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The Wonder of it All

Christmas has always had a special place in my heart. I know – that statement gets thrown around like a bad cliché. But it’s true; this special day and the days that lead up to it have always left me breathless. It goes beyond the twinkling lights, festive packages, and family gatherings — it’s found in the season’s meaningfulness and the renewal of one’s spirit.

That fact has proven even truer since becoming a mom. I’m tough on my boys, that’s a fact. Too tough at times. I am hard and very much the epitome of a “momma bear”. But they are my world. My three reasons for getting over myself (or attempting to, anyway) and facing the challenges of adulthood and parenthood, alike. My kids have given Christmas a completely new magic for me as well. Sure, I love watching their eyes light up at the sight of a Christmas display. I love that they tell me about the cool, new toys that Santa may bring. I love how they think of others and what cheerful, giving hearts they have. However, I think the most magical thing to me of all where they are concerned is the one thing about Jesus’ mother, Mary, that I can relate to.

I cannot relate to the period of time in which she lived or the every-day struggles she faced in that era. I can’t relate to her being pregnant before marriage and the scorn she may have received because, while I have been an unwed mother, I did not face the criticism that she likely did. I don’t know what it must have felt like to ride upon a donkey nine months pregnant. I cannot fathom what it had to be to know she was carrying the King of Kings in her belly and how humbled and terrified she must have felt.

And, while I do not (and hopefully will never know) what it feels to know that my child will face very distinctive struggles, I do know what it is to be scared for them. The comparison is bold if not completely asinine, I know. Obviously, I will never know the grief of watching my child grow to be the sacrifice of a world so undeserving. I’ll never know the pained pride of watching that child so diligently and humbly pick up that burden. I will never know the angst, knowing that my child could die for something ultimately, by human account and motherly standpoint, so worthless.

But I do know the love that filled my heart the moment my eyes caught their first glimpse of my children. I know the pain I feel when they are sick, hurt, or sad. I know the disappointment that floods my soul when they require discipline, as children do. I have felt their pride in every accomplishment they have achieved and their discouragement when they feel less due to failure. I have looked into their eyes knowing that I would die for them, kill for them, and give it all up for them. I am their mother. They are my children. For them I would walk the world.

Unfortunately, that is where my relatability to Mary ends. I envy her gift and feel sorrow for her pain.

My heart swells with sadness but also with gratitude when I think of the sacrifice that was born to die. I look at the faces of my own babies and wonder how on earth she gathered the strength to give such a priceless gift. I wonder what I would have done had I been in her place. Would I have been so selfless? I assure you, I would not have been. And I choke up when I think of her watching her baby crawl out of her arms and walk into a fate created by man.

To think of how it could have been. To consider the “what if”. It’s heart wrenching. It is bittersweet. It is humbling. It is hard.

My boys drive me to the brink. I have yelled over the Christmas tree and dared them to open gifts. I have rushed them through the aisles of Target, Walmart, and the mall, citing “running late” as a reason not to slow my pace. I have been unforgiving and harsh and not always consistent. However, today I am humbled. Today I remember. I tonight, amidst the chaos, clutter, and Christmas gift wrapping I will hug my children and love them a little harder. I will be grateful that I am not in the place of Mary; that my children have received a gift that is irreplaceable and glorious. The gift we celebrate this season is not wrapped, battery operated, or expensive. It isn’t the newest tech or biggest display. The gift was given in the form of a baby, born into the humblest of origins, to a world who didn’t deserve such a kindness.

If I do nothing else right in my walk as a mother, I hope I teach my kids the beauty of this sacrifice and the strength that was born out of it. I hope my little ones will one day cling to the knowledge that they are never alone. My wish is that they will celebrate the birth of our Savior every day of their lives – not just at Christmastime. I hope they become good, strong men who walk the walk and talk the talk in ways I have never succeeded. Above all, I hope they grow to know how precious they are to me and how grateful I am for my own three gifts.

By: My Gabe

Merry Christmas to y’all. Until next year, friends!

-Sarah

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Elf on the Shelf? Hell to the No.

Okay, guys. I’m going to go ahead and preface by saying I’m no Scrooge and I am not bashing any of you parents who have gone the Elf on the Shelf route.  I think the actual little Elf, itself, is precious and I understand that the idea behind it is less so teaching kids proper behavior and more so good, festive fun.  This post is mostly targeted at myself and my inability to properly “mom”.  With that said…

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Mother of three boys and ruler of utter chaos, here.  I know most of you have 2+ children, are rulers of your own chaotic kingdoms, and are still able to fulfill your Elf Shelf duties.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t envious of those time-management skills.  And while I love my boys and the insanity they bring (that’s a lie.  I am not a fan of the madness), I am the queen of absentmindedness.  Case in point:

I struggle to remember what needs to be put on my grocery list.  If I remember what needs to be written down, I forget to remember to put it in my purse.  And if I remember to put it in my bag, the list will, inevitably, somehow get left behind in my car.  And if, IF, that list actually makes it’s way into the grocery store, a breeze will steal it away in a last-ditch effort to give my attempt at organization the ultimate middle finger.

I left my phone at home Friday.  Actually, I thought I’d left it on the roof of my car and lost it to the great outdoors.  However, my husband was kind enough to send me a picture of it via messenger of it sitting on the bathtub.  Because that’s CLEARLY where it belongs.  (FACE. PALM.)  Once I finally retrieved it, I realized I’d forgotten my wallet at the office.  With my debit card, checkbook, and license in it.  And also, my Burt’s Bees which, obviously, is infinitely more important than say, MY LICENSE.

I forgot to take my keys out of the front door last night after I’d unlocked it to get my heathens inside.  After a frantic thirty minutes of searching for the “lost” keys the next morning, I found them on my way out said front door to search my vehicle.  Y’all.  I can’t make this crap up.

So do you guys really think I need to attempt to remember to move an elf every damned day of my life?  No?  I didn’t think so.

seriously?!  this would be part of their christmas gifts.  have y’all priced foil lately?!

Listen, I’m from a generation where we didn’t need a rogue North Pole spy to remind us to behave — especially during the holidays.  We fully relied on, and were totally okay with, being told once that Santa, an old man who knew our every flippin’ move, could see us 24/7.  We didn’t need to see that Christmas-y creepiness to believe it — our parents took full advantage of our fear and innocence stupidity.  Nothing was ever moved, there were no elaborate schemes, and mom didn’t have to bold-faced lie to us with an outrageous story-line about why an Elf had or hadn’t been moved because THERE WAS NO FREAKING ELF NARC.

As a product of the eighties, I distinctly remember belting Alvin & the Chipmunk’s version of, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on my Fisher-Price cassette player every day of my existence when I was a kid.  Yes, even then I was that obnoxious person who played Christmas songs on loop all year ’round.  There was no doubt in my mind that I risked “losing it all” if I didn’t get my act together.  My parents didn’t have to waste precious hours of sleep and ungodly amounts of aluminum foil to keep us in check.  The simple white-lie of Santa’s existence was enough to go on.

And I get it.  These days, kids literally (think they) need elaborate plots and twists and turns.  Most of these kids have everything on demand — and I’m not even talking about the bratty ones.  No, today is very much an on-demand kind of life.  So maybe the purest form of Christmas magic is simply fading into the background.  I remember the excitement of driving around neighborhoods just to look at lights and decorations.  These days?  That simple kind of happiness just doesn’t exist.  I can’t even say that my kids are ovely-excited at the prospect of light searching.  Sure, they love the festive twinkling of lights that only come once a year.  But does it thrill them?  Not the way it did when we were kids.  Now, if there aren’t a couple of inflated Nutcrackers in addition to the lights, it’s just… “meh”.

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I guess I’m just too old-fashioned, and too absent-minded, to fully appreciate the newness that is Elf on the Shelf.  Or, perhaps, I’m just stuck on the simpler magic.  The things that left me breathless.  The things that, growing up, I couldn’t wait to share with my own little ones.

I suppose, though, that traditions are fine but are sometimes meant to be broken or bent.  Not only that, traditions are best when they’re made or reinvented with the ones you love.  Rest assured, there is no hate for the Elf and his (or her) antics, and if y’all could package up some extra energy and Ginko Biloba and send it my way, that’d be swell.  😉