This is the picture I send out at Christmas. The lengthy note that follows, went with it.
I know spring is bursting forth and it seems a bit out of place but I needed an “N” picture and just yesterday it rained like crazy AND I was sick AND the hubs was out of town and I found myself in need of these little ninjas once again. I lost it and they carried me – reminding me, yet again, what we are all here for. Each other.
“The other day Ash and I were on a perfect little walk with the dog when she posed a question that I just adored. She asked me what my favorite word was? It’s a tough one but it’s fun. The world is abundant when it comes to words. In fact, I think I told her it would be much easier if she could put specifications on it, like what’s your favorite cuss word. Of course, this caused her eyebrows to leap into her forehead and a delicate little gasp to fall from her sweet mouth followed shortly by a giggle. My favorite cuss word right now is ‘cricket’. I stole it from a buddy and have been waiting for just the right moment to use it. And now I suppose she is too.
I like the way cricket sounds and using it instead of ‘darnit’ or something worse just makes me smile. But if had to choose a real favorite it would have to be because of what it denotes. And right off ‘resilient’ comes to mind. I aim for it and I hope and pray that my kids eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Life isn’t perfect and God knows neither am I so I am pretty much desperate for them to be ‘bouncy and flexible’. As definitions go though it doesn’t do itself justice. I much prefer it’s counter parts in the thesaurus – all those synonyms that sit by it’s side looking all long and fancy like effervescent and irrepressible. I’m pretty much hoping to raise up a crew that can roll with the punches for I am certain that they’ll come flying at one of them at any random moment in their lives. I just need to know they’ll be ok. But, quite possibly my most favorite word of all by description is Love. The bible depicts it as patient and kind and in The Message is goes on to say it like this…
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.
In the end this beats out all the other words. It’s everything I want to be and what I want my kids to be, tucked away nice and neat into four little letters.
The photo above is more than what meets the eye. At a glance it just looks like we Hohnies are a fun loving bunch, walking through life with a skip in our step and a cheery tune flowing from our lips. But, I need you to know this crew is so much more than that.
I’m proud to call the ninjas dancing in those trees mine but it has more to do with their hearts than their ability to make life fun. Now in case you didn’t know, ninjas were members of a feudal Japanese society of mercenary agents long ago who were highly trained in martial arts and stealth. They were hired for covert purposes ranging from espionage to sabotage and assassination. Mine may not have been trained in the arts of ninjutsu but some how along the way, by the grace of God, I think I did manage to train them pretty well in the art of love. Because just when I needed them to embody it they did. This photo tells that story.
You see, I had high hopes for our annual tree hunt. It is always a much anticipated adventure and in a way it symbolizes the ribbon cutting of Christmas for us as a family. I was certain it would be the perfect backdrop for a Christmas card photo. So, right away I put parameters on what the kids could wear. Most of them just went with it. Ash got to wear the monster beanie that only leaves her head when she showers or enters a classroom. Chase didn’t have to change out of the jeans he wore the day before and Hadley got to wear an oversized sweatshirt belonging to one of her big sissies, a trend that has become increasingly popular this year. But, my sweet and ever stylish Matti Joy had a rough go at it. In fact, she and I battled on and off for a very long and frustrating hour and half before she was ready to walk out the door. All the while I begged my inner Christmas child to survive – to be resilient – to bounce back.. But, as the morning wore on the fa-la-la-la part of the deck the halls song I had playing in the background got harder and harder to hear in my heart.
We were crunched for time because Chase had his buddy’s birthday party at one. So, when 11:30 rolled around and we were FINALLY all dressed warm enough and nice enough to head out the door for my perfect little tree hunt we didn’t have a moment to spare. I was already pretty much failing miserably at being the mom I so desperately wanted to be and things weren’t feeling very merry or bright. But, they were about to get worse because as Hadley flew out the door, her whole being bursting at the seams with excitement at the realization that we are FINALLY going to go get our tree, she forgets to pull it closed behind her. This is where, Zoe – the newest addition to our family – enters the scene. That open door is an invitation for her to run free and explore the big wide open world so she makes a dash for it. And once the little rascal is out the front door there is no chasing her down. As the blur of fur rushes past me I know we cannot leave until she is back in the house safe and sound and that the only way she is going to get there is if we ALL go back inside and wait for her to come home on her own accord.
But, I don’t have time to wait Zoe out and I am stressed out from fighting with Matti for over an hour and mad at myself for even thinking that color coordinating the kids was a decent idea. So, Zoe becomes the straw that breaks my back. Before I even have one last fleeting chance to fight off the demons that are fighting furiously to take over my Christmas cheer a deep and guttural growl – seriously a growl – escapes out of me and then I yell Hadley’s name with the same monstrous tone hoping she’ll grab Zoe as she flies by her. But, she doesn’t. She just freezes because her mother has fully transformed into a monster and now Zoe is loose and she and I are certain everything is ruined. She thinks its all her fault but I know it’s mine.
I wanted the kids to be uniform, which they naturally aren’t and I forgot that I never really want them to be. Not even for me. I battled Matti for having more style than I could fit into my Christmas picture and turned a blind eye towards her efforts to be her unique and beautiful self. I glared at her for wasting all our precious time and then I blamed Zoe’s escape on a bouncing little red head who embodies the joy of Christmas. I rolled my eyes at Ash for being too easy going and wondering what all the fuss was about. I resented Mike for not stressing out like I was and when my little man wanted to hold strong and chase down his loyal companion I scolded him. In the best of them I saw the worst. And to top it all off I stood certain all was lost and that I was the villain who brought it upon us. So instead of rallying the troops and regrouping I sat sulking in my own little pity party.
But just when all seemed lost an ‘Angel’ rang my doorbell with Zoe in his arms. At 11:55 I am shaken out of my dooms day stupor and a tiny little fleck of hope enters with the quick return of our scruffy little friend. I look to Mike and he does what he always does and says we can do it. Even though he knows there’s a chance it might not work he’s willing to try – not because he wants that tree if its the last thing we do on this day – but because he knows I need us to turn this one around.
My ninjas are in the car in ten seconds flat and we race across town to the Three Tree Farm where we go every year. Before their feet hit the ground running the crew that carries me through life has all but forgotten how stupid and selfish and weak I was just ten minutes prior. It’s as if none of it ever happened. Like none of them noticed I had morphed into a monster only moments before. Matti finds us the perfect tree. Mike pulls his bicep sawing it down in record time. I snap a few pictures allowing the kids to just be their wonderful selves. Chase makes us laugh. Hadley ads just the right amount of flare. Ash hums a little tune that none of us know the words to but we all know by heart. The tree is dragged, paid for and loaded up and we make it back for Chasey’s party exactly two minutes late, which Ash says is fashionable anyways.
No one ever mentions the guttural growl that echoed through our neighborhood before we left or how ridiculous it was that I wanted them all to look nice to strut through the mud to find our tree. They’ve all forgotten in moments what I cannot move past – that I was not who I wanted to be and that for one long moment I ‘almost’ ruined Christmas, as if that is possible:)
These are my ninjas – highly trained to love me no matter what, just as I have loved them no matter what and they are so much more than ok. Their covert mission is to sabotage the lies that try to steal away joy and assassinate the fears that I might fail them. Our mission in life is one and the same. They are resilient and I love them. Maybe not perfectly but definitely with every good thing that is within me. And although I wish I had used Zoe’s escape as that perfect moment to yell CRICKETS there is a small part of me that is glad I growled instead. Because this years tree hunt tangled up with my iniquities ended up reminding me what Christmas is really all about. It’s about LOVE.
He loved us so much He gave us His one and only son. He knew he’d be enough to save the world from all the guttural growls hiding deep within all of us. And then he placed a little bit of him in each and every one of us in hopes that we’d shine forth and embody that Love for one another. LOVE – yep it’s definitely my favorite word. It’s not fancy or funny or long but it’s enough. ”
Thank God for my little ninjas and that precious little word – love