25 December 2010

christmas present, 2010

It is mid December – the most wonderful time of the year. Anticipation is rising and carols ride the waves. The true meaning of the season is being preached from pulpits as malls and schedules swell. Scrooges, Fezziwigs and Cratchits alike are drunk on holiday cheer, and the pressure to purchase and to process is mounting. Yet there are no presents under our tree (we don’t actually have a tree yet), and I’m struggling to write this letter.

In Christmases past, I reveled in the sights, sounds and smells of the season. I sang the songs, spent the cash (and credit), and I was surrounded by people I adore. Only time will tell what will be of Christmases to come, but this is the reality of Christmas present: I am finding the holidays increasingly difficult to “do.”

“Give good gifts,” I implored in the last letter I wrote, and then well-meaning loved ones lavished towers of bright paper packages tied up with the string upon us… not exactly what I had in mind. Since then, Paul, Maya, Cole and I have scaled back, dared to believe, taken some risks and by way of grace, we are living a rich life in the woods. We are experiencing so much more with so much less. Even still, I haven’t figured out how this life fits in at this time of year. I’m not sure where to put more stuff we don’t need or how to live simply when packages arrive and my kiddos are thinking, “Screw simplicity, and bring on those presents!”

I thought this was a Christmas letter, you may be wondering. What about the highlights and syrupy updates? Well, in a nutshell: we sold our house and much of our stuff, chased some dreams, and on our way to Texas, we moved to an island in Washington (I’m serious). Maya (6) learned to read, lost some teeth and found her style. Cole (5) wore a cape (everyday… for a year), discovered Legos and started kindergarten. Paul sold a business, bought a boat (which is now for sale… interested?) and for fun, rides atop waves he splashed in as a child (pulled by a kite). As for me, I cut my hair (on a whim… with kitchen shears), found my way – fueled by love, Hope, Joy… and Zumba – to the bright side of a dark depression, and now, between cleaning and writing days, I teach 6-8 classes each week clad in neon and dancing to Latin music until I am all giddy and drenched.

As you can imagine, far more has happened since I wrote last. Honestly, to attempt to condense this beautiful story of the last two years – with its chapters of challenge, triumph and amazing grace – into a page would be a profound disservice. Let me say, however, that we are each becoming ourselves. We are home, we are loved and we are doing well – better than we’ve ever been – as individuals and as a family.

And yet, the space between us and many persons whom we love has increased. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up Christmas morning to discover it was all a dream? But the bittersweet reality is my pop princess and I don’t always (i.e. this morning) see eye-to-eye on hair, accessories or the appropriate attire for school. My superhero – who’s fighting crime and a bug – just vomited all over the floor (thank God for hardwood!). And we will spend this Christmas away from people we love – some by choice, others by chance and circumstance.

But in this space and the time that has passed between Christmases past and this one, reside a good gift. And as I look to the future, I see potential (and tinsel). I feel gratitude for this wonderful and difficult and beautiful life. I have known the greatest gift of unconditional love. In my children’s eyes, I see health and hope, promise and possibility. In my husband’s arms I find strength, adventure, confidence and companionship. Thankfully, I stand beside a willing partner in this dance.

I have been given dear friends who have become family and dear family who have become friends. I’ve witnessed miracles that can come when competition gives way to cooperation. And although this letter has reached its conclusion with neither a tree, nor a bright red bow of resolution, I know that God has blessed us indeed. To Him and to you we say thanks… and Merry Christmas.

~Abi, Paul, Maya and Cole

03 December 2010

conversations, cont'd

In and out of thoughts and daydreams, as I drove my children to school yesterday morning, I tuned in and back out of a conversation they were having...

COLE: If Maya wasn't your name, what name would you want to have?

My curious ears perked up...

MAYA: Umm... Nashiko.

Nashiko. Mmmm hmmm, that's EXACTLY what I was thinking.