One thing that was so relaxing about our holidays was the quiet and the lack of rush. As recounted in a previous column, the Schrock festivities were held at Thanksgiving. As we opted not to go to Kansas this year to be with my family, for the first time in years we simply got to stay at home with the boys for the entire two weeks.
On the surface, there would appear to be nothing extraordinary at all about how we celebrated this year. Maybe it’s because Jordan is a senior that I am feeling so introspective. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older that I’m starting to see that what looks ordinary really isn’t, and that often you don’t know until later that it was an extraordinary time, a watershed event, an “it will never happen exactly like this again” moment. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress and pressure of life as it’s happening that it’s not until later that you see things as they really are. This is my “later.”
A notable fact about our Christmas was that our 3 oldest sons, who are 18, 14, and 9, all asked for the same thing – a Ripstik. What is remarkable is that a Ripstik takes no batteries or electricity. Being a cousin to the skateboard, all that’s required is a wide open space, a good sense of balance, and a wiggly bottom. Thus, our offspring have been happily engaged in finding places to Ripstik, honing their skills, and teaching their cousins to “rip.” When their cousins got hooked on it, they went out and bought their own. Thus, New Year’s Eve day found our three “ripping” in Honeyville with their cousins. They won’t know until later that those were extraordinary moments.
In addition to the boys’ palpable contentment with and enjoyment of their gifts, we have simply been having a great deal of fun. We have played multiple games of Sequence from whence sprang the whole cheating incident referenced earlier. There is a 1000-piece puzzle spread across the dining room table. I can’t even count how many movies we’ve watched or how many cups of spiced cider and hot chocolate this crowd has knocked back. I’m sure, however, that they could count in a flash the number of times they’ve had to shovel the drive. I’m also sure they don’t think it’s extraordinary at all to be out in a white, white world working side-by-side with a dad who never asks them to do something he won’t do himself. They don’t know that I think it’s priceless to look out the window and see four stocking caps together, some that are actually working and some that are clearly dinking around. They don’t know what I know – that the pile of wet boots and snow pants in the back room is suffused with holiness when I remember that one by one the snow pants will disappear. When they have babies of their own, they will know.
Another “ordinary” thing we do over break is to head to the coffee shop late one night for games and hot drinks. As Grant delights in spending time with the baby before tucking him in bed, those two stay home and play while the rest of us do our thing. It sounds like a silly thing, I suppose, and yet even the 18 year old doesn’t want to miss it. It costs me about 12 bucks, but knowing that they will likely tell their kids about it some day is, well, priceless.
One of the last times we did this was during spring break last April. That evening as we played Uno with our cocoa and chai, we ran into old friends we hadn’t seen for a long time. These are friends we have a long and special history with. We raised babies together. We went camping together. The children took swimming lessons together and shared many story hours at the library followed by Happy Meals at McDonald’s. As we talked to Austin that night, I was struck at what a young gentleman he had become. He was on the cusp of his 16th birthday and was excited about getting his driver’s license. Two and a half months later, he and his older sister, Alicia (Jordan’s age), were killed in a terrible accident just days before his birthday. We didn’t know that night that we were living in an extraordinary moment.
This year I’m not making any resolutions. I would, though, like to keep developing my “eyesight,” to see things as they really are, to see the extraordinary in the ordinary stuff of life. I hope you can see yours, too.