It’s 45 degrees and raining, and I’m outside attempting to make our house festive by hanging the Christmas lights because, darn it, this year, we’re going to have lights and pretty and shimmery adorning the outside as well!
We will not be the neighborhood “Scrooges” again this year. We WILL have pretty, and we will have light lighting up the December darkness.
However… there’s no Christmas music playing or excited children gathered around to cheerfully hand me the next strand of lights.
No, they’re inside arguing themselves into oblivion while my saint-like husband is at the helm, cooking dinner; two had offered to help. But I said I’d rather decorate alone than listen to their bickering.
But what if I fell off the ladder, one mused?
“So be it!” I declared in a moment of supreme maturity and drama before shutting them inside the house.
(Can you hear the tiny violin playing the saddest music as our heroine begins her decking of the halls?)
It didn’t take long before I realized there was nothing perfect or iconic about the not-so-quintessential-fairytale-Christmas happening with the hanging of these lights; there’s just me, the cold rain, a wobbly ladder and a little epiphany ready to unfold around the time I’m totally soaked and at the end of my figurative and literal strand.
So here’s the truth about this situation.
I am really angry with my children because they are acting like a bunch of angry bees.
I am angry they are ruining a perfectly good Norman Rockwell Christmas scene.
I huff up the ladder, in all of its wiggly glory, and exhale in frustration.
As I string the lights, I continually try to steady myself.
It’s sorta exhausting.
I figure this out by 1/18 of the way through.
(But our heroine, she perseveres in her exasperation and continues to climb the wobbly ladder time and again to hang another section of the strand.)
At this point, I almost face plant into the front shrubbery.
It’s only then that I begin to realize something: wobbly ladders are a whole lot like pedestals; God help the fool who climbs onto them.
Oh, and I feel quite foolish as I climb down carefully as possible. I am angry with my children for falling short of my vision for a beautiful Advent.
And I am standing on the shakiest of ladders, perched up on my high horse hanging lights on hooks carrying around an anger at those who fall short when I, too, am at risk of falling as well.
This is where the guilt comes in:
I never should have been up on that rickety ladder alone anyway.
I never should have …
I should have just smiled through the kids’ complaining and arguing and controlled myself.
I should have …
Slowly, I plant my last foot on wet cement of our front porch.
I don’t know about you, but I can get lost is a whole sea of should-haves and could-haves.
Before I do, though… grace.
I breathe it in. I exhale it out. I let go of that which doesn’t serve any of us, and I regroup, ready to reenter the house and try again.
But before I do, I take a few steps back.
A few steps back from the reentry.
A few steps back from the micro lens portrait.
A few steps back from the porch and into the darkened cover of night.
And I realize though we didn’t get there perfectly, not all is lost.
There is still time to redo, regroup and rebuild.
And the intent of beauty and light-bearing remains.
Because the lights, just like the Light of the world, they are shining, glimmering beautiful against the inky sky.
Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother.