my little guy is quickly earning the title, "mr. christmas" in our home. he is All About It. i, however, was attempting this year to pace myself. last Christmas our house was on the neighborhood holiday home tour (not nearly as glamorous as that sounds, mind you). by this point last december, i had pretty much anything standing still covered with greenery and bedecked with a bow. this year i had plans to take it easy. plans to keep it simple. i had plans to embrace the meaning and not the must-do list. i had plans. "yeah, right, jody,"
some of you laugh. i admit to having a slight issue with that whole taking it easy thing. apparently, last year's decorating deluge had quite the effect on my youngest. now, i am not going so far as to say i see him making a career choice here. but, from the moment we arrived home from thanksgiving-at-grandma's-house he has been leading The Great Christmas Cause. connor has continued to bring boxes from the basement storage room commanding me to "use this, mom." he has pulled out an assortment of holiday hoop-a-la and is happily attempting to arrange garland and gold ribbon. (he did play in a basketball game this morning for those of you that might be concerned about his new hobby). right off the bat, he dubbed himself Chief Checker of the Light Strings. he does it extremely well, i must add: the perfect job for a 6 year old.
one day after school last week while upstairs folding laundry, the walls began to vibrate with sounds from "the polar express." he had figured out how to put the cd in the sound system and had it blaring at a level loud enough to be appreciated even in the north pole. he walked into my room and announced that he was hoping the music would help me "get into the spirit of things." hmmm....i thought, so much for simple. he is also the same child who, while walking through home depot this week, begged me to invest in a sizable, blow up snowman for our front yard. it is not that i am inherently opposed to snowmen. but i do cringe slightly at the idea of a manufactured snowman in my georgia-green-grass-front yard. there is just something about this that feels slightly invalid - just not quite bona fide Christmas. for that matter, the fact that there IS green grass in our front yard come Christmas morning is not quite bona fide for this northern born and raised girl. i apologize, friend, if you have a plastic snowman adorning your own yard. i intend no snobbish criticism whatsoever. it is simply a matter of preference. i am sure there will come a day with my children at the height of their apathetic teenage years, when i will regret not having given in to this heart's desire of my young boy. i might even blame their apathy on my own refusal to succumb to the gigantic plastic snowman. i might even put one in our yard by the time the last kid heads off to college. but for now, i am determined to remain unwavering in my resistance of this persistent and most passionate request.
"mom, we really need to get baby zuzu a stocking this Christmas, so that she'll have it for next year." yep, that was the phrase. that was the suggestion that did me in. he had no idea in that moment how close i came to rushing right out the door to get that Christmas stocking for baby zuzu AND that plastic snowman for connor. he had no idea. oh, the words of a child. the eyes of a child. the heart of a child, who with such a simple consideration for a sibling he hasn't yet met could encourage his mom. there is such blessing to hear my family speak of bella grace xue as if she is already a part of us.
as beautiful and wonder-filled as Christmas is, it is also a season that can bring great sadness when things aren't in place. i don't know about you, but i happen to believe that for most of us there is usually something slightly out of place. most of us have come to understand that our tables will often have someone missing at the holiday meal. most of us have family members who will receive their Christmas gifts, not from our own hands, but from those of the mailman. most of us have lost someone or live somewhere which prevents the large gathering of those most dear. as our own family stays scattered across 6 states, i understand this well. this Christmas we add to the distance equation another country, another continent. we are growing closer to her, but won't, in fact, have her with us this Christmas. after raising four toddlers i know the joy we miss this year. i know what it looks like to see the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of a an almost two year old. i long to see the twinkle of our tree lights in her dark eyes and i can just imagine the sweet stickiness of her hand clutching a peppermint stick. i know this. i know, also, that because i believe in a God of Perfect Timing, it is somehow alright. if this child is to be ours, we will someday hear the pitter patter of her feet running to wake us on Christmas morning.
and so we think of next year: the anticipation makes my heart beat a rump-a-tump-tum. there is just nothing like expecting a child. i can remember with each pregnancy my great excitement for the baby i carried. those are the precious thoughts so sacred to mothers. those are our dreams...hopes... wishes. those are the things which begin to weave the child into our arms. adoption is so similar. though we've seen the curve of her nose and know the color of her eyes, we still carry dreams and hopes and wishes for her already. even when, especially when, there is an empty place at our table.
today, there are seven stockings hung by our chimney with great care. baby zuzu's stocking hangs in the middle with three on each side. her stocking has a place in the midst of us. she has a place already in our home. she is already in our hearts.
as for that snowman...well, he remains securely in the display case at our neighborhood home depot...at least for now.