Where the Hell Have I Been?

Busy, people, very busy. I warned you in my post about embroidery that I would have to take a hiatus, and I wasn't kidding. I am super busy with holiday fun. I never even take an afternoon nap anymore, though I am continually exhausted. I just have too many fun things to do. I will probably disappear again until after Christmas, but I do have some time tonight to update you on the goings-on around here. First of all, SNOW. It is a blast to see snow through the eyes of a three year old. As soon as he woke up and saw the snowfall on Friday morning, he asked if we could go out and play. We had to wait a few hours, until Theo was down for a nap, then we bundled up and headed out into the beautiful winter wonderland. We made snow angels, made tracks, dug holes, drew pictures with sticks, all the classics. It was incredibly fun.
Here is the only picture I have to represent the crafting I have been doing. I love the look of paper chains, but I wanted something that might actually hold up for a few years. So I cut strips of stiffened felt and used a thread and a button to close each loop. I love them. Totally worth the few evenings I spent working on them.

The craft that has most occupied my time is embroidery. I'm still chipping away at the hugely complicated wedding gift I started. Don't know if I'll finish it on time. I'm also working on a gift for Nate. He already knows about it, but I probably won't post a picture until after I've given it to him. I think it's going to be pretty amazing. I hope.
We attended our first-ever school pagent for our son. We'll have many, many more of these in our lives as parents, but that didn't make the first one any less special. I love watching Simon perform. He's so confident and in-the-moment. He never looks around for assurance from anybody. He just has fun and sings. As it should be.
Finally, today, after the snow melted a bit, we tried to make a snowman. I thought the conditions would be more conducive to the rolling of three big snowballs, but I was wrong. We did our best, though, and here's what we came up with. Small can be beautiful, right? Yes, indeed.

You may have noticed an utter lack of my typical sarcastic or cynical undertones in this post. That's because I'm having a really great time getting ready for Christmas. On the day we put up our tree, so many weeks ago now, I knew that this holiday season would be different. Simon is so joyful and excited. I'm trying hard to make choices that add to his excitement and do not detract. In my estimation, these are the kind of things that can build upon his happiness: playing in the snow, making the house look magical, talking excitedly about Santa (something we debated, but decided to go for), letting him pick out small gifts for the people in his life. Things that do not contribute to his natural jubilation: me worrying about the state of the house (I'm not talking decorations here, I'm talking laundry in baskets and dishes on counters), me telling him that we can play in the snow "later, later" (which is my natural inclination), me exhibiting stress about the holidays instead of joy.

I think you get the picture here. My point is that I'm learning that my child's holiday can be as magical as I allow it to be. That means letting go of stress, embracing pure happiness, and taking advantage of every opportunity to have fun. I'm trying hard to do this, and I feel I am succeeding. As a result, my house has gone to the dogs, but I am the happiest I have been since leaving Chicago. Which, you should know, is a huge deal.

Also, in the last few days, I have been reluctantly following a heartbreaking story in the news. I first read about this story in my craft blogs, because this couple was prominent in the craft world in San Francisco. But I believe it has also been in the national news. James and Kati Kim were travelling with their two small girls, en route to visit family, when their car got stuck on an desolate Oregan road. (I can't link to the story because I'm doing this post in Picasa... it won't let me find a link for you). (Here's a link -Nate) They were stranded for 7 days in the snowy wilderness and proved themselves very resourceful by surviving. On the 7th morning, James left to try to find help. Kati and the girls were rescued 2 days later. James was found dead this morning.

I really try hard to ignore tragic stories in the news. Because, honestly? I have enough irrational fears about something terrible happening to my family without getting wrapped up in all the terrible things that are actually happening to people I've never met. Also, I want desperately to avoid mirroring my mother in this habit. She often calls to tell me about someone who died tragically, suddenly, and then says, "We just never know how long we have on this earth." (Not-so-subtle code for, "This is why you should love Jesus, Laura. Because you could die tomorrow and you don't want to spend eternity in hell, do you? DO YOU???")

Anyway, I don't know exactly why... maybe because I am an outside observer of many in the crafting community, who were personally affected by this loss. Maybe because it seems like something that really could happen to anyone, such a goddamn unlucky break. For whatever reason, this story really got under my skin. I feel enormous sadness for this family, I can't seem to get them off my mind.

Although it's not the reaction my mom might want me to have (you know, repent and turn to Jesus lest I burn in hell after my untimely death), I have had a strong reaction to this family's unbelievable ordeal. Thinking about that mother nursing her girls in the backseat of their car, imagining her soft whisperings to keep everyone calm and hopeful, I find myself approaching my boys with great tenderness in our everyday interactions. As I've admitted on this blog many times, my patience can sometimes wear thin. Sometimes I feel as if I'll either slug Simon, throw a chair across the room, or pull out handfuls of my hair in anger. But for the past few days, with this fellow mother on my mind, my inevitable moments of frustration have been softened by gratitude and appreciation for every moment I have as a mother, be it sweet or infuriating.

As much as I hate to think about it, my mom is right: we don't know how much time we have in this life. But my response is not fear. Instead, I am incredibly, enormously, overwhelmingly thankful for the rich life I have had to this point. To spend every day with three people who I love and who love me... this is not a thing to take for granted. I hope I can hang on to this realization even after my heavy heart for this family is eventually lightened by the passage of time. I want to continue to make time for my family and be intentional about creating happiness in my life, our lives. Right now I can honestly say, who really fucking cares if my house is a mess? I'm playing Hungry Hungry Hippos with my son, who happens to be laughing hysterically. I hope that in a month I'm not back to my old mantra of, "This house is driving me crazy!"

To sum up: say a prayer or send some compassionate thoughts toward the Kim family, then give your own loved ones a kiss.

I'm going back into hiding, probably until after December 25. I can't wait to show you all the things I accomplish in the next few weeks.

Be well, friends. Posted by Picasa


Anonymous said...

your posts are the best, always earnest and honest and all of those good things that we need more of. Keep it up pal.----- Colin

Angela said...

I love the felt chains with buttons and am going to make some myself. Nice.

Oliver said...

agreed. love these posts.

MJ Watson said...

My dearest friend, thank you. Your happiness this holiday season is infectious and certainly provides me with inspiration to try harder to be more festive for the sake of the boys.
And thank you for your ever-increasing thoughtfulness and compassion. You are so right; the tragedy of the Kim family is a stark reminder of how we must cherish the moments with our loved ones, even the most frustrating, hair-pulling ones.

Anonymous said...

hi what is this i think u are out of your mind!!!