That continues. I'm grateful for the relationship I have with my kids' dad and their stepmom. Many months ago, they asked my permission to have the kids spend the entire Christmas break with them; they wanted to plan a trip to Florida. They honored me by asking, and their reasoning was sound. I agreed.
That was about nine months ago. I'm still fully supportive of the idea, and excited for the kids and the fun I hope they'll have. I am squirming a bit at the thought of two weeks without them, especially Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But as always, flexibility rules the day, and we've found a way to make it work.
So yesterday, after spending FOURTEEN HOURS at the church (and I'm not the only one...) as we prepare for Christmas week activities, I came home to our "Christmas Eve" celebration. We had a ham, and hot rolls and beans and a late dinner, followed by our traditional Christmas carols 'round the piano, the reading of Luke 2, the lighting of the blue Christmas candle and prayer. Santa sent an elf to stuff stockings (but he didn't leave much else, since it's not really Christmas....yet...) The kids woke up early and ran downstairs shrieking, and we spent the next three hours giving one another gifts.
I'm so happy that a tradition from their dad's family continues to this day; each kid gives the presents they have for one another, one by one, in birth order. When new folks are around (like Tony and Travis this year), they slip into the system according to their birth date as well. We open gifts one by one and take a minute to appreciate the giver. It makes the morning VERY meaningful; I really do think that all of the kids have come to value the giving more than the getting. That makes my heart swell with joy. As they grow older and more independent (and with their OWN shopping funds), it's really cool to see what they come up with on their own to give to one another.
My parents came by and added to the mayhem, giving and receiving gifts of their own. It was a warm, wonderful morning. I was blessed.
Traditions continue with a big pot of homemade potato soup (which is always accompanied by a hearty discussion of which potato soup is best, including my own - "The one you made with all the pepper that time!" - and others - "Mom, the potato soup at JMU sucks!")
We're winding down now; the kids are packing, the house is quiet, Tony is off running errands and taking the morning's trash to the dump (an advantage of celebrating Christmas when it's not really Christmas - everything is open!)
I feel blessed. I will miss my kids for the next two weeks - at times, probably quite desperately. But we have created family, one that is widespread and far-reaching, grounded in a common love for our Creator and His creation. We have memories and tenacious bonds of love for one another. That remains, regardless of distance. As they grow older, those bonds are stretched; each time, it seems, is a preparation for the next.
They leave in little ways, as it should be. But I'm finding that the residue of grace and love that they leave behind almost makes up for any sorrow in their absence.
My heart is truly full.
|Shannon & Travis, singing in harmony...|
|Always, where I am most comfortable...|
|The Christmas candle...not even sure where it came from, but it's now part of the family|
|Doing the Charlie Brown dance|
|The nativity scene is full this year|