Today is the first day back to school after break. We are breaking into my mother’s house to steal an Ugly Sweater at 5 in the morning because it is Ugly Sweater Day and we have driven home from a gathering through the night up and down hilly, unlit, back roads where we saw a family of deer who spoke to us to tell us we were on the wrong road and they directed us back to a traffic-filled highway and on the roof we have tied some old evergreen branches that we will try to form into a tree because we forgot to get a Christmas tree when we had to take my son to the emergency room because he was spouting blood from his finger and while we were there my other son had a bloody nose and they were going to take him into surgery… But then I woke up. The first day of school is not until tomorrow. Today is January 4.
It is the Changing of Seasons around here. Changing from the season of sleeping in and wearing pajamas, drinking 5 cups of coffee, some with Bailey’s, while watching missed tv shows on Netflix. The season of family and eating and memories and lights and fires in the fire place and singing and dancing in the kitchen when your favorite carol comes on and baking and eating and drinking some more. For my kids it’s the season of can-i-go-over, can-she-come-over, can-you-drive-us, can-we-stay-up, can-they-sleep-over and mom never says no because it's Christmas. I think I’ll call it the Season of Bliss. The season of coming downstairs late and eating the donuts your brothers generously left you, two if you like. Those steps coming down have changed with the Seasons too. They used to be the pitter-patter footed-pajama steps that raced down the hall and down the steps like a professional tap-shuffler to get cereal and watch cartoons and that jumped into my arms with a jubilant Good Morning! Now they are the hard, weighted, laborious steps of a tired ice hockey player who mumbles a ‘hlo’ and watches Sports Center. Nevertheless, they still bring a smile to my face in the same way. I don’t want those steps to change because the next time the Seasons Change, the footsteps will be gone.
There are lots of seasons around here. I invited my brother to Annie’s field hockey game and his first thought was, Are you crazy? It’s raining and it’s thirty outside. But see, this is the Indoor Season of Field Hockey. Raise your hand if your first thought about seasons had to do with sports! For my mother Football Season is of high import. You can’t call her on a Sunday afternoon from September to February because she’s watching The Game. If you do call, you’ll hear my father yelling in the background, “Doesn’t she know The Game is on?” Frankly, no I do not. Football was never a part of the Seasons in our household when I was growing up. One Sunday I returned from college for a visit and my whole house had been taken over by football fans. Apparently my brother learned about football from a high school friend and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. My family had entered a new season without me. That is a hard change to accept.
So back to Indoor Season of Field Hockey: ‘Winter I’ they call it, not to be confused with Winter II, because then they can charge you again for fees if you really want to keep playing, and of course she does, because The Whole Team is Playing Winter II. So we can’t say no, even though this is the Season of Broke and I’d really like to tell somebody to just call it Winter Season and not force us to go through this again.
Now we are entering the Season of Back to the Grind. School lunches, school homework, school bags, school books, which were gladly shoved to the back of the closet to make room for roller blades and ice skates for the Season of Let’s Go Play. It is hard to get going again for school and waking up early, but that feeling will pass and we’ll be happy to be back with friends and to be learning again. For Annie it’s also the Season of Where Will I Go to High School and Who Will My Friends Be. For Matt it’s the Season of When Will I Be Able to Play Basketball Again, because that dream I had? All of it actually happened this break in some way or another. We did go to Urgent Care and he did break his thumb and I did have to help ‘drain’ the blood that had accumulated because we didn’t take him until five days after the incident. (I was passed over for Mother of the Year.) Not pretty. And my other son did have a procedure, not surgery, on his foot the very next day. And we did drive home from West Chester on a crazy back road and we did see deer, but they weren’t talking. Because that would be crazy. But you can see how all these seasonal changes do make a mom crazy. Normal, right?
Even so, I’m looking forward to the changing of season. This has definitely been a Wonderful Christmas Season. Despite the Urgent Care, we have enjoyed every minute of it. But the Seasons always pass. It is over now and this week the tree (not just old branches) will come down and we will set a snow scene tablescape in the window where the Santas once sat. We will hang a Snowflake on the front door and take down the browning boxwood wreath that I’ve had up since the Christmas Bazaar in early December, so happy that I had snagged the last one. We do like to change things after a while. Change is good. I know some people say they have a hard time with change. But if I were still changing diapers, I think that would get old. I’m glad that Season has passed and that the kids can make their own breakfast. In this Season of Teenagers, and we have three living here, they are engaged in the world enough to have a conversation about things. Charlie turned 11 and I’m glad. He’s a really great kid and I enjoy watching him change. Seasons of Kids are good.
I think I have a harder time with the things that don’t change. I still miss my brother and wish that that season would change. There are other things that seem not to change no matter how much we wish they would. Soon, we will want the Season of Summer to come more quickly and to open the pool and go swimming again. The thing is, it will come if we are patient. Right now we just have to enjoy the season we are in. A Season with all my kids at home. A Season to drive to another hockey game, Indoor or West Chester or wherever. A Season to hibernate and pray for snow. A Season to bake and enjoy the soft light of winter. We have a wooden sign that says, “Winter: A Calming, White Renewal.” So for this I will pray – to be calmed, to be renewed in time for the next Season of Change.