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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Crazy Upside Down Manger Kinda Christmas (Written in Dec 2015)

My sister has 2 wild red headed boys. They are the cutest, most rambunctious redheaded boys that I have ever known. They are also so hilarious that you can't possibly get mad at any of their antics. The oldest one, Dinomania, is about 4. He is very cantankerous and does not like to be touched at all. Don't try to hug or kiss him and especially, particularly, don't hang him upside down by his ankles to see what he will do. The other one, Bob, is about 2. He has glasses and a perpetual smile. He snuggles and screams and snuggles some more. They never use inside voices to express their needs, nor could you ever accuse one of them of being monotone. Every thing they say is full of energy and excitement. Every little bit of them inspires me and I could hardly keep from following them around to take pictures, much to the elder's protest.

The very first thing they did at my mom and dad's house was to dawn crazy looking hats. Next, it was tutus, which they wore the majority of the days to follow. Bob drew on the bedding with a pen that was left out. Dinomania poked holes in the attic ceiling. Super Catman ran into one of the closet doors at full speed and left a permanent indention. The house was not without some evidence of our all having been there. Despite the mayhem, my very particular and borderline OCD orderly and cleanly mother made great strides in adjusting. My grandson, The Big Y, was also among those who left their mark. Namely, bananna peels and other food items where one would least suspect finding it.

My sister was Val Dictorian of our school, while at one time I was a temporary high school drop out. She was embroidering beads on her daughters socks, while I wildly came up with a couple of odd ones to dawn my discheveled child in. Her girls are in violin and other respectable activities. My boys run about wild, and hunt animals. Saphira, all dreads, ambles around the city her college is in, dawned in cammo with a "Don't Tread on Me" MT flag painted on the back of her multicolored car. My sister's oldest daughter, Cardel, has all her toys and books alphabetized. My son, catman, must climb over a pile of dirty laundry and M.I.A. items when he rolls out of bed. This is just how we all roll. For the most part, she and her world is well organized and mine isn't. Watching her wild boys, though, sheds a little light in the organized darkness that we may not be quite so far apart after all. This particular visit, I worked on teaching her older girls how to play poker. She worked days on an elaborate gingerbread house with Miss Moonbeam. That seemed fit.

I should back up about 6 months, because then, my plans were to spend the holiday on a beach somewhere off the Keyes. I had it all figured out, and then my mother in law wrote imploring all of us to go to Nebraska for Christmas and visit her mother, who had been placed on hospice. I had a million reasons why a trip to Nebraska at Christmas was less than favorable. Namely, a hot sand beach in the Keyes with all my kids and grandbaby. I also have a lot of personal phobias which I must work on when I am at the mercy of staying with relatives. Then Archer decided that he needed to go see his great grandmother, and Saphira just wanted to come home for their break. Both, as written before, are in Nursing School out East where much of our family lives.

Many days, I battled with the desire to be on a beach at Christmas and my husband was more and more inclined to go see his grandmother. Of course seeing his grandmotherwas the right thing to do, and so we went ahead and planned the momentous trip. I had several panic attacks considering driving from Montana to Minnesota, then to Nebraska and then back to Montana. The last time we did a trip like that, I threatened to mace my husband. Yes, i certianly did. My bladder, near exploding, was wrecking havoc on my mind and my stubborn husband wouldn't pull over. After pleading and yelling and crying and becoming hyserical, I resorted to my can of mace. Imagine, if you will, my mostly very calm and amiable husband yelling "how reasonable is it to mace the driver as you are riding down the interstate?!?!" "Kids, is this reasonable?!?!" When he starts the reasonable thing, that pushes me further into my infurno temper. I just shudder at that memory, particularly because its one of the things that triggers anxiety about the trip.

The first leg of the journey was fairly stable with the exception of our load. We were hauling many bags, bulk Costco foods, a German Shepherd in a kennel, a stack of live wreaths I'd made and a hog. Well the hog was frozen in packages, our plan for a gift to give our parents, kids and my sister. It was an odd load, this was an odd trip.

I'd skied hard the day before and my whole body was screaming with stiff, sore, cramped up muscles. I twised in and out of every imaginable position trying to get relief. Surprisingly, my husband let me drive the whole day part of the 22 hour drive. He was tired and he slept alot. When he began critiquiing my driving, I could tell it was time to get back into the passanger seat. Somehow, I was able to get to a bathroom whenever I needed one and, never came close to a macing encounter. I was, however, troubled that I had found my mace in the pocket of the vest I was wearing and hoped hard I wouldn't feel tempted. All in all, we made it to MN and pulled into my sisters pad around midnight. She was thrilled to see us!!

I was relieved she wasn't the least bit disturbed about me banging on the door at midnight. She texted Saphira and 20 minutes later, my cammo clad redheaded dreadlocked girl stealthed out of the shadows to celebrate our arrival. It was a very joyous event.

The next day we played with my Sisters kids, went on a long hike with Archer and his wife and baby and went to see Saphira's pad. She stays with a wonderful older Christian couple in their beautiful home. I absoulutely love them and hit it off so well with the wife, Llona. She's a powerful prayer warrior and a force to be reckoned with. If you need prayer for anything, she's the woman for the job. If you need counsel, comfort or wisdom, check. It doesn't take long to pull the fire right out of her. I just oozed thankfulness that this is where Saphira would chose to stay. She's got another mother away from home and home to live in bathed in constant prayer.

After that, we spent a few days with my inlaws. That was pretty uneventful and I was mostly okay with the exception of a few panic attacks and anxiety about the next leg of journey..... Along the way, my girls group had been praying, as had Llona, as had my mom, as had my girlfriend and any one else I could recruit.

My mom's home, I already mostly described. It was a lot of fun filled chaos. I purchased a very large container of chocolate covered almonds and an equally large bottle of merlot. That fixed most melt downs among the female folk, along with daily runs, I was feeling pretty good. I even pushed the limits of my artistic ability and crocheted with my sister. Though crocheting and other crafts creep me out, I successfully made a headband and we took a picture to commerate the mile post event. When I looked at the picture something very shocking could be noted. I looked again and gasped loudly. Then I looked again. Then I looked at my sister. I told her to look at the picture. Both of us were equally shocked. All these years had gone by and we were to discover that we had the same color eyes. All our lives we thought we didn't look anything like each other. Now at last, shocking as it would seem, here we were with the exact same eyes!! Even my mother didn't believe us. I had to make her look and look. Another shocking discovery took place. We were to discover we had HER eyes!! All the exact same color. All the same eyes, all slightly neurotic/ocd. What wonderful Christmas to find out we were all a lot more alike then we thought....... When my sister went back home, I missed her alot. I missed her wild redheaded boys. I missed her seriously smart girls. I was glad we'd had the time together

On the morning I woke up and bolted to the shower I did not feel any panic at all. We were leaving on the great Nebraska adventure. We were going to drive 12 hours with Archer, Big Y, AliCat, all our kids including Saphira and also my inlaws. It would be a 3 car caravan. We had a place to stay the first few days, but seeing my husband's other grandparents was sketchy.  I remembered that it was Jesus's mother Mary and Joseph who had no place to stay on Christmas. They had to trust God for a place to birth a baby and of course they would have to trust God for food too. Here we were, travelling with our very pregnant AliCat, my entire family and it would be Christmas and we would have a similar manger scene story. I realized, slowly, that it was going to be a God ordained thing. I broached the idea of a motel multiple times with my husband who didn't want to hear of such a thing. It was just going to be one of those things that he wouldn't let me figure out. I was going to have to use my faith and embrace the Christmas travelling nomad feeling.


writing seems to be a bit scattered and haphazzard these days. I always seem to be drowning in about a million things to do, and later find myself snoreing loudly, passed out on my bed with many things still awaiting me when morning rolls around. Writing gets swept under the bed, in the odd sock bin or maybe a drawer stuffed full as company arrives........

      In the end, we spent a good week there and it all worked out how it was supposed to. The majority of the time we slept in a motorhome. The heat and lights didn't work, so we used flash lights and a space heater. One little space heater really didn't do much, so we used a lot of blankets. It wasn't exactly what I'd envisioned for Christmas break. God gave me a lot of grace and I remembered that nobody had room for Jesus either. Strange as it seems, everybody has big piles of food for family and friends. Most people are warm and comfortable. Nobody thinks about spending Christmas in a manger for real. They give each other gifts. Everybody gains weight over eating. People plan to consume a lot of alcohol to deal with the pressure of seeing family and overspending. Nobody says "hey, I think I'll go sleep in a manger for a few days during the holidays". "I'd like to be a traveller in a distant land". Nope.

So in saying all that, I learned what it was like to travel with my very pregnant daughter in law, who is the sweetest thing ever. I enjoyed my grandbaby "Big Y". I slept in an almost manger situation. I visited with a lot of long lost cousins. I learned more about humanity and humility. All in all, there were a lot of good lessons to be learned.

It was a very sad day when Archer and Ali Cat headed back to Minnesota with my inlaws and Saphira and the rest of us headed back to Montana. We would miss them a lot. Saphira had big plans about the last week and a half of her vacation. She was ready for Montana!!

That first week, I was near exhaustion. We'd spent 26 hours driving home and couldn't get the truck all the way back. Matthew came and got us around 3am. Getting towed into the Yaak was kind of an odd way of making a homecoming. We had boxes and suitcases and presents and disaster all over the place when Elasta Woman called and asked if we all wanted to go skiing. Of course we said "Yes!!" and abandoned everything to get back out to our wilderness home. Day after day we did all kinds of activities. One day we snowshoed up a mountain and snowboarded down. Another day Saphira got some of the kids out winter camping. We had a big sledding party. Over New Years, we had a blast watching fireworks and hanging out with friends. We even had a little excursion to some hot springs a few hours away. It was a daily adventure until Saphira boarded the train back for college.

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