As I write this, I have the sweetest little nugget snuggling at my feet. I’ve just hung up with my Mom for the 4th time this morning as she packs for our family trip to the lodge.
Not to be outdone, those calls have been squeezed in between calls from my sisters… “Any last-minute ideas for an 11-year-old that will fit in a suitcase?”
…while the other sister has a completely different set of problems…
”So, K just googled Santa Claus and now he wants to know why there are so many pictures of different people trying to look like the same man. Thoughts? Oh yeah, he also googled the Easter Bunny and wants to know why he wears tennis shoes sometimes…”
Can you guys tell I’m the oldest or what? he he
Thankfully the dogs slept in a bit this morning, I’ve already had a hearty breakfast and several cups of coffee so I am fully prepared to give measured responses to these questions.
I’m sure there will be more to come.
I opened the door this morning to the most beautiful sunrise. It was the prettiest shade of blush with strings of silver and clouds of pale lilac. I sat on the back-patio swing as the dogs wandered around the yard just taking it all in.
I can hardly believe Christmas is in 5 days.
To be perfectly honest, almost every day since S’s fall I’ve woken up feeling a weird mix of hope and exhaustion, purpose and overwhelm, worry and gratitude. On the outset, it doesn’t even seem possible to have all those emotions at the same time much less consistently throughout the day, every day, for two months.
There have been times throughout this caregiving journey I’ve felt at a total loss. Not because of having to be a caregiver but because it doesn’t come naturally to me. I don’t feel good at it at all.
The thing is, I know this experience was placed on my path for a reason and while I don’t understand it, I know it’s being used for my good so I’m trying to embrace it.
A few years ago, my Mom was helping her brothers and sisters take care of her parents before they passed away. I remember how worried she was we wouldn’t have a “magical Christmas” because she had been living in two different cities for an entire year.
She was as sleep deprived as I have ever seen her which is saying a lot because she pretty much raised us by herself while my Dad was off serving the nation for decades.
One day when she was particularly low because she knew their time was drawing near, she called me up all kinds of teary and said, “I just want to apologize for Christmas in advance this year. I know I haven’t been available to you guys very much. I feel tired and scattered and all over the place. I worry about our winter wonderland experience daily and at the same time I feel like I should be here with my parents. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to make Christmas special this year.”
I’ll freely admit it was really difficult to hear her struggle. But if there was ever a moment, I knew I needed to rise to the occasion, it was this one.
“Mom,” I said in a quiet but confident voice, “you have given us a magical Christmas for as long as I can remember. It didn’t matter what home we were living in, what state we were living in or how far we had to drive to be with our family – you are our Christmas magic. There will be times when we receive gifts and other times when we are the gift. And this year, you are a gift to your parents. We will never fault you for wanting to spend every minute you can with them. Go make happy memories for as long as they have left.”
That year was the first year in the longest time our family’s tree ornaments did not coordinate with our wrapping paper. Instead, we used all the ornaments from our childhood along with ornaments my Granny made us over the years and piled the skinniest pencil tree you’ve ever seen high with handcrafted love.
My dad strung gobs of lights on the tree, then bought each of the littles a box of icicles and candy canes from the drug store and let them go to town decorating.
I’ll be honest, most of the icicles were in big chunks but to hear them squealing with delight every time they added a bit of sparkle and candy canes to the Christmas tree was priceless. It was truly a magical Christmas.
Three months later, my grandparents passed away.
And since their passing, not once have we ever regretted spending extra time with them that Christmas nor missed waking up in matching pajamas, opening loads of presents, having a magazine worthy decorated home or enjoying our annual Christmas Eve dinner by candlelight.
There are times when you may have every detail work out in perfectly planned unison to experience a truly magical Christmas – and those are the times where you are given the gifts of Christmas.
Then there are other times, where a single event changes your Christmas plans in an instant – and those are the times when you have to remember, you are a Christmas gift to others.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand the spirit of Christmas is as magical as you make it, no matter what your circumstances.
For the real magic of Christmas, can’t be contained in a box or found under a Christmas tree.
May the stars shine brightly over your homes this Christmas and throughout the holiday season. And may you feel His love and rich blessings in all your Christmas gifts.
With love for each of you,