Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Broken Christmas

The season began with a late start and the Christmas boxes being gingerly guided down the stairs.  Not gingerly enough, as several of our nativity sets broke.  I have not even taken inventory, the kids advised that it might make me too upset.  We have sets from all over the world or at least we did. . .  
And that is how the season of the broken Christmas began.  A broken dish here, a broken ornament there, all of that brought us to Christmas eve with a rush to get out the door for Midnight Mass.  The kitchen was hot from the cookie baking that evening but it was super cold outside.  The contrast made the window weak.
I went looking for dolls for the twin to hold during Mass.  (Something I normally frown upon, but I worried that Mass would be long with lots of singing.)  When I got to their crib I saw that it was a mess. The sheets were off and bunched in the corner and several empty bottles were hiding  there.  This set me off in ways I am ashamed to admit.  I had been so busy shopping, wrapping and organizing Christmas while I expecting the kids to help out and to take care of things, especially the babies.  
I was incredibly angry to realize that the twins had not been cared for to my expectations.  I grabbed the empty bottles all 6 of them (yes 6 old empty dirty bottles) and stormed into the kitchen throwing them into the sink.  The baking from the evening left us with a sink full of dishes.  The bottles bounced up hitting the already weak window.  The glass shattered every where.

Oh Crap, we were all already late for church.  I did it again.  I let the stress of the season that I put on myself come to head and I blew up and continued to blow up on the ride to church.  We got to the parking lot and I wasn't ready to apologize.  I was still so mad. I felt the kids should be apologizing to me even though I was the one that lost my temper.  No one wanted to go into church for this joyous occasion so full of anger.  We decided to pray before opening the car door, an Our Father, a Hail Mary and an Act of Contrition.  I admit I was still full of anger as we walked in.  We were asked if our family would carry in the baby Jesus during the ceremony.  It is an honor to be that family and yet I was feeling guilty now that they wanted us. No way did I feel worthy of it, but it did get me to think.  I volunteered the younger children knowing that J and I would keep the twins in our pew. 
My Catholic friends know that during the Mass we call to mind our sins and ask forgiveness.  I wanted this Mass to mean something so I said those prayers with true intention and an open heart.  I felt God's love and forgiveness overwhelm me.  Jason had cleaned up the glass in the sink and just outside before we left.  I felt so blessed to be married to a man that cares for me (even cleaning up my messes) even when I loose it. 
I share this because I have posted a few posts of how great our Christmas was, and it really was.  I don't want anyone to think that our life is always perfect, just because that is what I post.  It is hard to admit how flawed I am and how flawed we are as a family.  I hope that by sharing you will not think that we are perfect.  Know that we struggle like everyone else. 
Ironically as we left Mass I was wished a Merry Christmas from a friend in the parish. Her next statement is one that I hear at least one time every day, "Your family is so wonderful, you know you should write a book!" I responded that some day I would, but I laughed to myself knowing how we looked just an hour and half earlier.  To get to the great family moments we start off in horrible crazy moments.  I think that there is a lesson in that.  The trick is what we do with those crazy moments. If we turn them back to Christ, if we say sorry and we really try, He will find a way to make good come from those moments. I felt His forgiveness and love even though I was so upset.  
Now the real hard part of being a Christian is becoming Christ-like.  It can be easy to  accept love and forgiveness but it gets difficult when we need to be Christ to those around us. I was forgiven but can I be the same way to others?  Can I offer forgiveness and love the way Christ does with me?  
The breaking continued all thoughout Christmas day.  I prefer to drink from glass, real glass and so do the kids. I always purchase several cheaper winter designs from the grocery store to last the season.  I know they won't last long and we were down to 3 of them.  They would not make it through the day. We also lost some of  my good crystal glasses.
But the biggest disappointment and test of my new resolve came with the Christmas dishes. You see when J and I first got married my mom started giving me Spode Christmas Tree dishes. After about 5 years I had quite the collection.  After moving to Houston this collection has been the only thing we use during the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving.  I had several serving platters, trays and I even had several knives and serving spoons with the Spode handles.  I also had coffee mugs and water glasses and so much more. 

The most favorite part of this Spode Christmas Tree collection was the number of dinner plates we had collected.  We knew that with the 20 dinner plates we could all eat and serve a few friends.   We were down to 17 from 20 over the past few years.  We let the little ones use the good plates too, it is their Christmas as much as it is mine.  This has been our attitude all along.  We know that we might loose a piece or two each season but that means we are using the dishes.  The holiday is for the entire family, not just the adults.
Then the incident happened.  We had made the decision to serve the meal buffet style because of our "over-crowded" table.  Princess was bringing the stack of plates into the breakfast table where we would be setting up the food.  Sadly the stack of 17 plates was set on top of a puddle of water that was unable to be seen.  The plates "hydroplaned" off the table smashing into the bench and then onto the floor.  Goobers was sitting next to it.  She watched the plates "move all by themselves".  She was stunned making her reaction too slow. 

I heard the crash from the other room and considering it was the "broken" Christmas I could only imagine what I would find when I got to the room.  In our house when something breaks you need to yell, "stay out" if there is glass on the floor, "help" if you need help and always yell "I'm OK" so that the sound alone doesn't cause heart attacks throughout the house. Everyone will come to help and protect little feet from the glass if needed.  This time nothing was said causing a panic in each person throughout the house.  One by one each family member ran into the room to check on those near the crash scene.  As each child saw the stack of broken plates on the floor they were dumbfounded. 
When I got to the room I saw a mess on the floor and a roomful of kiddos with their hands over their mouths and eyes wide open.  I surprised them when I let out a little giggle and said, "I guess this really is a 'broken' Christmas."  I then asked them to clean up the mess and to be careful.  I made a point to make eye contact with Princess and smile.  It was an accident.  Seeing mom act calmly meant they could all react now. 

What I heard next made me so thankful for this crazy season in which everything seamed to break.  "Oh we planned to use those dishes with our kids", "I guess we will need more plates sooner than later", and "We planned to use those dishes when all of our families get together for future Thanksgivings, Christmases and New Years! Mom we are going to need to buy more plates." 

Did you hear what I heard, they are planning to continue to spend their Christmases together. They want to be together. That warmed my heart and made it all worth it.  I will find a way to buy more plates as the years go by.  Considering each child except Bear want a large family I was going to need to invest in more plates anyway.  In the end we have 12 plates left, two are chipped.
I learned so much this broken year.  I am so thankful that the dishes, the windows, glasses and nativities are what broke.  Our family is not broken!  That is the best news, really the only news that matters.  We work hard for our time together and we are glad that isn't broken. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for letting us celebrate your generosity with each other.  Sometimes this broken world feels very much like heaven. Thank you!  

It is moments like these that I appreciate the name of this blog.  I feel so blessed that God has given me all of this, plus the opportunity of heaven.

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