It’s not a perfect Christmas (or family), but it’s a really good one

Categorized as Rhonda's Posts

I noticed it when he left for summer camp. After dropping him off, it was as though the very house breathed a sigh, joists, rafters, shingles and window panes realigning and settling into place. Even the air, which vibrates with life and noise when he is here, grew still, silent, calm.

It was upon one such intermission that I announced to the Father of the Tornado. “I now know the source of the chaos, turmoil and uproar.” He lifted an eyebrow, peering at me atop the remote. “Confusion, thy name is–” and here, I said it out. The whirlwind’s dad shook his head, looking, I thought, just tired.

At the end of camp, we’d retrieve him from tired-looking youth pastors and counselors who looked decidedly bedraggled and worn. He would bound in through the back door, and the very air would begin to vibrate, shingles shaking, too, as somewhere in the house, someone was hollering again.

Welcome back, Kid Kaboom.

“A bottle rocket in blue jeans.” That’s what I said. And that, my friend, is what he was. From vinegar ice cubes slipped into my drink to boomers thrown out of a window to chasing and pounding, your garden-variety rabble rousing, this one thrived on adrenaline and activity.

Then all at once, all of the vim and vigor and energy and life vanished, flying over the sea to foreign shores. And once more, the house settled, air stilling, siblings calming. Ahhhh…

Now, he’s back. And while this boy of mine has grown up, has matured, there are some things that have stayed the same. Like his European kisses (one on each cheek) before leaving the house. He’d “Euro’ed” me for years, this one.

Like his quick, “Pray for me, I’ll pray for you,” on his way out the door. Another sweet habit he’s kept.

Like his rapier-quick wit that keeps us in stitches, and you can’t always see when it’s coming. Take this little exchange the other day.

“Dad and I have had a conversation lots of times over the years, and it goes like this. ‘Let’s get a dog!’ I said. ‘No,’ you said. ‘I want confusion, chaos and poverty. Wrestling, thumping and pounding. Let’s have boys!’ A dog,” I say to my young, “would only chew up my slippers and poop on the floor.” A stress-free, carefree life!

And that quick, it came. “I can chew up your slippers and poo on your floor.”

“That’s ridiculous, and it’s not even funny,” I said (this, as I threw back my head and howled).

When it comes to the boys, Mr. Schrock and I have, we’ve learned, made a grave mistake. Last year in the bleak midwinter, frozen like two stones, we’d trotted home with two, what can only be called Wonder Blankets from our favorite store. Stuffed with down, they are the softest, warmest, coziest, closest-you-can-get-to-snuggling-in-a-cloud blankets we have ever owned. That part was all good.

The mistake was letting the guys discover them. Shoot fire. For all at once, they each announced a need for their own. Two of them presented to the store, one beating a sibling by a hair, and chose his favorite pattern. Which was the last one of its kind in the store. Or the state. Or anywhere else in the company, continental. (To the company execs who’ve been grilled, we’re sorry!)

And that’s when the arguing began. With lots of guilt, religious pressures, Scripture verses, and general manipulative tricks, there he went. Finally, then, there was this as he sought to wiggle in beneath his sibling’s blanket. “We can play Ruth and Boaz!”

I believe The Non-Cuddler was three counties over when he landed. I am proud to say that to date, he’s held the line, standing firm against the onslaught and claiming the rights to HIS BLANKET. Not being cuddly doesn’t mean that you’re weak. So there’s that.

In the midst of a busy holiday season, I have come to accept that I am not Martha Stewart. That I will never be Martha Stewart. That I don’t have to BE Martha Stewart, and that it’s more than okay to be Just Me. The tree is up and lit. The stockings are hung and stuffed. The Holy Family has taken its place, and the candle ever burns on the counter.

I’m content.

Although it’s simply true that two sinners get married and make more (i.e., we’re never perfect), I have learned to be happy, at peace and content with my lot. Just–happy in a new and wonderful way with the five that the Lord has given me. Happy with my small farm house. Happy with my ordinary life.

Thrilled with my Heavenly Father, with Jesus, and always and always, the Holy Spirit, my real-time Counselor and Comforter. Like–or, hey, far better than–my Wonder Blanket.

This Christmas, it’s okay to not be perfect. To not be Martha Stewart. To not have 509 kinds of cookies.

It’s okay to just enjoy your own family…as they are, as they’re not, as a gift.

From my sweet family to yours, Merry Christmas!



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