I Believe in Santa Claus

I adore Christmas. To me, Christmas has the ability to bring out the best in people. Christmas  is equal parts magic, wonder, joy and love – all things this world could use more of on regular basis. The stories of both the birth of Jesus and of Santa Claus fill my heart and my soul.  I love the decorations, the special traditions at church and home, the choosing, wrapping and giving of gifts, the tastes and the smells. But most of all, I love the music of Advent and Christmas – the church carols, the traditional secular songs, the modern versions of traditional songs, the corny and sappy songs made famous in Christmas cartoons. I love all of it.

Growing up, my mom had a “rule” about when it was acceptable to  pull out and start listening to the family collection of Christmas music. The record albums and tapes (first 8-tracks and then cassettes!) were off limits until the day after Thanksgiving. But once we reached that magical day after Thanksgiving, it was pretty much all Christmas music all the time. This “rule” has stuck with me through life, and for the most part I still follow it today. I adore Christmas music, but it loses it’s magic when you listen to it too far ahead of the season!

My “favorites” have changed over the years. While I still appreciate and enjoy almost any version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town or The First Noel and , my favorite albums tend to change from year to year and are somewhat reflective of how life has shaped me over the course of a given year. Right now I have an eclectic mix of Christmas albums that I’m listening to in heavy rotation – Vince Guaraldi Trio, Rend Collective, Jewel, Francesca Battistelli , Straight No Chaser, Lady Antebellum, and Pentatonix have been playing on my phone in the car and in my office pretty much nonstop. There’s some really amazing stuff on these albums – some that is soul stirring and some that is just joyful and fun to belt out in the car.

While those have been my go to albums this season, there were a couple of times this past week when I got in the car, tuned to one of the Christmas stations on the XM radio, and was greeted by an oldie but goodie from my childhood. It is a song I hadn’t thought about in years, but was one in my mom’s frequent rotation for a good part of the ’80s & ’90s.

That song is “I Believe in Santa Claus” written by Kenny Rogers, and recorded by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton in 1984.

The first time I heard it on the radio this week, it brought back a flood of childhood Christmas memories. It was warm and fuzzy and lovely. The second time I heard it on the radio this week, I really listened to the lyrics and was blown away by the fact that the lyrics speak to not just what I love about Christmas, but also about what I fundamentally believe in as a person.

I am particularly struck by the last verse of the song:

I believe in viewing life
As a journey that we’re on
And looking at our troubles
As another stepping stone.

And I believe that everything
That it is what it’s meant to be
I believe there is a God somewhere
Although he’s hard to see.

I believe I am so therefore
I should do all that I can
To be a better piece
In the puzzle of God’s plan.

And I believe in Santa Claus
I believe in Santa Claus
I believe there’s always hope
When all seems lost.
I believe in Santa Claus.

So very much YES! These lyrics capture what I love about Christmas. The words inspire  magic, wonder, joy and love. But they go deeper than that. The lyrics also capture the essence of how I view the world, how I try to live in the world and how I hope to inspire my kids to live in the world as well.

I do believe that we can reap the most good out of the bumpiest parts of our life journey. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. I do believe that God is everywhere and in everyone (although I don’t agree with the premise in the lyrics that God is hard to see – He really is everywhere if you just look for Him). I do believe that we all have an obligation to go out and do all the good we possibly can in our own way each and every day. I do believe there’s always hope. Kenny Rogers was spot on with these lyrics.

I do believe in Santa Claus!

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Home…Real, Raw, Broken, Beautiful

14 years ago this month, we bought our first house. It was little, but on a decent sized corner lot. It was not in the “best” neighborhood, but in a really good, quiet neighborhood.   It was a good house, and we planned to be in it for about 5 years. Today we signed the mountain of paperwork to refinance that house. We’re still here.

We’ve talked about moving dozens of times over the years – including as recently as this year –  but for a variety of different reasons we’re still here. We’re still here, and I have actually been resentful of that fact. My top two reasons for wanting to leave are the apartment building we see from the backyard and a desire for all of us to have a little more personal space. I’ve even gone so far as to say that I hate this house.

So after signing my name roughly a million times – while also trying to verbally encourage my son to use a skill to self regulate as a panic attack was brewing  – we refinanced the house I have said I hate. Driving home from the appointment, the song “Home” by Blue October came on the radio. I’ve heard the song before, but I never really listened to it until today. Today I heard loud and clear…

We found
Our home
Something we can build for years

The young
And old
I’ll be there to wipe your tears

We all get to see
Who we grow up to be
And anchor when in doubt
An ocean when in drought

We aim for it all
We lift of these walls
To make this house our home

Dancing in the kitchen in the pale moonlight
Only care in the world is that our kids are all right
Daddy loves momma and momma loves him
Tomorrow we get to do it over again

As I continued to drive toward home, I pondered those words and found my perspective shifting. The first time we walked into this house, we knew we had found a home. Back then it was just me, my husband and two cats. It wasn’t part of our plan to raise a family here, but we could envision the possibility of raising kids in this house. Years passed. Life happened. And over the course of those years, we made the house a home. We filled the rooms  with love and laughter, and became a family here. We have dreamed, argued, cried, and grown together in this home. This home has been a sanctuary for each of us at different times when the world has been too rough. In recent years, I  became so bogged down in the limitations of the physical space, that I lost sight of what is actually important.

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The house is walls, windows, doors, floor and roof. Our home is love, laughter, dreams, security and family. I may not like certain things about the house, but I can’t hate our home. I love the home we have have made. Home is where we are family – real, raw, broken and beautiful. And tomorrow we get to do it all over again…

 

The Story Behind We’re All A Little Broken

Why is the name of my blog We’re All A Little Broken?

Until recently, I was crediting the title to something my husband said to me in the middle of a particularly emotional conversation about our son’s struggles. “We’re all broken.” I remember thinking at the time how wise and true that statement was. We are all broken, each of us in our own way. And the thought stuck, and eventually it became the title of the blog.

As wise as those words are, and as wise as my husband is, I realized recently that he actually borrowed the words from the equally wise Jon Bon Jovi. There is a song on Bon Jovi’s Lost Highway album called Everybody’s Broken. The chorus goes like this:

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It’s okay to be a little broken
Everybody’s broken in this life
It’s okay to feel a little broken
Everybody’s broken, you’re alright
It’s just life

 

That’s JBJ’s take. This is mine:

We’re all a little broken – and we have love and faith and stubborn streaks that get us through when the days get hard.design-5

We’re all a little broken – and we can still laugh.

We’re all a little broken – and we will get through together.

We’re all a little broken…

Somehow life gets just a little bit easier when you embrace your broken-ness. So acknowledge it! Embrace it! Name it! And enjoy a little Bon Jovi on your journey…Everybody’s Broken