Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)
- TITLE: Pieces of Paradise
By jody mcnatt
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That girl, turned woman and mother of five, still collects pictures, but her idea of paradise has shifted a bit. Children have a way of shifting things. They are rarely included in glossy, magazine spreads. But God has given us this bulging brood for good reason. My young ones have this uncanny ability to keep me humble and dirty and real. They possess an aptitude for scribbling upon the pristine and trampling over any piece of paradise. Trampling it to something hardly recognizable, but to something, oh, so beautiful - this side of paradise.
Last year, our house was on the neighborhood Holiday Home Tour. I worked for weeks pulling the place together, whipping up as much Christmas decorating design magic as any mother of five could muster. I was heaven bent on creating a Christmas paradise beneath my modest roof. The day of the event I pulled out all the stops. Chopping down fresh greenery with wild abandon. Simmering cloves and cinnamon on the stovetop. Sweeping. Polishing. Pruning. Trimming. I was in full modus operandi - decorating diva unleashed. No one messed with me. Hours before the event, my husband, in a moment of brilliance (and fear), packed the children into the family SUV and escaped my frenzy. I was delighted. I had the place to myself. With 134 minutes to go, it would be dazzling! Finally, I was going to achieve my magazine spread paradise.
The time arrived, and I, lady of the manor, stood regally in kitchen greeting my guests: "Welcome. Come in. Perhaps a glass of sparkling punch? Oh, thank you. Yes, that is, indeed, the smell of wonderful things baking. You are too kind."
I blushed and billowed under their compliments. For me, this was paradise. I had arrived.
It was at that moment, at the peak of my dream-come-true, when the family SUV returned. I could hear the rumble of approach. I sensed the menacing presence of their carnival-like aura before laying eyes on the untidy assemblage. Within minutes of them entering my palace - I mean, house - IT occurred. A kindly, older gentleman picked up a piece of a brownie he believed someone had dropped. He helpfully scooped it up in his delicate hand and began walking toward me. It was like something out of a horror film. Our noses, simultaneously, winced and our eyes locked. We both new immediately what he held was no brownie. We could smell it wafting large in the air between us. Other guests, standing in my oh-so-festive kitchen, began also to wrinkle their noses and look around suspiciously. I could see the massacre unfolding before me, shoes were checked and comments exchanged. Someone - my 11 year old son, to be exact - had tracked in dog doo-doo. So much for simmering cloves and cinnamon. They were instantly trumped.
A search ensued and the culprit was uncovered. Marked shoes had already traveled miles within the house. Nothing was left unscathed with this horrific scent. Christmas decorations quickly lost their luster. The greenery seemed not quite so fresh. My haughty shoulders slumped as I followed the massive trail of filth around my holiday paradise. I believe my home looked like one of those shoebox pictures for exactly ten minutes. That was it. My paradise was trampled to pieces.
A year later, and I am able to chuckle over my unfortunate encounter. The truth is, I wouldnâ€™t give up the dog who left the mess or the boy who tracked it in. Our house is not about home tours. It is not about magazine perfection. It is about messy kids, an occasionally, messy dad, and a mom who wouldnâ€™t trade them for all the quiet, clean and simmering cloves in the world. I still long for sparkling windows and spotless floors, but Iâ€™m convinced, God designed me to be right here. And though this side of paradise doesnâ€™t always look very perfect, it is perfect for me. Even the dirty pieces.
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