another reason to be thankful for kids

The holidays are often a bit bittersweet for me.  On one hand, I love our life in California and the friends we’ve made here.  But on the other hand, I miss being around family and friends in Wisconsin.  As holidays emphasize the theme of getting together with family, I tend to feel a bit lonely around these times.  It doesn’t help that holiday times are usually extra-busy for my pastor-husband (ie. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter), so it’s often just me and the girls, especially since most of our friends around here have family in the area with whom they spend their holidays.

But if I think about it a little more, I realize that life in California is all that my girls know.  JJ and I are their family.  I try to keep that in mind, and use that to create traditions that suit the four of us (or just us three girls, as the case may be).  For example, I’m not a “Black Friday” kind of shopper.  But today, the day after Black Friday while the sales were still going on, I braved the crowds and took the girls with me to our local mall while JJ was busy writing his sermon.  I had a list of a few things to keep an eye out for, but there was nothing that I had to buy.  Without any real shopping pressure, the girls and I ended up having a really enjoyable two hours at the mall.  Lyd and I showed Curious J what a Christmas tree is, as she had forgotten from last year, assisted by a huge, beautifully decorated tree in the center of the mall, as well as smaller trees scattered all over the mall and in the stores.  I even had some good shopping luck at Macy’s, finding a pair of much-needed knee-high black boots for me as well as matching Christmas dresses for the girls (these items were 50% off, and then 20% off of that).  All things considered, the girls behaved very well, even when we were stuck in a slow-moving checkout line.

This afternoon, Lyd and I looked through my Christmas cookie books and chose some that we’d like to make over the next few weeks.  For our first cookie, I mixed up a batch of Gingersnaps (molasses cookies), and after supper we rolled them out and then rolled them in red and green sprinkles.  We’ve also been getting into the Christmas mood at our house by playing Christmas music.  Lyd still wants to watch and listen to nothing but “The Sound of Music,” but she was mildly appeased when I put on the Julie Andrews CD “Greatest Christmas Songs,” one of my all-time favorite Christmas albums.

I get lonely when I think about family gatherings that I’m missing back in WI.  At the same time, I know that CA is all that my daughters know.  They don’t feel like they’re missing anything, and it’s up to me to make the holidays special for them.  This is my time to create traditions that will become our own family traditions, and from that perspective, living out here is very freeing.  We truly can do whatever we want without stepping on other family members’ toes.  But, I do wish there was some way to combine the best of WI with the best of CA, especially around holiday times.

(Sigh.)  I really do try to remember that it does no good to focus on what you can’t have; you have to make the best of what you do have.  And most of the time, I’m pretty good at that.  However, I felt a little lonely at the dinner table tonight, as JJ was absent, still off preparing for tomorrow’s service.  So, I looked at my two beautiful daughters, and told them, “I’m so glad you girls are in my life.  I would be so lonely without you here!”

My wise six-year old daughter responded, “Momma, it’s like our family is pieces of a puzzle.  You are a corner piece, and Daddy is a corner piece.”  [She paused and thought for a moment before continuing.]  “J and I are corner pieces, too.  We all belong together!”  And she got off her chair and gave me a hug.  Of course, J had to do whatever her big sister does, so she was quickly demanding a hug, too.  I got over my lonely mood pretty fast. 🙂

I have to admit that I was stunned at her wisdom and simplicity.  She had beautifully reminded me that as long as she and her little sister and her Momma and Daddy are in her world, she’s perfectly content.  We are her family; she doesn’t feel the lack of anything else.  From her perspective, our lives are perfectly complete.  She’s right; our lives are complete.  We are right where God wants us to be, right where God needs us to be.  And, we have each other.  Life is good.

My children are such blessings to myself and to JJ in so many, many ways.  I am incredibly thankful to God for my girls.

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