In my house, it was rumored that it was bad luck to leave the decorations up after the new year. And even though I don't believe in luck, I'd think this ridiculous even if I did. The actual Christmas season, which, of course, pre-dates shopping malls and Santa Claus and stockings and twinkle lights, doesn't even start until Christmas day (well, Christmas Eve night). The Twelve Days are just over, and with Epiphany transferred from January sixth to this Sunday, and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord bumped to Monday, we technically still have a couple of days of celebrating ahead of us.
I feel a bit ashamed, then, that I'm currently lamenting the continued presence of a fully-decorated tree in my family room, and of assorted adornments scattered through nearly every room of the house.
I hate putting away Christmas.
I feel obligated to leave everything in place through at least the last weekend of the liturgical season, but there's something shiny and new about January that almost always makes me want to shuffle everything red and green back into the closet as soon as possible and eradicate every stray pine needle from my hardwoods. There's the desire to get the task behind me, of course (why is it that decorations so enchanting to put in place are so tedious to put away?), but there's also an impulse to get things back to normal, to make space in my home and in my head to just breathe. Ordinary Time isn't so bad, it turns out.
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Something out of the ordinary, though, was the sixty-plus-degree weather we enjoyed today. Such a glorious day positively required time spent outdoors, and we spent ours down by the river, feeding the ducks. (Well, the gulls and geese are more plentiful this time of year, but don't tell Nate that. "Feed ducks" is his refrain whenever he sees a bag of crackers.)
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I know quite a few people who aren't comfortable with social media, with blogs, with people choosing to open their lives, to varying degrees, to complete strangers. I suppose I'm just the opposite. I've seen too much of the good that can come from these threads woven through cyberspace, beginning, for me, back when I was an anonymous blogger brokenhearted by infertility. That blog led me to my dearest friend, to her incredible parents, her amazing two brothers and three sisters, to other friends online who have prayed for me and supported me for years now. This blog, started two years later, led me to all the ladies from The Blathering, many of whom were my cheerleaders through pregnancy and a c-section and the sleep-deprived haze of Nate's first year before I ever even met them in person. When I have a parenting conundrum, I ask Twitter, and I know that friends across the country (and in Canada!) will chime in with their best advice.
Still, though, I'm humbled by the outpouring of support I've received over the last few days just by posting here in my little corner of the internet about a bad experience. In addition to the more than seventy comments across two posts (only two of which were negative, and I think we can all agree that a Catholic who says taking a child to Mass is "bad parenting" is simply a person who cannot be taken seriously), there have been phone calls from family members and college roommates and law school classmates, emails from friends far and near, and a note from Arwen that made me cry (in a good way) (and on stationary that Ashley designed!).
The most surprising thing, though, arrived on my front porch today.
The package was from an address in California, from a city I'd never heard of before. There was no name above the address, just a message that "Arwen thought you might like this."
It was an entire box full of brightly wrapped, be-ribboned presents, Crappy Day Presents, to be precise, to be opened whenever I'm having, well . . . a day like the ones I had this week.
Turns out that Rachel, a blogger from the other side of the country, read my story and sent a message to Arwen suggesting that I could use a Crappy Day package, and would she mind sharing my address? Rachel has gifted other bloggers, like Swistle, with Crappy Day Packages before, but I'd never heard of such a thing until Arwen explained it to me today. A box of presents to open whenever you're feeling blue! Has there ever been a more genius idea in the history of the world? Others might argue with me here, but on this day, to this girl, the Crappy Day Package feels like the best invention ever. And the fact that it came here, unexpectedly, from another mother who doesn't know me from Adam, just because I was having a hard time . . . . Well, it proves to me the power of this space where we dare to share our lives. There might be a lot of bad out there in cyberspace, but there's kindness and beauty, too.
I couldn't open one today, of course, because today the mere receipt of the Crappy Day Package made it a non-Crappy Day. But, oh, knowing that these little beauties are here, waiting for me when I need them, really and truly does make me feel loved.
All the kindness poured out on me this week reminds me that I'm loved, and that I'm not alone, and that there are amazing, generous, thoughtful people all around me. It reminds me that the good really and truly does outweigh the bad.
So thank you, Rachel. Thank you, everyone. It all means more than I can adequately say.