Last night I was going to make a clue card that read "Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother's House we go!" We were going to stop by a shopping center called Riverwoods that has sleigh rides, Santa and a lot of Christmas lights. (they only do the sleigh rides and Santa on Mon. Fri. & Sat. so we couldn't just go the next day) After we were done we were going to go to Paul's grandma's retirement home for their annual Christmas party. It was going to be a great evening.
We got a call Sunday night saying that Fern had been taken to the hospital. It's possible that she had a heart attack. We didn't know when she would be back to her home but for sure the party was out. We got to visit her tonight at the hospital and she seemed to be doing well. We are praying that she will be okay and home soon.
At church on Sunday I had been told about a living nativity in a near by town. The last night it was running was Dec. 6th, last night. It was suppose to be amazing with live camels and everything. We didn't think we would be able to go since we had the other plans but when things changed I considered giving it a try.
I made a mistake. I gave the kids the option between Riverwoods and the nativity. (I recently read a quote that said "Don't ask your kids what they want for dinner unless they're buying. It's going to be my new motto.) I told them we weren't sure how either was going to go, both could be crowded but this was out last chance for the nativity and we could do the other later. Emma wanted to try the nativity and of course Andrew had to be difficult. He wanted to do the fun stuff. Paul is so easy going, he was willing to do whatever.
I pushed for the nativity. We ate dinner and hurried over to Alpine. We parked at a church and then they shuttled you by bus, tractor and horse trailer to the house/barn where the nativity was being held. The transportation line was LONG. Like really really long. I don't know what we were thinking when we left the house but we weren't dressed appropriately. I had a light weight canvas jacket and long sleeves, that was it. The kids were in sweatshirts. It was in the 40's but the wind was blowing and it was sprinkling a bit. Paul went back to the car and got every sweatshirt, jacket, hat etc. that was carelessly left behind. (Andrew had on two sweatshirts and two hats)
His attitude sucked from the get-go. When he isn't happy or comfortable no one is allowed to be happy. It was like Chicago all over again. He grumbled and complained and literally kicked us and bitched and moaned. It was one of those times though where I wasn't going to let him win. I just wasn't going to even though I was cold too.
After a lengthy wait we got loaded into a horse trailer.
The truck pulled us up the hill and on a winding ride. When we got to our destination we found the same gigantic line that we had just been waiting in was ahead of us again. This time it was to get up to the nativity. We had to walk through mud and gunk, it smelled like barn and it was still cold.
None of us were thrilled to see a massive line but again I wasn't going to quit or let him win.
The line moved a little better and there were actors along the way helping to make it a bit more tolerable for everyone, except Andrew.
Finally we got to "Bethlehem". It was in a huge barn. This is where the animals were.
Kids were dressed up acting like children that lived during that time and there were adults there acting as merchants. It was trying to portray how hard life was at that time I suppose. They were clanging on metal, hammering leather, sawing wood. It was very loud and a bit hectic in there.
We hurried through (this was the first chance we had to "get out of line" and do things at our own pace) and headed to the next barn.
(Just keep smiling. Just keep smiling.)
This is where we were able to finally see the Holy Family, the nativity, baby Jesus. There was a very sweet spirit in the room. All the noises that were in the last barn were gone. Everyone was reverent, respectful and quiet. I wasn't even sure if I should take a picture. I didn't want to disturb the mood. After we walked past them we were done, that was it. I will admit, I had been touched.
As we were leaving the barn Andrew made a rude comment. It was something to the effect of "that was so worth it, not!" I was mad. Yes, it took us two hours of waiting in lines, standing and walking in goopy mud, smelling poop and freezing but in the end I felt the Spirit. I know kids are different, they can't empathize as well as adults and don't see things the way we do but he didn't even try. We have so often dismissed his behavior because he is young but he is old enough to act better than he did. I saw much younger children that were better behaved than he was.
When we got back to the car I told them I wanted to talk and I didn't want any interruptions. None. I asked them to think about Mary and Joseph. I wanted them to think about how far they had to walk or ride on a donkey, how pregnant she was, how miserable and scared they must have been. What we had just endured was nothing compared to what they went though. The poop smells we smelled in the barn, that is where Jesus Christ our Savior was born, in a stable by the animals where quite possibly it smelled like poop. I wanted them to remember and think about what Christmas is really about.
I wanted them (mostly Andrew) to think outside of themselves. I wanted them to think about all the people who volunteered their time, animals, barns, property, trucks, etc. during this busy time of year so that we could have this experience. I'm sure they were cold, hungry and bored but they did it for us.
I need them to be willing to do things that may not be their first choice for the sake of others. I want them to make the best of any situation. I want them to find the positive and not to quit when things are hard and uncomfortable.
I thought we had maybe gotten through a little bit but this morning when they saw the next clue Andrew said "I HATE CRAFTS!" with a look on his face like I was trying to torture him.
I am trying to do this advent activity for fun and entertainment. It's suppose to be light and easy, not something that makes me feel sad. It's not to make their lives hell. I do it for selfish reasons too. It takes a lot for me to enjoy Christmas (I swear working retail RUINS Christmas forever!) and these silly things have gotten me excited about Christmas again. It's fun to surprise them. It's fun to watch them try to figure out the clues, to see them get excited and do things with them. When his attitude was bad again this morning it broke my heart. Why do I even try? Am I making him even more entitled? Is there a way to have fun with your child without them thinking everything is always all about them? I'm struggling. All day I have felt blue and weepy and I don't even have PMS.
We ended up doing the craft tonight and had a good time.
Here they are wearing the necklaces they made.
I even got in on the action.
I love these candy necklaces. They are cute and yummy. Andrew's attitude was better but we still have a long way to go with him. Paul and I discussed everything while he was home for lunch and we have some strategies that I hope will help in the future. I sure wish that kid came with an instruction manual though. I really need it.