Monday, December 12, 2016

Enjoy every moment. (It's not what you think.)

On Sunday, I had to make a kid to sit down with the rest of our family (minus the dad who was toiling away on our molasses-slow basement remodel) to watch Home Alone for the first time instead of reading a book in a different room. Doesn't watching a movie sound torturous? Approximately 2 minutes later the kid was laughing with the rest of us, and we cracked up at the silly antics until the very end.

Earlier in the day, I had a kid who wanted to dress like a sheep for our church's Sunday School program/didn't want to dress like a sheep/did/didn't/did/didn't/did/didn't until finally it was show time and the final decision was didn't want to dress like a sheep.

But remember, it's the most wonderful time of the year.

We did 95% of our Christmas shopping on Small Business Saturday, so, armed with our list, a pen, and water bottles, we hit several of our town's little shops. At one shop, I spotted a towel with the advice "Enjoy every single moment" embroidered or stitched or ironed or whatever they do on to the towel. In another shop there was a sign that said something like Cherish every snowflake.

Come on. I like to embellish as much as the next person, but can we puh-lease stop feeding people the ridiculous line that every moment should be cherished, every snowflake is perfection, and the holiday season is all stuffed stockings and parties, new cars with ribbons on top and sublime Christmas meals where no one talks politics or the very noticeable absence of Joe's wife at the table or grandpa's DUI charge. Whether it's towels or signs or commercials or magazines, we get that message loud and clear, but it doesn't actually match up with reality.

I love Christmas. I love little traditions with our family and appreciate the chance to spend more time with family and let people know how much we love and appreciate them. I am an absolute sucker for Christmas music and agree with Buddy the Elf when he says, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." I'm not a bah-humbug kind of person.

I also realize that anytime we are told to appreciate EVERY moment or detail of something, we are bound to be disappointed. I love my kids. I also sometimes have to ask them to pick trash up off of their floor 18 times in one day, force them to watch a fun movie, or listen to a yes to sheep costume, no to sheep costume monologue for five minutes. I cherish my children. I don't cherish EVERY single moment with them or every single thing they do.

I love snow. I also get sick of shoveling four feet of it in early May or sliding around on the roads when my kids are in the backseat. I cherish snow and the changing of the seasons in this incredibly glorious and beautiful world we get to live in. I don't cherish EVERY single snowflake.

I love Christmas. I also get worried about spending too much money, neglect other parts of my life to allow more room for preparation, baking, and celebration, and miss my family in other parts of the country tremendously. I cherish the Advent and Christmas seasons. I don't cherish EVERY single moment from Black Friday to New Year's Day.

It's ridiculous when you really think about it, Life is a tragic love story comedy with a hearty dose of dark humor, a fair amount of villains, and, thankfully, plenty of heroes and heroines. Life is beautiful and hard, with moments that leave us gobsmacked and breathless at the goodness of it and others that leave us on our knees begging for the pain to end. To try to make our complex lives into a rosy little fairy tale robs us of all the people and experiences that allow us, encourage us, and force us to grow as humans.

So, go ahead. Cherish Christmas. Cherish your family and your friends. Cherish fresh powder on a stunning mountain. Cherish this life we have the grand pleasure of living. But don't buy into the garbage that every moment of our lives should be wonderful and that we should avoid pain or discomfort at all costs. There is not one single person living that reality. Maybe it looks like it from the outside, but that just means that person is better at hiding it than others. There is deep pain. There is redeeming love and light. There is hurt. There is joy and forgiveness, for us to give and to receive.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays. If you're in a miserably hard stage, please try to remember that this isn't the end of your story. (Also, please call me. You are not alone.Seriously. Call me. Text me. Email me.) If you're feeling fantastic, ride that vibe for as long as you possibly can and love the heck out of others who are struggling.


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