Monday, December 31, 2007

They're through with standin' in line to clubs they'll never get in.

After coloring themselves with their new markers from Santa, Harry announced that he and his brothers had a new look.
"We're rock stars, Mom," he said. "Good ones," he added.
I don't know what that means, exactly, but suggest they call themselves The Unsupervised.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sowing seeds of love

In prison movies, there's often a character with LOVE tattooed on the knuckles of one hand, and HATE tattooed on his other hand. I can usually relate to this guy, because he's obviously spent some time introspecting and searching for balance in life.
The holidays inevitably bring out the yin and yang of the universe, giving and receiving, and this year certainly has presented a swirling mass of feelings to wonder about whilst starting at my knuckles. We had a pleasant Christmas with friends and some family members (LOVE) while other family members have acted hurtful (HATE), causing me to grit my teeth and ponder human nature!
Last night, I went to bed feeling decidedly bitter about the state of affairs, and was then further vexed when Wyatt started projectile-vomiting all over my bedroom. I'm sure I was sneering at midnight, hoping morning wouldn't come too quickly.
But come it did, and with it a package that melted the icy brittle that had formed around my heart.
My friend Jennifer has a sister, Pam, who is a schoolteacher. Her class is made up of 23 fifth-graders who don't have a lot, and every year, before Christmas, Pam and her sister & another friend, Julie, try to gather and put together little gifts for the kids to give to their families. Pam takes a bunch of little items into the classroom, and the children take turns selecting things for family presents. As it happened, in the weeks before Christmas, I had a lot to give away, as I packed up my mom's house. Pam, Julie, and Jennifer bundled up a variety of my mom's belongings, and Pam presented everything to the class so that they could shop. We all thought it would be really nice, and that the timing was great for everyone involved.
This morning, as I shuffled around with my first cappuccino, Jennifer and Julie came over and gave me an 8 x 10 envelope filled with thank-you notes from Pam's class. Having been steeped in a little too much rudeness over the past few days, I was taken by surprise that the kids had been so thoughtful to write to me, especially since I didn't realize that Pam had told them where the stuff had come from. But she had, and reading those hand-written notes was one of the most profound experiences of my life.
Each child expressed happiness, thankfulness, and gratitude. They wished me a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and told me what a blessing these "things" of my mom's had been to them. Most of them took the time to tell me what they picked, and I knew exactly what they were talking about. The tea kettle. The doll. The mugs. The wooden owl. The picture frame. And they told me the person they'd chosen to give their gifts to: "My mom." "My nana." "My dad." "My cousin who is nine months old." Card after card -- twenty-three young people expressing how happy they were.
I was blown away.

I sat at the kitchen table, crying unexpected tears of joy, and I felt deep gratitude for what they had given me: kindness and appreciation. I have never imagined a feeling so wonderful, and I felt not only the balance of life restored, but glowing with positivity. My mom's life has been packed up, but not put away. The love that she had in her continues to reverberate like ripples on a pond, and it is gratifying, and uplifting, and it dissolves bitterness.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Peace on earth!

After all of the planning and shopping and wrapping and cooking and running and costuming and driving and sorting of the past several weeks, things finally came to a halt on Friday, with the boys' last day of school.
They had their first sleep-over Friday night, which was super-loud, and we all stayed up very late. Saturday morning, I made a mountain of pancakes for everyone, and then after the young guests left, Troy took the boys to see a movie.
Still in my pajamas, I plunked down in a very comfortable chair and watched, "The Awful Truth," with the incredible Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. And this was my view...for hours. Hours!

A pretty perfect day!
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Comfort & joy

The approach of the Christmas season probably always brings about a heightened sense of emotion, with so many feelings and memories, not to mention the expectations inherent in the holiday. I've been overwhelmed with a jumble of emotions lately, with a busy pace and an overloaded brain.
In a stroke of what may be cosmic genius, my mom's house sold a few weeks ago, so I have been getting ready for Christmas while also sorting and packing up her belongings. I don't think a harder job exists than to pack up a life; it's almost indescribable. But I'm also lucky to have sold her house in this market, and although this was the task I'd been most dreading, it is a relief to be finished with this last order of business.
They always say that if we didn't experience the lows in life, then we couldn't fully appreciate the highs. Not that we have a choice -- but of course, there is a lot of truth in that sentiment. And so, although I've shed a lot of tears this month, and periodically wondered if my local pharmacy has enough Ativan in stock for me to reach the new year, I know the worst is over.
I've also been keenly aware of how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful family and supportive, loving friends. As I've slogged through December, I've been very grateful for the moments and things that have brought me real joy.
The boys' Jedi training exercises are a continuous wellspring of humor for me.

I love our tree. I sit quietly and look at all the ornaments, sometimes thinking of their provenance, but sometimes just enjoying the simple pleasure of gazing at pretty, shiny things.

It's good to see Winter, an anxious cat, enjoy undisturbed solitude underneath the Christmas tree.

The best: Griffin writing a letter to Santa Claus.

One night, out of the blue, I received a phone call from an old friend of my mom's. She said she had a Raggedy Ann my mom made, and she wanted to send it to me. My mom used to make these dolls for the children of special people in her life, and I was thrilled to get her in the mail days later.

The first thing I did was lift up her dress to see her belly. "I love you."

At my mom's, I found the three little bears and their terrier! These little stuffed animals have been around all my life, and when I was a little girl, I played with them for hours on end. The bear on the far right was always my favorite. Look at his crooked little bowtie. He is also special because he has an articulated head that is controlled by a wire lever in back where his tail might be. By moving the lever up & down or back & forth, you can make him nod or shake his head. I used to ask him a million yes-or-no questions, and make him respond.

Another priceless find for me was this wall hanging, which I remember from my earliest Christmases. Sparkly and charming, you put your Christmas cards in the pouch.

My aunt and uncle sent us a giant box of Lebkuchen. It's more than we can ever eat, I think, but the decorative packaging is fabulous, especially one little box shaped like a house, complete with opening windows and doors where you can see Hansel, Gretel, or in turn, the Witch and her fiery stove.

Now, with most of my gifts wrapped, I am looking forward to Christmas. I just ordered Christmas in Connecticut and can't wait to put my feet up, watch the movie, and eat some popcorn.
Peace to us all.