Saturday, December 26, 2009

When the Walls Start Crumbling Down

“Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be.” ~ Anonymous

Christmas Eve was the day for a little home-building at the Carrington-Smiths. As we do every year, we purchased three gingerbread house kits – one for each child – extra icing and candy, and plenty of little extras to add to the decorations.

Thursday morning, the kids could hardly wait through breakfast to get started. We set all the supplies out on the kitchen table and proceeded to open the kits. To our disappointment, the walls in one of the kits were broken. “No fear,” I told the kids feeling more ambitious than normal, “we can try to fix the walls with a little icing before we set them up.” It sounded like a fun project to tackle…my son held the broken pieces and I squirted icing in between them; we then pushed the pieces together and waited until they dried out. By the time we had “glued” all the walls – each was broken in three or four pieces – I was halfway glued together myself, and certainly wore enough icing to be certifiably decorated for the holidays.

We finally set our fixed walls on the tray. It took but a handful of seconds for the whole structure to collapse. My kids looked at the house and then at me in horror, and tried to guess my next reaction. Indeed, my thoughts battled between throwing the blistered thing into the trash and trying again; finally I made a decision: Was there really a point in forcing together something that obviously was not meant to work? I could try to glue the pieces together one more time, but if they fell out once, they were probably going to crumble under the weight of the roof again. It was time to count my losses and go back to the store.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I was immediately reminded of the reason why I never go to the store on Christmas Eve – the parking lot was full and people were acting as if we were storing bunkers in preparation for a nuclear explosion. After being blessed with a parking spot – compliments of a lady who left when I got there – I made my way into the store. I went straight to the table where the gingerbread house kits were displayed, picked one up and headed toward the cash register. As I got ready to get in line, the automatic doors of the store opened to allow a lady in. She took a few steps toward the produce section, and then she thunderously yelled: “Happy Holidays, everybody!”

Serial killers could have been shopping that day, yet she didn’t care – her spirit was just too full of joy to be selective about the people she sent good wishes to. Watching that display of pure and unconditionally positive energy made me smile and it made my trip to the store quite special. If I had stayed home and continued to force together pieces that no longer fit, I would have missed this beautiful moment.

Sometimes we feel that by letting go of something that no longer works we are giving up on it, but in reality we are only accepting the fact that some things are just not meant to work. When the cracks are too deep, and efforts to fix the situation have failed, it is best to let go and make room for something new. The new gingerbread house only took a few minutes to put together since the walls were healthy and strong, and once the kids finished decorating it, it turned into a little masterpiece. The walls we weren’t able to use also went to serve a good purpose – we spread peanut butter and sprinkled birdseed on them for the wild animals living behind our house. What started as a disaster turned into a fun lesson to learn, and in the end we all had a wonderful time.

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