Wednesday, December 26, 2007

it is finished

It is difficult not to be distracted this time of year. When Christmas is over, and we come back home after hopping from one gift exchange to another, I find myself relieved, and ashamed. Jarrad and I both have large families, most of whom live close by, so, this year, we had seven Christmas get-togethers in six days. Sound like a lot? It's quite overwhelming to me, and I usually look ahead to the season with mixed feelings.

You might say Rachel racked up this year. She got a lot of really awesome toys and some super cute clothes, a few books, and some video footage to prove it. I know she is young, but I wonder what it all meant to her. I wonder what it all meant to me.

Christmas is a time for family, for food, for reminiscing, for nostalgia, for gifts, and for generosity. It is? We run around trying to see our families, but why now? Why do we do this around December 25th? I buy people stuff [they probably don't need and might not even want], but why couldn't I do that in July? I don't bake cookies, but I did last week. I try to wear red & green (colors I don't usually wear together), and we drag trees from outdoors into our homes and make them colorful and flashy...why?

Does any of it point to Christmas? Tradition, yes. Ritual, certainly. But Christmas? In our seven celebrations, Jesus was scarcely mentioned. Sure, we prayed in His name, as we were taught to do. But I'm talking about JESUS. The ONE who lived in Heaven, but decided to take on the flesh of man, enter the world as a helpless baby, humbling Himself from His perfect surroundings, from the Glory beyond our universe, to live in this--our earth, filled with defiance and mockery wrought by Sin. GOD left Glory to come here??--only to become the one sacrifice able to satisfy God's sovereign justice and demonstrate His perfect love for ME?? And that is Christmas.

I know these are not the warm and fuzzy thoughts that mark our Holiday season. I know we like to pretend it's about others--whether it's finding the perfect gift or volunteering or donating cash, people do become especially generous this time of year. Is it because that's what we've always done? Or does the "generosity" that comes with this season grow each year, ever in the effort to draw the focus away from Him. It's uncomfortable to think about what Jesus did, especially when we consider that we'll have to choose what to do with Him once we acknowledge His deed.

I sit here writing, as guilty as the next, having once again fallen for the tale that this season is about family (the highlight for us this year was seeing Jarrad's little brother). It isn't about family. It isn't about giving. It is nether about being thankful, courteous, compassionate, nor humble. As wonderful and desirable as those traits are in December, they are year-round. But on December 25th, I ought celebrate the coming of the One who makes those qualities possible in me, in spite of myself. I ought celebrate Christ Jesus.

Friday, December 14, 2007

rules are made to be broken

Aunt KiKi has been a source of several good toddler rules (like "you're allowed to touch the Christmas tree ornaments with one finger"). One of her rules we have adopted is "No wheels on the furniture." Yesterday, after Jarrad got home from work, and while Aunt Mamber was visiting, Rachel was showing off: she put herself in time out, then she put Tony the Tiger in time out (he had apparently grabbed Mommy's glasses, something Rachel gets in trouble for, and Rachel scolded him by getting right in his face, doing the sign for "no" and saying "no,,no"). Rachel was pushing her popper toy around the living room, and then hoisted it onto a piece of furniture. We reminded her about the wheels rule, but she kept trying to defy that rule, cutting her eyes at us and grinning all the way. So, finally, Jarrad took the popper toy away and said, "Okay, we have to say 'bye bye, toy' because you're not listening." He put it in our bedroom and closed the door. Rachel cheerfully dismissed the toy, and then went straight to the toy vacuum that cousin Tyler let her borrow. She brought the vacuum over, placed it on the furniture, pulled it off again, and then handed it to Jarrad and said, "bye bye," waving as he put the toy away.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

type A

Christmas is right around the corner, but I have not felt like decorating at all. I'm starting to feel that warm and fuzzy holiday feeling, though, and I'm thinking I'll be ready to at least put up a tree soon. Rachel becomes more and more particular every week. I wonder if she'll tell us that the tree belongs outside...

Here are some examples of Rachel's attention to details:

Rachel was in the middle of a temper tantrum the other day. She was whining and rolling around on the floor (I was washing dishes, which she opposes regularly). Right in the middle of it, she got up, went over to the rug under her high chair, which was turned up at the corner, and she smoothed it out. She then returned to the middle of the floor and resumed her temper tantrum.

Rachel likes to open the drawers in her dresser and drag her clothes out, usually trying on her jeans before cleaning up the mess. Jarrad and I were hanging out with her one day, and when she closed the drawer after replacing the final article of clothing, there was a tiny corner of a shirt sleeve sticking out. She began to walk away, but then stopped, turned back, and corrected the problem.

When Jarrad was blowing leaves off the yard, Rachel stood at the sliding glass door watching. I was in the kitchen, and I heard Rachel saying "uh oh, uh oh, uh oh" over and over. She was pointing outside, and, when I looked, I noticed that one of our four patio chairs was tipped over and leaning on the one next to it. Jarrad finally made it around to the patio, and Rachel seemed relieved when he replaced the chair on all four legs.

This morning at breakfast, Rachel was eating scrambled eggs and cheese cubes. All the food was distributed around her tray. I turned around to do something, and when I turned back, she had pushed all the cheese on one side of her tray, with the eggs on the other side.

When we were playing outside, Rachel found a piece of concrete that had chipped off the side of our patio, and she walked around trying to fit it into the gaps on the patio.