I’m done. 2013 gifts counted. 2013 helpings of God’s goodness dished up lavish and dripping Christmas custard.
I want to say how grateful I am to you, faithful reading friend, for sailing this thanksgiving ship with me. You won’t ever know how much your encouragement kept the trade winds blowing in my blogosphere, every time you shared a link, or commented, or facebooked, or tweeted, or texted to say that my small gratitudes were helping you find your own.
It’s been an extraordinary year – of pain and pleasure and paradox all mixed up beautiful. It’s like bits of our lives have been going at different speeds. Astonishing, unprecedented victories and opportunities. And slow, hidden waiting and staying.
Our Cam has exceeded all expectations (except for, secretly, our own, because you can’t tell everyone that you know your kid is going to be fantastic but actually, like, of course). But he’s also come to a deeper understanding of his partial sightedness and at times it has sobered and saddened him. Scott of the wild brave soft loving heart has broken the wooden-spoon-smack record (and, in fact, the wooden spoon) in this house and is also the Reigning Champion of Supreme Cuteness. Murray continues to grow in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man – and much of my freedom and release from a career in 2013 has been channelled into helping him bear the weight.
This year I’ve met a kaleidoscope of moms and mentors and all-walks-of-lifers and I’ve fought to find time with my close and trusted peeps and it’s all often left me feeling flung out to the fringes. We’ve been part of a new church, and though it’s meant growing quietly fresh in the soil of anonymity we’ve also missed being known – missed common-ground history. We didn’t plan to move house but God moved us startlingly and miraculously and it took a while for the big new space to fit like slippers. My career shift meant heels were out, slops were in. And there’s been way less lipstick. Way more Lego.
There have been breakthroughs and tumbling strongholds and chances to voice my voice. And yet God has me still in an eddy – a holding pattern of preparation where the waters are swirling with plans and processing, learning and letting go. And though I’m always in a hurry to get to the Big Thing I’m trusting God to decide when it’s time for me to flow on fast and free.
Through all this there has been so, so much scope for praise. And when the praise was sacrificial instead of easy it really helped to know that you were waiting for me to show up every Monday morning. Thank you. So I’m cramming in my last things of thanks for 2013. May you know peace on earth and goodwill to all men this Christmas as we celebrate the hopes and fears of all the years, met in Christ. And may every day of 2014 be a eucharisteo day.
1978 Scott words spilling from a hot tight hug: ‘Mom I so-brave-proud-of-you-love-you-so-much!’ – and at bedtime – blue eyes big velvet in the half-light: ‘Mom you my favourite angel.’
1979 Cam drawing family portraits in various shades of koki and depicting the outstanding feature of my person to be a vast handbag
1980 Boys helping Nanna put up her Christmas tree – and fresh tea on the stoep for me
1981 Outing with Granny and Grandpa to the Grove – sheer delight – Cam mall-galloping on the kind-of-real-looking-fake-fluffy horses – Scott taking off his shorts to cavort through the fountains
1982 Stoicism of longsuffering pets: Gwen’s little Max foisting a French maid apron on their Scottish terrier
1983 Cam building Lego: ‘Look Dad I’m building you a plane. And I’m adding some invincible stuff.’
1984 A burden shared and understood
1985 Last swimming lesson of the year – boys making Coach Bradley laugh with long stories and crazy aquatics
1986 The training ground that is childhood – safe season of space for mistakes before releasing grownups into a tough world
1987 Murray coming home with Belgian chocolates which we felt obliged to scoff
1988 Explaining governmental misappropriation of funds to my five-year-old and his astute opinion: ‘Well, the Lord knows exactly.’
1989 Cam and Scott’s quickness to forgive and play nice even after violent fraternal punching and scratching
1990 But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.
1991 Postponing the filing ‘til January
1992 Reading Sea of Adventure to the boys in the embarrassingly hushed waiting room of HighQ Tyres – and how much they love, love, love books
1993 Stretching out flat on still-warm sun-baked kitchen-stoep tiles breathing in stacked-high greyish-pink twilight clouds and eating caramel straight out the bowl with a teaspoon and Murray
1994 Part of happening history – watching Madiba’s memorial service at my folks’ place – toast and tea on the couch – my mom telling Cam that he should try to remember this day
1995 Scott playing with Tinker Toys and chanting unaware, ‘Ney-son Man-de-ya, Ney-son Man-de-ya’ because the name is on the nation’s lips
1996 Mandy Wiener’s blow-by-blow tweets
1997 Obama’s powerful tribute – and the bits I hope Mugabe heard
1998 Ramaphosa reading the crowd
1999 Soft steady rain across the country that said far more than many of the (many) speeches
2001 Power of pork sausages as leverage during intense vegetable negotiations
2002 Tenants paying us at least some of the rent they owe
2003 So many prayers for little Dean Ellis
2004 Suggesting a picnic supper – Cam insisting it happens on the front lawn next to the driveway – with the tent – near Scott’s dinosaur garden – and his lack of concern that people might think we’re weird
2005 Boys excited about (= roped into) new (= extra) responsibilities (= chores) in 2014
2006 Cam super excited about a fifteen minute extension on his bedtime next year because he’s nearly six and he is so gonna rock 19h15
2007 Time this week with women like Yol, Terry, Gwen, Amber, Lourika, Rebecca, Shirley, Kirsty, Karen – each conversation a gift
2008 Scott’s post-bath ritual – manic sprinting and chortling until I capture and subdue him with pyjamas
2009 Cam’s ponderous questions: ‘Mom, how old were you when you were a kid?’
2010 Pyjama days – no plans – so much happy pottering and building of space towers and rocket ships and recreational vehicles for snails (for real)
2011 Soon and very soon: waves – big sky – sand between my toes
2012 Reading Expecting Adam (Martha Beck) and coming across this: ‘That’s the kind of life you lead when you have an Adam around. Oh, of course it’s not all lovely epiphanies . . . The prejudice, sometimes even hostility, can burn like acid. But along with this pain, Adam brought with him a sweetness that surpasses anything I ever felt before he was conceived. It comes from looking at the heart of things, from stopping to smell not only the roses but the bushes as well. It is a quality of attention to ordinary life that is so loving and intimate it is almost worship.’
2013 Waiting to walk into 2014 – a gift to be unwrapped one day at a time