Thursday, December 13, 2007

Boxes Everywhere, Music in the Air!

Christmas time is an interesting, frazzled time at our house. We have gift shops/gift kiosks at our two airport restaurants (restaurant actually gives more credit than should be due...think of it as a step above a snack bar!), and with ski season kicking in we have to order lots of giftware and souvenirs. All of this begins to arrive via UPS after Thanksgiving along with Christmas presents from grandma's and friends and "Santa's" online ordering. It is not an exaggeration to say that our UPS driver is on a first name basis with us and the poor guy ends up delivering 4-8 boxes every single day to our house for weeks! You know you have too many deliveries when your UPS driver knows to deliver Christmas looking packages to your work address, even when you have forgotten and had it sent to your home address. One of the benefits of living in a smaller town :-)

Although I am so grateful for our work opportunities here, which through incredibly long hours put in by my husband make it possible to live in our version of "paradise" here in Colorado, the one thing I wish was different is that ski season preparations didn't take the fun out of Christmas at times. It is hard to focus on the real Season when we are gearing up for 4 long months of hard work with all the planning that goes with it.

But here I sit, typing on my laptop in front of a truly blazing fire in our woodstove, my bottom settled in a cushy couch, the sounds of my children and husband laughing in the background, and I have not a thing to complain about. I have several friends who love me and show me often in actions and in words, friends near and far who really care about us.  I have a blanket of snow covering the land surrounding us, something that as a child growing up in Southern California I never dared dream of (3 acres of my own open space OR snow!).

This will be my first Christmas as the mother of 3. Our house feels fuller now, it doesn't feel as much like we are all rattling around in it. There are memories being created here right now that will carry on well into the future, that will be handed down to my grandchildren someday...traditions like setting up the creche my own grandpa built for my mom when she got married and quietly setting baby Jesus down in it, having Mexican food on Christmas Eve which I remember from my own childhood and don't really know why we HAD to have Mexican food...but we did. Then there are new traditions that are unique to our own little family such as attending church for the candlelight service on Christmas Eve, saying prayers for birth families we will never meet, and looking at "Waiting for You" ornaments hanging from our tree which commemorate the "pregnancy" period of each of our children.

Then, there are the harder things that come with Christmas, like thinking about my Dad's death in December 16 years can not be possible that he has been gone that long, but he has. How I wish he had met my sons!! I have always been glad that I married young, married someone he approved of very much, in fact someone who was very much like him. He had years to get to know my husband, to know I would be well cared for. I like to think he is looking down on us, smiling at their antics and Matthew's love of military and airplanes. I feel sad that he was cheated out of finally having someone to enthusiastically share his love of aircraft with. What a wonderful grandpa he would have been, and never had the chance to be. And yet I remind myself often that part of him is with his grandsons every time I hug them, every time I repeat something he preached when I was a kid. There have been moments when Matthew was particularly very young, maybe 2 1/2, when he would mention his Grandpa Rock in such a way that I almost felt Dad's presence right there with me...and maybe that is not so far fetched considering Matthew is the child whose interests are most like his.

There are also the questions I am asked, like recently when Kenny asked "Why did Santa Claus not come see me in Kyrgyzstan?". How do you answer that one without tears in your eyes? How does one explain that there are children in this world who are forgotten? And how does one explain to one of those forgotten children that Santa Claus only exists for those children who are held close to someone's heart? Instead I elect to explain that although Santa may have forgotten some children, God has never forgotten them.

We all attended a wonderful Christmas concert this past Sunday, compliments of two friends who performed who kindly gave us free tickets. I was so surprised that all 3 boys expressed how much they really enjoyed the 2 hour long event, and how they all sat enraptured by the live music and the large choir. Perhaps it will be a new tradition we will add to our repetoire.

Friendships are weighing heavily on my mind this Christmas, for many reasons. They sustain me, they fill the gaps, they restore me, they provide me with opportunities to accept love and to offer love back. They make us feel secure, cared for, nurtured. They laugh with us, but never at us. They tease us about long running jokes that only they know about, like ending up in Salt Lake City somehow when you are on your way home from Vegas, or hearing a cat meow at your rahcning friends house and saying "Is that a duck I hear???" like an idiot!!! Friends show us in extraordinary ways that they care about us....they do our laundry and leave it folded on our front door step, they stand in 20 degree weather for an hour with no gloves on holding up broken garage doors as you try and fail to fix it, they amaze you by laying your entire Pergo floor staying awake until 2:00 AM to finish the job, they live hundreds of miles away and yet say "I will help you, let me shop for you and take a load off your mind" as you are beginning to slowly come unraveled at the thought of traveling halfway around the world with 2 kids in tow to bring home another. They don't all express their love for you in the same way, and that is what makes it special...they each have their own love language. There are many times when I feel inadequate at friendship, as if I receive far, far more than I can ever repay. Then I am reminded that it comes and goes in seasons, sometimes it is the season to give, and sometimes it is the season to be on the receiving end. Ther receiving end is a hard palce for me to be. I have had friendships that have broken my heart, and will no doubt have that happen again in the future. But I will never, ever regret a single relationship, they all add such dimension to our lives. And I am blessed with friends that are without a doubt, the very, very best.

Then there is my friendship with God, my greatest friendship. He is all that I have mentioned above and more. When I am alone, afraid, uncertain, sad or feeling deflated and defeated, He takes my hand in His and walks with me. He has given me a spectacular and unique life filled with experiences I never would have anticipated. He has given me strength to express love unequivically, to show emotions when they are deeply felt, to not run and hide when it hurts. I wasn't always like that but as I have grown closer in my friendship with my God, I have seen inside my heart better and I understand on a very basic level that certain things need to be expressed. Perhaps much of this comes from the loss of my father at a younger age (I was 25), but it hit home very strongly that saying "I love you" is never something to be ashamed of, to be feared. You may never have the chance to say it again if you don't do it when you should. Of course, I don't walk around saying "I love you" to my friends all the time, that would simply feel awkward and weird! But there are times when it needs to be said, to be proclaimed loudly and boldly, fearlessly. I have given up looking "cool", being detached. When I love someone, they will never have to guess it. When I have a friend, be they young or old, I will give them my all, no one I love will ever have to question in their minds if I care for them. And I hope that no one who meets me will ever question whether God is my friend or not.

So tonight, as I finish this after sending out some private emails about an issue close to my heart, the fire has died down to mere embers, the boys are all asleep in bed, including Dominick, and my rambling here is near finished. The day to day life I lead is unremarkable, at best. It is the life of a soccer mom, a minivan mom, a Cub Scout mom, a choir mom. I yell at my kids over lost jackets and forgotten homework, I lose my cool over stepping on Legos AGAIN. I get frustrated over not having enough money or "honey-do lists" that never quite seem to be gotten to. I am not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, nor is my life perfect. If so, my yard would look as if it was from House Beautiful magazine, and I would have no grape juice stains on my carpet. Yet I have been chosen to be the mother to 3 of the most incredible children a mother could ever ask for, I have been given the gift of a husband who has walked through this life with me hand in hand since we were children, I have been given the friendships I needed just when I needed them most. All I want for Christmas is love, love for my family, love for my friends, love for children who are not loved. I don't need pretty packages wrapped with glittering bows, I don't need crass drunken office parties, I don't need images of perfect families on TV specials showing me all that I should have yet don't.

I have it all, I really, really do. And I hope you do too, with all my heart I hope you do.


Anonymous said...

There you go again! Bringing tears to my eyes! Another beautiful chapter that leaves me touched in so many ways. You make life's daily struggles and challenges feel okay. I am so thankful to know you and your family and wish you all joy as you celebrate the season as a growing family. I love you lots! Miss Joan

Anonymous said...

Wishing you the warmest and happiest Christmas - tell Kenny that Santa LIVES in Kyrgyzstan, and maybe was just too tired at the end of his run to make it to Tokmok... :-) See the articles from about a week ago about how Santa MUST live in Kyrgyzstan....the Kyrgyz government has launched a search for Santa's home...I kid you not. All our love from Vegas.

Karen said...

No doubt about it, you've got your priorities straight. You are truly blessed and to be able to express it so eloquently is a gift to all of us.

Happy Holidays,