Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lots of Birthdays

We just finished up Sophia's 5th birthday and Matthew's 15th today. I cant believe my baby is five. There, I said it. Now its out of the way. Sophia is five.

I told my kids last Spring when they came home raving about a birthday party they had been invited to, and asking   like Veruka Salt ( I want it now!)  for their OWN, PERSONAL, PARTIES, soon, Soon, SOON! That I'd think about giving them one.

 I wont blame anyone in particular for starting this nightmarish, endless,exhausting, novel idea
( whose initials may or may not be A.L. and who had lots of helpful 'fairy ideas' from a friend with L.D. as their initials to start this massive chain of events happening in my household) It just happened one afternoon, before Michael's birthday in early April. And there is no use going back over it now. Anyone who wanted a party, got a party. It was definitely an awful lot to work into one year.

BUT, my logic was, if I did it all in one year, I could get away with simple family parties for quite a while afterwards. Years maybe. This was a virtual investment in simple carefree birthdays for an eternity.( keep that simple term in relative measure here. Simple for us with 12 is maybe not so simple after all, but mentally I think it is, so there's that to contend with. My mental battlefield is always half the battle)

So today drew to a close that year long party promise with a twofer of Matt and Lolo. We have had sleepovers, pool parties, boy parties, girl parties, movie parties, and dinner parties, and video game parties along the way. Its been a beautiful year for our family. I am so grateful for my kids. I am also so grateful for all you lovely people who came and celebrated with us. Again, and again, and again. We are blessed.
princess party time

 Even if we're a little partied out.

Monday, January 5, 2015

What will you hold onto?

It's still Christmas time you know. It lasts until next weekend as we celebrate the baptism of the Lord. Because we started back to school today, I HAD TO take down my Christmas decorations this weekend. Generally, I do this alone, which is highly draining and depressing on so many levels. This year, Fred was a gem and said we would tackle it all together as a family. So we did on Saturday. And we did a good deep clean as well. Putting the house in order just in time for Joseph to have his 13th birthday party. That makes half of my kids teenagers or better- No idea how that happened, but I digress.

I don't like taking down my Christmas decorations early, because its important to give it time to sink in and last. We had a particularly full advent and Christmastime this year. There were occasions of real grace in the simplest moments of life. The message of 'needing a savior" and simultaneously having one, touched me so deeply.

And we shared ridiculously happy days too, like the day we went to museums by candle light and wound up in the middle of a town party where my kids met Santa and won prizes, only to end with a candle light concert at the Seton shrine where my kids listened to melodic Christmas carols sung by three choirs. The following weekend we went to Weinberg theater for a Christmas Carol play, and it was dazzling.

Scrooge learns to "Keep Christmas in his heart and honor it all the Year" and we all face a similar challenge. I didn't worry about needing the decorations to remain up this year in order to 'keep it' so to speak, a bit longer. There are so many beautiful memories to help me keep Christmas for a long time. Memories I can pick up and hold in my heart, and turn this way and that to recall I have been blessed. In my family, and in my friendships, in my town, and in my country, I am blessed.

These moments are the ones I will hold onto, until the day grows long enough to retain a bit more light, and evenings don't feel bitter and cruel. While I sit by the fire, and push through the mountain of purgatorial school work, I can go back and remember that life is good and my neighbor is who God puts in my life this day.

What will you hold onto?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

But the bells are ringing

I am happy to welcome the New Year, and joyful for what it may bring to us all, at least I am this year. But there have been several years, in the recent past, when I was just grateful to close out the old year and too tired to hope for much more than to simply continue onward. 

Those times have passed by me now, and a new found and happier part of life opens up before me. Yet, I believe in God , and the message of suffering is thankfully not taught within a vacuum. If we are good students of life, suffering will not only teach us a good deal about mercy, but it will also afford us a heart full of compassion. 

There are so many faces and conversations dancing within my head as I write. People I know are either currently suffering, or have just said  goodbye to a year that was ripe with them. Parents lost, family members gone, cancers diagnosed, illnesses undetected, depression set in, marriages troubled, children in strife, and a general atmosphere of unrest and discord in the world around us. It can feel overwhelming. 

I read these stanzas today. This poem and song really touch me. 

They were written Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, you know, the fellow with that great long beard. The beard is actually a remnant of the very tragedy that struck him. His wife clipping the hair of their child sealed the curls in candle wax. Some of the wax caught on her dress and set it up in flames, she ran to Henry in his study and he tried to put it out with his own body. He failed, and she died. His attempt to rescue her burning him so severely he could not attend her funeral a few days later, and could never again shave for the rest of his life. Almost one year later, his son a lieutenant in the army, was killed by a bullet on the Potomac river. He wrote:
"How inexpressibly sad are all holidays." 

"A merry Christmas' say the children, but that is no more for me."

"I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace."

And then, miraculously, a few years later God did give him peace. The poem takes us through his despair:

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;"For hate is strong,And mocks the song
of peace on earth, good will to men.

To his eventual healing and his realization that:

Then pealed the bells more deep
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"


Where ever you may stand, in this Christmas season, on the edge of this new year- May you know that God is with you and feel his comfort. If that day is not today, I wish you the strength to continue on until He fills your heart with that echoing cry of Peace on earth, goodwill to men.

Happy New year.