Sunday, 29 December 2013

Climbing Your Own Wall

My husband has decided that 2014 will be a year focused on us losing weight and becoming healthier. He says that we have to set a good example to the kids of health and fitness. According to him, it is our job to inspire them.

I did not react positively to this. My initial thought was, that this enterprise is doomed to failure. Inspiration? Me? Nope, sorry, there's obviously some mistake in your thinking, because there's no way I could ever be an inspiration to anyone. Besides, to inspire your kids, they have to see you do the healthy stuff, right? And honestly, I hate exercising in front of other people so much, it makes me want to cry. Not a great starting point.

Then I realised, my lack of confidence, my poor body image, my lack of fitness, all of these are like bricks that have built themselves up into a wall. This wall has made my world smaller, and in turn, because I so dread situations where I might have to do something physical in front of other people, even playing with my kids at the park, it is making my children's world small too.

But walls can be brought down. They can be chipped away at, little by little, day by day, until you can see what's on the other side. And eventually, you can perch on the top, reach out your hand to others, and pull them with you to what lies on the other side.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Best Gifts Don't Come Wrapped.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you've enjoyed good food, rest, fun, family, and whatever else makes this season a blessing for you.

Between the rain and high winds on Christmas eve, and frankly, my appalling organisation on Christmas day, we didn't make it to Mass. I did make sure we said happy birthday to Jesus at dinner though.

All in all, it was a good day. The kids loved their presents. Gareth is particularly taken with his accordion and Postman Pat van. Molly is loving tucking her new babies into their bunk-beds, but she got a bit mad when Gareth tried to play with them. She yelled 'No! My babies!' My 2 and a half year old is already a momma bear.

My mum and step dad dropped by in the morning, and the twins were delighted to see them. I think my step-dad enjoyed the accordion almost as much as Gareth. The two of them were happily taking turns playing it, dancing around, and generally having a grand old time. My sister came by later with some little gifts for them. A small blackboard and chalk for Gareth to draw on, and one of those sets of pretend, dress-up jewellery for Molly. Unfortunately the necklace won't go over her head, and there's no way of opening it. It's not going to waste though, she put it on one of her new dolls and said 'Princess Baby!'

Dinner was just the 4 of us. I made roast pheasant with chestnut stuffing, roast parsnips, braised red cabbage, home made cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy. It was delicious, although I think I overcooked the pheasant slightly. My husband loved it, and said it was the best Christmas dinner he ever had. Except for Gareth having a little mashed potato, the twins didn't eat it all. It's always slightly disappointing when you lovingly prepare a meal and they reject it, but I reminded myself that they're toddlers, that Christmas is a strange and exciting day for them, and that these were new foods. As we know, new food and toddlers don't go together even on the most mundane of days.

Children have always been the focus and delight of Christmas, ever since that most perfect child, born in imperfect circumstances on that night so long ago. Every child's joy at the magic of that day, is a reminder to all of us at the importance of wonder, and delight, hope, and the anticipation of good things.

God came to us, as a little child. Living symbol of hope, and delightful anticipation. Remembering that birth each year as we do, and seeing the innocent wonder of our own loved and imperfect children is a yearly gift that never grows old, or stale or boring. It is the gift that comes without wrapping, and it's the best one of all.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

That Festive Feeling of Failure

So, it's almost upon us. Christmas. I have been preparing neither spiritually nor materially. I've muttered prayers here and there, but with no consistency or fervour. I've purchased exactly one Christmas gift. Cards remain unwritten, and the menu for Christmas remains undecided. I'm feeling overwhelmed, unprepared, and generally a bit blah about the whole thing.

I'm hard on myself, I'll be the first to admit that, but recently these feelings have escalated. How can my family have a nice Christmas if I'm in charge? I see my current lack of enthusiasm as a flaw, and every mistake, both committed and yet to be made as requiring ridicule and punishment. The surety of getting things wrong prompts complete inaction, which in turn leads to lethargy, and yet more feelings of inadequacy.

I had thought, a while ago, about getting my hair cut for Christmas, and maybe trying a home hair colour. Now, I'm not so sure I'll bother. Like I said to my husband the other day, why bother? It's like putting a bow on the trash bag.

This too shall pass. Jesus is the light of the world, and Christmas is a time of hope. A lot of prayer and a little organisation will see me through this, but for the next few days, I think making a batch of mince pies and perhaps putting up some fairy lights are about as festive as I think I'm going to get.