Monday, December 28, 2009

Calm Before the Storm..

I have started this blog at least four times in the past four days since Christmas Eve. I suppose my intransigence has something to do with the fact that I know I need to be writing now, but in the spirit of the holidays, it is difficult. 

I also never imagined that the holidays would be, for me, the calm before the storm.

When the kids were younger (and I know many of you have younger children, or grandchildren), Christmas was the storm. There was always a flurry of activity around shopping, traveling, tree decorating, work, wrapping, work, While I loved the idea of Christmas, I secretly dreaded the days before and immediately following that meant a total break in our routine. 

Those of you that know me also know that I collect Santas. Even until recently, my kids prided themselves in saying that "Christmas threw up all over our house." The tree has always gone up on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Lights have always turned on that same night. All the seemingly 10,000 Santas have always been in place. It is a rite of passage of the year. It is what I do.

However this year our time has been more precious than normal. Kids just returning from India; kids just returning from Thailand. One kid just returning from Japan. Thanksgiving was a threesome, with husband and mother along for the ride. Saturday after Thanksgiving meant working, but it also was fraught with other challenges, like a scratched cornea that kept me flat on my back in pain and not being able to see out of one eye for two days. 

The  faux tree went up late; there was no time or inclination to bother with a live one. Boxes of ornaments were piled high in what is now the guest room. Villages were not assembled; many Santas remained mummified in tissue paper and encased in a plastic sarcophagus. Christmas decoration, with the exception of our outdoor lights and a very LARGE flying pig suspended from our dwarf peach tree, seemed like an inconvenience - even an afterthought. There was simply no time. The Grinch had nothing on me.

But once we unearthed the boxes from the dust of the garage; once they were unpacked and the lights of the season went on, things changed.

Knowing that three of the five "kids," including extended new family, would be home on Christmas Day, I became amazingly calm. Well, calm being a relative term, in every definition of the word. I resigned myself to the fact that Christmas this season would actually only be 24 hours. Christmas would be about spending  little time with presents and precious time with loved ones. (That's not QUITE what happened, but it's my story and I'm sticking to it!) Christmas night was about a great dinner, good wine and great conversation with a lot of laughs and silliness that lasted well into the night.

Christmas night was about being calm. The storm was building but it was time to hold it in abeyance. This was our time, not one for interviews, phone calls, emails or texts. It was a time to be cherished and fiercely protected.

Twenty-four hours passed all too quickly.

It is now a few days before 2010. The boxes are gone; so is the paper and ribbon. Presents have been bundled up and hauled away after much appreciation. The afterglow of the holiday still continues to envelope the house with photos, videos and memories of a wonderful family night. And there is another great 24 hours to come in mid-January when "Christmas Part Deux" happens with the kids who just returned from India and are settling back into a Texas lifestyle.

For the first time ever, we will leave the tree up after January 1. We will restock the base with more presents and Santa will stuff more stockings in anticipation of their arrival. My husband, who is half Polish, calls it a "Polish Christmas." I call it a great diversion and another calm, though this one will be between storms. 

The storm is coming in less than three weeks. However, neither rain nor sleet - nor lack of sleep at night will keep me from savoring my family time in as many parts as is necessary to make the season bright.

Calm is relative.


  1. If anyone, you guys are the ones who can weather the storm. You know what's really important and you know how to laugh and celebrate and be silly along with the stress and nerves. Maybe partially because of the stress and nerves!

  2. Our skater received a wall plaque for Christmas that says "Life is too important to be taken seriously." Enough said :)