Last year, my oldest decided that we should go all out with Christmas decorations at the farm house, and I, who enjoys making dreams come true, said yes. We ended up with a machine that synched the lights on the roof, porch, windows and railings to twelve Christmas songs, and blowups. It was beautiful and fun. I decided to have a Next Step Night and invite the whole crew with their kids and Grandkids over to watch the light show. I got Santa and Mrs. Claus to show up, and the littles all got stockings. It was magical!
This year we decided to double down on the Christmas decorating extravaganza. Now there are twenty-four songs, twice as many lights, retro displays, an arch…. during the set-up over Thanksgiving week, it looked like Christmas had upchucked all over my house!
In the spirit of the Holidays, we decided that in addition to the Next Step night, we would open our display to the public. It seemed a shame to have this out on a country road and not let people enjoy it. So, we posted on Facebook that it was available, and that post got shared dozens of times, and the video of it got watched a thousand or so times. I then decided that it was silly of me to have to sit in the house every night while the show went on, so I added cookies and hot chocolate in the house. Then I bought one hundred Christmas jingle hats, 100 Christmas Reindeer headbands, and 100 Jumbo Peppermint sticks. Then I decided to take donations for Next Step families at Children’s Hospital.
It sounds like a Hallmark movie, doesn’t it? People from all over popping in, seeing people I haven’t seen in ages, little kids’ eyes sparkling as they get a hat. It has been amazing! But you know what else happened? After it was all set up, I went away for a few days, and there was a huge wind storm. I came home to half of it on the ground. While Noah was back at school. Thank God his friend Devin came and set it all back up. Once I opened it to the public, we had torrential rain, and the yard became a mud swamp. Then Noah came home and immediately got a sinus infection, requiring a trip to Emergacare. Then my insomnia kicked in, and I got progressively more tired. Then, we suddenly had mice, in the house, brought to my attention by the cats chasing them at 1:00 am…for hours.
So, on Saturday December 22nd, the day after having 60 or more people in my house for Next Step night, I’m running around my house like a drunk monkey vacuuming, mopping, ensuring that the cookies are still sealed and untouched by mice. Suddenly, tonight’s open house seems more like a job, and not so much fun. I hear myself saying, “Lord, would it be possible for the dogs to not shed anymore today, for the mice to not put in an appearance while I have company, for me to have enough food?” Surprisingly, in my head, I heard, “We could talk about that if you just had a minute to talk to me.” So, I put down my mop, and sat in my office chair. “Lord, let’s talk. I’m tired, and a little anxious that my house isn’t clean enough, and…” I got interrupted. “How about I talk and you listen?”
“Girl, I provided you with enough resources to do a light/music show. Provided you with enough resources to have snacks and treats. The weather, tiredness, illness, mice…that’s all to help you keep it real sweetheart. Because, everybody else out there is short on money or time, has a sick kid, had a furnace or car break down, or is missing someone terribly that isn’t coming back. If people don’t understand that an open house involves tracking in mud, or kids eating cookies make crumbs…they shouldn’t come. You, my girl, have temporarily lost sight of what is important, and what you are trying to do. YOU wanted to share some Christmas spirit. YOU wanted Noah’s hard work to be seen. YOU wanted Christmas company. Done. Now, its 3:30 in the afternoon. You haven’t eaten since last night. Get something to eat. Take your pain pill. Slap some makeup on, brush your teeth, put on a clean shirt. I’ll handle the rest.”
There it is folks. A reminder this Holiday Season to not get so caught up in the “looks” and to get totally into the “feels.”