Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When We Grow Up, We Forget To Think Like Kids

Every year since Macboy started school, we have had a family decoration to work on for the Christmas fair.  There are pictures of gingerbreadmen, wreaths or trees that your child brings home and you decorate together.  

Every year, this has been a big project for us. A HUGE undertaking. It has taken planning and teamwork and frustration and patience, to create the ideal picture that reflects our whole family. We've had all kinds of decorations to put on them. Added garland, sparkles, stickers, mini ornaments.... you name it.

A few years back we had a spectacular creation, I'm sad to say I don't have any pictures of it or I would share. We spent hours on it. Carefully tracing each family member's hand and cutting out many of each on green construction paper.  We (mostly me) spent hours curling the fingers up and gluing them to the tree design. By the end of this work, we were able to actually hang small ornaments and garland, and decorate it as though it was a real tree.  The curled fingers made the greatest little branches. We had attached a great shiny star at the top as well. It was a work of art.

Today, we sat down to work on our tree. The boys had an idea of what they wanted to do so I just handed them markers and sat back and watched. They even gave Angel Baby a few markers and let her decorate her own section of the tree. I helped with a little bit of background coloring when their hands needed a break, but beyond that it is entirely their creation. And it is quite likely the best little tree we have ever made for the school as a family.  

They did it their way. They did it together, actually working side by side instead of taking turns. They didn't argue, in fact they barely spoke. And yet the design is consistent all the way through. All three colored their sections in the same style.

As I sat there watching them and enjoying this rare glimpse of my kids, I had some really unpleasant thoughts float through my mind. I'm so grateful for the things I have learned over the last year that kept me from opening my mouth and saying any of those things. 

For Example:

Orange is NOT a christmas color!

There is so much more we could do with that part...

Wonder how I can make the star bright?

But the new side of me saw the potential. I Love that there is plenty of orange. We didn't need more, we needed a tree that showed our true colors. And it is colorful indeed!

As I was battling with the star ideas, Art asked me to color in the star.  I asked him what color I should make it.

"Green. I think Green would be great."

Oh... that perfection monster was seething right about then, but I kept pushing it down, pushing as hard as I could. Couldn't the star at least be a normal color? He handed me the darkest green we have, I think, and smiled so big I couldn't resist.  It's a dark green, the color a tree would normally be.  

They asked if I would cut it out when they were done. I carefully finished the background on Angel Baby's section with the color they had given me. I was very careful not to cover over her designs. Then I cut around all the edges and freed the little tree.

It's beautiful. It's colorful. It's all of us. It isn't flashy. It's not 'spectacular' like a 12 hour design. It is real. It is not the product of a mother who wants the best of the best. It's the product of a family who sat down and worked together. It's the product of two boys' imagination and patience with their baby sister who would inevitably scribble somewhere on their artwork. They encouraged her instead of hiding the markers.  

The superb tree of family handprints was me. My obsession. My perfection. My need to just do MORE. Yes, it was very cool. And it did reflect our entire family. I will keep it until it falls apart (which it already has started doing) because those are the handprints of my whole family. But it was not made with love by the family together.

This little tree had a great lesson. We are not a flashy family. We are not expensive. We are not fake. We are real, colorful people.

Here's to you, dear readers... I'm wishing you a holiday season that is merry, and as bright as our family tree!

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