Friday, November 30, 2012

Uncomplicated Purity

Like many of you, hubs and I have some sappy stories from our days in the beginning our life together.  Every year when we break out the Christmas decorations, one story in particular takes us back to the days when we were “living on loans and love”.  Grad school had started for him, I was finishing up my education degree, and we were freshly married. Our parents were extremely generous and supportive, providing us with enough money to pay our rent and put groceries on our table…but the rest of it was up to us.  Life was good. We were oblivious to the realities of being grown-ups, because our reality was the little cocoon that we had created in the tiny apartment we called home.  Our days consisted of going to class, coming home and cooking dinner together, and spending the evenings studying or watching TV or taking walks together in the neighborhood.  It was a time of sweetness and uncomplicated purity.

After only a few months of marriage, it came time for the holidays.  I was so excited about having our first Christmas together as a married couple, and looked forward to everything about the season.  I remember asking him about a Christmas tree and he reminded me that we would need to look for an artificial tree due to his allergies.  So my mom and I set out on Black Friday, early in the morning, and found a tree on sale…I think I paid $20 for it.  I assure you, there was nothing glamorous about it, but I brought it home like a hunter with a 10 point deer.  Hubs insisted that we put it up immediately and after the ten minutes it took to assemble it…we stopped and looked at one another as the obvious question crossed both of our minds.  What in the world were we going to put on the tree?  (Refer to the above mentioning of just how green at this thing called “life” we really were)  That was the moment when I popped off about how I would just run to Hobby Lobby the next day and pick up some decorations.  Hubs looked at me and sweetly said, “Honey, we really don’t have the money for that.”  Gasp.  I remember looking at him…puzzled…and thinking, “is he serious? We can’t have a naked Christmas tree…”  (This would be a good time to explain that hubs and I grew up with different backgrounds, but that’s a whole other blog post for a whole other time…but you get the picture) I don’t remember the rest of the evening or how that conversation all played out that night but I do know that I didn’t run to HL the next day, or the next.  Our little tree sat in our living room…naked…for 3 days.  And then the magic happened.

Cody came home from class with a plastic sack filled to its brim with pinecones. He had a friend at school that had offered him as many as he could find out of his yard that day. Seemed sweet enough…but  I was slightly taken aback when he whipped out another sack…this one from Wal-Mart…and began removing ribbon, paperclips and spray paint.  He proceeded to explain that he had come up with an idea of how to decorate our Christmas tree.  He presented the idea, I was skeptical to say the least, but was weary of looking at the bare branches, so I agreed to help. 

That evening, we spray painted every one of those pinecones with gold paint and let them dry.  After they dried, we carefully pulled apart dozens of paperclips to make hooks.  And finally, we hot glued the paperclips to the pinecones, and completed the look with a tiny bow.   We laughed and told stories of Christmas’ growing up while we worked on the project.  I quietly remained skeptical, honestly, but enjoyed the process of my new husband’s handiwork. 

When they were all completed, we began to place them on our little tree…and one by one, they adorned that tree until it was covered in handmade ornaments.  I was amazed at how precious they turned out, how amazing our tree looked, and in total awe at the man that made my dreams come true of having a beautiful tree for our first Christmas together.  Those ornaments were nothing special to an outsider, but to us, they represented so much. 

Needless to say, over the years, our lives have grown and our Christmas decorations have grown with it.  Cody works incredibly hard to provide our family with a beautiful home that we enjoy decorating year after year for the holidays.  But every year, when it comes time to decorate our tree, one thing always remains… our pinecone ornaments.  We have kept them for 12 years and will continue to do so as long as possible.  They have hung on every Christmas tree, and every year, our geese have to listen to the story of when “we became an us”.  We remind our babies of our meager beginning, and it is a precious reminder to us as well.  Those silly pinecones remind us of simpler times…of resourcefulness…of the extravagant happiness we felt that first year, and yet by the world’s standards, we had very little. While I don’t necessarily long for those days (because after all, those were pre-baby days) I sometimes long for that ME.  I long for the girl that hadn’t tasted tears of grief and loss.  I long for the girl that didn’t know what it was like to stress about the unknown.   I long for the girl that was satisfied with making something beautiful out of simply “making do with what we have”.  I long for uncomplicated purity. 

While the reality stands that that “season” of life has passed, I pray that our little pinecones may be a reminder to all of us to embrace the season we are in…regardless. A season of joy.  A season of chaos.  Most of all, a season to celebrate the One that gives us life abundantly that came to the earth in the rawest form of uncomplicated purity. I am incredibly grateful that some things never change.  

Merry Christmas~



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Car Connections

A week ago today, my geese and I got into the Suburban to head to school like we do every morning.  Upon turning the key in the ignition, I came to the realization and horror that my vehicle was not responding to this command.  In fact, it was ignoring it completely. There was no response…no guttural utterance, no choking, no sound…nothing. This vehicle had begun to give us fits about 3 months ago, and things just seemed to be getting worse.  I gasped out loud, and quickly grabbed my cell phone as I glanced at the clock.  Great, I thought…12 minutes until the babies are late to school.  Without even thinking, I began to dial the phone number of the one person in the world that has consistently rescued me from any possible car woe that has come my way. 

My daddy. 

Upon dialing the 4th number in the sequence, my heart sank and the tears emerged.  Claire looked at me sweetly as I brushed the wetness from my face.  A couple of phone calls later, and the kids off to school, I sat on my couch with a cup of coffee and began writing the plan…  the plan for my pity party that was inevitable and imminent.  You see, my daddy was the one that showed up with a (new to me) car on my 16th birthday just in time for me to drive to my first Winter Formal.  He was the one that took the day off from work and took me car shopping on my 18th birthday, as we celebrated my acceptance into the college of my choice.  He was the one that sat me down and explained how to purchase insurance, why it’s important, and how much it cost.  He loved cars, even going as far as owning his own 1968 Camaro where he dabbled in the sport of drag racing.  He changed my oil every 3,000 miles like clock-work, he rotated my tires, and he was the first one I called at the first sign of problems. He made me feel protected and when I married Cody, he continued to do such.  Cody embraced this safety net, and developed his own dependence on Dad’s knowledge.  He shared this knowledge with Cody, and they did their own bonding under the hood of many vehicles. 

I have inherited his love of cars, and am constantly looking at the make, model, and features of new ones as they roll off of the assembly line. I am limited right now in my choices, due to the gaggle of geese I tote around to every dance rehearsal and soccer practice in Small Town America.  But one fact remains: I have never, ever purchased a vehicle that he was not a vital part of the process. He was always my road trip traveler in the past when I have trapessed across Texas in search of a “mommy-mobile” suitable for this tribe.  He was always full of advice, full of opinions, and full of banter about whether or not I was getting a good enough “deal”. 

I knew that it was time to begin looking for a different car, and I knew that this was just going to be one more “first” to add to the list of “First ____ without Dad”.  It’s been a full year of those, and I am beginning to glimpse the finish line as we quickly approach the anniversary of his passing at the end of this month…Thanksgiving Day, to be exact.  I got online and began looking, and two days later, found myself travelling…alone…to a nearby city to obtain a new car. 

And I bawled the entire way there. 

But after pulling myself together, blowing my nose, and putting on some lipstick, I got to thinking:  Seriously? Are you really this sappy? It’s a car, for crying out loud! Get it together! But it did get me to pondering my relationship with my own babies.  What will they remember about me? What will they grieve for when they do it for the first time, alone? What will be the one thing that makes them feel like an “official grown-up” when I am no longer around to share in the experience? My daddy probably had no idea that I paired this experience with him in such tangible, heartfelt ways…I honestly didn’t even know myself.  Of course you expect the “big” ones to be painful…holidays, anniversaries, etc.  But it’s truly the little things that make an imprint on the hearts of the ones you love the most that will stay with them for an eternity. 

What “little things” am I imprinting on the hearts of my baby geese today? I have to stop and ask myself this question as life carries on. When it’s easier to just cook dinner myself, I have to pause and remember that my girls are going to someday be deemed responsible for providing meals to their own families.  I need to expose them to this skill, which requires timeand taking the time to do it, requires intention.  Am I being intentional in the opportunities I provide my children each day to learn things about life that only their mama can teach them?

The good news is that I did not bawl all the way home from the car dealership that day.  I walked away feeling good. Feeling empowered. Feeling confident.  I’d say he did his job, and did it well. 

And yes, Daddy…I got a good deal.