Monday, December 21, 2009

Mr. Tom's Nativity

I prepared an “optional” game for the kids that came to our really fun preschool teacher’s Christmas party last night. It was entitled “FIND THE NATIVITY SCENES” and the object of the game was to wander through the house and write down all the Nativity Scenes that you see. Because, you see, as I was decorating for Christmas I suddenly realized that there were at least 17 different Nativity Scenes of some sort around the house. Simple enough. Or so I thought.
Here is one.

And another one.

And another.

But here is one that my friend, Mr. Tom thought he found.

Don’t you think that is stretching it a little? He thought i was trying to sneak one by him...right there between the muscadine jelly and the Christmas cactus. Honestly, Mr. Tom. Maybe he had just read my story about Baby Jesus in a Walnut Shell, and was going for Baby Jesus in an Acorn.

The Gift

Grief is powerful.

Ten years ago in early December, my Dad went Home. I remember that first Christmas, how I was ambushed by waves of grief when I least expected it. Like one day in Dillards, when O HOLY NIGHT, Dad’s favorite Christmas song, came over the loudspeaker, and I had no where to turn from the raw and painful emotions. I hid in the clothes rack for a while, then just finally handed the sales clerk my purchase with tears streaming down my face, and no explanation on my lips.

Or like when we went to see Mom, and I would go in Dad’s closet when no one was looking, so I could hold his clothes up to my face and breathe in that wonderful, sweet, rugged Dad aroma. Dad smelled so good. So familiar. I could just stand there and breathe deeply and actually still smell him. Something so tangible I could hold on I could remember him.

You never knew when it would just come over you from nowhere. A song, a smell, a child’s laugh, anything precious could trigger it without warning. Yet as time began to heal the painfulness of absence, it happened less. Mom eventually cleaned out Dad’s closet. Time passed. Things changed.

But back to the gift.

Duane brought it home from work this week. A navy blue Mr. Rogers sweater of Dad’s. Mom gave it to Duane during the closet cleaning era, and Duane kept it at his office in case he ever needed to warm up at work. He said he didn’t’ know what to do with it so he brought it home -- had rarely worn it and needed the closet space now. I held the folded sweater up to my face. Inhaled. Remembered . After ten years, surprisingly, still smelled like Dad.

You never realize the things you will miss the most -- their smell, their voice, their handwriting…. The things that you can no longer have once they cross over.

But this Christmas, I received a gift.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Baby Jesus in a Walnut Shell

My daughter, Kari, called this week with this question:
“Mom, would you be upset if I used “Baby Jesus in a Walnut Shell” as a White Elephant gift?

Sigh. I remember the very night she made Baby Jesus in a Walnut Shell. She was four. It was at Joys of Christmas, a wonderful child focused Christmas celebration at the little church we went to. My best friend and I were preschool and children’s ministers and Joys was our solution to beginning the Christmas season focused on the biblical celebration of His birth. It was an evening of untold wonder, capped by the Hanging of the Green worship service where the focus continued on the children, who with their families participated fully in the evening worship, and decorated the church for Christmas.

“I guess not, sweetie. But…do you really want to…I remember the very night you made it.”

“Exactly. You remember it. I don’t. And don’t you still have another one?”

Yes. I just hot glued the other Baby Jesus in a walnut shell’s bonnet back on last night.”

“Mom! That’s the point. Baby Jesus didn’t have a bonnet.”

Sigh. “Whatever. It’s yours.”

The next day I got this text: Titus found Baby Walnut Jesus and would like to hang him on his tree in his room. (Titus is three) Thought that would make you smile.

Then thirty minutes later, this text: Now he is hanging walnut Jesus on Elli’s pigtails. o.k. walnut is a keeper.

Hope your Christmas is a keeper, and likewise makes you smile.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Things that make me Happy - Part 4

Snow. In Texas.
December 4, 2009

Favorite parts of the day:
1. Picking jalapenos in the snow.
2. Sitting on patio with a bowl of chili, watching it come down.
3. Seeing a car full of teenagers stop in front of the house, hearing all this commotion in the front yard, going outside to see what they were doing, and finding:

I could hardly wipe the smile off my face all day long.