Saturday, January 3, 2015

Jennifer Hatch, December, Au revoir

My 7-year-old son set a New Year's resolution to get to bed by 8 p.m. By Jan. 2 he gave up. "I didn't get to bed on time last night so I can't do that resolution anymore," he said.

Sound familiar? I was feeling similarly in the dumps about my December project, which was to improve my French. (My children are in a French immersion program at their elementary school.) In addition to daily reading I wanted to incorporate French customs and food into our family's holiday celebrations, learn carols in French as a family, and hold a family home evening about my husband's memories of Christmas in Quebec on his mission.

I started off with a bang, doing exercises in a textbook. I learned about St. Nicholas Day, on Dec. 5, and wanted to leave our shoes on the hearth for Pere Noel to fill, as he does for children in France. But Pere Noel hadn't done any shopping that early in the month, and our non-observance of St. Nicholas Day also marked my silent disregard for the rest of my project. 

Realistically, this wasn't a good month for me to tackle a fun, but non-essential project. As the month wore on, I remembered the crushing power December always holds over me. I shared with my visiting teacher how overwhelmed and unprepared I felt. "You were this way last year," she pointed out. It is my hardest month. I don't know why. Probably a lot to do with expectations I don't think I can meet. Several times I broke down in tears. One was the Sunday before Christmas; I stepped into my car after church, closed the door and lost it. I had a nightmare about my husband hurting his head again and woke up shaking and crying, a response I've never experienced. A man who lost his wife in November came to my doorstep with a gift for my family, and I wanted to weep. 

Yet, just as I will encourage my son to keep trying with his resolution, I will attempt French another time. 

If only to make myself feel better, I want to chronicle some of the things I did accomplish in December, some with help here at ProjectsConnect.

• I printed selections from my blog into a book for my mother. I converted the filmed interview of my father (my February project) into a DVD that I gave my parents and brothers. I lacked the equipment to do the transfer on my home computer, so had to research a local company that could do it in-house, because I was time-crunched and did not want to risk losing the miniDVs in the mail! It's just like me to leave a project like this to the last minute.

• The most satisfying activity was taking my piano students to neighbors' homes to perform for them. I did this in two groups on different days, during piano lesson times. We traveled to two houses to play carols and then returned to my home for cookies and cocoa. I wanted my students to find joy in sharing their talent with others. It was the best.

• We played pixie for a family in our neighborhood and secretly delivered a piece of a nativity set, scripture reference and treat associated with the nativity character (like candy canes for a shepherd) to their porch over several nights. It was fun, but there were a few nights I was tempted to give them the whole set so I didn't have to keep haranguing doorbell ditchers (uncooperative kids) to come with me.

• We painted my boys' bedroom (same color as their sisters' room, part of July project).

• Jeff's grandfather passed away on Dec. 15. I got to show my love for Grandpa Hatch by playing the organ at his funeral (had to practice a lot!) and taking the kinds of pictures that he would have done. I then made them into a gift for my father-in-law, who is shown in the bottom photo accepting the flag. Phew! It really was a hard month.

I've enjoyed being part of ProjectsConnect this year and getting to know a few of you better. Thank you for your support. Au revoir!


Becky said...

Wow Jennifer! I think what you lacked in French practice you made up for times 10 with your other meaningful projects! December is wonderful and hard all at the same time. You did great taking care of the important things!

Meg said...

I agree, you did do a lot of great things last month! December is crushing... I don't know why it has to be so hard. I've enjoyed reading your posts this year so much! Thank you!

Dana said...

Oh I'm with you on the hard month of December. If only I could let go of expectations and personal desires.

Nora Mair said...

Quite an amazing amount of good good things. Next Christmas you should tell your self you're already doing the most amazing thing which is being able to feel (however paralyzing it is). I think you epitomize the Saviors example and love by being able to mourn with those that mourn and meet other's needs so well.