subtitled: Why I didn't take the handmade pledge.....
Ok there is a funny story in here somewhere and I want you to laugh with me. It started many weeks ago when, fresh from an early fall full of crafting and preschool adventures we eyed up an advent full of promise. (insert misty set and sweeping orchestral music) Ah yes, this year, this year we were shunning commercialism. We were going to create meaningful heartfelt gifts for one and all. We were going to have the Christmas to remember.
Alrighty then. Now, for the rest of the story. <g> Some 6wks later I sit in front of the computer screen uttering expletives under my breath and wishing Shutterfly ill. This was my last ditch attempt to pull off gifting and it wasn't working. Maybe we should back up...
Our first gift plan was a set of blocks one older girl was making for her secret santa. Except homemade blocks require wood. I am not a carpentry whiz but I was pretty certain of that. And Walmart does not sell wood. I checked. So we had to send the Ranch Manager out for some from Home Depot. He was game. Only glitch was he was gone on work trips for 4 out 5 advent weeks. Yes, my unliberated but still fairly competent self could have located this wood. However I tend to travel with the intended recipients of these gifts. They get suspicious when their mother buys lumber. So we waited.
Meantime we decided since we had no good family picture and our camera had suffered an early demise (it plunged to its death from the kitchen counter) we were not going to stress ourselves with a photo shoot. No computerized holiday greetings from me, no sirree bob. We were going to lovingly craft cards created all by ourselves and Martha Stewart. Armed with the materials list we headed to (where else?) Walmart another week and got 50 blank cards. We intended to buy rick rack and ribbon in various shades of subtle greens. Turns out Walmart doesn't carry a heckuva lot of 'subtle greens'. Subtle, it seems, is not a Walmart specialty. That's ok. We will pick up something next time.
Then they started puking. Have I mentioned the puking? Did I mention I had switched back to cloth diapers right before the puking? Bleck. Then the car dies. On the highway. Timing belt. Likely cracked an engine head. They tell me this is bad. Ranch Mgr accepts an offer to haul car to a friend's who will be mentoring him in engine repair. This will occupy many many many innumerably many nights. In our nauseated state, we will begin to contemplate horse drawn transport....
So two weeks later we regain our Christmas resolve and our appetites. (stay with me because the latter is a key player in what follows) After the puking and car trouble had come snow. And cistern pump glitches. Frozen chickens. (the feathered variety, not Banquet) And we stayed home. Well, not all of us. The Ranch Manager was called to LA. He decided it would be fun to take son #1 along. Son #1 heartily concurred. Tickets were purchased.
All was well with our travelers' world......until Son #1 lost his wallet. Many frantic pleas to St Anthony later it become clear that this wallet was not going to give itself up that easily. We had to replace the ID or Son#1 cannot fly. Ranch Mgr calls ahead to assure the base ID is open. (forward thinking eh?) I
reluctantly change out of my pajamas eagerly transport Son #1 to base. Guess what? And I don't make this stuff up. The base ID machine is broken. Suddenly and Unexpectedly, we are told. So it remained til the end of the business day. Snap.
Son #1's ticket was transferred to Son #3. Only potential for trouble there is that we had two piano recitals coming up and he now would have missed three weeks of lessons. Piano teacher also sends home a letter alerting another of our pianists that the piece she had perfected was chosen by another student so could she please play the Arab Dance from the Nutcracker instead? Sure. Except we hadn't actually heard this piece. Ever. And she hadn't practiced it. Ever. And the recital was in a week. Bleck.
See now, normal sensible people would have told themselves that we were now in way over their heads and would start to bail the lifeboat. Not so with your's truly, ever the optimist. Oh yes! We can do this! Even if we still have to hem the recital dress and download a midi file of the new piece and try to make heads and tails out of all the chicken scratch of indecipherable sheet music it came with.
Good sense did kick in when I realized we were not likely to make a whole lot more gifts. My favorite Gypsy said not to worry. I could do some baking one afternoon, Saran wrap it all, and call it good. That works. Note to self: buy baking stuff at Walmart.
The next days passed in a flurry of hemming, practicing, and baking shopping. Our Californians returned on the red-eye to meet us at the nursing home where the children played flawlessly - thank you God!- even if the %$#@& hem was a bit wonky... I have to add that the Arab Dance wafted off the piano at one point and my amazing daughter continued to play with sheet music laying atop her hands. Never missed a beat! Anyhoo, one recital down, one to go. One mass on Sunday in between.
That last part should be pretty straightforward now, shouldn't it? Except right as the choir was warming up our dear friend rushed to the seats behind us in tears and began gathering children. Her dh was at home sick and needed to go to the hospital. The hospital! So dh whisked her off and we kept the little ones with us. So sweet they were. So worried we were. In the end we got them all got home well and the crisis was over. Whew. Ok back to the recital...
It is last Monday now. Have I mentioned that our Jetson's dryer has not worked reliably since May? Do you know how many socks these people wear? God bless the Amish. I could so hang all my laundry if my family would abandon undergarments. But I digress. It is Monday. Monday is the only day dryer repair men will travel to our corner of the world apparently. Woe to you if your dryer part arrives at the repair shop on a Tuesday.
It was Monday. I should have baked something by then. Except my oven was burning things on the left side and leaving them rather doughy on the right. My nerves were a bit raw too. Scratch the baking. Perhaps we should stick to the stovetop. We bought candy stuff at Walmart. But we forgot to lock the pantry. Enough said. We also notice our candy thermometer is broken. We buy more candy stuff at Walmart. Alas guess what Walmart does not have? Candy Thermometers. There, where once stood a row of thermometers, is a big open space, taunting me. Sigh. Go home. Eat the candy stuff. It helps.
Second recital goes well. Even if Son #3 has his music arranged incorrectly making for a rather original rendition. Even if Son #2's car dies on the highway. It's ok. There is always Shutterfly. Ranch Mgr would dearly love photo gifts. They sort of count as handmade. Sort of. Even if Shutterfly people are making them. I did take the photos. Glitch being the computer died this fall too. All the photos had to be uploaded from cds to Son #1's computer. This takes a reeeeeallly long time. Major events worth of photo cds seem to be AWOL. This makes a person's stomach hurt. Not as much as discovering that with a rural internet connection your photos will be ready to work with on Shutterfly sometime next year.
So now it is Friday. Christmas is Monday. In between the aforementioned dramas there have been a number of very important phone calls these past weeks. I probably had control over those. I don't HAVE to answer the phone after all. In fact, I had an epiphany the other day when I got someone's answering machine which explained that if you were calling between certain hrs their homeschool was in session and you would not be reaching them. Aha I thought! That is why I don't get things done! I need one of those! But then I thought about my friend who had a mastectomy this month, or the young mom with the itty bitty boys who was pg and tired and at her wit's end, or the dear friend with the marital crisis, or the very best friend recovering from one surgery only to face another in coming weeks followed by a move to another continent just after that. Can I put them on hold until my life is in perfect order? That just isn't me.
Moral of the story: Life and perfect order are not synonymous in my world. And that is ok too. We had the Advent God intended if not the one we were envisioning. We have no candy, no card, few gifts, and a rather funny looking tree with three dozen ginger-goats which look and taste remarkably like dog and teething biscuits. Don't ask me how I know this. I have lumber in my school room. Still, we have prayed hard for dear friends. We have lost some sleep over a few of them. Our hands were not crafting but they were lifted in prayer, they were holding frightened little girls waiting for their Daddy in the ER, they were playing beautiful music for old people, they were cradling phone receivers while nursing babies and correcting math lessons.
I am going to walk away from this machine now and iron our church clothes. I know it is a few days early but Murphy and I are well-acquainted. All that really matters now is that we get to church Tuesday. The rest is gravy. The world will not stop revolving because I send an e-card this year right? We are uncommonly blessed with friends and family and furry creatures who feed and comfort us. We have a Creator who loves us enough to model for us helplessness, a state we find ourselves in on a regular basis. This Christmas I am meditating on that image of the infant Christ and releasing my own need to call the holiday shots. It is going to be beautiful.