Holiday chores give way to true meaning of season

December 21, 2000|By Sunday morning, I still had a lot to do.

Holiday chores give way to true meaning of season

I took a couple of days off earlier this month to get ready for Christmas.

My to-do list was long, and I was determined to get through it.

I considered sending my kids, ages 2 and 5, to day care, but I never seem to get enough time with them ... so I told their day-care provider she'd see them the following Monday.

With them by my side, I knew I wouldn't get to all the items on my list, but I figured most of it would get done.

I should have known better.

First, my son informed me that he didn't want to ride the bus to kindergarten. He wanted Mommy to take him to and from school.


Hmmm. A chance to see him walk into class, interact with other kids, greet his teacher.

Sure, I told him. I could do that.

Each day, I'd stop my Christmas tasks at mid-morning, fix lunch, take him to school, keep quiet on the way home - so my daughter, Chloe, would fall asleep - put her down for a nap, work until it was time to pick up my son and have time to play with them before preparing dinner.

The plan would have worked, but Chloe developed afternoon insomnia. She wanted to rock and read books.

Twist my arm, sweet baby girl.

I made a mental note to look at the to-do list when my husband got home from work.

He helped the kids trim our Douglas fir. They had a ball.

Most of the decorations were placed on the bottom quarter of the tree within three steps of the packing box. At their eye level, the tree looked pretty good.

Our tree-trimming time turned into a craft session when my son decided we needed some pipe-cleaner creatures.

Squeals of delight accompanied the half-dozen spiders we made as the kids tossed them into the tree. As my son explained, "Because, after all, you know, spiders like trees."

Yes, and Mommy's living room will never look like those on the house tours we feature in the paper.

I started day-dreaming about having every room decorated tastefully ... entertaining friends in a festive atmosphere ... the smell of cinnamon and allspice wafting through the air ... meals I prepared from scratch being devoured by all ....

And I looked down to see my son scattering more pipe cleaners on the floor.

I was about to scold him when he looked up and asked, "Mommy, can you help me make a cross?"

"A cross?"

"Yes. We can't forget about Jesus."

He handed me some pipe cleaners and happily went on to the next task as I struggled to swallow the lump in my throat.

"That's right, honey. We can't forget about Jesus. After all, it's his birthday we're celebrating."

We made a cross and put it on the tree.

I sat beside them on the floor, pondering how adept children are at putting things in perspective.

The list became something I'd check after they went to bed.

And that's pretty much how the rest of my long weekend progressed.

In church, our youth pastor challenged us to write a poem using the letters that spell Christmas. The first line would begin with "C," the second with "H," etc.

By midafternoon, my son was itching to get into something, so I suggested we work on the poem, a good alphabet and reading exercise.

The unwrapped presents could wait.

I told him to think of all the words he knows starting with each letter in Christmas. For "C" he had cat, cow, Chloe, catch, come.

We made similar lists for each letter and eliminated words that had little to do with the holiday.

At least I thought we did.

"H's" list was hay, hit, height and happy.

He eliminated hit, height and happy.

"So you want this one to start with hay, like what was in the manger?" I asked, pen poised.

"No, Mommy. I want, 'Hey,' like 'Hey, you' - like you're trying to get someone's attention."

Then he practically shouted, "Hey, come see the king."

It became the second line of his poem.

And it spoke volumes to my heart.

I must have misplaced my list, and since I can't remember what the outstanding tasks are, I must be ready for Christmas.

I know my kids are.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean is Lifestyle editor for The Herald-Mail.

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