With Nana and Papa

With Nana and Papa
Family Times at Flathead Lake

Monday, December 19, 2011

Skiing While Pregnant?

We made it to the mountains yesterday, after hauling the kids out of bed at 6am to don snow pants and grab donuts for the 90-minute drive to Winter Park. Sun shone brilliantly, temps climbed into the 40s, and the kids went to all-day lessons; it was a slice of heaven on earth. Rob and I enjoyed long moments of silence on the uncrowded lifts and on our frequent coffee breaks. Lunch on the porch (sans jackets) was a restful period only broken by some Tebow-jersey-clad Denverites and their Southern friends, who dissected the Broncos' prospects against the Patriots.

I enjoyed seeing holiday wreaths in the lodge and Christmas tree decorations on all the big pines near the village. It was our first ski day before Christmas, and though the snow was poor, the atmosphere was festive. As we sat on the patio waiting for our kids to finish their lessons, I thought about some of my Benet Hill classes this Advent season. Our teacher, Sister Marilyn, emphasized the "pregnant" part of Advent - like Mary who was literally pregnant, we wait for the big event.

Sr. Marilyn said that though we are not actually pregnant (no one in our class, anyway), and though some of us may never be, we can all "give birth" this season. We can birth something creative and new, some offering that we have never before made. The idea evokes memories of being heavy, of moving slowly and often sitting to wait. This sense of waiting, of cherishing the unknown and mysterious, usually goes missing in our culture, and the attempt to cultivate a sense of 'ponderousness' has been helpful to me in the crazy whirlwind of a season. Though grateful I am not actually pregnant (it would be really hard to ski), I have been thinking about what creative and productive thing I can "give birth to" this year.

After a big pasta dinner at home last night, we lit four candles on our Advent wreath. The prayer was an Irish blessing that I would like to share:

The light of the Christmas star to you,
The warmth of home and hearth to you,
The cheer and good will of friends to you,
The hope of a childlike heart to you,
The joy of a thousand angels to you,
The love of the Son and God's peace to you.
Amen.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

 
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2011
Slips away
Leaving many happy
Memories of adventures with
Friends & family and of new beginnings
For each of us, including Kindergarten for Daniel,
Third grade, student council and newspaper for William,
Fifth grade, newspaper and last year of elementary school for Aden (!)
Rob began a rewarding new job with Dish Network and ended a memorable time with FDC.
Laura began a course in Spiritual Direction and took on work at the Museum of Nature and Science.
We are thankful for
New opportunities,
Good work, joyful play,
And for each of you.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Panic of the Season

Last week the digital temperature gauge on our kitchen wall dropped so rapidly it would have kept pace with a Vegas roulette machine. An Arctic cold front moved in, along with 4 – 6 inches of snow and ice, and my good mood slid eastward along with the warm weather. Relieved when our morning workout was called off, I dived under the warm, fuzzy blanket on our coach and promised myself a few minutes of extra rest. An hour later, I staggered into the kitchen to make lunches and breakfast, wondering if I could find my way back to the coach at any point during the day. A prolonged period of collapse seemed promising.

The holidays often induce such mood – dives . From the high of opening our newly ordered Christmas photos to the lows of driving through snow and ice to get to numerous appointments, my energies and emotions rise and fall like the notes of “A Little Town of Bethlehem.” On Wednesday I prepared for the storm by organizing the yard and unscrewing the hoses. I restored the lawnchairs to order – one had been flung to the grass, apparently an incidental victim of squirrel-on-squirrel violence – and let the water drain out of the newly freed pipes and hoses. I was mesmerized by the water dripping away and felt my energy float along with it.

The kids feel similar rhythms of excitement and pressure. Between delight in finding our Elf’s new location each morning to the thrill of opening a new link on our Advent chain each night their mood rises and falls depending on their certainty of receiving special presents. I particularly love a story told by a good friend of mine about his grandson, which illustrates the pressures children feel at this time of year.

The child went with his family to an outlet mall for Christmas shopping, where they observed the miraculously short line for Santa’s lap. The parents hustled their son and daughter over to Santa, despite the kids’ protests that they had not prepared their lists yet. The daughter went first and came up with a few desired items, then the young boy took his turn. Santa asked, “What do you want for Christmas this year, sonny?” and the parents’ eyebrows raised when they heard the reply, “Uh . . . bamboo?” Upon walking away together, Mom could not resist asking, “What was that about?” The boy replied, “Don’t ask. I panicked.”

Don’t we all. When the stamps run out with 38 cards left to address, when the sugar cookies burn just as its time to leave for a party, when crazy kid behavior leads parents to threaten to “cancel Christmas,” we all get a bit crazy. It just takes a quick step back (or an extra nap) to see the humor and fun and delight of the season. Wishing you all a cozy blanket and some time to use it.