O… Endless Gifts…

I have been so far away
From
You.
Even though
I close my eyes
And
SEE.
I SEE.

Somehow words, they close in tight.
They close hard.
They dry up.
I curl in around them.
Will not let them go…

Even when I know…
I
Am better.
It
Is better.
Life is better
For
The writing
When I craft
The true
Story
Of
Our days.

Yet.
I am curled
Up
Tight.

Inside.

And
Hard.

Little One has one hand on the rail and and I stretch my hand to his to walk him down the stairs. He declines my hand. “I’m big. I’m a big boy.” Then- emphatically- “I a… KID.” This significant- because I always group our older five as “the kids” to him. The kids are doing this and that. The kids are here or there… “I a KID.” He tells me- strong. I smile. I gulp, too. Later, I ask him if he’s big… if he’s a kid. He says no. (There’s still time…)

Thanksgiving Day- I am occupied in our room and children are washing up from our meal. Jonah is dismissed from the table to wash up. In my mind’s eye- I see him there. Dawdling at the sink the way he does- with one small leg kicked back to block any usurpers of the throne (stool). I hear Daddy’s strong manly voice, “Move along!” And I grin cause I know it is directed to Jonah- and indeed, he was manfully whisked off the stool and hustled through finishing his wash. I laugh every time I think of this. As I see him there- as I have seen him time and again and tried to urge him to finish… and as I hear No-nonsense Daddy- just move us all along. 😉

Today, one son got hustled a little too hard (by me) after an altercation… and indeed, his feet did leave the floor for a moment. To which- the funny one cries, “Ah- I’m flying! I’m flying!” in his own dramatic way- and all of us- we laugh. We can’t help but laugh. This one- sometimes, he has perfect timing. He really does. And I can see him still- in my mind’s eye- “flying.” And I laugh. I laugh.

We put up a Christmas tree for the first time in years. Asher happily informs Ama about our “fake tree” to which he is gently guided to refer to it as “an artificial tree” not a fake tree. Ah, my blunt son. Ever saying it just how he sees it. We laugh.

Last year, I pick an easy “artificial” tree. Three parts to put together. Tall- but not too tall. One I can do all by myself. I am NOT a handy person. I pick a beribboned, fluffy, iridescent angel too. The kids and I put up the tree. We crown it with our angel. The tree looks skinny and “Charlie-brownish” underneath a Mighty Angel. I can’t help but think there must be some powerful reflection about us being like that tree… adorned by Mighty God. But my thoughts blur with fatigue and weariness and I cannot articulate what I “see” in that tree and in us. We say, “It will fill in when we decorate it. It won’t look so sparse.” We encourage. We are right. It fills in. Beautiful.

We unpack memories. We unpack years. Each child has their own special ornament bought for their “year.” And they decorate happy.

I pull out one and for some reason I cry. I cry and I can’t talk. And they just want to know. What is it, Mom? Why that one, Mom? And I barely mumble what it is. And all it is the ornament I chose for our first Christmas in our first house in PA. 2001. For some reason I cry. And one son, he comforts, “So many memories, Mommy. So many memories there. But this house is much nicer Mommy. Such a better house…” and he said a few other sweet comfort words that I can’t remember now- but he is really the only one who really remembers that house anyway. And they have seen it and they know it is better here…

But I think it was just- us– those years ago. In that first house. That felled me.

And sometimes when you let the words go- the tears release too- and then they flood hard. Maybe that is why I hold the words in tight and hard. Curl up around the pain.

Our tree is sweet. The children love. Unpacking our box brought back many, many memories of years decorating the tree in my old family home. How I loved unpacking the crystal angels and the set of drummer boys.(or were they soldiers? They were little wooden figures in bright colors.) Each one carefully wrapped in tissue paper. I loved placing them “just so” on the tree.

There are still some touches needed before our tree is “complete.” I hope I am able to find what I need when I am able to go out.

We go to Franklin’s Winter Wonderland. Our annual tradition. It was not the same this year. And we all agree- we liked the other years better. But still- we made our memory and came home and drank our cocoa and some ate cookies, too.

I take four excited children out on a cold and wet night. I think about how much I utterly DISLIKE driving in the mountains in the dark when it is 38 degrees and raining- with a threat to drop below freezing. With a threat for the road to freeze over. And we ponder that we might have to walk up our hill. We dislike this idea mightily. Tall Son encourages us to focus on the trouble at hand: getting there. And face the hill trouble when actually meet it. And they ply me curious about my driving experience. To which I snort and say I have driven in much worse than we have seen here in NC BUT it was not on a mountain and they SALT the roads in PA. On a night like this- the trucks would have been out. Salting the road. To which, Tall Son, again chimes in- yes, they just don’t expect this that much here Mommy. And of course, I agree. He is right and I am just scared and a little grumpy at the worry of ice or black ice on the road…And then the poor lighting… it scares me enough to stay in… but we ventured out and all was well- the thermometer actually climbed UP a few degrees rather than down before the night was over. We head to the Georgia border to see Nutcracker. We had tickets. Off we go! We get there and are directed to AMAZING, front row seats. Little Girl, eyes big with wonder, watches enchanted. We make a Christmas memory. And there was no ice on the road. And we didn’t have to walk up the big hill. Or any hill for that matter. After all.

We begin Advent. (I must write another post on our Advent later.)

Todd finishes his very challenging and hard grad class with a bang. A six hour final. On Sunday. And now (although grades are not in) on our end at least- we are officially done and ONE HALF(15 credits) way through the course. And it has caused blood, sweat, and tears. Yes it has. And although I don’t have to wrap my mind around Tax Law and all those numbers (thank goodness)- I am carrying it too- in other ways.

I wake up to a world frosted white. And still. And for a few moments- peace steals over my soul.

And tears mist when I try to recall… more of those Endless Gifts.
I can’t. The words. Have closed in tight.
Once more.

I think I often follow the old adage- if you don’t have anything nice to say- don’t say anything at all. So I don’t. But then
Suddenly I realize.
I do have something to say and
It is nice
It is just not
IT
Whatever thing
Has grappled me.
And in “finding” the nice
I free
Myself.

And so I have,
A little.

Goodnight.