Monday, December 29, 2014

A Hair Wash

For Christmas, Silas gave Eden a bag of travel conditioners and a hair wash (by him) in the sink.
So today while Maeve napped, and I sat beside a pile of calico critters on my bed, Silas and Eden stood in the bathroom.

I heard the sink go on.

Eden: I can just was my hair.
Silas: No Eden, I am supposed to do it FOR you.
Eden: ok.
Silas:Eden, your hair is a rat's nest!
Eden: I know.
Eden: My head's going to go down the drain!
Silas: Your head is not going down the drain.
Eden: No, but my hair!!
Silas: Put your head back in the sink
Eden: But it will go down the drain!
Silas: No, it won't... I need you to make your head flimsy.
Eden: Owww, my neck
Silas: you have to tell me if your neck hurts!
Silas: Eden, do you want a towel?
Eden: Umm... my dress is soaking, but no.
Eden: Silas, do you want to know why my dress is soaking?
Silas: yeah
Eden: because you've been pouring water down my back every time you poured it on my head.

They are probably 20 minutes in to the process now and the conditioner is just starting to go on.

Friday, December 26, 2014

On Christmas Gifts (out of order post)

Ben and I have been reading a book called The Advent Conspiracy, which challenges the perfunctory/last-minute/gifts-for-sake-of-gifts giving we often do at Christmas, and the low tenor we've culturally developed that more is more and more shows love.  

Instead, because Christmas is such a personal gift with God's presence at it's very center, the authors challenge us to give gifts that are personal, that offer our own presence and spending time together, that may even be costly in time or creativity or thoughtfulness. 

So we started brainstorming.  Even the kids have been thinking. Eden was trying to think of something for her grandparents who live near the beach and decided to sweep their patio next time she comes in case it's sandy (which it never is).  Silas, who watches me tug a brush through Eden's hair as she winces every morning, decided to buy her some nice-smelling conditioner (!)  And along with a couple of other little things, we're giving each of the kids a present that involve spending time with us.

Eden and I went to New York a few weeks ago to throw Ben's sister a baby shower and have an retreat just the two of us.  At the shower, I was talking to a lovely woman who owns a store in LIC whose philosophy is to sell only things that are fair trade or manufactured responsibly and humanely -- sickening to think about how many things are not manufacture that way. She said that it is definitely expensive to shop responsibly, especially for clothing, but that where she's landed is that it's our responsibility to do that, or if we can't afford it, then to buy consignment and thrift -- don't add to the landfills or fuel the fires of indecent labor around the world. 

I was instantly convicted (especially about all my H&M purchases) because, of course, she is exactly right. I'd like to live and shop like that, also. 

Then that afternoon I bought earmuffs and a hat for $12 combined from a street vendor… OH to live by our own convictions!!  Maybe we get to start by baby steps. I sure hope those count for something. 

Merry Christmas and enjoy each other's presences.

The End of December and Expectations

I'm sitting in bed with a swollen cheek and bag of frozen corn against my face.  Instead of leading writing group this morning at Miriam's, I sat in an endodontist's chair looking up at patterned wallpaper as he leaned full-weight against the tool in my mouth.  Since I'd forgotten headphones to drown out the sounds of drill and scraping, I had him give me a play-by-play narration of what he was doing, and I still can't picture it.

There's no pain quite like a toothache -- dull aching deep in the face.  One morning when I woke up, it hurt into my eye.  It's a helpless feeling, a tooth ache.

In Costa Mesa, our friends who were homeless had toothaches from time to time and several teeth missing all together. Here in DC there are some amazing dental services, but there there really weren't, and as the doctor tugged stitches into my gum, I couldn't help being grateful that the infection was out of my mouth.

Today, my throbbing jaw is trumping the rest of what I've nearly sat down to write about day after day: our house filled to the brim with visiting family (13 kids!), the lice left behind, the combing and sheet-washing that ensued, the saran-wrapped slabs of Christmas cookie dough in the fridge, my sister and Ben playing guitar and piano together belting out Christmas carols and "Radioactive," gifts of presence more than presents, and the sun that soaked everything pure gold this morning as I drove empty roads to the endodontist with my mom.

Christmas, with all of its planning and countdown, often ends somehow differently than we'd expected -- whether it's someone's reaction to a gift, or an expectation of something we'd receive, or hopes we didn't know we were sitting on, or the general deflation of the season's sudden end.

This year, I didn't expect to need my sister to come over and systematically comb through every piece of my possibly lice-infested hair, dry winter-scalp and all, several days in a row as we watched a bad movie or talked hoping the comb would come out clean.  I didn't expect Silas's glassy-eyed fevers nor our having to miss Christmas Eve Chinese food dinner, didn't expect time for just the two of us to snuggle in my bed reading Harry Potter nor for Ben to face time us so we could watch the cousins open their cousin presents.  I didn't expect a day in bed all day today nor my jaw throbbing enough to make left over dumplings hard to chew.  Nor did I expect my mom to walk in with a vanilla milkshake nor Silas to grab my hand and pray for my surgery this morning before I left the house.

What I keep thinking is how all of this embodies the whole point of Christmas, and all of our need -- Christmas: a steadiness come to Earth to sustain us as our circumstances change and buck our expectations.  It's a celebration of Immanuel, literally translated "with us is God."

As we live steeped in our own expectations, may we all learn more and more about this.