Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Season of Comfort and Joy

A Season of Comfort and Joy

This year it seemed that the Christmas Season was truly one that brought me great

The preparation for Christmas seemed a bit overwhelming at first.  We had not even unpacked all our moving boxes when yet Thanksgiving was upon us.  My daughter Amy visited us on Thanksgiving for a few days.  I told her she could not go home until she put my tree up, and so she did, and there it stood, naked, without a thing on it, for nearly three weeks.  

One day, miraculously, it seemed, the Christmas boxes full of decorations that filled the dining room were emptied, places were found for all the beloved Christmas decorations, the tree was decorated, and the house was ready for whatever the season had to offer.  In fact, when the last Christmas decoration box was put away, I realized that for the first time since we had moved in on October 22, all boxes on the top level of the house had been unpacked!  For the first time since we moved in, I saw the dining room floor, better known as the unpacking place, without one box on it.  This was our first Christmas miracle that brought great joy.

A highlight of the season,
an event always sure to bring 
great JOY
 much comfort,
the East High School Girls of '63 Christmas Party.

The EHS Girls
I love these women!
Sometimes I can't even believe that we are all still together after all these years.
We continue to laugh, and giggle, and make jokes whenever we are together and the years just melt away.
Iris and I, shown together below, comment often on how much this group means to us as the years go by.  Here we are joking about the size of our antlers.

Some of the girls went to grade school together.  I was blessed to meet them all when I was fifteen years old.  When I look into the faces of these beautiful women, I don't see us as older women who have known each other for over fifty years.   I  see my girlhood friends each of whom has the same sparkle in her eyes that was there when we were teenagers.  Some things never change.

High school  friendships that deepen, and grow over the years are priceless.
There are few greater gifts than these rich relationships.

Family time during the holidays also provides great JOY.

I didn't always have a camera with me to capture the wonderful time I've had with family.  Moving to Colorado Springs has meant that I am now back in the same town as my siblings and cousins.  For years, some of the cousins have not lived in Colorado.  In the past year, three of us have moved back to our dear hometown.  My cousin, Diana hosted a wonderful get together at her home just before Christmas.  Having just married her wonderful husband Steve in May, this couple, still honeymooners, were wonderful hosts.  Thanks, Steve for bringing Diana back home to Colorado!

Somehow, I didn't get photos of our first dinner guests in our home.
My brother and his wife came over to share some homemade Snow Chili, cornbread, and great conversation on the Saturday before Christmas.

On Sunday, my daughter and her two children arrived.
Mason is on his way to becoming a great gift wrapper.
I can't talk his mom into wrapping my gifts anymore, but Mason was willing to do so, and he did an awesome job!  

Boston basked in all the love and affection that he received from Hannah.
Hannah, who really, really wants a dog, (so does Mason) spoiled Boston rotten.
He received many hugs, belly rubs, and enjoyed cuddle time with his best girlfriend.

Christmas Eve:  A Time to Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas

I love this nativity that we purchased a few years ago.
I love that it includes five sheep.
I place the little lamp next to Mary and think of Julie.
I think of her as spending Christmas sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Amy, Mason, and I went to church early on Christmas Eve where we were to meet my sister Carol.
Carol's great surprise and great joy was discovered when she exited her car in the parking lot.
Her son, his wife, and her granddaughter had driven in from California and surprised her in the church parking lot.  We were also so excited to see them home for Christmas.
Sister Carol surrounded by son Erik,
and his wife Nancy and granddaughter Katie
at our home on Christmas Eve

I don't know when I have been to a more deeply moving Christmas Eve service.
Many in the congregation lost homes in the fire this past year.
The service, a beautiful, inspirational candlelight service, reminded us that as was prophesied  in Isaiah

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light 

Having walked through many a dark day throughout the last few years,
I felt great healing as I sat next to some of those I love most with tears running down my face rejoicing in the birth of the One who came to bring Joy to the World.

After church, our unexpected guests came to the house for dinner.  Thankfully, I had more than enough food.  I was a little worried I wouldn't have enough homemade rolls.  I rationed those until everyone got at least one.  Everyone was impressed that I can still bake good, homemade rolls.  (I was a bit surprised they actually turned out.)

As I told my nephew Erik, it is good to know that when one fixes too much food guests are provided to eat it all!

Christmas Eve in our new kitchen!

Sister Carol with her handsome son
and beautiful granddaughter

Christmas Day

It was so much fun to have Amy and the children here for Christmas morning. 

Amy got a styling new hat!  Doesn't she look great?

The kids were so excited over their gifts.
Hannah got her longed for Uggs.  She looks so grown up in them!

After a brunch of more good food, the kids were off to spend the afternoon with their father.
I discoverd Boston in his bed shortly after they left.
Was he worn out, or was he sad to leave them leave?  I think it was a bit of both.

I took some time to practice using my new camera that my wonderful hubby surprised me with.
Isn't it just beautiful?
I love it.
It is my favorite color!

Then we welcomed the next round of guests who stopped by for a short visit.

Jim's daughter Trinette and her family
Christmas 2012
They were followed by the next guests.
Jim's daughter Thia and her family
Christmas 2012
And so, this is how we celebrated the first Christmas in our new home.

It was a white Christmas.
It was sunny and bright.
And it was filled with great JOY.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I'm Thinking of The Mothers...

I hesitate to write anything about the that terrible event that took place on Friday, December 14, in Connecticut.  What can I add to what has already been said?  Does it matter that I want to tell you that my heart is broken over the loss of those beautiful children who died in an unspeakable way?  Does it matter that my heart is broken that members of my profession died caring for students entrusted to their care?

No, my words of shock, heartbreak, disbelief, and sorrow really do not need to be added to all the other words that have been written in the public forum about this tragedy.  And yet, I must write because my voice needs to be raised so that all those who have suffered because of a senseless act of violence will know that they are not alone.

As a mother...
My heart is broken for those mothers who lost a child on day that most likely seemed like any other day.  I know those mothers never dreamed they would not see their children at the end of the day.  I know the shock that comes when you hear the words that we fear most in life, those words that announce that our child is dead.  I know that shock.  I know that heartbreak.  I have suffered hearing that news, but I did not have to hear that my child, an innocent six or seven year old, was brutally murdered.  I did not have to suffer that.  That, I cannot imagine.

If I could speak to these mothers, I would say...
Your heart will heal, but you will have a broken heart the rest of your life.  This broken heart will ache because you will never again look into those eyes that brought you so much joy.  You will never again hold that dear child again, and you will always ache to do so.  I hope that despite this ache, this pain, this sorrow, and this feeling that life just can't go on, you will find the resilience and the hope and courage to heal.

To the mothers of all those who lost a child at Sandy Hook, I would say...
You are now a member of a club none of us ever wanted to join.  All of us who have lost children hold you in our prayers.  We know of your pain.  We share your pain.  You are truly not alone.  You will heal best if you gather all the support around you that you can.  Grieving is a solitary action in many ways, but it is also one that also requires much support from others.

I was told by a doctor that I should not be afraid of letting go of my child for fear of forgetting her.  I don't know if that was good advice or not.  I only know that she lives on in my memory.  I remember clearly her eyes, her hands, her hair, her smell.  I remember her voice.  I remember.  I will not forget, nor will you.  She lives in my heart, the heart that is broken, the heart that is healing.

To all the parents who lost children at Sandy Hook, I would say...
There are no words to convey my sorrow.  There are no words that can begin to convey the pain that I feel for you as I think of you walking down that path that is in front of you.  I know there will be so many legal details for you to deal with.  That will be hard.  I know there are so many questions that will never be answered.  My prayer is that you will be strong, and that you will weep, but that in that weeping you will find healing.

On the first Sunday of December, The Compassionate Friends Worldwide holds a candle lighting ceremony to remember all  children who have died.  This year, I lit a candle for my daughter Julie.  Next year, I will also remember all of the beautiful children from Sandy Hook Elementary.  Please click on the link below to hear a beautiful song of remembrance for all those whose children died too soon.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Mundane - Scrubbing the Floor

My days are consumed with:
moving things from one place to another, 
 trying to find out where an item fits best.

Adding to the stress of moving things around,
I've thrown in the Christmas boxes
that now 
lined up in dining room
where the other boxes 
all used to

The Christmas tree is up.
It is naked, except for the lights.
It is a pre-lit tree.

Every piece of furniture needs to be
The carpets need to be
The wood floors need to be 

It is the laundry room that is catching my attention today.
The laundry room is
the entryway from the garage,
the place where the dog is 
and where he messily
laps up
 bowls of water.
The laundry room is
the place where the dog is 
when we are not at home.
The laundry room is Boston's room.
The floor is
with dog hair.
It is
muddy and dusty.
No matter how much I feel 
to unpack 
to decorate
the Christmas tree,
I am more 
to scrub 
the laundry room floor.

And so, I 
sweep up
the dog hair that covers the floor.
I then find some floor cleaner, and a rag.
I get on my hands and knees and begin to scrub the dirty floor.

Then, I

Julie was not yet two years old
 in the memory I have of her as I 
the floor on my hands and knees.
On that day, now 36 years ago
I was also 
the floor on my hands and knees
Christmas had just come and gone, and
the other children were back in school.
I was very, very
 with my last child, my fifth. 
Jonathan was born on the last day of January that year.
As a mother of four children under the age of ten,
with another soon to be born,
I was
very tired,
but the huge kitchen floor was very dirty.
On my hands and knees, I
and worked 
my way around the room, 
getting every corner sparkling clean in preparation for the birth that was imminent.

the task of cleaning accomplished,
I headed downstairs to do a load of laundry while the floor dried.

while I was downstairs,
went into the newly scrubbed kitchen.
I remember thinking she was way too quiet upstairs.
That was never a good sign.
When I came up the stairs,
my arms full of clean, neatly folded towels and sheets,
I heard pots and pans banging together.
I went to other side of the kitchen island to investigate.
There was
She had been very busy.
She had taken all the canned goods out of the lazy Susan and put them on the newly cleaned floor.
She had then taken out all of the pots and pans and placed them by the canned goods.
She had then taken eggs and broken them over the cans of food, and the pots and pans.
My floor was a mess.
Julie was happily playing house.
I wanted to cry.

Today, I 
as I 
that long ago day when I had gotten down on my hands and knees
 to scrub
the kitchen floor.
It was a mundane chore then.
It is still a mundane chore.
It is also a chore filled with treasured memories 
of a tiny,
curly haired,
little imp,
my little pixie,
always so busy,
always so inquisitive,
always so creative,
whom had made a mess on newly cleaned floor so many years ago.

I may have been exhausted,
I may have been overwhelmed,
but those feelings are forgotten.

I remember 
 while I
the floor.

Today, the mundane task of 
the floor brought back golden memories. 

I miss you Julie.
I love you.