Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I want for Christmas...

I have not made a list for Santa in countless years. When I was little, and things were bad at home, the thought of asking someone for anything my heart desired was comforting and thrilling. My sister and I would pore over the toy catalog and in our own minds, pick out every last thing our hearts desired. Our extremely edited lists for Santa were much more tame and less ostentatious.

As I grew older, the need for another person to get things for me seemed a little silly. I had a job, and if I saved, I could manage a little Christmas cheer for myself throughout the year. My lists consisted of what others might want for themselves. My job was to make their wishes come true. It was something I reveled in and still enjoy doing.

But this year, I have a list. It is not a big one. It is one that I think Santa would have trouble with. Not because of the objects I desire, because really, there are none. It is what I want that is so much more difficult to have right now.

All I want is for our normal to be back. A house full of people. A kitchen full of food. Minds free of worry.

This year, our reality is a little different from our "normal."

For the first time since John and I have been together, our family will not be able to be together for Christmas Eve.

In spite of having no adverse reactions to her chemo that is now nearly half complete, Grandma is back in the hospital, dealing with post operative recovery. On Friday, it will be a week since she was admitted. Her surgery yesterday was successful and I know that she will be just fine.

Grandma's reaction to the whole thing? "This Christmas is something we will look back on and be grateful for. That in spite of everything, we are fortunate."

That, friends, is grace under pressure. Of selflessness. Of making lemonade out of some pretty sour lemons.

But after knowing how wonderful it is to share Christmas with those you love, it is hard to give it up, even with good reason.

So, Santa, if my list contained several pricey items from Tiffany and Company, I am willing to bet that you would have no problem getting everything for me.

Santa, could you send some health our way? We have plenty of optimism, hope and love. We just need some extra helpings of health to enjoy the wonderful gifts we share every day.

But, in the end, it really doesn't matter what is under the tree. What matters most is who is there to share it with you.

Wishing each of you the joys of the season, and the warmth of your loved ones.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happiness is watching our boys grow...

Happiness equals thirty fingers and toes.

Wrinkly noses lightly dusted with freckles.

Bright, crinkly eyes, long curved lashes

That rest on smooth, innocent cheeks.

Gap toothed smiles, tooth fairy visits.

Mom snuggling boys on the couch,

Nestled warm, sharing a fuzzy blanket.

Lanky, growing legs wrapped in pajamas.

Loud laughter echoing throughout our home.

Every single day of the year.

But most especially, during magical Christmastime.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

And they lived happily ever after...

Fifteen years ago tonight, two kids got married. They were twenty two years old, in love, newly degreed, new homeowners and basically broke. They took the biggest leap of faith ever. Amid a meringue like wedding dress and even pouf-ier veil, with no safety net and no clue of what they were getting into, they said "I do" in front of a small gathering of family and friends, celebrated at a small reception and headed off into the sunset.

Fifteen years later, there are three extra bodies in the household. The new house became the old house. The Bachelor's degrees gave way to a Master's degree and a varied assortment of certifications and accolades. Carefree became responsible. And those two young kids are now thirty-something parents of three boys.

Fifteen years has seen a lot of changes. Jobs, cars, hairstyles, eating habits, spending budgets, saving budgets, vacation plans, travel modes, television programming and communication methods. We have lost so many loved ones, welcomed so many people into our family and hearts.

Here's to the next fifteen, love. In spite of the odds, in spite of our infinite differences, we recognized each other and have held on like hell. For the most part, it has been the most wonderful thing we have ever challenged ourselves to commit to, besides parenthood. At times, the ride has bumpy, arduous and challenging. But there is no one else on Earth I would rather go on this rollercoaster with.

Thanks for asking. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for being my biggest supporter. Thanks for still making my heart flutter when I hear your voice, when I see you walk in the door.

Thank you for entrusting your heart to me all those years ago.

In spite of the thick eyebrows and wild hair.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gifted in ways still unknown, undiscovered

When words have their way with me:

Floating through my dreamy mind,

Coursing out of my frantic fingers,

Pounded on keyboard, appearing magically onscreen;

I am in awe of such a gift.

And hope that words from me;

Written, spoken, whispered in quiet prayer

Are always truthful to my heart,

Kind to those who need it,

Healing to broken hearts and souls,

Thought-provoking for those needing challenge.

But mostly, that they cause a

Smile to dance on your face.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A life, as told in pictures

Monday night, my husband and I had my sister come over to watch the boys. The reason? One of our closest friend's grandmother had passed away.

Normally, I am this family's official representative at funerals. John, squeamish about the whole business of death and funerals, will stay with the kids.

But these are our closest friends. I have known D since I was thirteen years old.   We went to junior high together.  We went to high school together and managed to hang out during breaks from college.  D met M at college.  They moved down here and we become inseparable. They came to our wedding, we were part of their wedding party two years later. I found out I was pregnant with Matthew the day before M's first baby shower. I baptized M two and a half years later. Our kids consider themselves family. Because we are.

D has lost all four of his grandparents within the last four years. His mother, whose mother died, is an only child. She bore the responsibility of caring for her aging and sickly parents alone. She has now buried them.

So, Monday night, we drove in the bitter cold and went to sit with our friends. To hold their hands. To hug and whisper small words of comfort. To help lighten the burden of mourning. Again.

As the priest quietly said Mass, I held John's hand. I looked down and saw how much are hands have changed as they lay intertwined. How much they have stayed the same. I wondered what life has in store for us, how we will handle all the unknowns that lay before us.

After the funeral Mass, we made our way to see D's family, especially his mother, to offer our condolences. We noticed that they had made a display of pictures. Pictures that chronicled the life that had now passed from this one. A young woman. A bride next to her uniformed groom. A mother with her daughter. The first picture of the day they arrived to the United States to live out the American dream.

In viewing those pictures, I recognized some of the events, chuckled at how young we all looked, smiled at good times that are now memories. The life of this eighty four year old woman, reduced to photographs gleaned from a lifetime of memories. Of the happiest moments shared with her family, captured for all time.

I thought of all the other moments.  The ones we carry imprinted on our hearts.  The countless other moments that have no image other than the one deep within our souls. The ones we carry and browse through in the dark moments of sorrow.

It got me thinking.

How will our children display our lives when we pass? What conversations will come about as they glance at a picture of their father and I, captured in a moment of happiness? What will they remember of their own childhood? What stories will be told?

What kind of mother will they remember?

The week has been a blur. I have been short-tempered, tired, anxious. It has been too cold. The mornings have been hard. I haven't been able to run. I have been able to shake the creeping anxiousness.

Too many sad anniversaries are coming up. My aunt has been gone for a year. My grandfather has been gone for twenty two. Our dog has been gone for four years. My sister in law's mother passed on my sister in law's birthday, the very next day.

And yet, within that sadness, we will celebrate Susan's birthday. And our anniversary next week. And Christmas ten days later.

And there will be more pictures to chronicle this life together. As a family. As individuals.

To remember. To revisit. To comfort.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The daily routine of modern motherhood

Day in. Day out. Time scheduled.

Every minute of every day; accountable.

Wake. Run. Shower. Awaken sleepy children.

Pack. Kiss goodbyes. Commute. Coffee. Teach.

Plan lessons. Grade papers. Encourage. Dismiss.

Commute. Pick ups. Drop offs. Errands.

Homework. Dinner. Bills. Clean up. Endless.

Children bathed, tucked in bed; finished.

Momma's tired. Momma's bathed. Momma's asleep.

Repeat. Every single day. Cheerfully. Tirelessly.

Every minute of every day; blessed.

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