This morning, I felt a sense of discomfort. Just that casual sense of unease that something wasn't quite right.
I ran over the list in my head. Was I missing any appointments? Did I forget to put on deodorant? Was there oatmeal stuck to my shirt?
And then, it hit me.
Earlier, at the dentist, I was asked (as we all are at this time, small talk at its best) if I was ready for Christmas. I lamented the standard woes about not being able to think of gifts for certain people in my family, and how was I ever going to get their gifts and ship them and still have time to work and clean and live and ......well, you get the drift. I complained.
It was my tirade which had left me uneasy.
Uneasy, because I feel guilty when I don't tell the truth. Maybe it's my Catholic upbringing, maybe it's just me, but whatever it is, a tiny lie, a small, little fudging of the truth can make me feel anxious. It is very important to me to be truthful, in all ways. This may have cost me a few friendships over the years.
The truth is, I love this time of year. Yes, I am stressed with working twice as much as I have any other month of the year. I don't have presents or ideas for presents for some family members. I am trying to stuff a year's worth of hot chocolate and Christmas lights into a small few days of free time.
And I love it.
I love that we watch the old grainy Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer over and over again. I love that Bjorn wakes in the morning and immediately opens his Hallmark book to hear his grandma and grandpa and aunt and uncle reading Twas the Night Before Christmas to him. I love Peanut refusing to put little baby Jesus in his manger where he belongs, but stashing Him in her purse and carrying Him around all day.
I love the lights and the festivals and the hot chocolate. I love the songs and the stories and the traditions and the memories.
We have a countdown calendar, and Bjorn noticed that it was 11 days until Christmas, 11 days until we leave the "special keys" outside for Santa, so he can get into our locked home. Apparently last year, we did this.....some kind of jingle bell keys set in the front yard, keys only Santa can use, since we don't have a chimney for him to come down, and our doggie door isn't big enough.
Last weekend, we went to a Christmas festival with friends. It was a crowded, overwhelming festival and almost right away we wished for something different, something less than the lights and the rides and the $6 hot chocolates. We were handed a flyer for a hayride and living nativity one street over, so we headed there. All the kids were quiet and respectful during the living nativity, and on the last spot, the manger where Mary and Joseph knelt in the hay, Peanut whispered in my ear. "I want to say hi baby Jesus." We walked closer and she leaned over gently, waving her little hand, whispering, "Hi Baby Jesus!"
Pictures with Santa are priceless, and I actually looked forward this year to another picture like last year's, with Peanut screaming her pretty little head off again. It's a rite of passage, right? I never imagined that Santa wouldn't even let her sit on his lap. I guess that's what happens when she is screaming "NO! I NOT WANT TO!", punching wildly and kicking her little boot-clad feet at anyone within striking distance.
While it may be a rushed, busy time of the year, I love it. Every year with kids, the holidays get better, the time sweeter. Bjorn walks around singing "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer", "Jingle Bells" and "Happy Birthday Jesus." Peanut keeps saying how much she doesn't like Santa and trying to open gifts.
I was asked again, later, if I was ready for Christmas. I took this time to say how I really felt, that I was enjoying my hot chocolates and Christmas carols and loved watching my kids buy gifts for each other. I was met with blank stares and weird looks. It was sad, really. They seemed to have no idea what I was talking about.
That this, this month, this rushed, packed, crazy busy, hectic, over scheduled month......this truly is the most wonderful time of the year.