If You Want to Make God Laugh, Tell Her Your Plans
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I was thinking about a recent post, in which I was bemoaning the fact that so many of our kids live on the other side of the planet.
Then I thought, what in my past life has ever lead me to believe that God, or Fate, or Life would accommodate my selfish, personal wants?
Back when we were in our early 30’s, we visited some old college friends. These people were the quintessential, yuppy Success Story; both had very lucrative and successful careers. They lived in a McMansion on an acre of land. No matter that every other house was identical. They were so busy patting themselves on the back, I started to feel nauseous.
They had their requisite one boy and their one girl. They had two Christmas trees, which I thought was awesome. What wasn’t awesome, in my eyes, was the fact that one of them was filled with antique ornaments, all too precious for their kids to even gaze at. The kids weren’t allowed in their oh-so-white living room.
I joked to my husband at the time that their house looked like no children lived there, while ours looked like no adults lived here!
Earlier that week, I had had our kids making Reindeer Ornaments out of clothespins. Pinterest didn’t exist then, so God only knows where I got the idea.
I still have every single ornament any of my kids ever made. Of all of my Christmas decorations, they are my favorite, hands down. Every year, when I take them out of their bins, I try and take the time to treasure each and every one, cherishing all the memories that come flooding back. There were many years that I couldn’t take much time.
Our house was chaos but the kids were always having fun. The eggnog was flowing, and they were having such a great time, putting all of the ornaments on the bottom third of the tree. All of my kids have put all of their ornaments in one tiny, little spot. I think they were focusing on their artwork and the Magic.
When my very young kids presented this couple with one of these amateurish artistic endeavors, the couple looked as though they had been just handed a giant dog turd. They didn’t even pretend to find it amusing, let alone charming.
Whoa, what kind of people was I spending my time with, anyway? I mean, Jeez, act like you’re thrilled, stick it on the damned “children’s” tree, and chuck it in the garbage as soon as we’re out of the driveway.
During the evening, they regaled the rest of us unenlightened folks with their series of 5-year plans.
Oh, they had it all mapped out, alright. They never presented a Plan B or Plan C. No, with careful planning and hard work, they would make it all come out, just as perfectly as their antique ornament-ladened Christmas tree.
They also told me the story of a friend of theirs. In her late 20’s, this gal had married a very successful and well-off older man. Well, her very successful and well-off husband got laid off.
For 3 agonizing months, she put up with this malarkey but, try as he might, he had been unable to find a job.
After 3 months, she left him. My “friends” thought this was a logical choice. So much for “for better or worse,” right?
At the time, my then husband had been out of work nearly a year. It had never occurred to me to leave him. Strangle him, yes, but not leave him. I guess my “friends” were trying to give me a not-so-subtle hint.
I’ve had more blessings than almost anyone I know. And I’ve also been bitch-slapped by Life more times than I can count. The sum wisdom that I have gained in the past 63 years is that We Are Not in Control.
We want to believe that we’re in control, of course. It’s very nice and comforting. We want to wrap up “bad times” in an old newspaper, box them up, and lock ’em in the attic, so they can’t get to us.
All I can say is, good luck with that. Life will reward your smugness with the fuzzy end of the lollipop, sooner or later. I’ve never met a person who has not been dealt a serious blow or two, and most of us will endure quite a few more than that.
Except where my kids’ absence is concerned, I have an almost Zen-like acceptance of bad times. I learned this lesson a long time, so they no longer surprise me. They may be unpleasant, painful or even horrible to live through, but they also make me appreciate the good times all that more.
When we moved out here to the country, in the middle of nowhere, I learned how to really slow down and appreciate the beauty of our neighboring hills, the vineyards, hazelnut orchards, and our own neighborhood and property. Having grown up in the Bland Bay Area (I adore San Francisco, but the weather range is boring!), the wonders of the seasons are so apparent here. Most of our neighborhood is just land, rich in pastures, tall oaks, maples and firs. It’s nearly impossible NOT to notice the ongoing beauty.
My grown kids may think we’re crazy, living out here. But two of them got married here, and I think they had the most beautiful weddings and most fun receptions I have ever been to. And we were the place where they came, with their 18 favorite friends and 6 dogs, to witness the Solar Eclipse.
I won’t dwell on the fact that, if we hadn’t been in the zone of 100% totality, it would never have happened. But happen, it did, and I’m thrilled.
Have a great Holiday season, whatever your beliefs. Just enjoy. Perfection is overrated. Your kids are here for a short while. They don’t care about homemade cookie dough or flour on the counter. They care about spending time with you and having a great time together.
Cheers – Vicky