I'm thinking about a lot of things this holiday season. Wondering how is it that I have more than enough, but still struggle for contentment. Thinking about how the fast pace and busyness of the holidays can swallow you up if you let it. And how even the good stuff---stuff like sipping warm drinks and reading to the kids and making things and baking cookies and planning activities with friends and family---how that can end up just more stuff on the big to-do list. I feel almost numb to the endless classic holiday hits on the radio. And no matter what I do there is yet another gift I've forgotten or something left to wrap or another detail missed.
And then the prospect of yet another holiday season passing without my parents is rough too. I pull out the ornaments my mother gave me, I hear certain songs, I make my mother's cheese ball, I have a Buckeye and think of Dad. I think of how small the kids were the last time they spent Christmas at Pa-Pa's, and sigh at how Nathan never even met Ma-Ma at all. (And I marvel at how he sees her photos and thinks he remembers her!) I fight the urge to feel jealous of those who have their parents and loved ones. I feel a chill come over me, a disconnect. I force myself to make it nice for the kids, but then I quietly sob at sappy Christmas songs and movies, and generally feel sorry for myself.
Then I saw this woman who nearly made me cry---she was standing in Meijer, gazing, deciding between two pairs of holiday socks. I thought of my mom, who never failed to put a pair of festive socks into the stockings for me and my sister. I suddenly saw it, in the midst of our misguided hustle-bustle: love. Love. Love is all around us. The lady with the socks and the nervous young guy at the perfume counter and the packs of BFFs in their jammies, sipping peppermint mochas on Black Friday and the single mom making her last payment on the layaway---all of us---all just doing our best to think of some tangible, imperfect way to show our love to our fellow people. I consider how my mom worked so hard to get us the perfect gifts, and how my dad struggled to get her the perfect gift too. I consider our Heavenly Father, or as my kindergartener calls Him, "Our Big Friend Up There," figuring out the perfect gift for His children. A son, a child, to come live with us; to teach us how to love each other.
So I'm done with this year's round of feeling guilty about buying too much or not doing enough. I've cried my allotment of tears for my parents, well, at least for now. Today I'm sipping ginger tea and watching the candles burn in the early solstice sunset and enjoying our tree. The boys are alternately annoying me and enchanting me with their play. Ken is due home early for work, and we'll have a simple meal. Today I just feel glad.