Sunday, December 22, 2013

what is knitting your family together this christmas?

i was fumbling with the coffee maker when i noticed it sitting there on the counter: two needles plunged securely into a round ball of gray yarn. things sometimes aren't what they seem in the murky hour of 6am. and my son's knitting might have been one of those things.

attached to the needles and ball was about 18 inches of knitting. 18 inches of neatly ordered rows. the work of my boy's hands.

you heard me right, my 16 year old son is knitting -- a scarf, to be exact.

early morning or not, coffee coursing through my body or not -- it's true.

this boy who can throw it down on the soccer field or kick it up on a dirt bike; this boy who can gut a fish or track a deer or handle a jump on his snowboard; this boy, this same boy, my boy, is knitting.

your eyebrows raise a bit. i know ... mine, too.

while waiting for the keuring to spew out my first morning cup, i picked up his project, studying his handiwork. "not bad for a first time knitter," i thought to myself.

who am i kidding? not.bad.for.a.16.year.old.boy.period!

grabbing that warm mug, now ready, i smiled. how did this happen?

i'm not exactly sure, but it was a thursday night last week. a school night and both boys -- connor (10) and tyler (16) wandered into the office where i was up to my eyeballs in christmas cards. they came in to chat, but after staring at my basket of yarn for a minute, they announced they'd like to learn how to knit. "mom, will you show us?" just like that. it was late and i was skeptical. surely they weren't serious. but, rick was traveling and i was tired of sticking address labels on envelopes ... and so, i said, "sure, we can knit."

--- after all, it's not every thursday night when a woman's two sons approach her with a request to knit.

and as a mother, i know, when your boys want to knit. you knit. it really is that simple

i mean i was pretty sure they were just trying to stall and push back on bedtime. obviously that thought crossed my mind. except they were extremely focused on what i was teaching them. they were serious. intent. even kind of boyishly-determined. they really did seem to want to learn.

hmm ... i thought. strange.

i posted this unlikely event on facebook and got a lot of "likes" and some funny comments. i was sure it was no more than an evening distraction ... a phase ... a passing fancy ... an odd alignment of the handiwork stars. except they are still both knitting. and, except that a few nights later, the girls and a couple of friends joined them, too! one night last week i had 6 kids knitting in my family room by the fire. no television. no netflix. no phones. no you tube or snap chat or instagram or twitter. only the clicking of bamboo needles and some fun conversation. let's just go ahead now and file this into that you-can't-make-this-stuff-up AND i-can't-believe-my-eyes folder!

and what's more, tonight, and i kid you not, tyler went to the gym to work out and on his way home he STOPPED AT THE KNITTING STORE. he not only stopped at the knitting store, but HE BROUGHT ALONG THE BUDDY WHO WAS WORKING OUT WITH HIM.

again, all together now: YOU-CAN'T-MAKE-THIS-STUFF-UP!

the truth is though, you know i love it. i love the unexpected twist. i love the unsuspecting turn. and i really love that for several nights now, the kids and i have been sitting around knitting our scarves in this month of december. i love that in these new and strange stitches our family is being kind of knit together in a new way.

it's the things we can't plan, isn't it? it's those things which often work to make connections with our kids in our homes. i could have spent a month talking up the great knitting project of christmas 2013 and i'm telling you, it would never have left the starting block. but my boys wander into my office on a thursday night and ask me to teach them to knit and voila! we have knitters.

we even had talk with some good family friends about a "knitting tournament!" best knitting project by the end of christmas wins ... or something like that. (between you and me, our family will turn anything -- even knitting -- into a competition).

i love how unpredictable life can be. especially with kids. especially with teens. you just never know what's coming down the pike ... and, though that can be scary, it can also be delightful. and this knitting thing, well, that's on the side of delightful. delightful because we're all together. we're doing something. we're connecting. we're knitting ourselves as a family when we sit fireside for a few minutes.

people have remarked before, "you're such a close knit family." and we are. but i have to wonder what will keep us that way? as the kids begin journeying off in different directions -- emily will begin college in just a matter of months (gasp)! -- what will keep our crazy family of seven knit tightly together?

what is knitting your family together this christmas?
maybe the better question is, WHO is knitting your family together this christmas?

i had lunch with a couple of girlfriends on monday and we were talking about this very thing. we were talking about how easy (and even common) it is for families to become fragmented and fall apart as kids grow up and leave home. all three of us have witnessed that: brothers and sisters no longer speaking to one another. grandparents who don't know their grandchildren. sons estranged from fathers. daughters from mothers. how does this happen? why does this happen?

how do these children who ran through sprinklers together and chased down the ice cream truck on summer evenings, stop talking in their adult lives?

how do brothers who shared dreams while shooting basketballs and sisters who put on plays for their parents grow to be men and women who don't know much about each other's lives any longer.

i'll be honest, as a mama of five, this worries me.

as my girlfriends and i pounded out these questions over our lunch, we all landed on the same thought: it has to be Jesus who keeps us together. only Jesus can truly and securely knit together families. because when beliefs change and ideas change and people change it feels like family can easily unravel. and without Jesus, the simple truth is, it can, and often, it will. all of those years raised in a home can simply unwind with a few rough conversations or some unpleasant words. sometimes it happens abruptly, sometimes it happens slowly. but without the strong thread of Jesus knitting us together, it happens.

and, if you've experienced this, you know, it's heartbreaking.

psalm 139:13-14 says, "for you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. i praise you, for i am fearfully and wonderfully made. wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." 

did you read that? God knitted me together! funny to think that God is also a knitter. (i'll have to remember to tell my son that). God's design was to knit us together in the wombs of our mothers and to knit us together in the fabric of a family. it's His design. it's His perfect design. we're the ones who mess it up ... tangle the threads ... cut the yarn. we're the one's who go off course, add extra rows, drop a stitch or forget about the project altogether, abandoning it to a basket somewhere out of sight.

i suppose that's why, especially, at this time of year, we mothers work extra hard to create memories, stir up magic and continue traditions. we want our kids to have something they are woven into when the time comes for them to leave.

we want our family stitches to be as secure as possible.

it's almost a desperate kind of feeling sometimes, isn't it?

but it occurred to me today, that just like my son's knitting, it isn't really about me coming up with the great project or the next memorable thing. it's not really even about me stitching my kids securely together. yes, we should work hard to create "home" for our families, but we also have to remember the only real thing which holds is the thread of Jesus woven through the hallways and hearts of this house. we can add all the trappings and trimmings and tremendously awesome stuff, but only the thread of Jesus truly holds tight.

there aren't any guarantees. i know that. i have five children, and not for one minute do i feel assured that all five will stay knitted together. that is my desire. that is my hope. that is my prayer. but it is not my absolute confidence, because i know the world we live in and i know the sinful people we are and i know the things which snag and snare and even sever family threads.

i'll keep coming up with crazy christmas ideas and family fun projects, but let me not forget that what i really need to be worried about weaving into my family is Jesus. only when we include Him in the knitting process do we have something in our hands to hold onto.

a few days ago a friend sent me this link to storyteller, stuart mclean. she thought, with all the knitting going on over here, i might enjoy it. so, in my crazy-chrsitmas-mother-fashion, i made everyone stay home one night this week and gather in the family room for 20 minutes (harder than you think). we turned on the fireplace and turned off the television. we played it over the computer and we listened. yes, just listened. there was nothing to watch, no video, no screen, no 1000 inch high definition anything. we just sat and listened (and knit). it's a sweet story and it was a sweet time for my family.

i looked at us all sitting around with smiles on our faces, laughing, enjoying mclean's story, and i, as usual, wanted to push the pause button.

Lord, let us stay in this place for a little bit longer: children sprawled across the floor, the dog's head on my lap, christmas lights flickering, sock feet touching and needles clicking. Lord, there aren't any guarantees, but this, right now, this is a gift. let us see the good that what we have and hold it as grace. remind me, the mother, that i cannot plan out the neat rows of our life, but i can surrender the project to you ... God, you are the one who knit these children inside me, would you continue to knit us together in this world of unfinished and unfulfilled days. knit us to you ... knit us in the knowledge of you, Lord Jesus.

so:  if you can find a few minutes, whether you knit or not, i'd recommend you listen to this 20 minute audio. it's a great little christmas piece ... really funny, sweet, and easy to follow. even my family agrees! 
for the link click on stuart mclean's  CHRISTMAS PRESENT

1 comment:

Simply LKJ said...

Beautiful post Jody! Merry Christmas from our family to yours.