Two weeks ago I broke my hard and fast rule of no Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. My young adult children may read this and wonder what in the world has happened to me.
It is not a rule I think everyone should adhere to because I’m not even sure where I came up with it. Looking back I realize our Thanksgiving preparations and travel kept me too busy to even think about the next season. But this year feels different and when the desire hit me to place a tinsel tree in my bedroom, I did.
Little by little over the next few days I set out holiday items. I find myself enjoying the process as I arrange Mary and Joseph on the hutch. In the moment, I am content with the change around here. The quiet doesn’t seem so hard. Letting go of my self imposed rule brings new freedom and joy.
A few days later we run errands in a nearby town. We grab lunch, purchase the ever growing teen a few pair of jeans, and order Thanksgiving dinner. I hesitantly ask to check out the new craft store, and he relucantly says yes. Moving from place to place feels a lot like bumper to bumper traffic during rush hour because the store’s fifty percent off sale draws a large crowd. He follows along without much fuss enduring my life long love for all things crafty. We joke and laugh and fill the cart with necessities to create my holiday decor vision.
As we head up the next aisle he spots a cookie platter on the shelf and comments, “Remember when we placed the milk and cookies out each year. And how the oldest would exclaim, “Look Dad, Santa left me a cookie!”” He smiles and turns back to continue on his way. In an instant, with no warning tears well. Right there in the middle of the crowded store I’m a puddling mess.
Alarms sound in my thoughts, Clean up on aisle 3! Bring the mop and bucket. Set out the yellow caution signs. Almost empty nester is having a melt down!
Only there’s no one to clean this up, and there’s no hiding it from the one who knows me too well. And so I just keep going. Pushing my cart and swiping tears and laughing at his antics of distraction. In this moment I’m content to laugh and cry all at the same time because this letting go brings freedom too.
We drive home and I let go of it all. The joy and the sorrow. The once was and what will be. The expectations, the self imposed rules, the hiding it all behind a smile…
And I give thanks for moments of contentment and meltdowns on aisle 3. For laughter, and sorrow, and the freedom both bring.
You did it: you changed wild lament
into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
I can’t thank you enough.
Psalm 30:11-12, The Message
–Photo by Oliver Hale on Unsplash