Wondering where I've been?
And for the record, I am so good at it.
Today I played Super Mario Brothers with Caleb and Ethan for about six hours. My thumbs are sore, but I'm improving. Well, no pain, no gain. We've made it to secret Level 9...not so secret any more.
We broke for a late lunch and then David and I sorted out the final Christmas spending for a bit. Which was eye-opening. (I told him I prefer ignorance.) We always stay right on budget until about the 22nd and then it's just a free-for-all. Oh well.
An important part of any hibernation is sleep, so then I went back to bed for a long winter's nap. I was still in my pajamas so it was easy to do.
I woke up in time for a shower before I made dinner (you have to keep up your strength for hibernation)and we played games for a couple hours before we went to a late movie. For a really good hibernation I recommend only going out at night...makes you forget that there is anything at all "important" to do and like the whole world is abed for two straight weeks.
And now we are back in bed. David is asking me if I'm going to post my Christmas letter. I told him I thought it was too late now. He disagreed and kissed me into publishing it...much more effective than talking me into it. I can't resist. My apologies to those of you who've already read it.
There will be more hibernating tomorrow as well, though David may have to go out for milk and bread and salsa.
But I will be staying in.
The world can wait.
And now, our Christmas letter...
Dear Loved Ones,
David wants you to know that the picture on the front of this card was taken on one of the greatest days of our whole year on a lovely strip of beach on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Knowing his penchant for details, I am sure he would also want you to know that this particular spot of paradise, where we discovered the Pacific Ocean and the magic of wet suits, is near a little surfing town called Tofino. And if he had his way there might be a map insert as well.
As for me, I only want to point out that since this picture was taken, Caleb has grown taller than me.
It has been a year of changes. They have been at once subtle and life-altering. On a Monday morning this August, the children woke up early. They dressed in their new clothes, and tied closed-toed shoes onto their feet even though it would be nearly 110 degrees that day. We gathered in a circle for prayer and scriptures just like every day, and then unlike any other day ever before, they all kissed me, and they all left for school. Every one of them. The shock of that moment left me stunned and sore for months.
One Sunday evening this fall I sat with Olivia on the loveseat in our bedroom. I told her about the miracle of life. As I carefully explained about her own body and how it was already prepared to create life and love, I thought about how she had just gotten here herself. I thought about how she was just placed in my arms and here I was telling her how her own babies would someday make their way into hers. I was overwhelmed by the staggering brevity of my time with her. When I finished she was crying. Overwhelmed, she said, that she would have to grow up whether she wanted to or not. I thought, “Think how I feel.”
This year Caleb turned twelve. I can see the hair on his arms. When he sits on the couch in his pajamas I don’t recognize his feet. In October David took him to his first Priesthood session of General Conference in Salt Lake City. On the way home, they had a long heart-to-heart talk about growing up. David looked over to see him crying. Makes you wonder if we’re leaving out the good parts, doesn’t it? When David asked if he was okay, Caleb replied that he liked things just as they are. Well. Think how I feel.
I am dizzy with the turning of the earth. Some days it feels like I’ve got my head out a car window, and my eyes are burning and streaming as my life flashes by. It is so brief, I would protest if I could catch my breath. In two weeks, three of my children will be wearing braces, the first tiny little railroad tracks that lead out of my home and into homes of their own. Ethan and I now wear the smallest shoes in the house, and even he is walking around in pants that are two inches too short. I have to put my foot down somewhere, see?
This year I noticed something as I reread Luke’s story of the Savior’s birth. In the very same chapter of that story, just twenty verses later, Luke tells about a time when Mary and Joseph couldn’t find their son. He had stayed at the temple to teach and they were frantic and sick with worry, “sorrowing” as Mary says, for three days before they found him. Jesus was astonished at their worry. Because didn’t they know he wasn’t really theirs?
I know it too. Inside. I really do. I know my children came for a bigger purpose than to entertain me around the dinner table, that they have their own measure of creation to fulfill. But somehow in the feeding and clothing and tutoring and kissing better, the lines have blurred a bit. They feel like mine. It’s easy to forget they aren’t. And I wonder if that wasn’t how Mary felt as well. Born to her, but born for all of us. From the very beginning she had angels and prophets telling her, reminding her, that he wasn’t really hers.
For unto Us a son is born, unto Us a son is given.
After this year, it tears my heartstrings to think of it. Because I know it wasn’t given easily. One morning as I sobbed my sorrows out on my knees I felt a voice from heaven gently say: Yes, I know. Think how I feel.
For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son.
This year David and I learned just a little bit more about the cost of that gift and the depth of that love. That before the Cross and the Garden, he was a baby gazing up from her breast, a round-cheeked toddler who gave open-mouthed kisses, a boy all arms and elbows and unruly cowlicks telling jokes at the dinner table. His parents, both heavenly and earthly, watched his legs lengthen, his shoulders broaden, the moment of sacrifice surely coming. All the while knowing he wasn’t really theirs. In the tiniest way we know that grief. This Christmas season and always we worship the boy who was born King and God and Sacrifice. And the Father who loved us enough to let Him be just that for each of us. We worship the Lord of all creation. Because of Him, our own sweet creations, these four madly growing children, will be ours forever. Oh how we love Him.
With love and joy and growing pains,
David, April, Caleb, Olivia, Savannah and Ethan