I have wanted so badly to just easily and automatically be one of those nurturers -someone who has the smell of freshed baked cookies wafting through their home, shoes lined up at the door, cozy handknit slipper available for guests. I used to write short stories about huge families. Maybe this was from some balancing effort on my part because I was an only child for six years. I prayed nightly on a star from our Toronto highrise in my kindergarten year for sister. I got her soon after and we are still close but she is finishing highschool and I have a baby and a home of my own on the other side of the country. My youngest sister is about the start highschool… Anyway, whatever the reason I’ve wanted it deeply, in my bones. then I began my crisis of faith and wondered why God would make some people homeless or poor or suffering? Then I became a feminist at 10 or 11 and decided I would NOT have children or be married ever. Because I saw unhappy married people and angry mothers everywhere and concluded resentful sacrficing for “family” was unhealthy…and so it is. We moved around a lot as a child so our “rhythms” to our days and weeks were frequently changing and difficult for all of us to maintain. This was the beginning of my hating Christmas. Along with noticing how insane other children became as the amount of sugar and hype increased at school and in malls as Chirstmas drew nearer.
As a teen, I began working in stores through the holidays and would hear the worst renditions of piped carols beginning after Halloween. I’d absorb the frantic, angry customers and concluded I was throwing Chirstmas out the window. I was no longer “chirstian” and everything else just looked like a lot of stress and spending. The first Chirstmas with my husband we got a dead branch (not killing any trees) and put it in a pot and hung fair trade ornaments on it. By last Chirstmas I was pregnant and I suddenly wanted a tree. I was also not working in a store. I asked my grandmother and mother for doughnut and chocolate chesnut recipes and I churned out goodies.
This year we have a child. I want her to have magic. I want to bring chirstmas or some kind of deeper meaning to these dark months for her. And maybe for me too…because I want to be one of those joyful, giving nurturing people -because it feels good to give? I’m not sure. I feel as if I’m fumbling in the dark. I am a lucky one with some strong traditions and values to sort through and build on, yet I still feel so lost. Not just with advent season but everything. Daily rhythm? Meal Planning? Knitting sweaters and washing your dishes and getting dinner on the table? Doing one of those things is a juggling act for me.
I was hemming one of our new tablecloths and my mind was going “hemming a tableclothh hmm hmm, what a waste of time, oh hurry up and finish, why didn’t you just buy one already done? You have better things to do!” Then I stopped sewing and thought “DO I? Do I really have something better to do while baby is sleeping than sit my butt down and BE here, sewing a tablecloth that wil bring a small patch of beauty and warmth to our sparse kitchen? Aren’t things worth doing often a bit more difficult and time-consuming?” I hadn’t clued in to the fact that this consumeristic “Just buy it at walmart” and “I want it all, I want it now”, automatic, instant mac-n-cheese culture had programmed ME too -not just everyone else. I want to change that. Take the time. Make it meaningful. If you’re washing the dishes WASH the dishes…live in your body and your hands not in your head with your mind babble. Gee whiz, what a challenge!
I recently realized what a clean, ordered home, home cooked food, and beauty does for me : brings out the best in me, which in turn brings out the best in my family. This December and into the 12 holy nights I will be pondering these things: rhythm, beauty, organization, warmth, simplicity, presence…and God. How can I embody them in myself and in my home? As Carrie at the Parenting Passageway repeats again and again “You set the tone in your home.” I set the tone. Taking responsibility, what a grown up concept. I set the tone and I choose the culture and content. And it is tricky work, but it is where everything worthwhile stems from. What is nurtured in this home is what my daughter takes with her into the world