Monday, December 6, 2010

Lesson 24: Everyone Needs A Silent Night

I have received a huge response to this blog, far greater than I had ever anticipated.  There is always someone new coming up to me saying, "Hey, I read your blog and it was really funny!"  It makes me feel good that people enjoy my stories.  People seem to have two common questions, and I have been asked them so many times in the past few months that I will comment on them here.

The first comment is usually something regarding my writing style.  They ask if I make drafts, edit, rewrite, etc.  Truth is, I don't.  I can't explain why.   I just sit down and write.  It's always been something I do easily.   The ideas just flow out of my fingers effortlessly.  I am a much better writer than I am a speaker, though.  Sometimes I have a hard time fielding an off the cuff question, or think of the perfect comeback three days later.  We all have our strengths, I guess.  People call it a gift and that could be what it is.  I am just glad that I can share my gift with others.

The second most commonly asked question I get is, "When do you find time to do this?"  My response to you is this, "During my silent nights."  It reminds me so much of my new favorite Christmas song by Amy Grant, posted above.  It is called, I Need A Silent Night.  I just found it this year.  I am not sure how new it is, but I know that if you are a mom getting ready for Christmas, you need to listen to this.

I have been asked to categorize myself by being asked to determine  if I am an early bird or a night owl.  First of all, I don't like the thought of characterizing myself as a bird because birds are, well, flighty.  I don't think "flighty" is a word that describes me best.  In the event that I am forced into giving a response, I usually reply, "Both." 

I come from a family of strange sleep habits.  I think they began during the years we all lived crammed in the kitchen when my parents were renovating the first floor of the old, red farm house.  Maybe I never slept soundly as a child with all the clatter of four people and a dog living in the kitchen.  We all are early risers and like to get up with the sun.  My mom gets up early just because she is nibby and doesn't want to miss anything.  I think the years in the Coast Guard still stick with my dad.  He'd get us all up with a bugle if he could, but thankfully he doesn't have one.  I remember being a teenager and Karen and I would be asleep on a weekend morning.  He'd call up the stairs, "Girls, are you going to sleep all day?"  We'd roll over to look at the clock and see that it read 7:53 am. 

We also can party with anyone into the wee hours of the night, and belly up to the bar with any college student.  The difference between Overdorff's and college students is that Overdorff's don't sleep until 11:00 the next morning.  This has given me the base skills to be an excellent parent.  I can be up until 3:00 am with a vomiting child, catch a few z's before 6:00 am, and I am good to go.

How I do it?  I am the Queen of the 10-minute Cat Nap.  Plus, I like being thought of like a cat much more than I like being thought of as a flighty bird.  Cat's are sleek, stealth, and beautiful.  Plus, they eat birds for fun.  When I say 10 minutes, I mean just that--10 and only 10 minutes.  More than that causes you to fall into a deeper sleep and it leaves you to either wanting more, waking with that groggy feeling, and screwing you up for the night ahead.  10 minutes is enough to take the edge of fatigue away and leaves you feeling refreshed.  During my dad's "Overtime Years", especially the last three that he worked at GE, I saw him tilted back with his eyes shut many a time.  I would say to him, "Dad, you're sleeping--why don't you lie down?"  He would reply, "I'm not sleeping.  I'm just resting my eyes."  This is a line I use in my house all the time.

So it is mostly in the wee hours of the night, after I put my kids to bed, when I work on my blogs.  It relaxes me and gives me time to think through my day, as well as about all of you.  I think of things that happened to me that were funny that day, or perhaps something that inspired me that I feel just may inspire you, too.  It is in the silence of the nights that I find my words and find my God.  He blesses my fingers and lets me use my gift to benefit others, even in this simple way.

Once last winter, I was going to bed very late, probably well past 2:00 am.  I brushed my teeth and was about to turn off the bathroom light.  My bathroom is on the east side of my house.  I can look through the trees and see into my parent's bedroom and living room on the west side of their house.  They don't like me saying this, and will hate it even more when they read this, but I always look across the yard to see if their lights are on or off and to make sure everything seems OK.  The long standing joke is that if I ever look over and see flames shooting out of the windows, I am running across the yard and saving all of my Christmas presents hidden in my old, upstairs bedroom first.  Then I will run downstairs and bodily throw them out of the house.  Sorry.  I have my priorities, especially in December.   Nevertheless, as I looked across the yard, I saw my mother standing outside on the back porch step, looking up, twirling around. 

It was a particularly beautiful night.  The snow was falling gently and it landed softly like tiny little sparkles, one piling up on the other.  She looked particularly beautiful and youthful that night as the flakes landed in her white-blonde hair.  I could see her smile from across the yard. 

The next morning I asked my mom what she was doing outside at 2:00 in the morning.  She countered right back asking why I was up watching her.  Sharp lady.  Mom said, "I was smelling the snow.  It was so clean and fresh."  I thought that was a beautiful way to describe an even more beautiful night.  I also realized that I am a chip off the old block, albeit an ice block on that night in particular. 

So ladies, when you are listening to the song, play it a couple of times through.  If you are about my age, I think many of the words will fill you with memories of Christmases past and make you think about how your mom handled Christmas compared to how we prepare for it today.  When you feel tired, overworked, and under appreciated this holiday season, take my advice.  Invest in a ten minute cat nap.  Then stay up late and have a Silent Night.  Watch the snow fall, count your blessings, and listen for God.  Sometimes he speaks to you softly in the still of the night, like tiny little sparkles that land in the snow.  You don't want to miss that.


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