“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” is the phrase that has been pounded into our heads (or maybe it’s just mine) the minute Thanksgiving hits. Or maybe it’s the moment Halloween arrives and you find Christmas tree lights laying beside pumpkins when you go to pick up eggs at the grocery store? No matter what the moment is, I am beginning to realize I don’t exactly agree that it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Now for those of you who want to glisten in your holiday cheer, go ahead and stop reading now.
I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the “most wonderful time of the year” when you have three children under the age of 4 who are perpetually sick since the start of the glorious school year. Our holiday season has already been marked with more trips to the doctor’s office than I can schedule in my very own bathroom. Our living room has more tissues beneath the couch than crumbs and I am convinced that I have single-handedly bought out the entire stock of nasal aspirators. While most were trying to scrimmage through sales on Black Friday, we were scrimmaging through piles of clothes that needed to be laundered, dishes that needed to be cleaned and patience that needed to be restored. Lots and lots of patience.
I turned to my husband and asked if he was beginning to feel depressed like I was. “I can’t bear a season like this. Stuck inside the house and pretending it’s all enjoyable when it’s, well, not.” Thankfully I found comfort in hearing that my frustration was shared and that it was already beginning to feel like the worst time of year. Did I mention it’s not even December 1st yet?
After catching up on laundry, the pile of dishes, sanitizing nebulizers, airing out aspirators, re-stocking our tissues and re-loading our essential oil purifiers, I came to a conclusion. If we were going to be stuck indoors and imprisoned to sickness, it was not going to be without a fight. Gosh darn it, we can be merry too! Who cares if our hay stacks and pumpkins are still on the front porch. Let’s bring the Christmas tree up from the basement and start decorating. Sounds doable, right?
We may have been overly optimistic.
No soon after we hauled the heavy tree up from the basement (over the loads of laundry blocking the stairs), did two out of the three children start to bicker. Next thing you know, one of them stepped on their infant brother who was the only one listening to our silent requests for cooperation. I heard something rip and then break. I heard a push and then someone fall down. It was becoming increasingly clear that this was not what I would describe as “merry” behavior. There is that moment in your marriage and as parents when you look at one another desperately hoping the other one will volunteer to referee for the hundredth time in an hour because you are on the edge of the parental cliff waiting to jump off.
Neither of us volunteered meaning we’re in serious trouble.
We wrestled all of the children onto the couch in order to pull out each piece of the tree one by one. Before I knew it, the tree was up. I have to admit, there was a moment when I looked at the tree in the center of our living room window and saw our “Welcome Autumn” sign hanging from our front porch and thought “Yup, we’re those people,” but it was silent.
Silent for the first time since 5 a.m. this morning. Autumn saw the tree and ran over to hug it. Isaiah saw it and walked over to my hip, looked up and smiled. Benny didn’t know what to make of it. I finished up the dishes and all of a sudden I turned around. There it was. Our invitation. I say it was “ours,” because we all needed one.
Benny was on his back underneath the tree and experimenting with blinking lights (it was safe, I swear). Isaiah and Autumn had snuck a handful of cars underneath where they were peacefully playing on their bellies. Their feet were swinging left to right and all you could hear were their giggles. Autumn nearly blended right into the rug. All I saw was three “silent” children lying beneath what they found to be magical, even without a lick of ornaments or decorations on it. They didn’t care about the mess around them. They didn’t care that the Fall decorations were still waving from the front porch. They didn’t even care that they could barely breathe without having to cough in between their contagious giggles. They found joy despite it and all of a sudden, so did I.
We didn’t do anything else for the rest of the day. None of us had the energy, but suddenly it didn’t matter. We didn’t need to do anything else. We sat there in our sick and fifth infested living room watching those six legs wiggle back and forth underneath that tree.
I still don’t think it’s the “most wonderful time of year.” I will need more sleep and at least one healthy kid before you’ll catch me say that. However, you might catch me sing “O Christmas tree,” because for us that tree provided the opportunity for an invitation every one of us desperately needed.
P:S It’s likely that we’ll still have our Fall decorations up at the same time as Christmas. Oh and “thy branches?” Two already bit the dust so it’s likely “Oh Christmas” tree will be a bit bare this year.
In love & truth,