If you had knocked on my door yesterday afternoon, say around 5 o’clock, I would have opened the door to a scene so chaotic that you would have made hurried excuses to leave. It has happened before. You see, to outsiders (especially those who come from controllable smaller families), our annual ornament making/cookie decorating party looks like total bedlam. But to us–the lucky participants–it is perfect pandemonium.
This year’s party was a little bit different than normal, but we adjusted to the ever changing needs of our family and it was no less beautiful. Mitch now lives in Boston so I had to pack up every single supply for the craft and mail it to them so we could FaceTime the party…that way our beloved Ava Rose and Ella could still be part of our annual tradition. The FaceTiming added a whole other dimension to an already crazy day…but, they were with us, and that’s what matters. 🙂
Sadly, although Jen and Mark participated while living at home, and even for several years into adulthood, they have fallen away from our family traditions in recent years. While my heart tells me that my stepchildren of nearly 18 years are my children and my children belong at all family gatherings, I had to finally accept that as they age, their need for a mother figure diminishes. Jen and Mark spent 13 years of their lives without a mother figure and learned to live life fully without one. In that small extra space that adult children have for their family, their very competent and loving father fills their need perfectly. It doesn’t mean they don’t care; they just don’t need me. If there are any step mothers out there who married a widower, I can save you years of heartache with this one statement; accept what love they have to offer with open arms, be there when they need you, but otherwise, back off. Losing someone to death actually makes them become more beloved with time. I can attest to that with the loss of my own mother…so how could I judge?
So…I digress…back to the party at hand. At this year’s party, we made bells from recycled yogurt and individual rice containers, we made snowmen from recycled water bottle lids, we made angels out of wire ribbon, and we made smaller angels out of noodles (I’m going to have to cook a lot of pasta in the upcoming weeks!). I think that in my efforts to ‘find Christmas [see previous post],’ I overcompensated (which I often do) and instead of making one craft, we made four. The combination of four crafts plus Face-Timing in Ava Rose and Ella, made for even greater chaos than usual.
But, the chaos was so beautiful…as I replay it in my mind now, I see only love and beauty. I’m pretty sure I was actually shouting the instructions so they could be heard above the noise and through the computer. Imagine this: sitting at the table, Charlotte (10), Susi (8), Reidy (5), Wyatt (4), Rilee (4), and Dustin (1 1/2). Papa (Steve) was holding Sammy (4 months) and also assisting Dustin. Ali and Randi were helping all of the other kids, while making their own ornaments (yes, they are still my little girls!). Court was baking 48 cookies in the kitchen while holding a 3 week old baby. So there was Christmas music playing, kids laughing and talking, babies crying, and me shouting directions so they could be heard all the way to Boston. I have to laugh as I write this. It really must have been a sight to behold. Truly perfect pandemonium.
We took a dinner break around 6 (Papa Murphys take and bake pizza) and then jumped right in to cookie decorating, which lasted for about two hours. During this phase, I let my adult daughters take over and Papa and I held babies…we may have snoozed a moment or two with them!
Sorry about all of the half dressed kids, but food dye does not come out of cute Christmas clothes! And how much fun would decorating be if someone is standing over you saying “don’t get it on your clothes.” We just strip em down to their underwear and let them have at it! (All except for our elf, and two modest young ladies 🙂
The greatest thing about last night is that I have officially ‘found’ Christmas. My search was in the wrong place. Family does not mean there will be no dissension. Family means you won’t ever stop trying or forgiving. And after all, isn’t that what the birth of Christ is all about?
I found this quote in my stack of scapbooking quotes. I can’t give credit to the author as no author is listed, but I have to share the words because they are so applicable, especially to my family and at this time of the year:
PEACE. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.
So as I look at my house this morning: toys, craft supplies, cooking supplies, cookie toppings, plates of cookies, and ornaments set out to dry, all covering every surface in my home; I smile and know that I wouldn’t trade one minute of this life I have for any other. I love this crazy, opinionated, loving, loyal and devoted bunch of people. They are my Christmas present: the only thing I need or want. Who could ask for more?