When I walked into our den to write this, an ornament spontaneously fell off our Christmas tree with a solid thud to the floor causing me to jump a mile. I thought it was so fitting for what I intended to write this evening.
Not long ago, I was at an event with a friend of mine and there was a guest speaker there who shared a profound concept to consider. What if we woke up each day not dreading the events that would come, but looked at each day as a surprise party? Because, as we know, the most ridiculous thing any of us can do is to try to plan our lives. Somehow, something always manages to go awry. There is always some incident that will come our way and cause us to have to change our course slightly.
Christmas Eve, Scott and the kids and I loaded into our minivan to go to church for Christmas mass. We were actually on time, for once! We had managed to eat an early dinner and had avoided any spills requiring outfit changes. Everyone was in a cooperative mood. It was all too perfect, of course. That’s why when Scott started the car and the check engine light came on and started flashing, I had to laugh. Once again, God, or the universe, or whatever it is we believe in, is always quick to remind us, we are not the ones in control of our lives.
The kids are always a surprise party. No matter where we go or what we do, one of them is ready to shake things up and make life really interesting.
Gracie has begun this “charming” habit of identifying people by their color. Sometimes it’s the color of shirt that they are wearing or sometimes by the color of their hair or skin.
We recently had new refrigerator delivered to our house. The delivery men came right at lunch time and I was in the kitchen making a grilled cheese when the doorbell rang. Gracie raced to the door to peer through the window. I couldn’t leave the stove immediately because it was seconds away from burning. Then my sweet two and a half year old shouted to me from the front hall, “Mom! The brown guys are here!” I cringed and prayed that they had kids and know how good children are at creating awkward situations as I hurried to the door to see the delivery men who did in fact have brown skin standing on the porch trying to conceal laughter.
Always quick on my feet, I resorted to my inner Jewish grandmother and said, “Hi, thank you for coming. Are you guys hungry?”
One of the merciful men said, “You know what? I am. What are you cooking? It smells really good.”
I was caught completely off guard by the response but went with it gratefully. “I was just making a grilled cheese sandwich. Do you want one?”
“Would you mind?” he asked.
“Oh, of course not!” I said. “Give me a second.” I went to the kitchen while they pulled the enormous refrigerator into the house and I whipped up a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches.
I laughed about it to myself the rest of the afternoon. Kids are the ultimate equalizers, aren’t they? They make us take a hard look at ourselves, at our expectations and prove over and over, it’s not up to us, how this day is going to go. The only thing we can control is how we handle it.
Life isn’t about changing the hearts of others. It’s about changing our own so that we find gratitude in every moment, even the tough stuff, realizing it brings us closer to understanding who we are meant to be.
As I stumble awkwardly into 2016, my only intention is to act with as much grace as I can. I am looking forward to another 366 surprise parties (It’s a leap year!). Knowing whether I am ready or not, every day will be filled with personal lessons. Instead of dreading that alarm clock each morning, I am going to do my best to view it as a wake up call to unrevealed opportunities.
Welcome to the party, everyone! Have a blessed and happy New Year!