Christmas Eve 2015.
Drew was spending the evening with Danica's family, and Max n Clint weren't sure what they were doing, or when.
So I went to Village Church's Christmas Eve extravaganza at the Langley Event centre by myself at 4 pm. The line up to get into the parking lot went back for miles, so I parked at work in the underground parking lot and walked over in the misty air which caused my hair to go flat and my bangs to hang past my nose.
My outer appearance matched my inner feelings.
I'd been out with friends on the 22nd and said to one of them on the way home, "I am agitated. I can feel it deep inside me. It feels like the type of PMS I used to get years ago."
Her: "Any chance it IS PMS?"
Me: "99% sure its not. I hate this feeling. I am so irritated. Annoyed. Bugged by everything. I am on the verge of biting heads off. It's like I'm itching for a good fight.
She probed a bit deeper to see what type of things were setting me off. Bless her, she felt my reactions were justified. Haha. Which didn't dissipate the raw negative emotions swirling around me.
On the 23rd, while at work, I'd messaged the kids and asked them to let me know their plans for the 24th. Were any of them coming over? For supper? What time? Anyone staying for night? Oh, and by way, I added, I was having 'a bad people day'.
No one was willing to commit to a time. And there was some commentary on my attitude.
Shit hit the fan.
Back to Christmas Eve.
I'm sitting by myself in the event centre surrounded by 5,000 folks with their families. The music is loud, the band is on fire.
And we are singing Christmas Carols with a rocky edge.
I need God to sort me out.
I am a mess.
I want to punch someone.
And I don't know how to make things better.
Merry friggen Christmas.
Then Mark comes out and preaches. Loudly.
And he says many words but the ones that are sinking in?
"In His perfect timing, according to His plans for you, He will interrupt your life.
He just steps in, does something totally unexpected, and changes your trajectory.
You think you're on a path, heading in this direction, when WHAM, a thing happens, and nope - now you're heading this way.
He is in the business of changing lives through divine interruptions."
I prayed for an interruption.
I was ready for a change in direction because as things were going, I was not going to be able to pull together a meaningful Christmas experience for whoever showed up/planned on spending the evening with me.
When the service ended, (waaaaayyy later than expected) I walked back to my truck and got even more soggy. I called my mom to ask her to check on my meal which I'd put in the oven before I left.
Her: your scalloped potatoes are burnt. They're still in the oven.
Me: how about the ham?
Her: I don't know.
Me: Can you turn the oven off?
When I got home I said some bad words about the meal I'd prepared.
Clint was there, offering to carve the ham.
Him: "It's awfully dry..."
I said more bad words.
As I got the rest of the meal ready, and the table set, Clint mentioned that Max wasn't coming for at least another hour. Why was I rushing?
I said more bad words, because really? Couldn't he have let me know when he was coming? NO ONE TOLD ME. I was guessing. The whole thing was guess-work.
By the time he arrived around 7, I didn't know how to smile.
Supper was cold and I didn't dare heat it because it was already over-cooked and dry.
There were 4 of us for dinner. Mom, me, Clint and Max. And there wasn't a whole lot of conversation to be had. And I didn't know what to DO. How could we have fun? I felt so responsible. So incapable. I felt so much pressure to make this something more than it was. And I was out of tricks. I had prepared a meal. Bought presents. Made sure I had towels and bedding. Had a midnight meal prepared. And had food ready for brunch the next day. But I didn't know how to have fun when something was eating me up from the inside.
We finished dinner in about 30 seconds.
My mom went back to her computer to play Solitaire.
The boys each claimed a couch in the living room.
I packed up the leftovers, washed/dried/put away the dishes and pans, then cleaned the kitchen.
It was 8 pm and Drew wasn't due to arrive til 11.
My bad mood was subsiding, but I had NO plan. When I'd asked the kids what they wanted to do on the 24th, the only response I got was, 'don't worry about it.'
So. I did the civilized thing and made a pot of tea.
(Max had been at work at 5 am, so he was fading.)
They three of us sat in my mom's living room and drank tea while we waited for Drew.
The whole time I'm wishing for an interruption. Some diving meddling to make this evening less sucky.
It doesn't happen.
Or if it does, I missed it.
As far as I can tell, He's going to let us muddle through this one on our own.
Drew arrives just before 11, and with him, he brings in joy.
Max has bought his brothers each a gift that they were both supposed to open at the same time:
He'd been shopping at bought himself a top at MEC that he really liked.
So he bought both of his brothers the same one.
Let the record show that I never once dressed them alike.
They do this all on their own:
I was worried that the light directly above them was casting shadows on their faces:
It was now midnight and they were ready to eat again.
So out came the steak that had been marinating. Clint fired up the BBQ just as Mandi popped in.
She was showing the boys her gift. A sword.
And then the steak was done, but before eating it, we had to pause to instagram it.
With full tummy's, we went downstairs to watch Mad Max: Fury Road - that feel good Christmas movie. Haha.
And at 3 am?
Everyone was sleeping.
Is what Christmas looks like when the host/mom has (as it turns out) raging PMS on Christmas Eve and can't get her emotions sorted.
I went to bed feeling like I'd single-handedly ruined Christmas for everyone.
The youngest two were up and out of the house before I woke up the next morning.
But my mom and Clint weren't in a hurry to go anywhere, so I made bacon and eggs for them around noon on Christmas Day.
Clint left shortly after that to spend the day at his dad's. Mom went back to her game of Solitaire. And I washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen.
If there is a way to include Jesus in our Christmas celebrations, I haven't figured out how to do it.
And in retrospect. I'm wondering who was in charge of my hormones this year, because the timing sucked.
I've been debating whether to post this or not.
I could just share the pics and it would paint a totally different picture than the words that accompany them portray. But maybe someone reading this had a less than stellar Christmas themselves. Maybe peeking in on other Christmases via Facebook made it seem like everyone in the whole word had warm, loving, people-filled Christmas dinners that were rich with meaning and dripping with laughter and love.
So if that's you - know that some of us haven't figured this out.
We work right up until the 24th and scramble to do our best to make everything ready for those few hours that we have set aside to celebrate. But full moons, hormones, seasonal affective disorder, winters arrival, memories of dads who passed away during the year, miscommunication, unmet expectations, and so on, all derail our best intentions and Christmas happens, regardless.
I have since apologized to my kids for being a pill on Christmas Eve.
One of these days I'll forgive myself.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Boys don't have good memories or hold grudges.
2. It's only one day.
3. Left over ham, even if was a little dry, tastes great in soup.