The boys are at this moment watching the 30+ year old Christmas specials we watched when we were children ourselves...you know, Rudolph, Frosty and the gang. It is easy to forget sometimes that the traditions we create for our kids will be remembered long after we are gone. I am not really good at creating traditions...I am not one of those moms who has caught up scrap books, every school photo in dated frames, locks of hair saved from first haircuts (Actually we have never been present for first haircuts! Guess I am off the hook on that one!) or teeth saved from tooth fairy midnight raids. It is something I wish I was much better at...routines and traditions. We do have a few such as watching these classics, trying to bake sometime before Christmas, going trick or treating with friends every year, and things like that. But nothing really enduring I guess has ever become a firm tradition. I always envy moms that are good at that sort of thing.
I also envy moms who are "classic moms"...who look and dress and act like "real moms" which I never really see myself as. You know as I'll bet many of you are more what my image of a "real mom" is...you have cute holiday vests for every occasion hanging in your closet, you are always ready with cool cupcakes and special treats from magazines for school parties, you are members of the PTA and are always the Team Mom, your hair always looks great and is styled nicely, you have more than one purse to match different outfits, you likely never wear sneakers and instead know exactly what kind of loafers or whatever name you call cool shoes go with jeans and you probably have great socks to go with them too instead of white athletic socks. You are soft and warm and fuzzy, you have smiles that light up a room and you can actually hem a pair of pants. That is the kind of mom I have always wished I was and yet know instinctively was impossible for me to be.
No, I am more the mom that is frazzled looking all the time, and wouldn't know how to be stylish if I tried. I ALWAYS and I do repeat ALWAYS turn our library books in late and owe fines, and if given the option for a gift I would never select a day at the spa but would die to go shopping for an electronic device of some sort. I wear really scruffy sneakers. I don't have cute decorator items on our walls as I have no clue how to select that great looking stuff (see, I don't even know a good term for that kind of stuff!). I am not polished and in fact more often look like the polishing cloth! hahahaha!
But as I thought about it today, I realized I have generated some silly little traditions...like making up songs for each of my kids as I rocked them to sleep and singing quietly to them as they beg for even now that they are older. Overnight campouts in our bedroom where I tell really stupid adventure stories that make no sense but have everyone dissolving into giggles. Recognizing loving acts and pointing them out for the entire family to celebrate. Having friends over often to fill our house with warmth and laughter. Having "dates" with each of the boys that might not be terribly exciting but allow us to have some "alone time" to visit and share our thoughts. Singing in the car at the top of our lungs really, really badly and laughing about it. Involving the boys in serving others in one form or another, whether it is raking leaves for neighbors, picking up trash from the highway or shucking corn for Habitat for Humanity at our Corn Festival. Or whenever we attack a project we get in a circle and put our hands in the middle, football huddle style, and yell "Go Team LaJoy...WOOOOO!"
So while I could never send our traditions into Parenting Magazine in the hopes they would be written up in an article, I guess we have a few LaJoy memories that will be held in the kids' hearts when they are old and gray. Not sure if they are worthy of being passed down from generation to generation but they are ours, and we love 'em.
Today after church we went with a few friends to sing carols at a couple of local nursing homes. It was the first time the boys had ever been in one, and they were curious and a bit taken aback as we went in. Let's face it, most adults don't even enjoy being in places such as this to visit, as it cuts to the core of our very worst fears...that we might find ourselves living in such circumstances one day. It makes us think about things we'd prefer to relegate to a closed file cabinet drawer within our mind, never to be opened.
There is a scent that permeates such facilities, and a sense of hopelessness that is impossible to shake. Life there is suspended, the outside world forgotten and a new very limited world is presented. I was struck by the comparison of nursing homes and orphanages, of people warehoused and long forgotten while just outside the front door life moves on for the rest of us.
We sang carols, this little group of ours, and slowly I saw the boys each become gradually a bit more comfortable...Kenny walking up to wheelchair bound seniors shaking hands with those who had little recognition of what was going on around them, Joshie wandering up and down the halls ahead of us singing Jingle Bells, Matthew peering into rooms shyly waving hello and saying "Merry Christmas". The longer we were there, the less uncomfortable all of us became as the humanity of each and every person before us became apparent. The basic human need for love and the touch of another exists within all of us, and it was good for the boys to see that although these older folks might look a bit scary or act a bit different they are really the same as you or I.
So perhaps today we stumbled upon what might be a new LaJoy tradition.
Another unwanted tradition seems to be that the beginning of ski season triggers the destruction of a computer caused by one defect or another. One reason I have not posted this week was that my beloved Yellow Dellow, which admittedly had well over 100,000 figurative miles on it and worn out keys already in 11 months, decided to choose this time to crash its hard drive. My laptop is to me what most people's wristwatch is to them, or perhaps their cell phone. Being without it is like wandering around half naked!! Dell has stepped up to the plate though and offered to replace both the hard drive and the DVD drive and to have a technician take care of it all for us, which is great but will take awhile. I am hoping I can salvage some of what was on the hard drive but am not holding my breath.
We look forward to Christmas Eve service this week, spending time with friends on Christmas Day at our home, and yes even opening a present or two. Hopefully, the most important traditions have already been embedded...a tradition of recognizing the real reason for the holiday, a tradition of seeing that God works through us to touch the lives of others, a tradition of understanding that the love we have for one another is the most precious gift we have to give.
If I don't have time before hand to write, Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!