Oh how I'm lovin' having adult and almost-adult children! When Sarah Grace whistled for the boys to get on with the thorough cleaning of our family room for Christmas, they girded themselves with a manly can-do attitude and commenced taking control. We have 15 ft. ceilings in our family room and Sarah and I aren't about to climb the big ladder to dust ceiling fans that high up. The boys, relishing our dependence upon them, took their positions. Will, armed with the long wand of Dyson, climbed to the top of the ladder while Spencer was stationed on the bottom rungs for stability. James planted himself next to the ladder and lifted the vacuum so Will could reach the blades of the fans. Sarah and I left the room to avoid the inevitable dust storm. As we puttered around the kitchen we could hear their buoyant banter, and it filled the house with the deep, warm tones and laughter of merry men. I just love men... always have.
Don't get me wrong; I love little boys too! I've had a ball the last couple of days turning mine on to the sounds of Christmas from my childhood. We decided to keep our Christmas simple again this year, and for a holiday treat we reactivated our Rhapsody account. Boy oh boy have we gotten our money's worth already! I pulled up our traditional Christmas favorites by Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Kenny G., Mannheim Steamroller, various big bands, etc. But I also introduced them to some they'd never heard before. [Please pardon the cheesy YouTube slideshows. I didn't feel like spending the day vetting artistic style from The Land of YouTubia (Shout out: Hi Michael!).]
Anyway, Johnny Mathis performs my very favorite version of O Holy Night. We listened to his entire Christmas album and, of course, we couldn't skip Chances Are and some of his other greatest hits.
Here's my favorite version of The Christmas Waltz. I prefer Doris Day's version-- even over Frank Sinatra's-- thanks to Aunt Mary promoting it to me.
I also love love love Amy Grant's Tennessee Christmas.
George Winston's December is another favorite. This is Thanksgiving. The whole album isn't so melancholy, just so you know.
I love it when the house is full of piano music, but only James plays these days. He's recently picked up the guitar, so I fear it might cut into his piano playing that I so enjoy. I'm constantly opening the classroom door to let the house fill with his music.
Another idea we had for Christmas was to take our fleet of old bicycles to the repair shop to see how many we could salvage. We got the idea from Corrie ten Boom's book, The Hiding Place, we've been reading aloud. We were inspired by all the bike riding in Holland in the 1930s and '40s, so we concocted the idea that it would be fun to cycle as a family again, sorta like the Trapp Family Singers! We didn't want to wait until Christmas to enjoy it, as we wouldn't want to waste the nice temperate weather in early December. So, there have been daily jaunts around the property, and once our sore thighs have strengthened, we're hoping to try out some local bike paths. We're also dreaming of camping somewhere that has trails for cycling.
Although we're hardly comparable to the Trapps, we've also considered Christmas caroling again. It's been several years since we've sung publicly and that was something we really enjoyed. I'm not sure we have enough practice time with the boys' work schedule, but it sure would be fun. I was reminded of how much fun the other night when the children (all but Will) went grocery shopping with Sarah and me. While we were headed for the check-out, after humming and whistling to ourselves as we traveled the Super Center, we all spontaneously burst into the last half of the first stanza of this, of all things:
I know those are odd lyrics for our family to be singing on the baking aisle, but honestly, it was so much fun breaking into song with them... sorta like a mini flash mob or at least a spontaneous real life musical theatre number! I love being out and about with my children so much, especially when everyone is in a festive, frolicking mood, albeit a little kooky.
I've been thinking a lot about motherhood these days. I started pondering it intensely after I saw the video of a delightful little girl, Sophia Grace, from the UK. Perhaps you saw her as well. A while back she and her girlfriend Rosie had a wildly popular viral video of them performing Nicki Minaj's Super Bass, and they were invited to appear on Ellen where they met Nicki Minaj. (Oh my days, Ellen is so darling in this interview-- oh how I love that woman!)
I'm sure Sophia Grace's mother loves her, as most mommies love their children, don't you think? But that's not enough. What's missing from our culture is the love of motherhood (and fatherhood especially, but that's a whole 'nother Oprah). Lately I've been focused on motherhood, or the lack thereof, ever since that interview. Even for a secular family, I would expect a mother to protect her little girl from hearing, much less singing, a song like Super Bass, with such lewd lyrics. And is Nicki Minaj the kind of role model they really want their daughters gushing over? I'm not just talking about those who have been born-again, that's a given. I'm talking about plain old secular motherhood in this damned world.
I admit I haven't always loved motherhood like I do now-- that has sprung out of my new heart, bubbling up to my own astonishment and awe at times. The riches in Christ Jesus keep me awestruck! I never knew such treasure existed, much less that I lacked it! Sure, I managed to provide the most important things for my children. I taught them the gospel of Jesus Christ from the get-go, and when they sinned against God, I spanked their fat butts to demonstrate that sin has consequences, and that they better fear God. The word of God has always been read to them and by them, and they've had the benefit of a mommy who has an intimate relationship with the Lord, as opposed to a church lady with a Pharisaical religious spirit, the likes of which abound here in the Bible Belt.
But I didn't always love motherhood as should be expressed in the daily minutia of life. For instance, before the end of the warm weather I was refilling the nectar in the hummingbird feeders attached with suction cups to our windows, and it occurred to me how I was going about that task motivated by the happy image of the kids lounging on the sofa or gazing out the dining room window thoroughly engaged in the beauty of creation. I realized at that moment that serving my children (and my husband) daily in the mundane was my life's work... all day, everyday. How sorry for me if I ever had to divide my attention from the needs of my family to the man's work-a-day world! In the early days of my marriage I was a co-provider with Bill working our network marketing business, and I was totally blind to the importance of being a full time wife and mother! I thought it was enough that I didn't go out to a job daily in light of Paul's instruction in Titus 2 to the elder women to teach the younger women to be "keepers at home." I actually thought my presence in the house everyday was complying with that command, and that somehow efforts to earn money was being the helpmeet I was called to be. But motherhood goes far beyond that understanding. The Greek word for "keeper" can also be rendered as "watch" or "guardian." Let me tell you, it is a full time job requiring undivided attention. I don't care how modern church women have tried to convince themselves otherwise-- they are just plain wrong! And even if this message gets their dander up, I pray they'll settle down, come to agree with the Lord, and become happy mommies at home. The same goes for wives. Of course, I was only married for nine months and six days when Will arrived, but even so, I wasn't planning on working outside the home even as a childless newlywed. Somehow I always knew this truth, and my heart grieves for women who either can't, or don't want to be home all day.
Another phenomenon I've witnessed, but never verbalized, was expressed and exposed well by The Thinking Housewife, a housewife blog I occasionally read (and to my knowledge she's not even born-again yet; I think she's Roman Catholic). Likewise, I've seen the over-the-top affection by some moms, and although my heart recoiled, I just couldn't put my finger on what the problem was. There seems to be an especially loud, in-your-face attempt to display superior affection. It reeks of a cover-up. Here's the link: http://www.thinkinghousewife.com/wp/2009/11/the-overly-affectionate-mother/ These moms are full of guilt, and I'm not surprised because in this technological age people often don't even look up from their devices to make eye contact when conversing with others. I see it all the time and I just want to jerk a knot in children who stare at their cell phones while their parents are talking to them, but the parents do it too, as if the whole family is just fine being horribly detached. And then they perform publicly with grand outbursts of verbal affection and over-the-top kissy-face behavior. It all belies an emotional vacuum-- a bizarre penumbra.
Well, I better get back to being a full time wife and mother and save something for another post. Oh, and if you see any of my children hypnotized by technology of any kind, you have my permission to jerk a knot in them.
Also, here are two articles I wanted to share on The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth by Irving Kirsch Ph.D.