Good Grief

Good Grief

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Day Before the Night Before Christmas

The Day before the night before Christmas.

Growing up there was a song me and the sisters always listened to. It was one of our favorite albums, yep a 33, we played at Granny's house and our house. It was Pebbles and Bam Bams of the Flintstones Christmas album. It's title was...The Day before the night before Christmas. The 23 rd was always the beginning of the Christmas celebration for our family. We headed to Plainville for Christmas with Granny and PaPa York. As long as I can remember the 23 rd was the beginning for us. Granny decided to selflessly have us earlier so as not to interfere with other family gatherings. It was fun seeing cousins, then as years passed seeing cousins and their kids. The food, decorations, being at Granny and Papa's made it Christmas. As time has it and death steals things, Papa passed many years ago-but the tradition continued, then Granny passed a few years ago ending our tradition on the 23rd. Along with it,  ended seeing uncles, aunts, cousins and second cousins. The end of the tradition in essence ended the beginning of the Christmas celebration for our family.
To this day, the 23rd makes me feel as if I should head to Plainville for Granny's pats, fried potatoes and catching up with family. It's been many years since we've celebrated in Plainville but for some reason today, the 23rd, the "day before the night before Christmas" has beat me down. Maybe because I feel behind in shopping, prepping for Christmas due to flu, working more days, older children. Maybe it's because the commercialization of Christmas is really ticking me off. Maybe it's because not only today, but for many days leading up to this Christmas- I've realized that I've lost sight of  "Christmas." In the rat race of buying and spending and rushing and hurrying I've lost sight of what I never wanted to lose sight of. Sadly, while running into others while shopping and stating my dismay and stating my desire of wanting to go to sleep and maybe wake up after the first of the year, Rip Van Winkle style---I'm not the only one feeling like this. Others, too, have lost sight.
Who's to blame?
Every year I say it will be different-maybe change over to three gifts each. After all-3 was enough for the King of Kings, Lord of Lords.
Every year I say I'm not rushing, hurrying through the season to be left frazzled and fogged.
Every year I say it will be different.
Every year I say i will remember what it's really about.
Every year-it ends up the same...losing sight.
Losing sight of that silent night.
Losing sight of that sacrifice.
Losing sight of that love.
Losing sight of my God taking form as a human.
Losing sight of Mary's heart.
Losing sight of Joseph's obedience.

It's always there, deep inside of me. When i was worshipping in church Sunday morning fighting tears being reminded of the love poured out for me.
When I walk by the manger scene that decorates my sofa table--reminded of the most precious of births.
When I see all if the crosses that hang on my tree, not just as decorations but reminders that He was born to take His place on the cross for me.
When I feel His presence with me-filling the empty space that death has drilled open.
It's there--so why do I have to dig so deep during this season to see?
Because I let the world encompass me, take over. Then it trickles down to my children. Breaks my heart when I see that it's about the presents and not His presence. That it's about the getting instead of giving. That trickle down effect breaks me wide open. Drills a bigger hole than death ever will. It's up to me to change me which in turn will change my three. But then...
When everyone else is getting this or that.
When everyone else is driving this.
Living in that.
Traveling to there.
Wearing those.
Father help me.
As the time has changed from the "day before the night before Christmas" to Christmas Eve-I ask You to change my heart, change my children's hearts.
Let us be grateful for all gifts from family, friends but never let us lose sight of the one gift we should be most thankful for...your Sons birth, death and resurrection. For the very fact that His name, Emmanuel, reminds us that He is with us...
Even when we lose sight.
Even when the world puts blinders on us.
Even when we are greedy.
He, the One who gave up royalty in the Heavens to lay in a stable--and died for you and for me---He is with us-even as we lose sight.
Merry Christmas -and may we all lose sight of the world and focus on the only reason for the season. Happy Birthday Jesus.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I just read a blog written by a young mom who is living a challenging life because her husband is going to school and working full-time and she's left with two small children. The post was an apology to single mom's. She stated that one day she said something really really stupid to her husband..."I feel like a single parent." Then she realized and went on to apologize that she has no idea what it's really like to be a single parent. She commented that she knows that if she ever needed her husband he could be right there. She confessed she had no idea what it was like to work and then come home to be both mom and dad. She admitted to not knowing the struggles and the pain and of what actually goes through a single parents heart. Apology accepted- and a thank you for the shout out.
I never ever dreamed I'd be a "single-parent." I have to say that we both agreed divorce would not be an option since God placed us together and blessed our relationship. Death, even though mentioned in our vows, seemed like a far away reality--something that we'd only think about when our children were grown, gone and we were old and lived our lives fully, together. Believing that death would be the only thing that parted us. Well...there you have it.
Living the life as a single-mom is hard most days but harder during the beginning of school and of all times...Christmas time and when sickness hits home. Getting back into a routine and hustle and bustle at the beginning of the school year is just a reminder that I'm in it alone. Shuttling kids to and fro to everything, homework help, adequate food intake, maintaining a household. Then there's work. The old saying, "don't know what you got until it's gone" rings true especially when you had a hands-own husband/dad. Then there's the "most wonderful time of the year." My most favorite of all times of the year has turned into a time when the Christmas lights turn into a bright-flashing marquis that I'm a single parent. The mundane fun things of Christmas have turned into chores. When I use to love the decorations and tree trimming, I now dread all of it. Knowing that help is needed dragging it all out, putting it all up, cussing by myself when the lights don't work. Not to mention gift buying, Santa, Elf magic and all those things that are suppose to be pure enjoyment. As we pulled out of our drive last night for dinner, my middle one said, "less and less decorations every year mom." Broke my heart as I reminded him that the flu had hindered mom from doing 'all that.' Being reminded that Christmas shopping this year is being funded by an account that was closed for being a dormant account with the title...The Estate of Shane Richardson. Nothing like that big ole reminder.
Uh-um--did I mention the flu? What better reminder that I'm a single parent than when the flu strikes your home. It's truly bad enough to have a sick kiddo when your single but to be caregiver AND down too?? Doing the whole fever check throughout the night by yourself. Remembering a daddy that would be the cold washcloth administrator when fevers were stubborn. Remembering when we had one pass out from a seizure during the flu how the other son called dad home-even though he was in a meeting. How an extra set of hands to read, watch tv or a warm body to snuggle with while mom fixed soup, cold drinks. Then when mom gets sick as a solo mom...all hell breaks lose. When mom gets sick when hubs is around kids are taken care of, meals can be retrieved, laundry can stay caught up and mom is able to convalesce as the world keeps going. Dad can take to school and pick-up. Help with homework, shuttle to practice, shuttle home, help ready for bed, tuck in, get mom a cold drink, check on mom. Instead, mom fixes her own drink, fixes lunches in between coughs and fever. Worries when she wakes in the middle of the night with chills and fever if she will even feel like getting up to get the children up and ready for school. Or will her kids know what to do if mom feels so bad and passes out like she did just a few years ago. Calling for her kids and not wanting to because she wants to protect them from seeing the one person that cares for them debilitated and lying on the floor. How when just the flu will remind a single-mom of her mortality and what would happen if, God forbid, "that" should happen. Being a single-mom stinks but during these times it's magnified. So if I'm not very sympathetic when you are happily/unhappily married and you complain that said husband is "out of town" on business or hunting/fishing trip I apologize. When you complain to me that your job keeps you away from home, kids, and makes life difficult, ahem, I may look at you in total disgust or unbelief, just according to my mood. Please forgive me as I play you a sad song in my head and cry you a river.
Thankfully, there are those, like the lady that wrote the apology, that understands. Like my dear friend Jessica...on any given Wednesday I may be surprised with a large brown shopping bag dropped off at pre-school with my name on it. That brown bag may not mean lots to some but to me---it's life changing. For in that brown bag not only comes a complete meal for me and my family, it is a reminder that Jessica gets it. She feels my pain because her husband works long hours while she tends to 4 kiddos alone. But she will always tell me that she "doesn't know how I do it." That brown bag reminds me that I'm not in this alone. That brown bag allows me and my 3 to enjoy a Wednesday night at home, no activities, just us and a meal together. I'm also thankful that I have the best parents/bro-in-law in the world. During flu-weeks from hell we literally made it through because of them. Mom cooked, dropped off meals, grocery shopped while  my dad woke up on cold early mornings to take kiddos to school because I couldn't muster the energy or where-with-all to drive just to school. My dad would make the trip back for afternoon pick-up and shuttle to practice if needed. Then the bro-in-law would make lunch runs, pharmacy stops and head to basketball games, even games 1 1/2 hours away. There's my friend/neighbor  Mo who came over to help me decorate on a cold Sunday post-flu. Her laughter and outlook is always a ray of sunshine. She was in the ready to step up and decorate with my sis if I hadn't felt up to it.

Then there's Santa.

 Over the past five years my belief in him has been rekindled every Christmas morning when I go downstairs to film the kids decent. Santa has strategically placed my children's presents under the tree better than this mom ever could.

So when I say I believe in Santa...seriously-I believe in Santa. Takes my breathe away and makes me cry every stinking year.

Then there's the constant offerings from friends wanting to help. So appreciated by this single-mom. Thankful for those around me that have no idea what it's like to walk in these shoes, but are willing to step up. Thankful for those that all they know to do to help is to pray. Thankful for a loving God that is provider, confidant, planner of my life. On the days I don't think I can, His strength tells me differently. Thankful that He places those in my path that are willing to help, pray, love on me when I'm not very lovable. That they are able to overlook my bitterness, and self-pity, but instead they are able to see the hurt that causes it. Thankful that I have forgiving children so when mom has a psychotic episode  with them-they just mark it up to being their "mom." Thankful that they maybe understand moms exhaustion and the need to just regroup on the couch with my fuzzy blanket:) in the afternoons. Thankful for God's healing,both physically and emotionally, one day at a time. Thankful that God has me where I am so that maybe a smile I share, a hug I give, a word I say or just being "real" may somehow bring Glory to Him. He allowed me to travel this path, not sure I will ever understand this side of heaven, but He did...
So Father use me through it. Help me to be more sympathetic to those moms that may live "single-mom" days only occasionally, help me be of encouragement to those walking this same path. Take my bitterness and turn it into something positive. Take my self-pity and turn it into strength. Help me see the lights from Christmas decorations as what they are meant to represent instead of a marquis for pain, suffering. Thank you for The Santa's that make Christmas joyful. Thank you God for the only GIFT we need...your Son. Thank you for those in my life and my children's life that love us and help us daily. Thank you for loving the widowed and the Fatherless. Amen.