Monthly Archiv: January, 2015
The Three Wisemen Aka Halt of the Wisemen, by John La Farge. (Because wise people have to halt now and again to work up the courage to keep going)
Wise men follow a star for a long time through strange lands. They are looking for a king. When the star leads them to the boy, they do not trouble themselves that a peasant child stands before them, they see a king. They kneel. They worship. They offer gifts befitting royalty.
I don’t know how to follow a star, yet the heavens beckon. I long for that which is good and true. On my best days I pursue the glimmers. We’ve traded camels for cars, but the journey still stretches to endless some days.
It is difficult to recognize salvation in the simple and unsung. People talk about the wisemen risking Herod’s wrath, but no one talks about the courage it took to kneel before someone so unrecognized. To insist with their gifts that this unlikely baby was exactly who they were looking for.
So wise men three, or however many you be, here’s to a year of courageous epiphanies . . .
In the tears of a defeated nine year old in the bathroom, the siren call to set aside the lessons and love the girl. Maybe not just the girl. Maybe others, myself, the world.
In the stomping of a six year old, the insistent invitation to express my own frustration more gently.
In the lengthy explanation of Lego worlds, a glimpse of wonder. Things live and move and breathe without my orchestration or knowledge.
In the impassioned hopes and dreams of a 14 year old, a dare to throw caution to the wind and let the fire of love run madly down the hallways of my heart.
I took a nap on Dec. 30th. My husband met me with delight when I woke up. There was a surprise, he said. Downstairs I found him standing where the Christmas tree had been, grinning.
Decorations, lights, everything. Done, he said.
Thank you, I said softly. (The tree cannot come down before January 1, I thought. I never got to sit for one last night and look at the lights. I wanted to cry.)
You’re not happy, he said. I thought you would be happy. I’ve been excited for almost an hour.
I’m happy that you love me, I said.
Every hour or so for the rest of the day we both said the same things over again.
I thought you would be happy.
It was kind of you to try and surprise me.
The tree’s absence made me sad but the face of the man who loved me was there too. He had failed to love me as I wished to be loved. But he loved me. Epiphany.
Love has a history of awkward packaging. The baby came wearing diapers undoubtedly full at times. May we have the wisdom to recognize the moments of our salvation, the courage to kneel, and the good sense to bring royal gifts to the least of these.
The Card Players (Zwei Kartenspieler) by Paul Cézanne. 1892-1893.
(Interesting Trivia: purchased by Qatar royal family in 2011 for most sum of money ever paid for a work of art.)
The ping pong table was a success. Stunned raised eyebrows that mother dearest was of her own accord introducing things that bounced into the house. Mother dearest has been emotionally challenged with the enthusiastic table shoving involved in preferred methods of set up, but overall, no regrets, and a little training in gift usage is ok.
Girl two had asked repeatedly for Christmas to bring a Barbie horse. I found two possibilities, both for ridiculous amounts of money that I simply couldn’t justify. Unbeknownst to me, her siblings had found a Barbie horse at a second hand store earlier that day for less than a tenth of the price. By Christmas morning it was one of the biggest packages under the tree. (For some reason the kids don’t think they’ve done it right unless there are multiple boxes involved in a packaging exercise.)
We made the best of the mild weather. We took our usual walks and scouted new ones in nearby forests. On boxing day, the kids and I decided that weather that warm the day after Christmas was not to be scoffed at. In snow pants, gloves, hats, and sweatshirts, we hit the bike trails for a rare mid-winter cycle.
Uno games are high on my list, since everyone can play them, but watching Girl one begin her entry into the regular world of cards after Girl two had gone to bed, was a great joy. Some parents sit with baited breath as their child takes their first step, gets on the school bus, or goes for a first overnight. For us, the crossing of the threshold into competitive card games is a joy hard to contain. Girl one was thrilled to be included and appointed me her royal adviser. Not sure where she gets all the drama, but she was happy and we were happy, and with a little reminding about how much help she was getting, Boy two (now taking his own first steps in the world of the now un-coached card player) survived her first few winning hands.
I have dispensed of New Year’s resolutions and have instead arranged some modest goals from now until the end of February, at which time I will re-evaluate. As part of modest goals, Boy one is working on his cooking. Since session one, I’ve adjusted the idea that he’ll magically cook by himself without first cooking together. This was fine for baking, but with cooking it helps to chop side by side, learn to peel the skin off garlic by seeing someone do it, and smell spices together before throwing them in. There’s a heart and soul to cooking that I want to share. And now that I mention it, I want to write about it sometime too, so no more of that for now.
For now, it’s time for the lovely quiet of kids gone back to school.
Boy with Mid-Morning Snack, by Albert Anker. 1897.
Due to snow and freezing rain, a tractor that wouldn’t start and a very long driveway to be shoveled . . . due to children in need of some last hurrahs before returning to school and my own craving for rest, today’s post will appear sometime before noon instead of the usual early morning.
Over the holidays, the girls and I found ourselves with the richness of empty time together in someone else’s house. Games? I wondered. Barbies! they cheered. The Barbies looked as boring as the ones at our house but perhaps I was misinformed.
I declined the invitation to join. (I don’t know how, I said. I’ll read a magazine.) Then I felt guilty and recanted. My cynical side was not amused. My creative side felt certain I could muster enough imagination to overcome my God given repulsion to so many long haired plastic women with deformed feet and monstrous bosoms.
Upon sitting down with assigned Barbie in hand, I spied a plate of plastic cupcakes. Both girls were grooming their Barbies. I looked at mine but she looked fine so I walked her over to get a cupcake. She wanted the green one, which turned out to be a problem because the Barbie sitting at the table said she wanted the green one also. This was ridiculous. Table girl had been sitting there all night. If she’d actually wanted the green one she could have consumed it hours ago, but no, she waited until my Barbie politely asked for it to cause a scene. Things got heated. My Barbie had just stormed off when the girls interrupted to tell me I wasn’t doing it right.
I ignored them and walked my Barbie back over to the table. She and the other girl agreed to split the cupcake. I got them to hug, high five, and squeal, “sisters!” Nobody tells me I can’t do that Barbie thing.
So how are you supposed to play Barbies, I said.
You like do their hair and put on clothes and stuff, they said.
As far as I can tell the perfect Barbie would have clothes that disintegrate after 30 seconds exposure to air, thereby assuring that Barbie would be in need of almost constant dressing and accessorizing. In other words, a picture of hell. My Barbie was already dressed. They weren’t our Barbies so I didn’t feel right cutting her hair, irritating though it was. I sighed and my eyes landed on one of the ugliest pair of shoes I have ever seen.
Petunia (my Barbie) was thrilled. O my gosh, she said, I am soooo happy. These are like the best shoes, ever. Just look at all the little bumps. I have no idea how many toads they used to make them, but 100% toad skin shoes are like totally awesome, she added.
Mom, said Girl one, those are shoes for a completely different doll. They don’t even go with that Barbie. But you can use them if you want.
I took the shoes off and put them back on three times, thereby proving that they did go with my Barbie.
It’s ok, Mom, said Girl one.
Yeah, said Girl two, they weren’t made for her, but you can use them.
But don’t say stuff about toad skin, said Girl one.
Yeah, said Girl two, that’s just silly.