Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Breathing

It's the smell I love the most. Spicy cinnamon with a hint of fir and nutmeg and snow all mixed in. And strings of white lights. And nativity scenes. And evergreen. And candles. Happiness.

We are well into the Christmas season around here. Right after Thanksgiving (and by "right after" I mean later in the afternoon when we had finished our feast), I started decorating for Christmas. Now, just for clarity sake, let me state this: I love to decorate for Christmas and generally do start decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving. I started Thanksgiving day itself because we had NO KIDS for Thanksgiving (well, other than my two monkeys), and we were going off duty Sunday night. So in order to ensure it was 100% finished (keeping in mind I'm decorating our little 500 sq ft in addition to our huge cottage) by Sunday, I started Thursday.

It was so much fun to have transformed the cottage before the girls got back from their various visits. The ooohs and aahhhs as they walked in were rather gratifying. And since the Christmas festivities on campus started by December 3, I really had to have everything done by the 1st. Because trying to decorate after the 1st would be a nightmare.

What is the Christmas season like as a houseparent? Busy. I know, I know. Christmas is a busy seasons, yadda yadda yadda. No, you don't understand. Take the already, normally, very busy lives of houseparents, and then add 19 types of parties in the span of 17 days. That kind of busy.

Christmas is the season when everybody wants to reach out and help those less fortunate than themselves. And who better to help than the children at the home? Which is great! But it means we get a rush of activity it is exhausting to keep up with.

It started with a Christmas party on Wednesday of last week. Friday was our open house for the cottage where the kids get to invite people from the community to the house and we get all sorts of visitors for several hours. It's a fun evening and the girls get really good at giving tours of the house and enjoying being hosts. Of course we were off, which meant that we really weren't off because things like that you still go out and do. It's just part of the job...because this isn't just a job. It's a lifestyle and a ministry.

Then Saturday was the beginning of the feast of parties. Two parties actually. Followed by another one on Sunday. Followed by one or two and, I believe three on one day, every day from then until about the 20th. (Yes, they are still in school during all this). One of those parties is a banquet in which the kids do much of the program, so add rehearsals into all that. Oh, and don't forget rehearsals for the church program.

For us houseparents, there is also decorating the campus, and all of our regular paperwork/medical work/newsletters/shopping, etc on top of all the parties. The one major blessing is that many of the evening parties will provide dinner for the children, which gives us a break from cooking (Hallelujah!).It's a never ending stream of celebration and pizza for several weeks. Fabulous and exhausting (and almost guaranteed, I will have one child stay home from school one of these days so tired she needs to sleep all day--I have my bets placed already on which one it will be!).

And then come December 21st it will all STOP. Abruptly. It's like slamming on the breaks of a runaway train. Many if not all of the kids will disperse to various places for the next few days/weeks. The campus will become so quiet. And we settle into the peace of a normal family Christmas (always with open places and hearts for those children who stay with us).

So back to the smell of cloves and cinnamon and spices....I have a basket sitting outside the door to my apartment which is filled to the brim of all good smells Christmasy. And every morning I take moment to just breathe in the smell and remind myself of the whys and wherefores of this season, in order to keep myself from stressing out from the extroversion and never-endingness of the next few weeks, and enable myself to cherish every busy moment as a reminder of peace and love and giving and celebration of the birth of the Baby who changed the world.

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