Tuesday, Nov. 7.
It’s so snowy and cozy today and it makes me want to write and write. Instead, I made some online purchases, called Dyson about the vacuum cleaner power head that’s acting up, and made chili for supper.
I wrote the italicized words below the other day for facebook, but then decided against posting them. It felt so not worth complaining about when church shootings happen and friends lose their longed-for baby at 18 weeks…and the world is full of so much bigger matters than perfect Christmas plans. But I will post them here and now because you have to choose to come here and read.
“-I dream of simple Christmases, of buying just a few needed meaningful/needed items for the people in my life–and of all of us mostly giving up our own wishes and buying loads of things for Gospel for Asia instead.
-I dream of quiet mornings and happy family times, of inviting the neighbors in and not stressing about cookies or perfectly roasted turkeys.
-I dream of having all gifts bought online by the end of October so I can restfully sit around and address Christmas cards while the snow falls.
-I dream of joyful shopping trips to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.
Reality is November 1st–and two afternoons spent online looking through CBD’s 50,891 Bible options, the one I finally decide to order not available until April, the customer service lady kindly tells me. It is 347 pairs of boots viewed on Amazon. It is forgotten Paypal passwords, high shipping costs, and time that feels wasted. Oh. And let’s not forget trudging thru dollar stores with bickering family members looking for shoebox items and running around town when we should be home for dinner to find soccer ball pumps for shoebox children.
I feel guilty complaining about such 3rd world stresses. I will conclude my whining by saying simply:
I am not a shopper. My mother was amazing because she always made Christmas special, even though we weren’t rich. So much for good intentions. I resign myself to frantic Walmart purchases on December 23rd and crazy cookie baking and present wrapping on the 24th. The joy of the season be upon you too.”
But TODAY I actually made some purchases, so now I can be one of those annoying people who says, “I’m done with my Christmas shopping and it’s only November 23rd!”
I’ve been going through a crisis with writing, which is pretty normal for me if you read my old blog posts. It’s a new crisis, though. It’s about loyalty and vulnerability and authenticity and respect. All of a sudden, with children who care about what I post about them and the pictures that are shared of them and a husband who is of a more private nature than I am, I feel like I can’t really write about life anymore.
Oh…that’s exaggerating slightly. But it’s kind of true. I love my old blog posts and facebook memories, full of little kids saying funny things. They didn’t know or care what I wrote about them.
It’s like this: I am an open person and can talk to someone I met recently about pretty much anything, as long as I have a sense of the person being someone who can handle it, who is interested…whatever. But we are not all made alike. Dan and I had a big discussion about this the other night and his feeling is that even when someone is written about in a good light, it can kind of strip them of their personhood if we put our own slant on who they are. (Oh dear. Does this sound like a controlling man who won’t let people see into his life? He is not that at all!)
Here is an example. I wrote one night on facebook that Andre was looking up online what kind of music dogs like. I thought it was cute. Andre is 10. The next day at school, one of the “big boys” said to him, “I heard you were looking up music for dogs.” Andre was surprised and asked how he knew that. His mom read it to their family from facebook, said his big friend. The friend did nothing wrong. The mom did nothing wrong. I don’t think I did anything wrong either. But here Andre is, his curious little ways out in the open–and all of a sudden he’s embarrassed.
I can start asking my family permission about everything I write. I can be generic and general and boring. I can just quit writing. I can pay my children to use their stories, as Dorcas Smucker sometimes does. I could start writing under a pen name. There are options.
But I feel sad about this. There are thousands of health blogs and religious blogs and parenting blogs out there, many of them helpful and good. But soon their flavor runs together and they all start to taste the same. But the one thing that makes us different from every other person is our own story. That story involves our family and church group and neighbourhood and workplace and school life. So it involves people. People are funny, messy, annoying, mean, overwhelming, strange–you name it. They are hundreds of positive things as well. But how DO you write and speak with authenticity when your life is full of people–and life with people involves faults and conflicts and all kinds of stories, lots of them negative?
People write deeply honest things and they are really the only things that touch me. But lately I just feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place. If what consumes my mind is my son’s music choices, my sister’s mental illness, my friend’s marriage problems, our financial stresses, my larger family’s relationship problems, and the neighbor who is having a nervous breakdown, how do I write about them? (Some of these are hypothetical situations, some are not.) 🙂
I know this is not a new problem. You’ve faced it yourself, I’m sure. I have a good friend who has quit blogging for this reason. She is so involved with people that she can’t write anymore. The people who make her life interesting and difficult and unique are also her online friends. I guess it helps me see more why social media gets bashed for being the place where we only show our best. Our real life struggles usually involve other people and if we care about them, there are so many stages of relationship that we can’t really talk about.
Anyway. Enough on that.
Wednesday, November 8.
We are still in the romantic first stages of winter. The cold, crisp air is invigorating. The wintry sunsets are beautiful, the frosty world beckons. I sit close to the fire and drink coffee and life is sweet. The kids have their first skate on the dugout and I enjoy the winter sunshine and exercise I get from scraping snow off of the ice for them. The northern lights were SO fabulous last night and the moonrise so breathtaking as Dan and I drove home from a dinner the veterinary clinic puts on every November for cattlemen.
The romance will all feel old and drab and white by the end of January.
It’s a good life, despite not being able to write about so much of it. 😉
The Texas church shooting impacted our family a lot, thinking about the terror of having half of our church (of a similar size) mowed down in a single morning.
Dear Jesus, won’t you please come soon and set things right?
But until then, we march on. With You to guide us, it’s going to be okay.