ahh! I want to scream. Have you ever wanted to scream? I know it's the holidays and it's a wonderful time to remember the reason for the season, make gingerbread houses, enjoy time with loved ones and family, look at the beautiful lights on houses, listen to glorious music, bake goodies for friends, and get excited to give gifts to others, but why can't all this bliss be accompanied by little children running around the house with smiles and giggles instead of whines and complaints and instant tear jerking moments of frustration due to complete exhaustion from late nights, sugar overload, and high expectations?

I've vowed to myself from day one to keep my posts as realistic as possible so I feel it only necessary then that I equal out my positive grateful posts with a real "Bah Humbug" post....hence, beware and stop here if you are feeling the joy of the season and life is blissful for you because I might just temporarily ruin it!

My mom had a plastic door knocker that she put on her door every year for Christmas that was a molding of Scrooge and when you pushed the button with the door knocker it would say, "Bah Humbug! Merry Christmas." Of course as kids we all got a kick out of it and now I have it on my door and get to watch kids enjoy it the same as we did. It is fun to have, but so truthful to my heart at the moment because I feel like shouting "Bah Humbug" to my little ungrateful awnery ones every 10 minutes.

Today is the first day they are out of school and given my 7 month pregnant tired state, I am not excited for the fact that I get to entertain them all day long as well as the next 2 weeks. I'm not really sure that threatening the placement on the Naughty List is really cutting it because in the end will I really shrink to giving my kids coal for Christmas. Oh, how scrooge is that, but sometimes I feel it might well be deserved by the actions of these awnery little ones. The worst part is knowing when they instantly go into fits after some seriously minor event takes place, that they are merely doing so because they are so tired themselves they can't even see straight, or feel straight for that matter.

Hence, I am just feeling a little bit overwhelmed by it all and felt I should share my frustrations with you all so you could know that yes, I am not perfect, as well as my children, and although I love them and this season dearly, for these 10 minutes, I am done with Christmas and want mundanity back! No fear, I'll change my mind when I get some time to myself or someone in my home does something Christlike or nice to bring back the Christmas spirit, but seriously, a little bit of reality never hurt anyone, right?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chaos and Cars!

The last few weeks I have spent getting ready for Christmas by decorating/painting rooms. Dave and I decided to cut back on costs for gifts so the major present we would give our children is their newly decorated bedrooms. Given the quick coming arrival of their baby sister in 8 weeks, they've known they would be shifting around their belongs to different rooms to make space for the baby, but we thought it would be fun to surprise them with finished rooms earlier than they expected. Halen will be getting her own room merely only due to circumstances of being a girl older than her next two male siblings and Brigden will be moving in with Harris in what was Halen & Harris' room. This room was meant for Halen alone, but due to basement remodeling issues, it became Harris' as well and as a result he had to sleep with large flowers on his wall for almost two years. Occassionally he would remember his girly room and ask for dinosaurs on his wall someday to which I would reassure him of high hopes for the future. Anyway, as a result of the chaos in trying to paint and prepare two bedrooms without the kids clueing into the entire surprise, I've had to work while they were at school which left just Brigden at home with me. As a direct result of having only Brigden to occupy I did what most mothers would do in desperate circumstances, gave into his every desire to keep him occupied and out of my way so I could maximize my limited alone productive time. Here is the agenda of one of his days just last week....

9:00 Put together Cars Puzzle by himself (he loves puzzles and puts this one together at least 2 times a day)
9:30 Watch the entire Cars Disney movie, using the remote to skip the commercials when they came after I taught him how to do so.
11:00 Restart the entire Cars Disney movie, until actually tiring of it half way through.
11:45 Put together Cars Puzzle again by himself.
12:15 Play Cars Computer Game with my help as I prepare lunch for he and Harris.
1:00 Nap Time with his Lightening McQueen car.

All I can say is, "Thank Heavens for CARS!" And as if to mislead you into thinking this was an irregular day it in all actuality is not far from the norm. He doesn't watch Cars 1 1/2 times each day, but sure would if I let him. He loves his CARS puzzle, his CARS cars, his CARS jacket, CARS shoes, CARS toothbrush, CARS pajamas and amazingly enough we've just happened upon all of these things as gifts and hand me downs from others so this crazy obsession of his hasn't cost us more than the price of a puzzle which I actually bought for him. Now I know that there is such a thing as addiction and he needs to be relieved of his obsession, but as far as I'm concerned I need to get these rooms done and we can work on that and potty training after Christmas and before the baby comes. All in good time.