Tuesday, December 20, 2011

when the holidays don't go your way.

I am queen of the holidays. I embrace the cookie baking and the present wrapping. I fight the crazy traffic and buy the perfect gift. I love making Christmas cards and decorating the tree. I celebrate old traditions and establish new ones. Although I am an unabashed admirer of autumn, the span of weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's holds a magic I can't really find during any other season.

This year, though, has been absolute chaos.

I'm still waiting for two gifts to come in the mail.

Wrapping paper remnants cover our guest room floor, waiting for me to finish covering what's left of our family's gifts.

Christmas treats and homemade goodies for coworkers remain undone.

The weather is a balmy 74 degrees every day, making it hard to remember that it's actually Christmas time again.

I've only watched two holiday movies and have spent precious few minutes sitting peacefully in front of the happily twinkling tree. (Though I did request that Jordan and I sleep downstairs a couple of nights last week, just so I could enjoy our pretty tree in all its glory.)

Most of this, I suppose, sounds like whining.

But it's December 20, and my 93-year-old grandmother is in the hospital, and all of the stress and the chaos and the frustrations of the past few weeks pale in comparison.

I don't know what God is doing right now. I'm not sure what is up His sleeve, or what His plan is for me or my family.

I do know, though, that my family -- by His grace -- manages to function beautifully under pressure. I know that I have a husband who is determined to make our marriage excellent, to make Christmas special, even when it doesn't feel like it. We have friends who love us and care for us. They not only keep us in their prayers, they show their affection and concern in practical ways, with casseroles and books and phone calls and texts. I have a brother home from Nashville and fuzzins waiting to bake cookies with me. I have an understanding boss who allowed me to be at home with family yesterday.

Sunday, well before we could have predicted this turn in my grandmother's health, Jordan and I took a walk around one of our favorite neighborhoods. I was feeling hopeful, wishing the Father might redeem the days we'd lost focusing on some church struggles and health issues, but I was also tired. We had small group to host and a house that was (is) a mess and all I really wanted to do was wrap presents and watch Miracle on 34th Street. Instead, as we walked, Jordan and I took turns reminding each other what we were grateful for in 2011. It is so easy to lose perspective in moments of annoyance and frustration. It can feel like your world has caved in on you, like 2011 has been a complete and total bust.

It hasn't.

It has been wonderful, and I imagine that while I will undoubtedly look back on these months as an unusually stressful time in our lives, I will also look back on them with gratitude for what they're teaching me about marriage and family and priorities and true church.

This Christmas doesn't feel like Christmases past. Not yet, anyway.

But regardless of how I am feeling, He is born. He is come to earth for me. He is capable of redeeming all and bringing it back to Him.

And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

 *An aside: I find these 50 ways to cope with stress both delightful and practical. Also? I plan to decorate cookies today.


Leslie said...

This made me cry. Praying for you right now that you and your family would feel the comfort and peace that our Father gives.
I LOVE reading your insights and hopes - it is so clear that they're straight from your heart. Keep writing it out, friend - your words are a beautiful gift! Merry Christmas :)

mary kate said...

Annie, I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. I'll be keeping her in my prayers this week. Also as sad as it sounds, I'm glad I am not the only one that thinks it just doesnt feel like Christmas. Before finals I was so ready to embrace the holiday season and now I just can't get into it.

The Learned Lady said...

Hi Annie,

I know what you are going through, and this post just brought me to tears as I'm missing my grandma so much this year. She never got to meet my little girl and for some reason that is bothering me so much these days. All I can tell you is be with your grandma and your family as much as you can, as hard as it is, cherish this time together, however difficult it might be. Hold her hand, tell her that you love her. And remember, that she would want you to be happy, and to enjoy the holiday, even if it looks and feels different this year. Sending prayers and virtual hugs your way! ~Clara

Kelly Sauer said...

You are in my heart this week - I'm so sorry to hear about your grandma. Praying soul-rest for you.

Brittany said...

First, your grandmother is in my mind, heart, and prayers. I hope everything will turn out okay.

And you'll get there. It feels like Christmas at some point--it always happens. Merry Christmas Annie.

Denise K said...

I am sorry to hear about your grandmother, but I'm RIGHT there with you on the other stuff..especially the weather. UGH. And yet, everyone keeps saying they're just fine with it being warm! I don't get it.

Sabrina said...

I am so thankful that you have Jordan to take care of you, as you take care of your family during this time of trial. I love you Annie:) PS- What a fabulous list...my favorite was "be prepared for rain". Both literal and figurative rain can be hard to deal with. But I know that the sun looks brighter and feels better after a time of rain. Praying for your family.

monster cakes said...

I want to hug you friend. I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother's health. I'm praying for her and your family. Love you!

TefMarie said...

Praying for you and yours! I feel much of the same way about Christmas lately, and I haven't relished in anything festive as much as I had hoped. It just now feels like Christmas to me, and I still think that feeling has seen better days.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I'm dealing with issues of my own with my grandmother as well, and it's hard to cope with those things during the holidays, although they're a reality. Thanks for your honesty and openness so I can relate.