I don’t send out Christmas Cards. I send out Birth Announcements. We’ve been married eleven years and we’ve sent out six birth announcements, which keeps the friends we really care about in the card loop.
This year, though, unlike any other year of our marriage, there are no births to announce, no babies to nurse, and no raging pregnancy woes to prevent me from sending a card. Weird.
Even so, I’m not sure I can compose a Christmas letter in keeping with standard procedure. I have so much to beam with pride about when I make those birth announcements—not only the new baby, but the fact that we all survived the ten months leading up to the announcement and we’re still smiling. But, I’m not so sure about this kind of Dickensesque look back over the past year. It’s enough to make a goal-setting, neurotic, hyper-analytical, enabling, introverted Mom like me go into painfully philosophical fits of seasonal soliloquy. I guess I’ll take solitude in the fact that some people will take a look at the font and the length of this epistle and just give it a skim.
Here’s my deal. This year in d’Evegnee Land has been full of familial fits of giggling at the dinner table, new resolves to take a crack at a whole new us, and some genuinely peaceful moments of both self and group introspection and epiphany. But at the same time, my glance at the past makes me cringe. The soundtrack to our lives is so much more “Carol of the Bells” than it is “Silent Night.” Most of our laughter revolves around embarrassingly low-brow bathroom humor. My goal to shed a few pounds left me standing at a gas station last winter with my pants around my ankles, feeling the biting Rexburg wind whishing past my bare knees, the woman at the pump next to me screaming “OH!” as I struggled to regain my britches and my composure (I’m always happy to give the longer, one on one, more Sarah-logue-like version). We scurry in to Church a bustlingly loud and disruptive five minutes late every week, even though we live right across the street from our Church building. We fight. We shout. We cry. Peter wears his Buzz Lightyear shirt for days worth of filth and accumulated toddler residue before he’ll let me wash it. Eve has an inch long scar on her face where Peter swiped at her with his overgrown claws. We arrive at any event much more than fashionably tardy with trails of miscellaneous matter on our clothes, small gobs of food in our hair, and cheerios clinging to our shoes (and that’s just Eric and me!). Even now, my poor offspring have been strategically plopped in front of the TV, a bag of chocolate candy at their sugar-saturated fingertips to buy me enough time to write this. Sometimes I feel like I am in a storm of dirty laundry, sticky floors, and personal dissatisfaction.
So why am I writing a Christmas letter? Well, as I mulled over my potential holiday greetings, I realized that the thoughts in my head weren’t exactly chock full of fa-la-la and warm-like-cups-of-cocoa cheer. I almost chucked the picture in the envelope and called it good. But then I remembered what Eric told me about the crooked sign I put on our door in my frenetic rush to contribute to the gleaming festival of holiday lights and magic that is Rolling Hills Dr. The sign is cheap and tacky. And it just has one word in bold letters. At the end of his cold walk home in the snow after a shaky day, Eric looked up to see that word hung haphazardly on our door. He told me that when he read that word he knew that no matter how he was feeling at the moment, things were going to be okay. Just one word. The word I had almost forgotten. The word is JOY.
My life is a jumble of well-placed, carefully chosen chaos. I am full of weaknesses and flaws and immaturity. And both despite and because of all the hiccups in my plans, wrinkles in my clothes, and dishes in my sink, I can “Be of good cheer” (3 Nephi 1:13) because of Jesus Christ’s Atonement. That’s why he was born—not to praise us for our perfection, but to aid us in our weakness. My hands ‘hang down” and my “knees” are “feeble” (Doctrine and Covenants 81:5), but He helps me create joy in the doorway of my home and the doorway of my discouragement, even in this stressful season and stressful life. He came for me and my family with all of our foibles, contradictions, and idiosyncrasies this year and every year. I love knowing that I have someone who knows about all of what I failed to do and be in 2009 and loves me anyway. And not only does he love me, but He reaches out to me and offers me the power of His healing. And that gives me plenty to write Home about.