Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shattered Snowman

Last night, I broke one of the Christmas tree ornaments. No big deal, right? Well, not really... because it was one of those "preventable accidents" I'm always talking to my kids about. And it was a direct result of my control-freak nature. It went something like this...

(Please note that I was sitting on the couch as the kids put the ornaments on the tree. I know my tendency toward control, so I decided a long time ago not to worry more about how the decorations look than about the joyful experience of my children as the decorations go up. I never want to step on someone's heart for the sake of just-so ornament placement. So I was sitting on the couch enjoying the Christmas carols and the delighted exclamations of my children as they revisited the memories associated with each ornament.)

[me, pointing] "OG, hang something over here in this big bare spot, would you? No, not that. Something big that will hang down and fill that big hole in the branches. [pointing again] Get that big snowman over there." [Said snowman was one of OG's favorite ornaments, already hanging on the Christmas tree where she'd carefully placed it earlier.]

She made some sort of comment at this point which I didn't catch. But she got the ornament and began to try to hang it in the spot I'd indicated.

[me, again] "No, not like that. See how it's resting on that branch all weird? Move it over a little, so it hangs in the big open spot."

She tried again, muttering something about how she had hung it in the original spot because she didn't want it to get broken. It still ended up weirdly crammed-in and hanging strange.

"Here, let me do it."

Yep. I did it. I got off the couch and moved into control-freak-mode... more concerned about how the tree looked than about my sweet daughter. Of course, I didn't realize this at the time. It wasn't a conscious choice. It all happened so quickly... so naturally... so easily. How easy it is for me to want things "just so," as long as the "just so" is my way!

The first thing I realized was that she was having trouble gettting the thing to hang nicely there because it was difficult to get the thing to hang nicely there. I was having trouble, too. I kept moving it and adjusting it and then, quite suddenly and inexplicably, it happened.

The delicate fragile globe of thin glass that was the snowman's body broke. I heard it and saw it at exactly the same time. I don't even know how it happened, really, except that I guess I hit a branch with it at just the right (wrong!) angle.

The next sound I heard was her sharp inhalation. The next sight I saw was her face scrunching up into that of one who is going to cry. She really couldn't help it. The ornament was special to her, having been given to her by her grandmother in 2002, when she was only four years old. She had hung it in a special place to avoid its getting broken.

And now it was broken. Not an "oh, a little Super Glue will fix it" kind of broken, but a "very thin delicate clear crystal globe is now about to cut me" kind of broken. Irreparable.

And preventable. If I had only let them do the job... and gloried in the bare-spot-laden Christmas tree that is the glorious privilege, for so very few years, of those who still have little ones in the house.

Tears have been shed, I'm sorry's have been spoken, and hugs have been exchanged. But I have awakened this morning a different person, again reminded that people are more important than stuff, and that I must daily lay down my ever-present need to control and orchestrate.

"Freedom from myself will be the sweetest rest I've ever known."
- From Prone to Wander, on the album "Deep Enough To Dream" by Chris Rice

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