Dec 222009

One of my earliest and most vivid Christmas memories is standing in the corner of Mrs. Bush’s fourth grade class surrounded by four very tall children who were yelling, laughing, and pointing at me. They were calling me stupid and I was near tears, but I refused to back down because I knew I was right and they were wrong. You see, The Simpletons kept insisting that SANTA DIDN’T EXIST. And I was ready to defend my faith in the Red Man to the death.

Bubba and Tisha really set me up.

My family made it very, very hard not to believe. Every Christmas Eve after mass, we sat together on the couch and read Christmas stories. After the last line of “On the Night Before Christmas” Sister and I ran up the stairs and climbed into our bunk beds where she fell asleep immediately and I stared at the bottom of her bunk. This happened every night, not just Christmas Eve. My entire life I have been too excited to sleep. Another post perhaps.

A few hours after being tucked in, we would hear bells ringing outside of our window and we’d pop up in bed, deliciously terrified. Tisha would crack open our bedroom door and whisper “GIRLS, he’s HERE!” And we’d shake and cry a little, grab each others’ hands and follow my mom to the top of the stairs. The three of us crouched together in a little huddle and peeked downstairs to see SANTA CLAUS IN OUR LIVING ROOM. He’d sit in my dad’s chair for awhile, eating cookies and talking to “Jack Frost” about what good girls we’d been. Then he’d get up, open his sack, and put our presents under the tree. Sister cried and buried her head in my mom’s neck the ENTIRE time. After a few minutes, Tisha walked us back to our room, tucked us in again, and we’d hear the bells once more outside our window. In the morning we’d find chewed up carrots all over the front yard because the reindeer had dropped them when they flew away.

It was all enough to make a believer out of me. For a very, very long time. Don’t even get me started on the Tooth Fairy.

When I was in fifth grade, Bubba and Tisha sat me down and told me that Santa was actually the clown of Christmas, but the spirit of Santa was real. The Santa Spirit was loving and helping and giving. And Bubba showed me his Santa suit and explained that the Santa in the living room was actually him. I was sad, but also excited. If a kid has to discover that Santa’s not who she thought he was, finding out that he’s actually your dad makes the blow easier to take.

Ironically, the day I found out that Santa wasn’t “real” was the day his magic came alive. Because my parents invited me to participate in a Christmas miracle. It turned out that Bubba wasn’t just Santa for Sister and me. That wasn’t actually his Santa point.

One Saturday every December, Bubba got suited up and went to a center for special children and young adults. He would set them each on his lap, even those who weighed more than He, and tell them all how good they’d been and how special they were. He’d bring them presents and joy and some Santa friendship. And he invited me along. So for a decade, I got to be Bubba’s elf every Christmas.

And when Sister got old enough she became Elf Number Two. ELF NUMBER TWO.

It was special.

One of my favorite Christmas moments of all time happened Christmas Eve 2006. Craig, Sister, Bubba, Tisha, and I had just put Chase to bed and we were expecting Bubba to suit up and begin the Santa performance. But when we asked Bubba when he was going to get started, He and Tisha shook their heads, smiled, and passed the Santa Sack to Craig.

Anyone who knows Craig can imagine how thrilled he was about this passing of the torch. Craig has taken the Santa tradition to new heights, literally. Last year he climbed onto the roof so the kids would see him “taking off” through the skylight. He also was so desperate to be seen in his Santa glory that he decided to stop by the grocery store and pick up a six pack. He will not be doing either of those things again this year.

Thank you, Bubba and Tisha…for always, always keeping the magic alive for Sister and me. And now for the rest of us.

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a goodnight.”

Love, G

Dec 212009

Come, they told me… Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum,

Our Newborn King to see… Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum,

Our finest gifts we bring… Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum,

Today before the King… Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum, Rum Pum Pum Pum, Rum Pum Pum Pum,

So to honor Him… Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum,

When we come.

Baby Jesus, Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum,

I am a poor boy too… Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum,

I have no gift to bring, Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum, Rum Pum Pum Pum, Rum Pum Pum Pum,

Shall I play for you… Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum,

On my drum.

Mary nodded… Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum,

The ox and lamb kept time… Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum,

I played my best for Him… Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum, , Rum Pum Pum Pum, Rum Pum Pum Pum,

Then He smiled at me… Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

Me and my drum…

Amanda and I sat on the kitchen floor last Friday and listened to The Little Drummer Boy again and again and I cried and cried. Amanda snuggled deep into my lap and she kept turning around, cupping my chin in her hands, tilting her little head and saying, “Are okay?” Are okay?” I nodded, held her tight, inhaled her neck and used all of my senses to take her in. I marveled at how she could offer me so little, how she could, in truth, be such an incredible drain, and how I could still adore her so completely. How I could cry just thinking of her. How I’ve memorized every roll on her thighs, every red streak in her hair, the feel of her velvety cheek, and every expression her face has ever made. How there is nothing she could ever do to make me love her any more or any less. How she is already everything she needs to be for me. How she is a reflection of all that is true and good in me, because I made her.

When she started rubbing her eyes, I put her inside her crib and watched her fall asleep. I love her most at the moment she decides to trust me to keep her safe, and so her eyelids close and she falls away and just breathes. And when she awakens and I walk into her room, she turns her face toward me, throws her arms in the air and says Mama, and it’s enough to drive me to my knees in gratitude and awe and never get back up.

God gave me my little girl so that I might understand how he feels about His little girl.

I know, with my whole body, mind, and soul, that the way I love my baby girl is the same way God loves me. He has memorized every hair on my head and he watches me sleep and wake and when I cry He pets my hair and says “Are okay?” He has never, ever let go of my hand. When I run, He follows, and He never grows tired or weary. His plans for me are more beautiful than I can dream and He wants me to come to him like a child because that’s the way He loves me most. Empty handed. Utterly dependent, with no gifts to bring. He looks at my face and my outstretched, empty hands and He sees his little baby girl. The little girl He created. I don’t have to be a grown up with Him. I don’t have to be a wife or a mother or a friend or a teacher or a writer or a woman in his presence. He created me solely because He wanted someone to love. So that’s all I have to be, someone to love. He wants me to rest in the truth that there is nothing I can do to make Him love me any more or any less. He already knows about the choices I made yesterday – no need to be ashamed, and he already knows what will happen tomorrow – no need to be afraid. He doesn’t want me or need me to be anything more than the needy bundle of tears and love that I was the day I was born and that I am today, on the kitchen floor. He just wants me to sit still and accept His gift, which today is the sensation that my heart might explode as His love and adoration flow from Him through me, His baby girl, and into my baby girl.

This is when Jesus smiles at me, I think. When I offer him my broken, overflowing heart. When I play for him with whatever I have, which is nothing. He doesn’t want me to wait to play for him until I am better or different, or until I have something more worthy to offer. He was a poor boy, too, he understands. He was rejected and afraid and exhausted but he played his song for me anyway. And all he wants is to hear my song in return. He wants my song, the one only I can play, today. Not tomorrow.

And if it seems too good to be true that I’d have a song worthy of Him while I’m still broken and naked and crying, I need only to remember that the most beautiful song the world has ever heard was sung by our Jesus when he was all of those things, hanging on a cross.

That man who died for me, Jesus, my God, wants me to play for Him. And Mary nods her agreement, so I play, without fear of how I might sound. And here’s why I’m not afraid to play my song in the face of God. You have asked how I can share my heart so openly, why am I not afraid to disarm myself and tell you my truth, even when it’s ugly or scary.

It’s because there is no need for weapons or armor when one is already standing inside a mighty fortress.

It’s because while I want you to say that you like me, to tell me I’m okay, to say that we are the same, you and I… I don’t need you to say those things. If no one ever likes or loves me again and I am left with only God, I will still have too much acceptance and love to handle well, or respond to appropriately, or endure gracefully. I can tell you the truth of my heart because when you handle my heart imperfectly, it’s okay, I forgive you already. You don’t have to love me perfectly. I don’t depend on you for that. You can be human, and you can make mistakes with my heart. Because if you hurt me, if you accidentally ignore me, if you love me imperfectly, I still have perfect love to turn to, to remember, to feel. And so I feel safe with you. And you can feel safe with me too, because I will never expect you to be someone you’re not. We don’t need to be afraid of each other. Perfect love casts out fear.

And when I tell you about Bubba and Sister and Husband and Tisha and you say that you wish you had a perfect family, too, please understand that my family is not perfect. Lord, no. None of us loves each other perfectly. But I don’t need them to love me perfectly because I already have perfect love. We are all wired to need perfect love but none of us is wired to offer it. Because we are meant to find it only in God. So I don’t ask my family for perfection. I forgive them their humanness, and search for their divinity, knowing that we usually find exactly what we we’re looking for. And when I catch glimpses of their divinity, I notice and share it. Just like my family and Jesus do for me.

I’d like to begin this Christmas week by saying Happy Birthday and Thank You to Our Jesus. He guided these words, and they are meant for you. It’s not an accident that you are reading them. He wants you to know that He loves you like you are the only little girl in the world. You don’t have to be a grown up for Him. You don’t need to bring Him gifts. Just play. He’ll listen and smile. And we’ll dance.

Dec 182009

Bubba makes fun of my wooden word signs. He doesn’t mind so much that I have them, he just minds that NONE of them is level. Which makes my house appear as if it is perpetually recovering from a recent earthquake.

A few hours after Bubba and Tisha left last week, I walked into Chase’s bedroom and found this:

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Chimmy- I couldn’t find a hot pink Christmas Star for you…but I did find this hot tree at my snazziest friend Gena’s house last week.

Those are BOAS, Chimmy. How about some hot pink tree boas to match your hot pink heart?

Have a great weekend, Monkees. Can’t wait till Monday, when we shall meet again.

Love, G

P.S. This is the second post of the day, check below for a showstopper from Bubba.