17 December 2009

Reflections on a Christmas Program

Is my kid the only kindergartner with a big smudge of green ink on her face?

Is my 2nd grader the only one with a huge clump of hair hanging down in her face? It appears that all those other girls are perfectly coiffed.

Why does my 4th grader look like he is being choked by his tie, which is pulling strangely up and to the left?

Is my 5th grader really that bored by the proceedings, or is his arm injured in a such a way that he physically cannot hold his sparkly star any higher than his elbow, rendering it at least 6 inches lower than the stars of all of his classmates?

Are we the only parents who yelled at their kids in the 15 minutes prior to the festivities?

Are we the only family to arrive at this Celebration of the Season with more than 50% of us grumpy?

Is my three-year old really going to throw herself around like a rag doll and shriek like the monkey she wishes she were for the entire program, causing lots of people to toss sympathetic smiles and delighted giggles my way, people who don't have to attempt to keep her from launching off one of the pews, falling off of a kneeler, or crashing into the banister, and can therefore think she is just adorable? Am I the only one who thinks she is a pain in the ass?

You call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?*


* * *

Am I really that neurotic of a mother to notice all of these imperfections? Don't answer that one.

* * *

Can there be anything more touching than seeing an emerging young man in his Christmas finery, walking with dignity down the street, hands in pocket, keeping distance from the younger ones, establishing his fledgling maturity?

Can anything be cuter than a cadre of kindergartners singing and signing "Mary had a baby, oh Lord; Mary had a baby, oh my Lord; Mary had a baby, oh Lord; the people keep a-comin' and the train done gone!"

Can she look any more heartbreakingly lovely in her brand new glasses, my little Miss 20-20?

Is anything more important than trying, however imperfectly, to show up for your kids, and battle the stress, and rage against the commercial machine, and offer them the gift of Christmas, the gift of Christ, the gift of loving each other, however imperfectly, so that at the end of the evening, when one of them comes downstairs in tears, unable to describe the sadness, just overwhelmed and confused by the intensity of emotion he is feeling, you can set aside your own exhaustion and your own irritation at the stresses and curveballs that came your way today, and you can hold him and tell him that you know how he feels and that you've felt that way too, and it's because he has such a big, good heart that he feels that way and because the excitement of the holiday season can be just plain overwhelming? Because if you can do that, and then offer him his first taste of egg nog, you'll be able to send him to bed peacefully, and he will thank you and tell you he loves you, and in an instant, you will call this a happy family.

* * *
*with gratitude to George Bailey of Bedford Falls, NY

5 comments:

Teacher Mommy said...

Oh yes, I feel you here. I may only have two, but I fully recognize that bittersweet mixture of pain and aggravation and anger and pride and love and heartwarmth. I'm trying very hard to focus on the latter.

nicole said...

merry merry

Kerri said...

no, you weren't the only one who yelled at their kids 15 minutes before...I'm guilty! and I'm guilty of smiling and encouraging the monkey. the glasses look stunning. give the 5th grader a break...they called the "stars of wonder" toilet bowl cleaners from the get-go.
That show always makes me choke up with tears at how lovely all the children behave and sing for that 45 minutes, it is truly a great part of the tradition of the holiday.
Be forewarned, I asked Peggy when they are going to do the present song again (from our first year "we are little gifts, wrapped up tight")...she thinks when the monkey is there. I still got the wrapped box...you can have it.

Monica said...

Kerry, I can't believe you still have th "gift box!" And I LOVED that -- so I'm glad peggy's going to do it again. Just looked at a picture of Sam from that event!

And of course, you are right about all the rest too. LOL about the toilet bowl cleaners! I got over myself about the same time I got choked up myself...it's pretty awesome. :)

Viv said...

We are two of a kind, you and me. I am often delighted to see how my brain works in print. You are so awesome!

(My 3 year old is more frequently decorated with some color marker than not.)