I was watching “Home Alone” with Emily this morning and we got to the end of the movie where Kevin looks out the window at the old man who is embracing his son after apparently patching things up. If you are familiar with the film you are likely recalling this touching moment and can relate to the tears that were welling-up for me.
It is just a great scene from a fun and memorable movie.
Unsure of what to say to Emily in this moment, I simply commented that Kevin’s house was gorgeous, a very beautiful home indeed! To which Emily replied with my favorite quote of the year:
“Yeah, like a really fancy orphanage!”
But that comment somehow sums-up what 2014 was like for me: Fancy and fun from the outside, and a little crazy and frantic on the inside. From the early months of the year on my knees in prayer that I would somehow escape the drudgery of the torture chamber that had become my work life at the toy company, to a summer out of work but loving an amazing time with family, and ultimately landing a fulfilling job with a local company, it has truly been a memorable year.
And along the way I have met some nice people and some not-so-nice people. There have been people praying for me and people dropping F-bombs so frequently in my presence that it sometimes feels as though I am living inside a Quentin Tarantino movie.
The first week on the new job included the unfortunate humiliation of sporting a rather large and disgusting zit on my right cheek. As I was being trained and getting to know my new co-workers, I couldn’t help but feel the probing and sympathetic eyes of people who were strangers to me, all the while trying to focus on tasks, products, policies and procedures with a pulsating pus-ball on my face. It was no walk in the park if you know what I mean.
But even before I landed the local job there was the mysterious time during the summer when our family appeared headed to Idaho. I was in active discussions with a potential employer and it really seemed like relocation with a good possibility, but ultimately I was taken to the ledge of what seemed like a viable offer not once, but twice with this company, only to be advised that it wasn’t in the cards. That didn’t stop us from paying a visit to the Potato state, and our road trip in the rickety family van was a lot of fun. We looked at neighborhoods and walked through amazing homes and even visited potential schools. We met with a wonderful real estate agent – a sister in The Lord – who we now consider a friend of the family, and she took us around town and showed us the sights. This was definitely a place we could live!
But it wasn’t meant to be, at least for now.
Most recently our lives have been crazy-busy with Emily’s involvement in several musicals, and we are elated that her love of singing is finally being put to use in an enriching setting. It has been an adventure of sorts running her to multiple rehearsals for three different shows and I am very proud of my daughter’s ability to remember her lines and the words to all the songs. It has been amazing to see her perform. Emily also just completed volleyball and is starting soccer, while her grades are looking really good.
But with every measure of good that I just wrote about I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the drama that we experienced recently when my daughter was nearly suspended from school for some inappropriate behavior. Because it became public knowledge quickly within the school community, it became a source of embarrassment for Emily, our family and especially for Samantha, who works at the school as the Admissions and Marketing Director. Thankfully Emily wasn’t suspended, but the drama of the entire situation was a strain on every member of our family, and when you consider that we are less than two weeks away from Christmas – a somewhat stressful time in and of itself – our joyous time has been a bit unsettled.
Trevor has been a trouper throughout it all, and he is sort of like the Kevin McCallister of the Fulton family (perhaps without the verbal berating that poor Kevin takes in the film) as he goes about his own busy life without any drama or complaints. He is growing up a little too quickly for me, but his personality and observations keep me laughing even when the stresses of this life are sometimes a bit overwhelming.
Trevor: “Daddy, is Santa Claus real?”
Me: “Well, what do you think buddy? Do you think he’s real?”
Trevor: “I think he is a zombie.”
But perhaps no moment in our lives this year quite sums up the frantic, crazy, practically unbelievably hectic journey than this past Wednesday evening.
Trevor was with Grandma while Sam and I were with Emily as she had a performance at Bethany Christian Fellowship in San Pedro. We got her there in plenty of time and while she and the cast were doing sound checks and the like, Sam and I decided to take a stroll down the street to fetch some Starbucks. It was nice to have some alone time with my wife, as the pace of our life this season has simply not permitted much quality awake time for the two of us, so as we strolled and talked and looked at Christmas lights I was treasuring the time.
That time lasted all of four minutes.
The first siren seemed to be far away, but soon there were more and then suddenly there were multiple black and whites upon us, one even made that cool maneuver where it skidded to a stop and an officer quickly exited open door with gun in hand. Soon there was a suspect on the ground surrounded by cops, so we quickly turned and headed the other direction, but more police cars arrived and they were setting up barricades. There wasn’t to be coffee in our immediate future, as all we wanted now was to get back to the church to our daughter. Soon there was a police helicopter overhead and by the time we made it back to the church the entire surrounding neighborhood seemed like a war zone.
Interestingly enough, the folks at the church seemed unfazed by all of the activity, as they were doing crafts, singing Christmas carols and enjoying snacks. We told anyone who would listen that trouble was afoot, but nobody seemed to care. The show must go on! But honestly, this was the “interesting” section of San Pedro, and having lived in city previously (for 12 years), I definitely recall the feeling of looking to the sky and not really being bothered by the ghetto birds hovering above. You just got used to it.
On this night people were more focused on looking heavenward in remembrance of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.
As we commemorate Christ’s birth I am truly thankful to call myself a Christian in this time of turmoil and craziness in our communities and in the world itself. As Christ has conquered death and His Holy Spirit lives in me I know that the trappings and difficulties of this world hold no power over me, and that God chose to send His Son to earth in human form to live among us, teach us and ultimately die on a cross for us, I am humbled, blessed and honored to call Him my Lord.
It all started in a manger all those years ago. Jesus was born.
So as this year comes to a close it has been fun to look back and see some amazing stuff and live to tell about it. My “fancy orphanage” of a life is made pure through the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus, for whom we celebrate at Christmastime.
May this post find you and yours celebrating and rejoicing as well.
Perhaps you will watch “Home Alone” tonight and give all of this some thought. Please take a look at Kevin’s home and tell me what you think.
Merry Christmas to you!