His young cheeks are rosy from his internal furnace, his feet are bare, he’s nearly vibrating with energy. Every day, our son sits down to school in front of the Advent calendar. He makes sure his sisters have done their due diligence. From December 1 til Christmas, they take turns removing one impossibly small stuffed nativity character from its numbered pouch and sticking it somewhere in the white space with a manger in the center, awaiting the tiny Jesus plush.
His eyes scan the pockets, he counts back, counts forward, “can’t wait” he says, because this year, he gets to slide the baby Jesus into his rightful throne crib. He “can’t wait” for Christmas, as he looks behind him at the tree, sparkling and surrounded by (color-coordinated) gifts. He “can’t wait” til we drive to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Florida. He “can’t wait” to see his Tulsa Grandparents. He just…he “can’t wait.”
It makes me laugh to hear him, to experience him, bounce with anticipation and pure expectation. He knows all the good stuff we’re planning and he just wants it now.
But of course, he has no choice. He has to wait. He does not own a T.A.R.D.I.S. For those who may be uninitiated in the glories of Dr. Who, a T.A.R.D.I.S is, simply put, a time travel machine. He can not speed up the days to whirl faster until we arrive, bright and lovely of a Christmas morn. He has to wait.
I love the way he waits, though. He does not wait by sitting in a corner, willing his days to fly by. He does not sigh and moan that nothing good could ever happen until it is Christmas and he’s eating his favorite coffee cake under the tree, surrounded by torn paper and boxes. He does not wait, just desperate for an end to the maddening days.
He wakes up every day, bounds out of bed, ready to grasp whatever adventure his hands find. He tackles his school work, he tackles the trampoline. He tackles pretty much everything with delighted expectation. He is looking for the good he is sure is coming. It has to come. It’s promised.
My waiting looks more like a blind dash from one fire to the next, nary a sophisticated thought between them. Normal life is hectic enough, but when we bow to the pressures of holiday craziness, it’s worse. Parties, extraordinarily long gift lists, other people’s expectations, obligations and duties, last minute scrambles: it can seem like one, giant, not-very-much-fun draining of the wallet, the passing of ho hum time. When I say “I can’t wait,” I mean it with a spirit of relief more than anticipation. When I can throw up my hands and declare my work is finished, that there’s nothing more I can do, then I will find rest.
Our son has mastered the wait. I suppose it’s because he’s 8 years old that his perspective is dewily optimistic. My purpose, my objective this week is to embrace the wait like he does. He can’t wait because he’s so excited. He can’t wait because he holds fast to the promise of good. He can’t wait because he trusts that was has been promised will arrive. He is truly looking forward to the fun, rather than looking at a stack of to-dos that seems to grow even as we cross off items we’ve done.
I want to wait like a child. With the expectancy of a child, looking for a promise fulfilled. What will that take?