Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Sweet Surprise

James told me a couple of weeks ago that he had set up a lunch date for us with Grandma. She would keep the kids while we went out for a couple of hours and since it was during the holidays we could do it at lunch--which is not nearly as trying for her as dinner and bedtime. I thought that sounded great, if planned a little early.

So the day arrived and I was ready for a little break--I mean surviving the family-wide stomach bug, Christmas (all the fun in the next post) and the onslaught of horrific chest colds for the boys, I was feeling like a cranky, evil being. So off we went. The kids were eating lunch, so I just waved and said "See you in a little bit." We had lunch and ran to Wal-Mart, yes our dates are that sad. I wanted to get some fruit because we were out and fruit is the number one request (OK second behind lollipops) in our world. James said he thought that should wait until tomorrow. Now, we were going to the church to get some things ready for Sunday, but the fruit wouldn't spoil in that length of time, so I was insistent that the children needed fruit. So we are standing in Wal-Mart discussing grapes and James says, "I think you should do that tomorrow because we're not going home tonight." As I was processing I could not even imagine not going home, so I began to protest (no clothes, no meds, didn't say goodnight to the kids, etc). James had been packing for 2 weeks. And even though I knew it would be good to get away, my heart already ached for my little ones.

James had finally succeeded in surprising me. I always guess his presents. He whisked me away to a little cabin in Mentone, Alabama. It was quiet and secluded and perfect for a night away. After a little while I even felt OK about being away from the kids. Glad I didn't call home that night! There was an open fire, marshmallows, cocoa and I was in my PJs by 6 pm! We talked and read and really enjoyed just being able to relax. Just so you know, Mentone is a quiant little village and we will definitely visit again, but there are no restaurants open on Monday and Tuesday and I think even the minute mart closes by 8:00.

It was a lovely, thoughtful and completely unexpected Christmas gift even if I did lie to my children (not my fault) and may have caused long-term fear of abandonment. The girls slept in our bed because they missed their mommy and as Grandma followed Eli upstairs he looked around and said, "No Mommy" took another two risers and said, "No Daddy". It's nice to know they don't hold all my mommy faults against me. James started talking about next time on the drive north and I laughed because I knew this would be it for Grandma for years to come. She confirmed it upon arrival. So this experience will have to last us a little while...I think he did well enough to hold me til then.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Joys

Our Christmas tree is finally up. It had been up less than 12 hours, most of those hours the kids were asleep, yet I had already threatened to take it down! It is to be expected that Eli would be interested in exploring it. I don't think he really remembers previous Christmases and, you know, it has a cord. We should hang keys all over it and he'd be in Eli-heaven. But it's really those girls that can't keep their hands off it or their bodies out from under it. If I did not think it would scar them for life, I would just skip it for the next few years. I guess then I'd just have bigger bodies crawling around under it.

The elves visited this week too! They took our Santa letters and left Christmas pajamas, a Christmas book and a reminder that Santa is always watching. Rachel may get rocks this year if he's been very alert!

The best part of all this merriment has been watching the children get excited about the Christmas Story and being reassured that they really get it. Sure, they've checked their lists twice too, but the girls are really understanding the meaning behind why we do the things we do at Christmas. They have chosen toys for "angels" on the Angel Tree, donated some of their birthday money to those in need and they look forward to giving gifts to others as much as what may await them on Christmas morning. We have been reading a scripture passage about Jesus each night as a family for advent and even though Emily already complains when it is time (is she 6 or 14?) she understands the message of the season. As the month fill sup with busy-ness and merriment and to-dos, I hope that I too will remember that message of peace, of wonder...of love.