The days between Christmas and the New Year hold a mixture of bitter and sweet for me. It seems the only time of year when our family life slows to a sleepy, cozy crawl. I love the eased tone in the house. Game playing and movie watching. Popcorn for dinner and gatherings with friends. It’s wonderful in all of those ways.
But then there is the putting it all away: the decorations, the gifts, and really the entire year. Being the reflective mom that I am, that little cacophony on the couch there had me in tears for a little spell two days after Christmas. How do the years go so fast when the days sometimes go so slow? When we get these out next year, the kids will all be another year older. So will I.
Traditions have a funny way–I’m finding, of both marking and speeding time. We pass from season to season, observing the memorials we have shared with our children. We skip along from paper love notes, to the Easter season, to baseball and fireflies, to birthdays and school. Add Christmas, and those few things just about encompass a year. When first forming traditions, we ask ourselves is this plain silly or even empty to sleep under the tree like I used to do when I was little, or to keep going to the Zoo Lights as we have since they were babies. But year upon year, these rituals become part of them. They become their traditions…things by which they will mark their lives. We observe them to help cement the years in their memories as time will surely continue to speed by.
Of course I could make my favorite blueberry jello salad to take to my parents’, but instead, I mention to my daughter–as I make Grandma Duck’s red and green Christmas jello salad, that I’ve been eating this every Christmas since before I was her age. And it makes my dad mighty happy to see it that day. Strangely, I introduce my history to Amelia through Jello. It makes me want to evaluate what we honor and how we go about it…especially in light of Deuteronomy 6 and how we can continue to grow in sharing the Lord with our children in every season, every day.
The kids each have their own box of ornaments we’ve gathered since their births. Though it looks like chaos on the couch, it really is organized chaos: I suppose not unlike our lives. Thinking of the handprint I made with Luke when he was 1. Remembering the picture of the 3 boys eating mitfulls of snow, and how they all helped make the ornaments that year for our families…painted popsicle stick frames. How excited I was to add pink booties to the tree…once…twice…three times. I repair the ornament graveyard: Andrew’s Italian Pinnochio gets some model glue on his waist. Jack’s nutcracker’s legs are found and mended. All boxed up and ready to wholly greet them next December.
Added this year are tiny sweaters: six down, two to go. A labor of love which began in May, but ran out of steam somewhere around September. Drew and Piper’s will be done as soon as I can muster the stomach to do two more (small needles require much persistence). Little traditions which say, I love you. They may not remember me sitting in the van knitting these months on end, but I hope when they look at them years from now, they will know their crazy mother loved them individually and wholly–not only as a collective but wholly– as themselves!