The snow is softly falling (again) onto the thick blanket of snow already on the yard, the tree is trimmed, the presents are (mostly) wrapped, and the menus are set. Our little family has settled into our own traditions in the last several years, and I cherish them. We’ll have a fun supper tonight, and for dessert, a birthday cake for Baby Jesus (complete with singing Happy Birthday to Him). The boys will acolyte at the candlelight Service, and then we’ll come home and exchange one gift each. Dad will read The Christmas Story, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, we’ll leave some cookies for Santa, and go to bed so he can come. The dogs will talk to each other and the rabbit at midnight (or so my German Grandpa used to tell me that all the animals talk at midnight on Christmas Eve), and we’ll wake up on Christmas morning to quiche, stollen, and coffee…oh, and presents!
My greatest gift this year, however, is that of my family. I had ovarian cancer when I was 17. Had I gone to a different doctor, my hopes of having natural children would have been lost (very important to an adopted 17 year old self). The doctor I saw, however, helped me maintain my fertility and promised I’d have children someday. I still was worried, and was thankful that I met my husband at a young age and he also wanted to be a young father. We had our first miracle 11 months after we married; I was 22 and Dad was 23. The second miracle came 3 years later. We were blessed. We had hoped for more (I wanted 6 children, but Dad, the eldest of 6 said “no way!” so we settled on 4), but they didn’t come. For a long time, this upset me, and when I found out friends were expecting, I was both happy and sad. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I got exactly what I needed and was supposed to have. They are the lights of my life, and without them, my life would be missing something. With more, I might just have lost it, for those two boys whom I love can also drive me to the brink some days.
In August, a decision was made, and I was once again a stay-at-home Mom. I am grateful for a loving and supportive husband who is able to provide for us so that I can be that at-home Mom. Sure, the “gravy” money is gone, but so much more is there. I am with my boys in the morning when they leave for school (when previously I left a half hour before they did), and I am home when they are home (when I was working it could be anywhere from 3-5 hours before I saw them). I am there to listen to their day, help with their homework, answer questions, snuggle, make cookies, and be their comfort zone once again. I made the decision to return to work when they were in elementary school because I wasn’t a very good “at home Mom” when no one was actually at home back then. Sure, there were times I felt guilty, and at times now when I reflect back on how much of their lives I missed, I see that it was important for them to see that I, as a woman, can be more than just the Mom that is there to help with homework, make cookies and snuggle. I can also be a vital part of the workforce, help others who are suffering, contribute financially to the household, and have others listen to me and respect me. Because I worked, they know that women are truly equals to men. This is very important to me. I didn’t want them to grow up thinking that all women can do is “keep house”. I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked, and for the opportunity to be home. Through that, we’ve also taught them that with hard work on the part of both parents, there can be choices. With love and support between both parents, both parents can be happy and fulfilled.
So, as we cuddle together on the couch (which, is getting harder and harder to do as they grow bigger!) tonight and snuggle while Dad reads to us, I will be thankful that God has seen to give me exactly what I needed. My little family, tucked away safely in our warm and cozy nest, together building memories that will keep us warm for years to come.
May God bless you and keep you, and may you have the merriest of Christmases.