"Kids, your dad got a job in Winnipeg, so we're moving". I'm not sure what the exact words of that conversation were or when in the grand scheme of things it took place, but I was somewhere in the first half of grade 5. And although I had lived in Winnipeg before, I had lived in small town Pinawa since I was 2, so I didn't remember life any other way. I do remember being excited to move to the "big" city where most of my extended family lived...and where there were malls that contained more than a post office, pharmacy, bank and The Bay (which was 2/3 grocery store and 1/3 everything else).
If you don't know Pinawa, Manitoba, it was built around a nuclear power plant where pretty much one or two members of every household worked. That one member was my dad, with my mom working at the bank in the mall. Everyone knew everyone else, and nobody's door was ever locked. I remember once when my parents decided to become "Block Parents" and listening my mother explain how important it is for kids to have somewhere safe to go if they got lost or needed help. I laughed and said that's silly, no one can get lost in Pinawa, and you could go to any house if you needed somewhere safe.
Although my trips to Winnipeg were always fun, and I never had reason to doubt that I'd like life there, I knew I was going to miss my friends. With only 7 girls in my class we all got along as a tight little gang of friends, trying to find our way amongst all the boys (I think there were 20 or so of them). I knew I'd especially miss my best friend Jenny, who I spent hours playing Barbies and whatever else with.
After all was said and done, we moved, and in February, right in the middle of grade 5, I started at a new school in the big city. I was terrified, standing there at the front of the class on display as the teacher introduced me. At recess, no one spoke to me. At lunch a girl named Lindsay came over and we talked and I thought "Finally! A friend." But I quickly learned that Lindsay was the class outcast and even talking to her made me an outcast by association. Lindsay and I got along okay, but she was a little strange and I wouldn't say we had lots of fun together. And not having anyone else as a friend was hard. I remember the culture shock of a whole new world. Small town living had left me a little naive, and when kids at school were talking about sexual terms and phrases I had no idea what they were talking about...even when I was teased for my last name. That summer, Lindsay and her mom moved away and I never heard from her again. I hate to admit it, but I was glad. I started grade 6 with no friends once again.
One fall day at the bike racks after school, another girl and I had the same bike, and as it turned out we lived close to each other. I'm so glad Jennifer took a chance at becoming my friend. After that, Jen invited me into her circle of friends, her family and her church. In the end, God's timing was perfect, Jen and I are still friends, and at that church my faith grew and took shape into a friendship with God, and I met my future husband. I don't regret the tough friendless times, because I know they both made me grow and they helped pave the way for so many of those friends that I hold dear as well as my marriage, which I know is a precious gift. I never regret leaving that small town which was all I knew, because when I see the ravages of teenage boredom in a small town among my former peers, I wonder if I too would have turned to drugs, alcohol or suicide.
As long as that blog was, I was really writing because of a whole other event in my life, which has stirred up so many feelings from grade 5. Tomorrow I start a new job. I've worked on the Children's Hospital surgical and burn unit since I was a student more than 10 years ago. I've made so many friends doing a job that I love. But for some reason I felt an urging to move and learn, so I applied for a job in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). I wasn't even sure if I would take the job when I faxed in my transfer form, but I was soon cornered by the Unit Manager who offered the job without me even having the benefit of time to waste thinking about it while there were interviews. And now after the mandatory 4 weeks notice, here I am on the eve of my new job. It's only for a year during someone else's maternity leave, and I've floated to PICU a few times before and always enjoyed working there (even though I haven't taken care of the really sick kids on ventilators yet). Over the next couple months, I'm going to be buddied with other nurses, and spend some days in a classroom learning the things I don't yet know, so I needn't worry about my skills or about killing anyone. But once again, I'm 10 years-old with butterflies in my stomach hoping that someone will like me. I have the urge to bake something to win them over...but then I think I'll look like I'm trying too hard. I'm trying to figure out which uniform to wear, wishing I had the time for a haircut and eyebrow wax. Trying to figure out what to pack for lunch...certainly not the leftovers from tonight's fish supper. I can't stink up the lunchroom on my first shift. Here I am, that awkward girl inside me panicking and screaming "why would you do this to yourself again?". But you know what they say, no pain, no gain.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I hear so many people say "Christmas is for the kids". I can see how people can think that, especially for those who Christmas is more about traditions and celebrations than God. I know I shouldn't be surprised at the feeling that Christmas is just another day to dress the kids up and give them stuff (I wonder if the pagans are as disappointed at what we've done to their Halloween). After all, try finding a box of "holiday" cards in Walmart that actually say "Merry Christmas". A few years back at work, the annual Christmas tea was replaced by the winter something or other tea. I respect those who celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanza and whatever else their beliefs lead them to, but I'm more than a little saddened by the all the people out there who celebrate "Christmas" that are totally missing the point. It's so easy to get swept away, even as a christian, in the shopping and baking and get-togethers. It's disheartening to watch Jesus be pushed out of the way to make room for traditions and celebrations. At the same time I want to have some traditions with my family. I want my children to appreciate the birth of Christ as the center of Christmas, but at the same time I don't want my boys to grow up resenting our faith for spoiling the "festivities". And I must say it seems so hard to juggle both sides of this season.
Unfortunately, the children get more excited at the gifts beneath the tree than the reason for the star on top. I've been trying to spend as much time talking and reading to my kids about the first Christmas (and why we celebrate this miracle every year) as we spend making the actual Christmas preparations. But the abstract birth of our Saviour two thousand years ago can't compete with the concrete pile of gifts with their names on them or even the invisible scent of gingerbread baking. This morning I was up at 4am and couldn't sleep. I went out into the living room and picked up my bible. It felt so wonderful to just have some quiet time with God, and I walked away from that experience understanding that my children may be too young to be able to realize the depth of the importance of the real Christmas, but I am not, and if I can give Jesus center stage amidst all the flurry of shopping and wrapping and baking, then my children will grow up seeing that, and hopefully He will be more important to them once they can fully understand. I know that it is still important to tell my boys about Jesus' birth and how it is the reason for the season, but I now realize that what is more important is my example.