Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Watch & Surviving Joel . . .

On my mantle sits a beaten, broken and battered watch that has been in my family for three generations. It is a gift that reminds me that life is full of trouble . . . and love and grace. I am ever so thankful for all three.

My son Joel is especially grateful for the love and grace part. He is trouble! He’s been trouble for years. It probably started the day he was born but I remember most the first Christmas he could talk. He was strong willed and singularly focused on what he wanted for Christmas, a truck. The trouble was that he couldn’t say “truck”. His “tr” sound came out “f” – so put that with “uck” and it was a rough Christmas! He shouted what he wanted everywhere we went and at every Santa he saw. Oh my . . . he was trouble.

When he was thirteen, his dad left us the week before Christmas. By this age he could speak his mind clearly and had no trouble pronouncing his words. So in his anger, rage and wounded spirit I heard the “F” word more times than I care to admit. Most often I was the brunt of his anger and times were tough. If it weren’t for the gift of a Christmas watch that sat on my mantle offering love and grace we may not have made it through those difficult times.
The watch was a prized possession of my grandfather and was smashed by my father in 1938 when he was five years old. After my grandfather died, the beaten and broken watch was given to my father. My dad placed the beaten watch on our mantle and when my brothers, sister or I were trouble he would pace in front of the fireplace and stare at the watch. I never knew what he was doing until my Joel was five and destroyed the new wallpaper in my dad’s house. My dad then told me the story of the beaten and broken watch. He then looked at me and said, “I’ve wondered for thirty years who was going to get this watch.  Now I know. You and Joel are going to need that watch.”  He was right and from that day on, when Joel was trouble, I paced in front of the fire place and stared at the watch. I paced, I prayed and I practiced love and grace.  Joel didn’t know the watch had saved his butt many times until he heard me tell the story this year during a performance.  (listen to “The Watch”)

Joel is 19 years old now and until this year, Christmas had been a difficult time for us. Dealing with divorce during the holidays left us feeling most broken. But this year my Joel has moved beyond brokenness and “Trouble”. He has opened his generous, loving heart to make this our best Christmas ever. He decorated our home, purchased our tree and even though he still wants a truck, he gave me a washer and dryer for Christmas. He hugs me every time he walks by and he whispers, “Love ya ma.”

I'm not sure if the change in him has been an invasion of the body snatchers or the gift of the watch, but I do know Miracles do happen at Christmas!

May all your Christmas mishaps and times of trouble be met with love and grace . . .

From my  home to yours, Merry Christmas.