I had a major meltdown on Saturday.  It was too good not to post.
The hubby and I had been planning for a while to host his office’s Christmas party.  Ok. Maybe not for a while, just a few weeks.  And this was only because it was next to impossible to find a night when most of his coworkers could attend.  They finally decided on the 14th, knowing that our son’s basketball tournament was also the same weekend, in Monroe.  No problem.  I am obviously superwoman and can make all things come to fruition.
Life got busy after we set the date weeks ago,  really busy, as it always does every year at this time.
 Here’s what my Friday looked like:
 
 9 a.m.    Carted the youngest to her archery competition from 9 to 11
11 a.m.   Home to finish cleaning house in prep for Saturday’s party- Make sure the boy finished his Adv. Biology test that he was really stressed over, knowing he must leave by 1 to get to Monroe in time for his 4 o’clock tip off beginning the tournament
1 p.m.    Get the college girl, boy, and high school girl off to Monroe – then frantically make a run through Target to find a birthday gift for the youngest’s friend2 p.m.    Deliver youngest to another friend who will then drop her daughter and mine to third friend’s slumber party birthday event.  Fight horrendous traffic on the busiest avenue in this area

3 p.m.  Retrieve husband from home, get gas, and merge onto highway toward Monroe

4:30 p.m.  Arrive for first tournament game just as the SECOND half is beginning
6 p.m.  Dinner with team
8 p.m.   Check older 3 offspring into hotel, and head home in torrential downpour
10 p.m.  Fall into bed, mentally making a list Saturday’s doings
Saturday morning I started in.  I had wonderful heavy hors d’oeuvres ‘fixins’ waiting to be put together, three of them containing meat or shrimp.  I tell you this as I want you to remember this little snippet later.  Around 10 a.m. I ran to the store one last time and picked up my daughter from her sleepover party.  I knew my plate was full today, but everything was under control, no terrified rushing was needed, and, I’m superwoman remember?  So, upon arriving home, I efficiently prioritized what needed to be started and readied for the oven. We were expecting about 30 people or so, and I had calculated all the ‘party food’ rules for how much food to prepare.
Hubby had been working on the outside all morning.  We had pulled up some big bushes and limbs and they’d been waiting on the front lawn for the special trash pickup that we’d been assured ( in two weeks and three calls) would be coming.  So, he just loaded them all up himself and took them to the dump, a huge load.  Once he’d finished that, he needed a shower and was ready to help me inside.
So then, I think it was about 1:30, the conversation in the kitchen happened.
The sweet man who shares my life casually informs me that this party that I’ve scheduled in my mind for Saturday NIGHT begins IN FACT ,  AT 3:00!!!!!!  Huh?
Let me just give you a minute here.  Because I needed a minute there.  (And yes I know that last sentence was a fragment, but my brain, at that moment, split in two.)  I really think I somewhat hyperventilated.  There were a few tears, but mostly trying to rein in my brain to RE-prioritize how to squeeze 5 hours’ work into 1.   I will never forget the youngest’s eyes as she watched the mom’s meltdown unfold.  Her eyes were as big as quarters.  (And I need to just give her a plug here as she just helped as she could, with no complaints all day, without sleep the night before – which makes for  a crabby bear child on a normal day.)  Eleven-year-old’s do amazing things once traumatized.
It gets better.
In my blur of the next half hour, I turned toward the front window, which I can see through my kitchen.  Why were people coming up the walk?
I just want to let you know here that I am a good girl.  I have never had a potty mouth, I wasn’t raised that way.  And, this second, can I just say that I was grateful for my baby keeping my mouth in check.
I walked slowly to  the door and opened my world to the sweetest new best friends.  THEY told me that the invitation said the festivities started at 2!!!!!!!!  Not 3 !!!!!!!!!!  (I would have had another meltdown here, but now there are people I’ve never met who are watching.)
I think it was then that my brain tried, for a minute, to process the whole communication issue in my marriage.  Obviously we had not even talked about the time for this.  But, who has time to think about that small issue when 30 people are arriving at your house with a kitchen in turmoil, 3/4 of your slaves children gone, and you haven’t even checked the toilets?  Even right now as I write this, we haven’t broached this subject.  I probably did not read the forwarded email, and probably assumed the party started in the evening, like ALL the other parties we’ve hosted during our military time.
Back to my new sweet friends.  They jumped right in and helped me get it all together, both personally and logistically.  We laughed and laughed.  Other friends called to tell me they were on the way, and I promptly plead for cokes and ice.
In my trauma, I had forgotten for a minute who these people are.  These are the guests who know what it means to get things done.  Responsible throughout their careers, for the most sensitive and deadly military weaponry known to man, these folks know how to solve problems.  Their spouses are no different.  I’m so grateful for their help in getting me through this afternoon.  In every way.
Sunday morning’s sermon brought it all home.  The upside-down story of Christmas is similar.  We can try and try for perfection.  For some reason, the bar is raised even higher to impossible expectations during this season.  Our feeble attempts at making wonderful memories sometimes seem just that, feeble attempts.  We worry about disappointing those we love or keeping up the facade of keeping it all together, making it look easy.  God knew and knows us.  He knows our feeble attempts at life.  So he made a way.  He changed the rules and sent Jesus to do the work for us.  Only when we answer the door in hopelessness, do we find the Joy that is waiting.
 
I somehow thought I would be judged when I opened that door.  They would see all my ‘mess’, my messy kitchen, messy floor, messy toilets, messy life.  But instead they just hugged me and went to work.  They were my Jesus.  
 
I’ve prayed for JOY this season.  I learned, this day, it has absolutely nothing to do with perfection.
 
Joy arrived in my kitchen, right in the middle of the mess.