For me, the months of November and December look like the graph from an EKG. There are ups and downs that are as regular as my heartbeat. Now that we are in the twilight years of our life (meaning 2/3 of it is behind us), it takes more energy to do just about everything.
We spend more time thinking and planning than we did. We might be less spontaneous because we consider the cost in terms of energy required and exhaustion.
Preparing for the holidays is like climbing a mountain. There is a lot to do. We gift our children with money these days so they can buy what they want with no exchanges for color, size, or preferences. They can take advantage of post-holiday sales, or finally purchase something on their wish list. It makes shopping almost non-existent. Aside from the trips to the grocery store and food preparation. That seems to be the big change when the children file into town.
Dietary restrictions create a challenge for me. Several family members have discovered them and it means making menus that accommodate our traditions minus some of the main ingredients.
Honestly, the mountain of preparation overwhelms me some days. And, then my children arrive and none of it seems to matter. Because they are home. We are cramped in our little bungalow but we know it won’t be forever. It’s the peak of the graph for me as long as it lasts.
The descent comes when they start to depart and return to their own lives, homes, and schedules. The mountain top experience is so grand and all my concerns in advance of their arrival were unfounded. I am able to enjoy their presence, quirky sense of humor, engaging manners of affection to and with one another. And, then they leave.
Once the avalanche of laundry is caught up and the inventory of refrigerator left overs is complete, I’m left with an empty house. My heart vacillates between the memories we made and the longing I feel when they are absent. Our house seems to echo silence.
This is the decision-making moment for me. I can dwell on the depressing side of the issue, feeling sorry for myself that seventy-five percent of my children call other states ‘home’. Or I can remind myself that my children are pursuing their passions and exercising their natural gifts and talents in places that need them. I can thank God for the years we had with them, gifts from Him that continue to amaze and bless me (and continue to refine me). I can be thankful that they come home and we enjoy one another most of the time.
It’s a daily choice for me. Sometimes, it is a moment by moment choice. Will I make my children and family my idol or will I remind myself that God is first and the family members are gifts from Him?
This year, I have a new habit. When I go to bed at night, I put my Bible on the top of my closed laptop computer. It reminds me of what needs to come first. Because when I get that right, everything else seems to fall in the right place. My heart beat continues in rhythm and regularity. And, I know the source of it all.