Romulus, just now as he was being hurried along by his father to men's bible study, justifying his choice of shoes...
Matt: You shouldn't wear cleats over to the church. It's not good for the cleats or the floor.
Romulus: Well, it's the only way I can really hurt anyone even though I'm not going to.
Matt: You shouldn't wear them to church.
Romulus: Well, I was planning just to wear them just this time.
My mother took it into her mind to make cookies with the children.
I know! Crazy!
I was totally amazed. She made several kinds of dough and kept the children organized so that they worked in shifts and came out each with a large bag of cookies. It was calm and orderly and a good time was has by all. Extraordinary.
It won't happen again until she comes back. But now none of the children will be able to complain that they didn't make Christmas cookies as a child.
And last week she presided over the making of Ugali and Da.The whole moment was one of true nostalgia for me because, again weirdly and uncharacteristically, I sat down to play the piano while the Da was wafting over the house and as I pushed my sore thumb into a horrible hard key I was transported back to the moment at age of 13 or 14 when I sat down to play a piano recital mere moments after having my hand beat apart by a cat. So painful. So long ago. Same feeling in the thumb.
While the children were quietly and calmly cutting out cookies in turn the remaining ones made little femo nativity figures. They did a whole scene which I have yet to bake, and they will probably give it as a present which will be wonderful.
Such a strange advent this has been. Children making things. Cookies baked. The house decluttered and cleaned. Everything sorted through and two cars worth of stuff taken out of the house. For real. All gone. Stuff I kept thinking I'd get rid of but never got around to. All my shopping, such as it is, is done.
We've even had time and energy to do a little advent devotional some evenings.
We read the actual bible, have an interesting discussion about it. Sing a song. We have even prayed. I'm not kidding you. One night, everyone took a turn praying. I can tell that you don't believe me, nor should you, but I took the picture to prove it.
And this last Monday, as a way of grieving over the loss of our Magic of Christmas Prelit Snap Together in Thirty Seconds No Crying Children Tree, we went to lowes and shelled out money for a real fat beautiful tree that has to be watered and everything. We decorated it and watched part one of the Hog Father.
Decorating at the end of Advent is what happens to people like me who can't get their lives together and who are trying to do too. many. things.
Wanting to fulfill everyone else's hopes and dreams. Not awknowledging that you have any yourself. Believing wrongly that you are a selfless life giving mother who only worries about what every else wants. Not admitting to yourself that you have some kind of hope and desire yourself that you can't fulfill because you haven't figured out what it is. So then it is impossible to make anyone else's dreams come true because you yourself are a muddle.
For me, when we were standing around in the freezing cold at Lowes I realized as I rummaged around in a bin of evergreen all wound together that what I really really really wanted was to hang evergreen right here. That's what I wanted.
It's what I want every year but I never think it can actually happen.
Of course, it truly doesn't matter what I want. The whole point of Advent, in my mind, is that we have time to come up against reality. The whole world is rushing around saying one very clear thing about what is important and what matters--namely, fulfilling and adoring me, sometimes even through the giving of gifts to other people so that they will like me as much as I like myself. It's The Reason for the Season and I can fully get on board with it. Me me me. I am totally in the 'Spirit of Christms' all year long. Meanwhile, God is also saying something clear about what is important and matters. He does desire for me to be fulfilled and loved and he was willing to do whatever it took for that to happen. He laid aside everything to come be with me. But the only way for him to love me and for me to love myself is for him to pry my dead lifeless ego out of my clenched fists, prying one hurting finger apart at a time so that I can let go and he can take away. And when the hand is finally open and all the unmet and ridiculous expectations are lying in a heap on the floor, he can step into that empty space himself.