christmas / family life

picture perfect Christmas: banishing Norman Rockwell

Five minutes before we left for the church’s Christmas Eve service last year, all spiffed up in our Christmas best, we pulled the sofa table away from our new custom sofa, so we could line up with the lit tree in the background and grab a family pic before heading out the door.

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What to my wondering eyes did I behold! (in fact, all of us beheld at the same in one communal gasp…) four black permanent marker letters stamped into the backside of the recently purchased custom sofa…ZMZZ… WHAT!!!!>??!!

Earlier that afternoon, our son Zach was upset with us. And now we had evidence he was still angry.

You know when you go into ‘that’ place where you’re caught in between emotions? You’re so flustered, so taken aback, so ticked, that you don’t know what the best reaction would be? Well, that’s where I was at that moment. Oh, I wanted to kick and scream. Oh, I wanted to lose my temper, my marbles, my patience. I wanted to be lost. Not found in this moment.

Instead, my husband put his hands on my shoulders and told me to take a deep breath. “Keep it together. We’ll figure it out when we get back.” Well, that’s not supposed to happen right before Christmas kickoff.

My friend and I are fond of the old black and white flicks at Christmas time…Holiday Inn, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol. My family: not so much. “Why are you watching a movie without colour?” Or I hear, “Can we get the coloured version, mom?” Well, that’s part of the charm for me. Apparently this is only a tradition I want to keep. Sitting in front of the television with an old black and white and cuddled with a bowl of candy cane popcorn? Why am I sitting alone?

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Our neighbours are good friends to our kiddos. They come out to play every time ours do. Max and Stella are their names. So it was fitting that they befit their friends with a Christmas gift. Hot gluing gems and sparkles and acorns and all things Christmas onto wide bands of red and green ribbons, creating collars for their canine friends. The kids had a blast. But when Max and Stella’s owners came to their door, they weren’t thrilled. Though the neighbour obliged the kids in attempting to attach one of the collars, she quickly shut the door quickly behind them. The Christmas spirit is not found everywhere.

Apparently our notions of Christmas happiness are different things. And sometimes peppered with frustrating moments. Christmas perfection is found only in a Norman Rockwell picture.

Yet, wonderful Christmas moments still abound. Dreamy, leisurely Christmas days in pjs and happily occupied children whilst enjoying mulled wine and a book with Charlie Brown Christmas cd playing in the background. If only every day could by spent in this utopia.

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This is as Norman Rockwell as it gets in our home. Which, gotta say, is pretty darn good, despite all its imperfections.


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