So this is Christmas…

…in our house.

I write this to remember.

“We write to taste life twice- once in the moment and in retrospection.” – Anais Nin

This year, I finally had time to sit back and enjoy. To make homemade gifts. To wrap presents before Christmas Eve. To bake cookies. To let the kids help me with all the fun little tasks. Time to make a gingerbread house and let them help address Christmas cards.  Time to teach the twins to make paper snowflakes and watch as they (continue to) tape them up all over the house. Time to snuggle with Nora when she’s sick. Time to listen to Joel practice Christmas carols on the trumpet. Time to sit with Connor as he builds his Lego landscapes. Time to watch Paul make a fire. To sit and read in the evenings, he in the recliner and I on the couch, the house filled with the sounds of a snapping fire and the silence of sleeping children.

I will shamefully acknowledge that for too many years, I was rushed, and short, and a bit snippy. Sadly, it is only in the quietness of this year that I can look back and see how it really was. We over-scheduled and under-slept. Over-committed and overreacted. The house was stressful with studying for finals and lab prep and clinical makeup days, and last-minute-roll-my-eyes crabby runs to the grocery store because I had forgotten something. (again). I tried to make it fun for the kids, but my senses were rushed and overwhelmed, most of it from my own doing, expecting too much from too little time. In years past, I’ve let it all rush by with a sigh of great relief when it was over, glad to turn off the Christmas carols, just wishing winter would get it over with already, that the re-birth of spring would relieve my anxious musings. And all the while, I felt regret that it was such a discordant season. Sure, we did all the fun seasonal things, made the cookies, took the photos, tried to enjoy while we made memories, but in retrospect, I can see that this mother’s heart was far from its right place.

So that is why I write. To remember. To know that this year was finally different, not without its little moments of stress, but with a better-felt reality. I write to remember why we do this, and to be thankful. To tuck this away for next year, when things may be busier again. To write so that I learn from my mistakes. I want to mark this event, because for once, I had time. It has been slower. Slower is nice.

With the sequence of events that allowed all of this to happen, I realize that sometimes what seems negative and distressing can turn into something far greater than we imagined –that a surprising diagnosis and a big disappointment can somehow become a very unexpected blessing all on its own. Time is a gift. And this year, it is definitely my favorite.

December 20, 2010 - 8:56 pm

Ashlee Virkler - Betsy, I wanted to thank you for writing this. I have never written in your post before but after reading this I felt moved to write. This holiday season will be a bit different for our family too. I am sure you know of our family’s struggle this year. And I realize that I have been rushing through this holiday season to get things done. This is Anna’s first Christmas and I want to make it a special time for us. I don’t want to rush through it and not remember it down the road. So thanks for helping me slow down now, so I can enjoy each moment.

December 20, 2010 - 8:57 pm

Sara Jane - I want to come to your house for Christmas—it is the kind of holiday I would love!

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