The holidays so far have been a hodge podge of meaningful moments, stressful disagreements, and sometimes hilarious plans gone awry. We decided to decorate our Christmas tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but a delay meant that my blaring of holiday music and menagerie of Christmas ornaments directly conflicted with the Georgia game. The perfect, poignant family afternoon I envisioned in my mind was tarnished by my husband's diverted attention, and after my complaints started escalating toward an argument, our decorating was delayed half an hour as a compromise. He finished the game, I turned the cheesy Christmas music back on, and decorating (translation: my favorite annual walk down Memory Lane) resumed.
I'd like to say from the outside looking in that it was a Norman Rockwell painting waiting to happen, but in all actuality, ornaments were broken, Scout wandered off to roll her baby stroller through the house instead of admiring the tree, and I glued two of my fingers to Camden's favorite homemade ornament in an attempt to salvage it after I dropped and broke it. The chaos was ultimately what gave the day its poignancy, and for a moment, I tried to memorize every detail of the excitement on the boys' faces, the concentration in my husband's eyes as he worked to repair his Lincoln Memorial ornament, and the swelling love I felt in my heart for my little zoo crew.
Yesterday we set out to see Santa at Bass Pro Shop, but we were once again delayed by a football game (in his defense, he missed the game the weekend before to watch the parade of boats down River Street). We rolled out of the driveway at 4:20 in an attempt to make it to the south side by 5:00. Seriously, we never stood a chance, but we had to show the kids we tried. My gas light came on before we even made it off the island, but I was determined not to stop. At 5:03, we rolled into the parking lot at Bass Pro Shop with only one, very unhappy kid awake.
We formed a plan to see Santa next weekend and compromised by agreeing to take them to Toys R Us. At that point, gas was a critical factor in the equation, so I found the nearest Parker's. Tension was running high, and as the hubs stood waiting at the pump, I frantically dug for my wallet--which of course was sitting on the kitchen counter back on Wilmington Island. Jason, who almost never leaves home without his wallet and his keys, managed to pull out pocket lint when he reached for his.
So, we sat at the gas station coming up with a third plan with our new goal being simply to find a way out of the south side (no offense, Georgetown friends) and back onto the comforts of our island. Publix! I had a checkbook! As I got out of the car in the Publix parking lot with my checkbook in hand, it suddenly dawned on my I had no I.D. After digging through the car hoping ten bucks would magically materialize from under the seats, I marched determinedly into the store and told a haphazard, funny tale to the kind gentleman behind the counter, who promptly laughed, took pity on me, and let me cash a check for twenty bucks.
As I pulled out of the parking lot in triumph and prepared to head back to the gas station, I hit the cart return with my van. I could only dissolve into giggles at that point, though Jason found it far less entertaining. The one thing I've learned in five years of driving a mama mobile is to let the vanity fly out the window. It's a kid carting machine, and it serves its purpose well. That cart return never stood a chance against my old girl, and she emerged with nary a scratch.
Our life is a series of perfect mishaps and unexpectedly touching moments of chaos. I often wonder if Jason and I will be bored when our tenure bringing up such extraordinary little creatures is complete and our house is quiet. This blog has given me an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a family and realize that when you're in it for the long haul, there is no such thing as a wrong turn--just opportunities to learn and grow and laugh at yourselves. This Christmas, the imperfection of my life is what makes it the best kind of life to have.