It's not as odd as it sounds...

Prayer happens everywhere, even in the tanning bed.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Please remember about a good Christmas."

My Christmas will be merry. I can't remember a time when it hasn't been. Even now, I can reflect upon different Christmas celebrations before and after my parents divorced and they are always merry thoughts. Well, happy thoughts. Kate wrote "Happy Christmas" on something she was making the other day and Josh told her she was wrong. "It's Merry Christmas, it's supposed to be MERRY!" Hmmmm. Nope, Happy Christmas is exactly what it is. And from her perspective THAT is what a good Christmas is.

Kate came home with a note she wrote in school. She was so proud to show me that it was supposed so be a note to Santa but she crossed out the "Dear Santa" and wrote in "Dear Mom and Dad" She was proud of that because we don't do Santa and she was threatened within an inch of her life to keep the truth about Santa to herself. We told her that was for each child's parents to decide when to tell their children. Now, in second grade, she has found other children in her class that don't believe in Santa. The fact that these other children are Muslim and Jewish seem to be lost on her and the kids that do believe in Santa don't seem to be phased that there are kids in her class that reject the celebration of Christmas altogether. I guess the truth is, if our kids want to believe in Santa, they will regardless of what other kids say or do.

The point I am taking a long time to get to is what she wrote in her letter.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I want more Wii games. Can I have a little dog? Can I have a nice Christmas?
I love you.
Can I have an American Girl Doll? Can I have a My Twin Doll?
Thank you for everything.
You are the best ever.
Please remember about a good Christmas.
Love, Kate

She handed this to me and as I read it I thought "well, she's not getting new Wii games but Josh is so she'll be able to play with them. And she knows better than to ask for a puppy! and yes, she is getting an American Girl doll but not the one she asked for but she'll realize why I got her the one I got her. And NO she already has a My Twinn Doll and for heavens sake does she think money grows on trees? And of course we are the best ever because it's almost Christmas and she knows she getting presents and she is happy with us." Then I said to her aloud. "Kate, what do you mean you want an nice Christmas? You also said later you want a good Christmas. Do you mean you won't have a good or nice Christmas without the toys you want?"

"Oh no mommy" she explained. "I mean a good Christmas, one where we are all happy and get along and no one is upset or disappointed and we all have fun together and you know..... "

And yes, I knew what she meant. She meant like last year when we all spent Christmas in Florida and we had no agenda, no one calling or coming over or close quarters. A Christmas where a 19 and 16 and 11 and 7 year old could all be in the same house together doing the same things TOGETHER and everyone was laughing all the time. That had to have been the best Christmas by far that we all had together.

How could I tell her that there was most likely not going to be that kind of perfect scenario this year. It's not that we don't have "happy" Christmases as a family it's just that there are 6 of us and we each have our own personalities and there's nothing new here. We have the same stressors and the same people to deal with and the same responsibilities. Being in Florida was like an escape to a special heavenly spot. I almost wish she didn't remember what it felt like to be us when we were there.

This year will be a bit different for us though. We have a 19 year old who is seeing an Air Force recruiter this week which means by Christmas he will have an idea of how many days he has left as a permanent resident in our home. I have a 16 year old college freshman who, as exciting as it is that he was able to get into college early, the reality is that he will be leaving home early too. I had a conversation with Kate about how in less than two years our home will instantly be a family of four. She is diametrically opposed to this fact. But, as I told her, it's the way it's supposed to be. She and Josh beg to differ with me on that point stating emphatically "We will live with you forever. We will never leave. I promise" Thankfully, I spoke those same words to my mother in 7th grade. I can remember saying them as clearly as I remember yesterday and I remember what house we lived in at the time and that I was on the screened-in porch when I said it. She told me "You will leave and it's ok because you are supposed to and I will be happy for you when you do" or something like that.

I had a better answer for them. "The Bible says you all are supposed to leave. That God created you to leave your mom and dad and fall in love and get married and concentrate on making your own wonderful family. And I am always happy when you do what God tells you to do." What is it about children that makes them think that if they leave their mommy will be lonely?

So, in reality this will most likely be the last Christmas we will be together in the same way we've been together for years and years and years. Maybe that is why I have been crying for a month. Me, the woman who hates crying more than almost anything and I can't stop. I can't have a conversation about anything without crying through it. I cannot understand it except to say that my heart understands the reality of my changing situation and although my head is thrilled about it all because it is the way life is supposed to be I am not sure my heart can hold back the implications of the way it's supposed to be. I had a dear friend once tell me that I was the best compartmentalizer she's ever known and she is absolutely right. But the truth is that I think my compartments are full and I have no where else to hide my emotions.

So, Kate, my sweet precious daughter. I will do everything I can to give you a good Christmas. Because from now on, our Christmases will never be the same.