Farewell, 2017

We greeted Christmas by trudging through the icy medical clinic parking lot under a black sky, the gloved hands of two feverish kids holding our own. Dual breathing treatments, Nebulizers, three coloring pages and a mystery Dum-Dum (outcome: root beer). It was anything but magical, but there was a moment spent pacing the carpet tiles with Scout on my hip where I looked away from Family Feud on the lobby TV just long enough to see Ken and Bee both cross-legged on the loveseat, side by side, coloring a snowman on their intake forms. Whitman surfaced in my head: We were together. I forget the rest.

Ken and I have, time and again, botched Christmas in one way or another. There was the year of the rear-ending in a snow storm, the year of the luggage lost, the year I food poisoned the both of us with a failed attempt at coq au vin. This year, then, was the year of the flu, of which we still haven’t yet fully gathered our bearings.

For over a week, we’ve been swapping shifts sleeping upright in the rocking chair, taking steam showers and saunas, stroking backs and wiping noses, checking oxygen levels and cancelling plans. On Christmas Day, both kids fell asleep from one present to the next before we decided to leave the gifts to another day, our own small stack still unwrapped and untouched under a twinkling tree.

soft coated wheaten terrier

We were together. I forget the rest.

Only I don’t want to forget the rest. I want to remember this and all of it – a White Christmas marathon on the sofa watering small mouths from a syringe. Homemade juice, chicken soup from the sick tray. Calming fevers, adjusting socks, re-adjusting socks.

Re-adjusting expectations.

I’m convinced the whole lot of it was what I needed this year, though certainly not what I wanted. I’m convinced I needed to be reminded of how little we control, of how little the calendar matters, of how the best-laid plans go awry. Of how we plan and dream and wait expectantly for Advent, for Christmas, and it arrives in a bit of a banged-up fashion.

Of how we anticipate a king and we’re granted a baby.

kids at christmas

2017, for me, held a lot of anticipation. There was the book launch and the many expectations surrounding it – best-seller lists and media interviews and fifteen minutes of fame. Filled to the brim, and as fun as it was, as proud of the book as I was, I found myself squinting in the spotlight, shielding my eyes, shrinking back toward something quieter.

This was how my year began, and this is how my year will end: with a gentle reminder that when the twinkling lights – on the tree, on our lives – fade, there is something quiet to work toward. It doesn’t often look like general merriment, like gilded paper or eucalyptus wreaths or hot cocoa.

Sometimes, the only snowman to build is the one in the margin of the ER chart.

And yet: here we are, here we sit. Another day to look for something different, something real, something true. And here it arrives – of manger and mess – reminding us that the greatest throne wasn’t really a throne at all.

baby crawling

If your holiday, or your year for that matter, wasn’t what you thought it would be, my prayer is that your joy not remain swaddled for long. We are together. We mustn’t forget the rest.

Happy 2018, sweet friends.

 

p.s. Your favorite posts from this year:

Want to get more done? Throw a resource party.
8 simple make-up products I love.
Can’t get your family on board with your habits? Read this.
The one thing that’s bringing me a quiet happiness this year.
6 books on my nightstand, and a few thoughts on privilege.
Are your kids asking for snacks 8,345 times a day? Try this.
Curious about me? Read my real bio.
Make these chocolatey, healthy muffins in your blender (ready in 15 minutes!).
This one sentence changed my marriage.
5 books I loved this summer.
A simple 4-ingredient rustic bread recipe – no kneading necessary.
The world feels awful. Here’s what we can do about it.
Work travel & parenthood: on going away and coming home.
Have we become selfish in the name of simple living?
Hey, introverts – here are 5 ways to make hospitality totally do-able.
An essay for mothers entering a new season.
How to stay informed without losing your mind.

  • Praying your little ones make a complete recovery! Last year was our under-the-weather Christmas. You’re right, though, sometimes that’s what’s needed to remind us of what is most important. Wishing you the most blessed 2018!

  • Anticipating a King… granted a Baby… thank you. Such a great reminder after a week of sickness and my best laid plans being cast aside for something far better: we were together.

  • Beautiful words as always, thank you! This all sounded so familiar across Christmas, as we were also hit with the flu. Thank you for the gentle reminder that time spent together is time well spent, no matter the season.

  • Love your words and your heart! Happy New Year!
    Prayers of healing and comfort to your little ones.

  • Oh, I hope that your kiddos are recovering and the bigs don’t catch it.
    We have had a quiet Christmas time as my husband got back on the 23rd from a three week work trip. We have extended family (not living near us) in the hospital and that brings extra stress. Through all that, it’s been joyful in so many ways. And then, we think, let’s have a NYE party for some friends- low key and early for the kiddos. Party is supposed to start at 5 and yesterday at 3 I am messaging out that we have to cancel because one of our littles has an 103 degree fever. Some very disappointed kids here- lots of tears. My husband and I looked at each other and decided that it would be the best little family party ever. And it was! Quiet, loving, some laughter. gratitude.

    We were together. I forget the rest.
    Indeed.

    Thank you!

  • The mantra that gives me the greatest comfort is this: I am living my perfect life. Even when it’s messy and frustrating and joyful and fabulous and painful and hard, in sickness and health, my perfect life. Sending you all so much light and love, and a Happy New Year.

  • sometimes we must really readjust our expectations or adjust to the outcome as we see it. Thanks for your wisdom!

    ps my husband and I are deep in our home study – thanks for your thoughts from months ago.

  • I absolutely love how you said goodbye to 2017 and said hello to 2018 with such an open heart. I love how you didn’t do what a lot of people do and say 2017 sucked, instead you said it was good and continued saying 2018 will be the same if not better!

  • Your words are so refreshing and allow me to kick back and rest in the things you write about. I feel grace in your words, and I appreciate that deeply. So many blogs bring into me an urgency that there’s something I’m not doing or something I need or am missing out on. Your blog reminds me that I’m fine where I’m at, and brings me new ideas in a positive, peaceful way.

    Also, I just finished part one of Chasing Slow. I can’t say enough.

    Thank you!

    • i am so, so very glad to hear this. my hope is that this space never overwhelms, but offers a deeper sense of peace and thoughtfulness. thank you for your kind note, abby.

  • Hi Erin! Just began browsing through your blog because my sister-in-law gifted me your book for Christmas and I had no idea who you were. I love everything about this — your blog is beautiful, your thoughts are beautiful, you are beautiful. Wishing you a wonderful 2018 and looking forward to reading your book and your blog further!

  • Oh man, my whole family of four also had the flu for Christmas. It was…not so fun. Thanks for helping me find somewhat of a silver lining!

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