Monday, December 19, 2011


*If you are here from Christmas tree photos are towards the end of this update.  And I used the regular nighttime setting on my Canon Rebel, no special lens or anything (I need to take one of Mckmama's classes...but I am still experimenting!) I just edited the photos in iphoto.  Welcome!

It's been such a busy holiday season so far.  But good busy.  I'm definitely finding enough things to do that I can say I'm ready for winter break to begin this week.  Lots of last minute shopping, errands and wrapping to do.  Plus Kerigan has her first bad cold, so we haven't been getting much sleep at night.  She has to sleep propped up in her car seat by our bed to stay elevated and I blast the humidifier on her.  Poor thing.  Ah, the joys of day care.  

But...let me back up.
My handsome little man had two Christmas programs in a row the other week- one at day care and one at church.  And bear with me as I get to the point of my story, which is something far more meaningful than the hustle and bustle that is the season.
This year was Andrew's last Christmas program at his day care.  Next year at this time he'll be in Kindergarten.  Deep breath.  Side note... we cannot say enough about this day care.  I am seriously in love with it.  I joke about the joys of day care, because I hate leaving my kids, not because I hate leaving them at this place.  We LOVE this place.  It is so special and they treat the kids like family.  When we all had the flu the other week, the director offered to take my kids home with her since Craig was busy and I couldn't lift my head off the pillow.  That's above and beyond.  To say the least.  Anyway, the other thing I love is that they are not affiliated with the public schools- so they do holidays!  And they do them up big!  Dress up for Halloween, homemade treats, Christmas parties.  You name it.  I will miss this when Andrew joins the real world next year.  It is funny, I keep thinking... no more fun stuff, but then I remember we have Kerigan just starting all over again!  Ha!
Anyway, Andrew has been in this program since he was 2.  And every year is the same.  I arrive approximately forty five minutes early to stake out the best seats (front row center, of course!)  That is where I get the best view with my cameras.  Yes, as in more than one.  One video and one regular, if you will.  

So, this year in the newsletter they mentioned that doors wouldn't open until 15 minutes before (so the little kids wouldn't have to wait so long before they perform.  Oh yeah, I never thought about that!  Why would I think of the impact my early arrival would have on Andrew?  Ha!)  Now, I am not normally a "direction follower."  I often deviate from the plan or the rules, and I think nothing of it.  Especially if it involves my children.  I will always do what is best for them.  Or in this case, what was best for me to get a good view.  And good pictures, of course.

Bear with me... I'm getting there...
This year I was determined to get front row seats.  It was his last program, after all.  But I thought maybe I better follow the rules and not get there quite as early.  I knew 15 minutes would not be soon enough, but 45 was a little extensive.  So I settled for about 25 minutes early.  Big mistake.

I get there, and people are already flooding in (those non rule followers!)  The first two rows in the center were already taken.  I was not happy (to say the least).  Here I was, trying to follow the rules, and look what happens (I will never follow the rules again!  Ha!)  So I kindly ask the ladies in the front row if the seats around them are saved (with their coats, programs and hats spread out all over them).  When they replied "yes," I even found myself not being very friendly about it!

When my little man came onstage, the next thing that I was irritated about was...why was he in the back corner?  (Ok seriously, let's be honest.  We all want our kids in the front, right?)  After all, my kid is the cutest one up there!  (And no other parent says that, right?)  As I am blinding the kids with my flashes (and standing up to try to avoid getting the heads of those ladies in all my pictures, not caring if I was blocking someone else's view) I also start my video camera (yes, I am running both cameras because I am the only one who can do it right).  Can you all believe I am that person everyone hates at these things!?  Like I said... I'm being honest here.  And I promise there's a point...
I had already promised Andrew a prize if he sang (because in the last 3 years he has never sang a note at these things... and he always knows every single word.)  As I'm sitting there, snapping pictures and video taping, I'm also now motioning for him to sing... and smile... do anything besides stand there in a daze with a deer-in-headlights look on his precious face.  He's so darn cute when he smiles.  

And then it hits me... he's not in the front center because he basically just stands there and does absolutely nothing.  I'm a teacher.  It's no secret why we put kids in the back, or don't give them speaking lines.  Does it bother me that my son isn't the little performer I like to dream he could be?  A little, yes.  I think mostly because I know that he is a performer... to us, but not when a room full of strangers are watching him.  He gets shy.  He doesn't get that from me (big surprise).  I was the kid in the spotlight.  The front row center kid- and I loved every minute of it.  (Again... Kerigan's coming!!!  And she's my mini me!  So we still have a chance!)
Andrew just doesn't get into these things.  But he'll sing his little heart out when we get home.  After it was all over, I was sad.  Not because he was in the back row, or we didn't have the best seats, or that my son is not the star of the show.  But sad because it was over.  And I really didn't enjoy it.  How could I when I was worried about so many things that really didn't matter.  I realized I never even took the video camera off Andrew for one second, and I barely got any pictures of all his little friends singing (which maybe he would have enjoyed seeing).  I was way too worried about getting the best pictures, or the best seats, instead of just being in the moment.  Enjoying watching my son's program.  Giggling about the silly things kids do, or oohing and aahing over the little girls pretty dresses.  I hardly saw any of it.

I was too busy.
Too focused on the things that don't matter.
And all I have to show for it are a few pictures and a video of Andrew standing and staring. (I'm exaggerating here... he did sing, a little bit!)  But not much.
Andrew's favorite part of the night was when Ga Ga and Papa took us out for pancakes afterwards.

Fast forward to Sunday.
The church program. (I know this is blurry, but they were all clasping their hands to pretend to "sleep" and I thought Andrew looked adorable.) can't find him?  It's because he is not in the front again (this time it was he who put himself in this spot.)  There are so many kids that they all just stood wherever.  So had he wanted to, he could have pushed his way to the front.  But that's just not Andrew. (He's towards the left in the green sweater behind the two adorable little twin girls. In the front.)

I tried to have a different attitude this time.  (It was church, after all.)
First of all, the older kids had the speaking parts and were in this adorable little skit, that actually taught me way more than I expected.  The preschoolers were just singing three songs and they sat in front and watched the skit almost the whole time.  I knew I didn't need a front row seat for this (and let's face it... who sits in the front row at church anyway?)
(See...he's singing!)

But the part of the skit that got me was the "mom" (played by a fourth grader) reminded me exactly of myself.  She had a list a mile long of things to do for the holidays... baking, wrapping, shopping, decorating, etc...  People kept coming to the door to help the family with things (like a tree and presents, etc) because they were too busy to get it all done.

Then the best gift arrived.
(The tag says "To:  The World,  From: GOD).
Enough said.
When these pretty little angels popped out of the present and held up the baby Jesus... yeah, I had tears.  It hit me then.

And I was so mad at myself.  Mad at how I had been so unfocused on the things that really matter.  The true meaning of Christmas.  The reason we do all of the things we do this time of year.  Where I tried to get things done early this year so I didn't have to rush through the season, so I could sit back and enjoy it... I still lost my way.  Sure, I know the reason we celebrate.  I have taught Andrew about giving, about it being Jesus' birthday, and that presents are not important (and this is exhausting trying to tell that to a four year old who dreams of Santa and presents pretty much every single night).  We have purchased items for a family in need through his day care and we've baked goodies and taken them to the neighbor who lost her husband last year.  We get it.  We really do.

But sometimes we still need to be reminded.
You see, this is truly all we need.
It's our gift from God.  It's his life.  Given for us.  What more do we need?
All the kids got this sweet little box after their program (along with cupcakes they got to decorate and eat).  And I was choked up the entire rest of the day just thinking about how silly I have behaved.

Seriously?  Do I really need front row seats?  Do I really need a million pictures of my kid in a Christmas program?  What about the memories?  I don't remember hardly any of it.  My husband always tells me to put my camera away and just enjoy things.  And I always just ignore him and snap away... 
How can I not when I do have the cutest kids on the planet?
I just think now I understand where he's coming from.  He is a pretty smart guy, after all.  

There's a time to put the camera away...
A time to just sit back and "zoom in" on the wonder, and the beauty, and the one true gift...
"Dear Jesus...please help my mommy to teach me about You.  To guide our family to the true meaning of Christmas every year and to live for You every day."  

Because that is all I really want my kids to remember about Christmas.
The only gift that is under our tree.

Yes, there will be presents.  Santa will come and the wonder on Andrew's face will fill me with joy.  But I will remember that the joy comes from God.  And when we blow out the candles on Jesus' birthday cake...

Maybe I'll put my camera away.

All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

Isaiah 54:13

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