And just when I think I might have opened a chapter called moving forward--I arrive again at Christmastime. The children's intense anticipation, the familiar music, the lights--blue and white against deep, dark, snowy nights, are at one moment a completely wonderful source of joy, and the next an almost unbearable source of melancholy. Here I am balancing and managing the magic with the to-do's as a single parent for the third year, hoping that I can keep that childlike love for this time of year alive in them, in spite of my inadequacies and exhaustion.
Have you ever prayed so earnestly just to ask God, "If I can't have what I want now, could you please just let me know what You want."
"And if that is too much to ask could you just please let me know that You are there?"
Friday December 14, I took the little ones to preschool and started my Christmas shopping. By noon I had picked them up, returned home, and heard the first of the tragic news from Connecticut. Prayer is long distance compassion, charity in thought and deed, opening up your heart in an attempt to share the burden of another person's pain that would be otherwise unbearable. I saw the flags in mourning around town by evening, and they reminded me to pray.
Saturday was a busy day, so I was grateful that our friends from the ward brought over a mountainous pan of pancakes, and filled our kitchen counter with trays of leftover fruit and ham--which kept the kids fed all day as I shuttled the girls back and forth, through the snow--which I was grateful was atmospheric but light, to their dance dress rehearsals.
In the evening...the long awaited performance. The girls were in several numbers. Bethany's ballet class danced to Ave Maria.
Saturday I went to bed with a great sense of accomplishment, having survived the dance recital super Saturday. I am sure the girls did as well. I don't know why that mood has to be so fleeting...might have had something to do with the Sunday morning rush to church, for which I was no match that day. William and I arrived after my Sunday school class was due to start and the kids had already been separated in to other classes, and I remembered that prayer.
"Are You there?"
"Are You watching this?"
"Could You please give me a little insight into just where this is headed?"
Sunday evening I was playing Christmas carols on the piano and the bishop stopped by with an envelope. Said someone had given it to him to pass to me. I remembered that prayer again.
"Just let me know that You are there."
We have been blessed every Christmas of our life as parents by huge generosity from others. One year, when we were just students with two little boys, a whole clan adopted us and filled our home with decorations, and food, and gifts. I was pregnant that Christmas, but in January I miscarried. I was devastated, but one thing stayed in the back of my mind. It was the love that I knew God had for us, because he had sent that family to us in December. I knew that He was there. Sunday I was overwhelmed again. And humbled that I had wondered to begin with.
Wednesday was the last day of school for the week, a half day. I went to the elementary school in the morning to help out with the Christmas festivities in Caitlin's class. Ava's mom brought Rudolph Sandwiches. I passed out pretzels, and wiped up peanut butter, and snitched M&Ms. As I walked through the halls I could hear the buzz of excitement from the classrooms, and felt humbled by a huge sense of gratitude for peace and safety in our school that morning. For some reason, it brought to mind my this clip of concentration camp survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein...and her words
"I am no better... than those who never lived to know the magic of a boring evening at home,"
and I thought what a blessing it is to have another day to celebrate... holidays and ordinary days.