Monday, December 28, 2009

All Kinds of Hectic (Babble)

In our home most of the Christmas activity happens after the 25th.  We’re not attached to any particular date, so it helps that different members of the family can spend Christmas day wherever they need to, and then everyone can gather here for a big event.  Right now in my house I have seven people staying with us (I think–it’s easy to lose track), plus a few more visitors who prefer the privacy of a hotel while they are in town.  It’s crazy and pretty great.

The most satisfying thing is seeing how happy the kids are.  Aden is the ring leader, and we can hear all the little footsteps following her about the house.  There are serious and exciting games involving tiny bobble head toys and insect trivia happening all the time, and lots of jokes that don’t make any sense.  (Quinn botched one the other day at dinner by doing a knock knock joke about a banana, and the punchline was something like, “Banana I had an orange for you?  The banana?”  He’s cute enough it still gets a laugh.)

The best holiday present I get every year is that my mom cooks all the dinners.  She plans out elaborate and tasty meals that will satisfy the vegetarians among us as well as the omnivores.  (Tonight’s dinner was a wild rice/mushroom/dried cherry thing served in a half a squash with toasted almonds on top, and salmon with capers and olives and other good things that I didn’t recognize chopped up, and bread from the local bakery and salad….  I’m not always sure exactly what I’m eating but it’s always amazing.)  The kids never eat much more than a little bread when the food looks too interesting, but I’ve been pleased this year that they sit politely at the table and try a few bites and eventually ask to be excused without complaining.  Tonight they just scrounged some yogurt from the fridge on their own when they got hungry later and that’s fine with me.  As long as they aren’t rude to the cook and eat something at some point I’m happy.  It’s an incredible amount of expense and work for my mom to prepare a week’s worth of meals for so many people.  Makes me feel extra guilty for how unpleasant I was to live with from ages two through twelve, but I certainly appreciate my mother now.  If I can manage to be half the mom she is I will be very proud.

My favorite event so far has been all the children teaming up for a surprise party for my brothers.  Barrett told them about Arno having a birthday and Aden got to work with streamers and gifts, and then I mentioned that it was her Uncle Barrett’s birthday, too.  I don’t know what they think the word ‘twins’ means, but that bit of information took them completely by surprise.  They got up very early to start work with the Easy Bake Oven.  They made the world’s smallest cake and covered it with every candle they could find.  It looked like a festive baby porcupine set on fire.

We’ve had a creative limbo competition, Santa/Barrett made a wacky appearance, the kids have taken a hike to the North Pole (which looked strangely like our back yard) and we’re still hoping for a trip to the aquarium and sledding in the park in the next couple of days.  This is the kind of hectic I llke.  Mix and match fun with relatives, where any way people get paired up is a good time, and there is a ton of activity in every corner and late into the night.

Unfortunately, there has been a bit of hectic on the other end of the spectrum as well (including the untimely destruction of the new mirror ball, which was sad but not unpredictable).  I’ve had to juggle a lot of unexpected things since Ian left right after Christmas, but I think I’ve got it under control.  It’s helped to have family here for some of that.  It makes all the difference in the world to be loved, and I am the most fortunate person I know to be loved by so many remarkable people.  I hope my husband finds support where he is.  He’s kind enough to always say I have the harder job, but I have my family with me, so I have it better by far.  It pains me to imagine him alone while I’m surrounded by so many people we care about.  I wish I could bottle the hilarity of the limbo contest and send it to him.  I took a bunch of video, so I’m hoping that will help a little at some point.

I was thinking about how having a hectic week full of relatives would be such a nice distraction for my kids, but I overlooked how much I would need it myself.  As I sit here quietly in my room, away briefly from my houseful of guests, I’m struck by how powerfully I miss my husband.  I wish he didn’t have to go.  I don’t know when I’ll see him next.  I don’t think I’ve ever missed him more than at this moment.  I think I’d better go join the pleasant mayhem again or I might cry.  (Off to find a limbo stick and a kid to hug….)

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