You know those Hallmark and Lifetime channel Christmas movies where everyone is happy and singing and excited and willing to participate in any planned or spur of the moment holiday activity? Well, I hate to be the one to burst your holiday warm fuzzy feeling but that just isn’t life…or not my life anyway. At times I see all the things people do with their kids and think, ‘wow, we are so boring.’ We don’t even take our kids to the movies…well rarely anyway, maybe 3 or 4 times a year IF we are lucky. I see people posting things on social media like “what fun things are there to do today with toddlers?”. Ummmm, how about a nap?
In all seriousness, with four kiddos it’s always been hard to go out and do things. Either it’s crazy expensive or it’s not for all the age groups. And now with three teenagers and a 10 year old, finding something that will be fun for everyone is difficult. OK down right impossible. And even if it’s something everyone may be in to, inevitably someone is grumpy, hungry, tired or gets hurt. It’s just the way it is. That doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped trying to occasionally have a fun filled family day. Just like earlier in the month, we set out on a ‘family fun day’ to spend time together and get our Christmas tree.
It was Small Business Saturday so we hit a nearby downtown area to take in a few stores. First the parking lot we headed to had been turned into a pit…then we had to scramble for change…the cafe we wanted to go to was closed…the kids said no to the tour of a tiny museum……. Alas, a store they could all chose a new ornament for the tree in. This process went smoothly and everyone had a good time, that is until someone was fixated on the glass case of chocolates, that we pulled him away from for a quick family pic in front of the Shop Small sign. He never even asked for a chocolate – to this day we aren’t sure if he was upset over the chocolate or getting his photo taken by a stranger, either way it started a melt down of nuclear proportions that lasted over an hour. We stopped for a fun improve photo which doesn’t include the youngest…he was off pouting/hiding. Even the trip into Starbucks that would typically make smiles all around didn’t help – and that’s when I started to get grumpy. Didn’t I tell them we were going to have a fun day and all be happy? Pretty sure I gave that as a stipulation for the day.
We proceeded to another downtown area, and by then everyone was hungry…and grumpy and trying to play along. Which just annoyed me more. By lunch time I was becoming weary and grumpier but trying to keep the mood of the day intact as much as possible. This day was not going to be ruined, we only spend a few days a year all 6 of us out and about. This day was going to be happy and we were going to have fun! Lunch seemed to boost moral of the troops before heading to the tree farm. Not sure about you, but selecting a tree from a makeshift forest that everyone can agree on is about as easy as getting a photo of 4 toddlers all looking the same direction with their eyes open.
Upon our return home the youngest two disappeared immediately to play video games with friends, the oldest retreated to her room and hubby put the tree in the stand, grabbed the bins of decorations and hit the sofa. Insert HUGE eye roll here – this left myself and our oldest son to decorate the tree. Not what I had planned. Thankfully our oldest son loves Christmas and was eager to help. After much prodding the youngest two came up and hung two ornaments on the tree and called it a day.
It was not the fun outing I had imagined. Yes there were a few fun moments, like our oldest son trying to make me laugh by taking selfies with me… and the hunt for each other at the tree farm, our middle son trying to cut the tree down and after two saws getting tired…our youngest helping to carry the tree… but it wasn’t the day I had planned. Which left me irritated. And mostly irritated at myself for putting together something in my head that I expected to later play out in real life—I know this is not a good thing to do, it never works out that way and leaves you disappointed every time. Looking back I wonder how many times we disappoint God and the plans He has for us each day. I wonder how many times we shy away from what He wants us to do and hide instead. I wonder how many times we make His heart hurt because we didn’t enjoy something He gave to us because we just wanted to hurry along and get it over with so we could go home to relax…I wonder. I wonder if we can learn to see each moment for the gift it is. I wonder if we can slow down to see what He has laid before us… a low flying bird, an amazing cloud formation, a still, quiet snowy morning…. I wonder if we can stop complaining about what we don’t have long enough to notice what we do. I wonder if He ever says, “you are going to have fun today, you hear me?”
So with five days left before Christmas, our star isn’t on our tree and those new ornaments the kids chose over 3 weeks ago aren’t on the tree either…. all because I told them we weren’t putting that stuff on the tree until everyone was together and happy. And so as ridiculous as that seems, I am holding out… just like I’m thankful God holds out for me when I fail to see what He has given. I’m thankful for this day we got to spend together as a family even if it was tainted with some not so favorable memories, I know we will always look back on this day together and have wonderful memories from it.