Dear Teachers. I tried to make you Christmas cookies yesterday to fill the beautiful tins I bought on clearance last year, but I failed. The cookies were stuck to the cookie sheet because I forgot to spray it with oil because somewhere in the midst of the cookie making episode my 18-month year old daughter decided it would be fun to throw our glass Christmas tree ornaments all over the family room. She threw them at the stone fireplace hearth like she expected the stones to throw them back, but they did not. It was only her mother who ended up fetching all of her haphazardness.
Dear Children. I intended to make you a beautiful, embroidered advent calendar constructed from little red and green stockings filled with handpicked mementos – each one attached to a sacred Biblical text in order to help you understand and appreciate the true meaning of the season. That’s what I intended; instead, I frantically scribbled the advent numbers on each stocking with a black sharpie and then stuffed them with leftover hotel lotions and body washes, topping each off with a few coins or a dollar bill as your sister repeatedly tested my patience by scaling the chair beside me and giggling as she emptied the contents of one as quickly as I tried to fill another.
Dear Church Family. I really wanted to have my talented children involved in the Christmas production this year, I truly did, but in between the teething baby who still isn’t a fantastic sleeper and our handicapped twelve-year-old who we still don’t have help for because apparently there isn’t an organization in the state of Tennessee who can find someone willing to drive out to our middle of nowhere. The simple fact is, these two realities (the baby and the Luke) are causing my body just a little more distress each and every day especially as Luke continues to thrive and age (praise the LORD!) but also especially as his mother is not so much thriving but aging which in turn has led to a less than an ideal situation for my almost 40 year old back because “goodness sake, someone needs to get this child from point A to point B!” I digress….
Back to the Christmas production…Ryan and I find ourselves and our aging bodies completely spent by the end of our days which include many meaningful tasks, tasks that are serving and advancing the Kingdom for sure, but primarily include (like 80% of the time) picking up mess after self-induced mess, (THAT BABY, not us), and we’ve determined that in this period of our lives it is more important that he and I allow for adequate down time to nurture our family and our relationship. So, instead of running to and fro, from this and that, good things, wonderful opportunities and worthy adventures, we are going to focus on putting our children to bed on time, sharing a glass of wine together, and the rest is pillow talk. Maybe it’s selfish. Maybe it’s not, but we view it as an investment. An investment in our marriage is an investment in our family
Dear Teachers again. (I feel the need to apologize to your crew often – you do nurture my children a high percentage of the time) First, I apologize as surely you are SO COMPLETELY OVER hearing about “the book our Mom wrote and do you want to buy one!?” I promise you, I am not recruiting my offspring to be my sales team (although they are convincing). Secondly, our kids will not be attending this year’s Christmas party. Due to our frazzled state of being (I know, I know, THAT CARD AGAIN), Ryan and I just cannot find it in our hearts to wake the kids up at 6 am, doors slamming, jaws clenched as we hope the baby doesn’t hear the door slamming, chauffer them to the bus, allow them to participate in a one hour event and then drive 30 minutes to pick them up from this event by 9 am. If school operated for the day, or at least half a day, we’d be all for it, (especially since we’ll be seeing their sweet, angelic faces for the next three weeks), but as it is, we are not going to sacrifice sleep so that they can inhale as many cookies as humanly possible by 9 a.m.
Dear Extended Family. We had good intentions, we always do (promise), to make all homemade gifts: jams from the berries our two hands grew and picked, salsas from the overabundance of tomatoes nurtured to perfection by Mr. Farmer himself, Christmas crack, a horrifically sinful favorite of ours, but the garden didn’t do very well this season and the few jams I made, well, my family loves them, and I really hate to part with something I made that they’re not complaining about having to eat, and the Christmas crack? I just can’t have that in my house this season as I’m attempting a new way of eating which certainly doesn’t involve sugar in the copious amounts that this recipe calls for, so as good as our intentions were, most of what you will be receiving will be store bought, totally commercialized, and pretty much against everything we believe in but such is the current state of life we’re in.
Dear All Near and Far. We really, really, really planned on creating a Christmas card this year, HONESTLY! We even had the pictures completed by Nov 1! But when the thought reoccurred to us (yesterday) we realized that everyone had already seen the picture we were going to use on social media, and so we decided again, for sanity’s sake of course, to nix the card this year. (MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE RONNES! – almost the same thing, right?)
Tis the season, so they say – a season of silent nights and peace on earth (for some at least) and for us? It is a season of halfhearted apologies and simplicity. We’re sorry, but we’re really not. We’re focusing first and foremost on the true meaning of the holiday, and in order to do this we must simplify. The Christ child has called us to raise 8 young children, and it is a grand, monumental, and oftentimes exhausting call on our lives, but it is our reality – eight young, impressionable, precious children ranging from 1-14. That’s our excuse, but it’s a really good one and usually a pretty fun one as well. In the meantime, we’ll just keep doing our best and throwing out half hearted apologies for the rest. (P.S. This year’s advent calendar totally rocks compared to last years – see above picture).
Merry Christmas! And Just keep livin!!