22 December 2010

Bucket O' Toy Soldiers

Today, and for the past three weeks, I've been swarming around like an entire hive of bees. I'm physically exhausted (at least that's what people keep telling me I look like.... p.s.: don't do that, people), but emotionally just on top of the world.

I love this work. This preparatory, celebratory work! I just love it. There are christmas cards (mine are late) to be addressed, photos taken, menus planned, presents planned, purchased, hidden, wrapped. There are sweet and spicy pickles to be made, packaged and delivered to our friends and neighbors.

We had Christmas Numero Uno here yesterday with Paul's folks. We feasted on braised ribs (same piece of meat I wrote about recently, but cooked in an entirely different way - remind me - I'll update on country style ribs soon) and a variety of other things. We opened gifts, oohed and aahed, and enjoyed our (finally decorated - pretty much by Paul) tree.

Paul and I stayed up late last night 'wrapping' and by wrapping I mean more like nodding off in between pieces of gift wrap tape and trying not to cuss because once again someone is sitting on the scissors and doesn't know it. I think about 15% of my presents have been wrapped. We normally don't do a lot of little things for the kids, but this year, my mother took me to wal mart - I had no idea all these toy options exist, and many of them are very inexpensive - So, I stocked up on 3 dollar items, which I regret every time I pull another piece of wrapping paper off the roll. But I doubt I'll regret when the little people are beaming in three days.

But they shall be in heaven. And that is the point, right?

Why do we do all of this?

Ooh - evil consumerism - ooh - 3 dollar, plastic walmart toys - gross!

Not Gross! Well, sometimes gross, but at Christmas, it all gets a pass. Why? Why?

Well, my children had a sweet fight the other day. Oxymoron? No, it was one of the sweetest, cutest fights ever. I heard them arguing in their room - heard the tones escalating - no tears, just raised voices. I try not to intervene unless requested - or unless it gets out of control. We're trying to train them to resolve conflict between themselves. Plus, if I try to resolve the minor conflicts, my energy for the major ones - the ones that desperately need adult intervention - will be zapped by 9 am.

Anyway - so I hear the little voices - "Nuh uh" "Uh uh", etc.

And out stomps Eason.

This happens a lot. He's smaller. He is also the younger brother to the most confident (intellectually - certainly not physically or emtionally) child ever (I mean - even when she's as wrong as Pope UrbanVIII in that whole Galileo debacle - she's still confident she's right. She gets it from me. And from Paul. And we try and try and try to work on it in ourselves and in her. Two steps forward and One step back - but that's still progress, right?

So, here comes stomping Eason.

"Is Christmas about giving or about Jesus's birf? I know it's about giving, but Ada keeps saying it's about Jesus's birf, and I know she's wrong."

(We could have stopped to talk about mutual exclusivity vs compatibility of ideas, but his little sweet blue eyes would have glazed over. Trust me, I've seen it.)

But, I do hope you see the beauty of the question. Or perhaps I invented the beauty of the question to avoid dealing with the fact that my children were, for the seventh time that day, having a raised-voice debate.

Calm. Kind. Quiet. That's our motto. It's not working... =)

So, I rounded them up. All three. You never know what the little 18 month old internalizes. And I explained to them that they were both right. Which actually seemed to thrill their little souls. Christmas is about giving. Why? Why do we give?

We give because God gives. We love because God loves. We breathe because God breathes. Believe it, my friend.

But at Christmas, especially, we give for the very purpose of celebrating and pointing to the gift of Christ's incarnation. We lavish grace, in 3-dollar-plastic, onto our children, because God lavishes grace upon us.

Paul, Ada's godfather Dan, and my daddy have been working continuously for the last week- building the world's greatest tree house ever 10 feet in the air. And then modifying the safety railing when I said, "hey - is eason going to be able to squeeze through those holes?" and adding a trap door and all sorts of other awesome fings.

Paul's outside right now sanding down the presents that Ada Brooks really wanted to make for her friends. I'll take pictures later.

Ada Brooks is fretting because she doesn't have a gift for her father because the book she wanted to get him is out of stock on Amazon. (Never ye mind that she also has no money....perhaps I'll help her out with that).

Eason is, well, completely worried about whether he has to wear pants or can go to Sams in his panda underwear because, "Mama - it's new underwear!"
So, maybe he doesn't get it.

But he will. He'll get it. If it takes an entire Bucket O' Toy Soldiers, a pretend bow and arrow, a fireman hat, an army man hat, three different types of bouncy balls, a wind-up silly-face, and roller skates (shhh...those are what he really, really wants - roller skates!). He'll get it, eventually. We'll pray over the absurdity of it all, and he'll understand that what's truly Absurd is God choosing to become man to save the world.

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