Cause we made it through, i do believe, the longest year in history.

(here’s the story: i wrote this early morning on October 29th. it was a holiday symphony that wouldn’t leave my brain. i hit publish, i closed the app before it *actually* uploaded, and it disappeared into the internet void like that video of the poor raccoon that can’t find his cotton candy in a water puddle. i couldn’t find it anywhere, and i, too, became a puddle of sugar water and rabid raccoon. 

but! somehow! just now! here it is. so, please read the backdated words about why i believe this holiday season is the most important wonderful time in the longest year in history. big love from a little raccoon with an even bigger piece of cotton candy this go around.)

i cannot read that caption without my face crumpling and that all too familiar (but still so sweet) lumpy throat hitting me. i think i listened to it that song 10 times today. (The Thanksgiving Song by Ben Rector. you need it, too.)

i’ll start by saying that i love a holiday more than almost anything. gimme something to decorate and celebrate and play specific music, and i’m a content lady. fast forward to these days of living life with my Kind-Hearted Slytherin, and spooky season means a lot to us. a lot a lot. i have 100 hand-cut paper bats flying out of my chimney to prove it. we have coffee mugs featuring our favorite Disney villains and (as of this year) a full corner dedicated to our most beloved family member, The Headmuss Hurseman. i am fluent in Hocus Pocus and will fight annoyance that it’s a mainstream love now when i took the time to memorize the movie as i watched it on VHS every day of 3rd grade. it’s fine and i’m fine and it’s all just one big glooooorious morning that makes me sick.

last year we decorated on September 1st and turned everything around for Christmas by October 23. and you know what? i genuinely regretted it. i didn’t know i would. i missed those last bits of spooky fall excitement before the entire world turns red and gold and full of hope disguised as stress and stress disguised as hope. i vowed that i would not make that mistake again. i would not try to bend a calendar to fit my need for comfort and joy and control.

we added 100 spiders to our repertoire this year, and they’re exactly as wonderful and awful as you would think. we made our 2nd annual spider web, and nameless friend (COUGH KENZIE COUGH) told me in a FaceTime that i wouldn’t have them still up by Halloween.

y’all, i don’t know what kind of sorcery she put on my stubbornness, but those spiders are still up with a web that is hanging on by a literal thread. and even though that was the plan all along, i have somehow turned it into something that is entirely Kenzie’s fault. i haven’t taken one Halloween decoration down. out of sheer stubbornness, i have refused and my heart wants to so, so bad. you know why?

because of a Thrill of hope and a weary, rejoicing world and O Come O Come Emmanuel and free Your Captive Israel and ‘Tis the Season when the Saints can employ us to spread the news about Peace and to keep Love alive and Feed the World and let them know it’s Christmastime again and Linus telling us all about that blessed Angel of the Lord bringing tidings of great joy and His Law is Love and His Gospel is Peace and thank you very, very, very much and Enjoy the beauty of the joy and beauty that a Merry Christmas can bring you and welcome to our world and Merry Christmas you wonderful old savings and loan.

did your heart light up with any of that? i can feel it in my bones. under the weight of all of our massive dread and fear and depression and anxiety and stress and unease and tumult and unknown, there’s a tiny, tiny, tiny thimble thrill of hope waiting to be born. a Gift that has nothing to do with us and what we’ve done and everything to do with a Savior that dearly loves all of His children.

i love the bats, and you KNOW i love the candy. but i’m ready for a month full of gratitude and dog shows and butter and shortening. and then, so, so much more than that, i’m ready for the perspective and reset that comes with each Advent season. i’m ready for the tidings of great joy. i’m ready to comfortably miss my Grammy. and i’m ready for all of us to remember His hope again.

i am so very grateful to have waited this year. i’m thankful that all of our fun and silly Halloween traditions were readily available. (albeit tweaked bc 2020) it’s felt truly good to let my kid be a kid after such an exhausting year to be a kid. i’m thankful to make new memories in the coming weeks. and i can almost stretch my mind to make Kenz’s challenge into a deeply good thing for this season. almost.

God bless us everyone. and God bless the friends that see you fully and challenge you to wait past your comfort zone. but don’t tell her i said that. and don’t judge me when it’s 12:01am on November 1st, and i’m on my roof with Christmas lights. catch you on the flippity flip, Sanderson sisters. and haul. out. the. holly.

flashback to the time we brainstormed Halloween costumes and i almost had to sue my sisray for willful ignorance.

and no hard feelings.

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

brace yourselves, lads. it’s about to get capital H heavy. and deep and real and honest. but i woke up at 3:30 and can’t sleep anymore and this all wants out of my brain and heart.

i’m gonna start by saying that in this day and age, a good, sound therapist is better than a Berkin bag. and if you’re on the fence or have tossed around the idea of talking to a professional because this year has been HARD, here is your sign that says “jump!” you won’t regret it. you deserve it. your family deserves it. your past self deserves it most. i am only sorry i waited this long to learn how to truly stop carrying things that never served me in the first place.

that being said, i want to try and share with you this incredible shift God has begun in my thinking. it started about a month ago. in one of my early therapy appointments, i asked if it would surprise him to learn that i can be…mean. especially when i fight. let me say up front that i am an excellent fighter. my ugly streak comes in fierce in any argument. my mind becomes more clear, i am more quick-witted and cutting, and it is the ugliest view of me. i tend to leave a string of people i love in my wake. it’s pretty awful. but i would easily describe one of my worst characteristics as simply “mean.”

and he told me that he actually doesn’t really believe in mean people. he only sees it as various degrees of fear. he described how his favorite cat would respond to being put in a kennel to be taken to the vet. this sweet, docile cat would back itself into a corner, hiss, scratch, bolt, yell, anything to try and break away from his owner. his daughter said to him once, “daddy, look at how mean he’s being to you! and he’s your favorite cat.” his response was, “he’s not being mean at all. he’s scared. he doesn’t understand that it’s going to be okay. he just doesn’t want to get in the kennel and go to the vet.”

first seed planted: it’s perfectly fine to believe people are not inherently mean.

fast forward several weeks, and a friend of mine posted about the song “Defender” by steffany gretzinger and francesca battistelli. a song i’d never heard before. she was talking specifically about the opening lines.

You go before I know
That You’ve even gone to win my war
You come back with the head of my enemy
You come back and You call it my victory.

to paraphrase, she was so thankful for that (graphic but amazing) image of Jesus carrying satan’s head. she said that any time she wanted to dwell on her past mistakes and sins and all the lies whispered to her, she was reminded that it had already been defeated by a God who loves her. a God who loves us. all of us. and He’s carrying the head of her enemy.

now i’m gonna flesh out part 2 because it’s heavy and makes my brain hurt a little bit. but it’s good. it’s so, so good, and i’m just grateful for a God that is patient and loving and gentle in teaching me things i have forgotten or ignored altogether.

when lacy was talking about this image of Jesus carrying the head of MY enemy, i realized something obvious. it would never be the head of someone i know. anyone i consider even remotely close to an enemy on this earth is still fully made in the image of God. He loves them completely as they are. i am not special in this Love. there would NEVER be anyone’s head but the actual enemy. the lower case e enemy (because i hate him) satan that is out to kill, steal, and destroy the lives of anyone in his path. the liar that can twist and manipulate and plant half-truths in our minds that ruin the very best of us.

and it hit me that, with that knowledge, i actually don’t have any enemies in my life. the only enemy i have ever had or WILL ever have is the actual enemy of this earth. when i filter that knowledge into any conflict i’ve ever had, it always comes back as two things: fear and satan. repeatedly. no question. the worst of any conflict i’ve encountered was still with someone made in the image of Christ. and somehow, incredibly on this earth, i suddenly find myself with no enemies.

WHUT.

now, i know i cannot speak on any part of your story. it’s yours and yours alone. but my heart can instantly hurt imagining who or what YOU are thinking about right now. it’s heavy. it’s too heavy and too much. know that i’m next to you with a mental glass of cold water and a banana right now. think samwise and frodo and elevenses and i can’t carry this for you but i can carry you and what not oh shoot spoiler alert sorry should’ve mentioned that moving on.

for me, as i have begun the gentle process of debriding past pain that hasn’t healed properly, i suddenly find fresh blood to the area. (sorry for my non-medical friends out there. oh SHOOT did you really just faint?) with this sudden knowledge that i have no enemies, i find tired, buried bitterness slowly shifting into, for now, maybe just a kind of indifference. and maybe that indifference will even turn into love. love for my neighbor. love for myself. if nothing else, it will turn into a deeper sense of forgiveness and healing. and that’s the direction i want to go.

i don’t know why i woke up at 3:30am the morning after debates i didn’t watch. but i caught the headlines and the posts and the general feeling of tumult and dread and opposites on all sides. and it was so deep in my bones that someone, somewhere might benefit in this patient, loving lesson my Creator is teaching me: the only real enemy we have on this earth has been defeated already. people that we feud with here are just as afraid about something as we are. and either way, rejoice, because anger is actually just fear. it won’t necessarily change your political party. but maybe it will remind you we are all image-bearers to Christ, and there’s a sweet freedom in that.

that’s all. a hearty, sleepy good morning. now go make some coffee or tea or warmed up Dr. Pepper and remember that we were made to show others the Good News today. remember who the real enemy is. big, tired, comforting love!

and we’ll all float on okay.

weekly-ish check-in! how’s everyone doing? who’s baked what? watcha watching these days? everyone drinking enough water? carbonated water? oh! okay, watered down coke? just regular coke? big gulps, ay? welp, see ya later.

i wanna start by saying that tonight my brother-in-law informed us we needed to “get caught up” on cobra kai episodes (a show we currently don’t watch) and i suggested we start a karate kid-themed brunch called “sweep the brie.” it went over okay, but not nearly to the caliber i think it deserves. and you know i mean that because i’m blogging about it now to make it canon. side note- i’ve been really itchy ever since because i can’t come up with another karate kid food pun. it’s fine. i’m over it now. i mean, i’m not. but i will be eventually.

today toddy asked me if i was going to cry when we go back to Disney World one day. and i got choked up answering yes. that’s not a good sign, eh? i also got choked up watching the first episode of dancing with the stars and the judges were sitting far apart. it’s a strange mix of pride and grief combined. grief at all the obvious. pride that even though everything feels different, humans have this incredible ability to maintain resilient, weird, wonderful defiant joy. we’ll have a drive-thru state fair, and the lines will be 4 hours long. we’ll still have the emmys with individual trophy holders outside each door. we’ll have sports with cardboard fans and giant teddy bears in the stands. and, yes, this football hating idiot will still cry when she sees football on TV for the first time. i didn’t know i how relieved i’d feel to see it.

really, you don’t really know how scared you were until you see hints of normalcy again. everyone is judging dancers 6 feet apart and honking through drive-thru birthday parties and hosting zoom bar mitzvahs, and you realize that we’re still, somehow, all a little okay. and then you get sad thinking back to march and april and may and wishing you could send your past self a little note of encouragement. “it gets worse, but you get better.”

growing up, i had dog for a half-second that we named george w. one day, george was outside playing with an empty coke can. it was loud, and he was running into everything making both noise and a mess. my dad walked outside and picked up the can. when he looked out the window, he noticed that george had found a leaf and was still crashing into everything on the patio, chasing this leaf. now as a social experiment, my dad went back outside and took the leaf. he watched through the window as george immediately began chasing his tail, repeatedly, crashing into everything and having a grand time. my daddy later tell us this story and say, “you know, sometimes you just have to chase your own tail.” no matter what was taken away, puppy Dubya was determined to have a good day anyway.

and we are, too.

it’s amazing how our bodies store these little pockets of grief and joy and trauma and indifference. i’m always surprised to uncover one. this season has done such a profound job of making all. this. crap. rise to the top. and while i’m deeply grateful for all the times to collectively talk about feeeeeeeeeliiiiiiiings. (4w5 ayooo!) my 5 self is thankfully learning to come running in with a “heyyyyy, let’s just take a mental break for, say, i dunno, 10, 11 years? who wants to make queso and rewatch stranger things? i’ll give $4 to the next person that stops me from steering all conversations back to heavy.” come on, man, that’s 4 whole dollars. that’s basically a Christmas bonus in stay-at-home mom world.

i don’t know how to end this. if we didn’t live in such an imperfect world, i would have a karate kid pun by now. you KNOW i’ve still been scanning my brain while i type. and even now, all i’m circling is something about Mister Mi-mosas. not terrible, but definitely, definitely not worthy of blog canonization. whatever. i don’t even care anymore. okay okAY OKAY WAIT EDITED CONTENT UPDATE. i have just been informed by my sisray that i’m not even quoting the movie right. i’m quoting kevin on the office misquoting it. and and AND i’m not even that upset seeing as she has provided us with an alternative brunch pun for the now corrected quote.

sweep the egg. BOOM.

okay, love you. bye. keep swinging for the fences and failing miserably and being fine anyway. can’t wait to cry with you next check-in about something nice i saw on the internet. (bows with both hands in prayer with a white bandana tied across my forehead and promptly goes in for a swift crane kick to your face.)

letter from the editor: i have since learned that you should watch Cobra Kai on vidangel or with the editing software of your choice and with no children around. apparently a few episodes are, and i quote, “a doozy.”

You’re the only one who can.

is this thing on? what’d i miss? my my my, don’t you look just the same. better, even! anyway, how’s your pandemic going? these masks, amiright? and the wildfires. and Kobe. and murder hornets. and Tom Bergeron isn’t the host of Dancing with the Stars anymore. and it’s still an election year, so that’ll be real fun and unifying right before Christmas is cancelled. (jim, take new years away from stanley.)

honest to goodness, i don’t even really know why exactly i picked up my computer to write you. (very akin to picking up my phone to call you.) i saw that RBG died, and i realized that an entire side of the political spectrum lost one of their most loved tonight. and i felt that way, way, way too familiar ache remembering that countless people are gonna be sad…yet again. the hits just keep on coming. and i just decided that enough is enough and let’s figure out a solution to this global pandemic. that’s not too much to ask, right? if anyone can, it’s a semi-retired nurse who used to have a blog and now homeschools a kid except she can’t call it school or he shuts down so she just calls it stuff like together time and makes every subject somehow relate back to halloween.

i found a product at sprouts that’s just organic ashwaganda in liquid form. i didn’t know i was gonna need ‘shrooms in 2020, and now i’m willing to post the link in the comments section of wherever you are reading this. it’s been a life raft for me and mine. we take shots of ashwaganda twice, sometimes 3 times a day with cherry juice and work out and send reminder texts to drink water and take our B vitamins.

oh, that’s another one! i take a b vitamin now. never figured i needed that. and i really like the peloton app and routinely talking to a therapist and homeschooling in a community setting with my sisray and regularly working out and doing the Bible recap. if one good thing has come out of this dumpster fire, it’s that i now see that my body needs normal people things. this may come as a shock to you, but not sleeping, reading the news, staying up to date with social media, avoiding other people, eating like crap, literally not leaving your house for weeks by law, and doing no form of physical activity DOES have an affect on your total wellbeing. i know. I KNOW. why’s this the first we’ve heard about it? what ELSE are they not telling us?! next thing we know they’re gonna say we shouldn’t dry our hair while we’re still in the shower. psssssch. i call FOUL SIR. FOUL. IN. DEED.

i reeeeeeally didn’t think i was gonna go snarky on this one. i thought i was gonna be sad. cause heeeeeeeck aren’t we all sad, like, most of the time? and overwhelmed? and tired? but now i wish you could see my smirk. in fact, if you know me in any capacity, you know the smirk i’m wearing. you might even hear my snarky singsong voice reading this to you.

the truth is, i wish that i could write you a prescription to feel better. i wish we all lived on some kind of hippie commune with no internet access and just worked it all out together. i wish we had a timeline. i wish we had answers that made sense. i wish my husband wasn’t in healthcare. i wish everyone knew Jesus as a friend. i wish we all shared the same hope and joy and grief and pain and just endured it all together.

the beacon of Light i’m clinging to right now is the lyric, “You turn bones into armies.” and i think of every friend i love dearly that’s facing the pain and the anguish and the trauma and the hurt and the anxiety and the stress head-on and fighting like crazy to get on the other side of it. and God is breathing life into our dry bones. it’s actually working. hard fought joy-filled moments seem both miraculous and fully attainable. we pass around our flasks of ashwaganda and b vitamins and cold water in The Trenches that have somehow, miraculously, grown to include even more people than we thought it would fit. there’s room for everyone and room, still, to grow. and for second, our new normal isn’t as painful as it used to be. it’s just warm and kinda peaceful and oddly comforting as we sit together quietly and wait for the next wave to hit.

and i hate all of it. and i love every bit of it. and, for a long minute, longer, almost, than this never-ending season we find ourselves still in, i consider even giving New Years back to Stanley.

well it’s all right if you live the life you please.

lemme tell you something about The Idiots. (you remember that’s our family name, right? move over, brangelina. here come The Idiots.) you ever see parks and rec? we are april and andy, fully, wholly, unapologetically. we have a running list of normal things we don’t keep in the house. it just, like, doesn’t cross our mind. batteries? batteries are for fancy people. when you run out of batteries, you rob Peter to pay Paul and you remember which remote has the batteries you stole when it’s time to return them. fancy houses keep batteries on hand. they probably also have a wheel barrow and bandaids. (i had bandaids but Toddy used them all as stickers for a project he was working on because he’s a child genius okay like let him breathe)

buying batteries? game. changer. we feel fluuuuuuush with cash. we can make it rain batteries and give ourselves small cylindrical bruises. we are SO fancy and make a loud parade of replacing batteries to objects we’ve been palm-slapping back to life for weeks/months. it is a really, really exciting splurge day when we buy batteries.

thumb tacks! my mom had to bring some from her house because we don’t keep office supplies in our home. like, hardly at all. i could not possibly tell you where our hammer currently is. the last time i truly remember seeing it was in the bed we share with our 3-year-old. it didn’t even phase me when i saw it. i asked zero questions. sometimes, on a really good day, you might find a roll of scotch tape…that I probably stole from someone. but things like staples and printer paper and thumbtacks and post-it’s. nah, man. in our defense, we’re two no-nonsense nurses, so we probably have the stuff to remove staples from your body, but nothing to staple the papers together when we send you home with our bill.

my dad legitimately bought me a Sam’s roll of tinfoil as a gift because I never seemed to have it in my kitchen. it also never crossed our mind that our fancy pepper grinder was low on batteries (there’s that word again) because we just adjusted our peppering time to be the necessary 2-3 minutes per food item. it made mashed potatoes difficult to make, but, honestly, how could i prioritize a pepper grinder battery over the roku remote? that’s just vanity, and i reserve my vanity for things like naming new life theories and being really good at using a pogo stick.

when charlie was born, it did not cross our mind to get him a coming home outfit. why? to this day, i have no idea. it wasn’t even a thought. so we brought him home in the smallest onesie we could find in our closet. it had snoopy on it and said “free hugs” and honestly it’s the most perfect thing for The Idiots New Kid. it sums up so much of our parenting choices. heeeeeavy emphasis on affection and comfort. not exaaaaactly a ton of thought put into the look of it all. but all the free hugs you need, my friend.

the other night we drove around to decide on dinner out then ultimately drove home frustrated and made 1 noodle bowl, 1 box of macaroni and cheese, and cold pasta leftovers. yeah, we like the carbs and the money saving and the non-decision making. we spent the dinner yelling at each other in different accents. this was a fairly normal night for us. our son didn’t bat an extra long eyelash.

i don’t know why i wrote this except that just, really, who cares, amiright? i regularly come to the conclusion that so much of our lack of normalcy is perfectly normal. if you can’t find a post-it, use a regular piece of paper and borrow a band aid from your son’s bathroom counter mural. (just remember where you stole it from so you can replace it when you’re fancy again.) keep a note in your phone of all the places you took batteries in your home. did you eat something yesterday? did you live to talk about it? then good. and so what if your kid came home from the hospital in a free hugs snoopy onesie. at least he feels hugged, yeah? as long as you remembered to actually bring him home from the hospital, you’re more than okay in the eyes of The Idiots.

Alexa play end of the line by traveling wilburys.