All I want for Christmas

I am a second-generation homeschooler. Meaning I was homeschooled myself - all the way through high school - and now I homeschool my own little brood. In this season of sickness in our home, it is hard to imagine how the kids are going to get enough book learnin' - yet harder still to imagine how I would get them on a bus every day!

Somehow, in the cracks of the day, the learning slips in. We bake pies for Thanksgiving, and Katrina learns fractions and volume. We put photos into a calendar, and Rosalie practices reading and learns the months and the seasons. Today is Hannukah, so we're watching a video and doing an art project to learn about it.

Christmas, likewise, is a season that begs me be more intentional. I read about it everywhere on mommy blogs - Jesse trees, Advent activities, such organization! I called my mother yesterday..."You know that felt tree we did every year as children? The one with the devotions? Could we do it with my kids now? I've been meaning to make this thing called a Jesse tree..." My voice trails off, the doom of another failure as mom and teacher and mentor choking the words out. I can hear Mama's smile in her words. That felt tree is a Jesse tree! And how perfect to celebrate Advent down the road at Grandma's, carving time out of each day for devotions, a song together, the ceremony of placing the next symbol on the tree branches.

I wonder if this is how it was, in olden days. You learned by accident, you soaked up tradition through daily work instead of planned activities, you learned at Grandma's knee, too, not just Mama's or teacher's. You read whatever literature lined your parent's bookshelves.

I do wish to be intentional, organized, a woman with a plan.
That's the woman I used to be.

But life has squeezed that desire into the margins. Cancer, a brain infection, therapy every day for my youngest daughter, daily chores that overwhelm me as my heart beats too fast even while I sleep. These things split my soul, letting the bottled up emotion spill out in rivers, cracking the crust of my perfectionism, the crumbles washed away in a river of tears - tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of anguish. I didn't used to be this way: quick to cancel any appointment that doesn't really matter, quick to see when my children need a day with me at home, quick to throw myself into something messy or time-consuming when logic tells me to clean my house instead. I didn't use to cry at the drop of a hat, the tears running silent down my cheeks for no reason I can explain. I didn't say no to my kids, and recant in the next 15 seconds because it really does matter to them and it really doesn't to me. (Tea last night, for instance. I just plain didn't want to make herbal tea at 8:30 p.m. with their bedtime snack. I wanted them to hurry up and go to bed. But was that 5 minutes of work worth breaking hearts over? Really? I said no, my voice harsh with frustration. And then turned soft and said yes. And made them their tea.)

This Christmas, these lessons are seeping over into the busy season. I'm not crafting this year. I spent money on pop-up tape dispensers and razor paper cutters and paper with lines on it. All so I could teach my kids to wrap gifts, instead of doing it in a hazy flurry on December 23rd myself. We wrap on the front room floor because my dining room table is still piled with the summer/winter clothing change-over (I lack the strength to carry the 8 tubs downstairs).

This Christmas is going to be slow. And I'm going to be loving every minute of it.

Linked up for Bonnie Gray's Faith Jam Thursday