As “the Holidays” are rolling in, so are a 101 of my memories, ideas, and insecurities.
For instance, we bought recently our first ever fake Christmas tree. Horror, mingled with excitement, mingled with desperation were welling up in both me and my husband. Born and bred Oregonians, going to a huge, semi-clean shopping center, buying a FAKE Christmas tree?! Can this be HAPPENING?
My personal Christmas tree memories involve slogging through mud, or maybe even through snow on a good year. For SURE my memories include a long walk back to the truck/15 passenger Dodge Ram van while pouting that my parents did not pick the tree I wanted… some years, a trip to the mountains for a wild, mangled-looking evergreen that would NEVER look quite right.
And, every Thanksgiving of my life has had a pecan pie. Call my lazy for not looking hard enough, if you want, but for the LIFE of me I haven’t seen a single pecan since I moved here. And I didn’t bother bringing them with me to China because it never occurred to me that there wouldn’t be pecans on every shelf at Thanksgiving time. Hah!
I think about nights that I feel asleep in the back of our VW van, (these were the early years, when there were only 5 or so children in my family) on our way home from my Grandparent’s home in the mountains. Winding our way down the mountain roads in the dark, watching for deer, confident in my dad’s super-human driving skills, until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.
ALWAYS, my dominant memories are of the security in tradition, in routine. Of being loved, and most of all, of being SAFE with my parents.
I feel sad, or even angry on occasion, that my children are not safe coming home late at night. That they are careening down dimly lit roads on a motorcycle, barely missing being hit by cars going the wrong way without head lights. I feel irritated, that they are not going to munching pecan pie this Thanksgiving, or cutting down a real, living tree that we will smell in our living room for the next month.
BUT, last week, we were on our way home from something, “late” at night, (maybe 9pm?) and I was holding Esther in my arms in the back seat of our motorcycle. Matt was driving. We were all quiet, and there was a full moon.
Esther was laying back in my arms, face turned up to the sky, completely relaxed. She was singing a song about seeing the moon under her breath.
I looked under my arm at Zoe. And to my surprise, she was asleep! She had somehow wiggled her rather long, 4 year old body down to get her head (in it’s helmet) onto my squishy belly, and flung her feet up over the side of the back rest. She was smiling in her sleep, and she hadn’t a care in the world. Daddy was at the wheel, Mommy had Esther, and it was late at night and we were going HOME. Her home.
We were going home, and in the morning, she might not be eating pecans, but she’d be dumping fresh strawberries on her granola! Her Autumn memories will be a jumble of real pumpkins, leaves we made out of crayon shavings, and fresh strawberries!
And once again, it hit me like the wind, the voice of my Father, “This is HER childhood! These are THEIR memories! They have traditions, and routines, and feel loved… and look at that little girl, she feels safe!”
I am thinking a lot about something sis-in-law Heather mentioned to me once, how my children’s memories are their own, and just as beautiful and life-shaping in their difference from my memories, as mine are from my mother’s.
How blessed are my children. To live in a land not their own. To see their heavenly Father provide for them each day in unique and amazing ways not possible in America. How blessed they are, to eat fresh strawberries when everyone else in America is making do with apples. How blessed they are, to have no fear on the motorcycle, and to come home to a warm home that Daddy and Mommy have made their own. How blessed they are, to be safe, along with Mommy and Daddy, right in the will of their Creator?!
So here is a big hurrah for a Thanksgiving and Christmas season full of old traditions, and new. Full of memories all their own. Full of their home, if not the one I have always thought of as mine.
I love you, Zoe and Esther. I am proud of you, and you are headed into the best Christmas of your life!
Here are a few photos, looking back :)
Zoe October 2006