Tag Archives: Family

Senses That Bring Back Memories

It is interesting how our senses bring back old memories.  Hearing a song from the past can put me right in a place of my youth.  I remember and feel the feelings I had at the time.

Recently I made a recipe from Joanna Gain’s Magnolia cookbook.  It was a pasta dish, and it was delicious.  I commented to Dennis that I used to order a dish very similar from from a restaurant I used to go to.  I could see the restaurant in my head, I could feel the feel of the place, but I couldn’t put a name to the restaurant.  It was so frustrating.  Last night I made the recipe again.  I am glad I cut the recipe in half the first time because, although the recipe says it makes six servings, that was an understatement.  

This recipe was so good, and once again the memory of that restaurant came but this time I looked up at Dennis and said, “Macaroni Grill.”  Just out of the blue it came back to me.  Dennis commented that I had taken him there a couple times before the restaurant closed all its locations in Missouri.  I didn’t remember that we had gone there.

What I remembered was very significant.  I told him the memory I had was right after my sister, Judy, was diagnosed with cancer, and was told they could only give her palliative care.  For those who do not know what that means—they had no way to get rid of this cancer where it was located in her body and the type of cancer it was.  They could try to slow its growth and make her comfortable, but in the end, the cancer would win.  She was only 67 years old.

I vividly remember coming to the restaurant.  Judy’s husband, Ev, was there already.  Judy was coming with our other sister, Marilyn.  Marilyn had flown to St. Louis from West Virginia to be with Judy when her treatments would begin.  The two walked into the restaurant, and sat down across from Ev and me in the booth.  Judy looked great—you couldn’t tell by looking at her that she had just been given this awful diagnosis.  

As I told Dennis this memory, all the feelings I had that day came flooding back.  I told him that Judy talked about the diagnosis, and then she stopped.  She took a breathe.  I could tell she was fighting back the tears.  As I told Dennis this story, and was about to say how Judy reacted, I had to stop, I had to catch my breathe.  My voice got shaky, and I had to fight the tears.  It is happening as I write this.  The emotions rose to the surface just remembering that evening.  I looked at Judy, and quietly said, “It’s okay to cry.”  She took another deep breathe, and then said with a smile on her face, “Not in the middle of a restaurant.”  I will remember that line always.

Judy was four years older than me, and our other sister was six years older than me.  Those two were best friends, and I was like the odd man out.  There was a period of time, when I was Judy’s playmate.  Marilyn was a young teenager, and Judy was still little and wanted to play.  We became playmates.  I remember playing paper dolls with her—which was one of my most favorite things—I had Lennon Sisters paper dolls, and Pat Boone paper dolls.  (I had to have boy paper dolls—the girls needed boyfriends)!  Our play time was short lived as Judy also became a teenager, and no longer needed a playmate.

Judy, me, & Marilyn

My most fond memory of Judy was when I had my first child.  She was a nurse at Missouri Baptist Hospital where I delivered all my babies.  She had been a labor & delivery nurse, but had moved to the intensive care unit.  On Sunday morning, September 10, 1972, I was in labor at the hospital.  My husband was in Manhattan, Kansas, and was driving back to St. Louis when I told him I was in labor.  My mom brought me to the hospital.  Back then only husbands were allowed with the patients in labor and delivery.  

Then Judy showed up at my bed.  The nurses called her to tell her I was there.  She took a quick break from her area, to come see me.  She told me it was rather quiet that day, and since my husband wasn’t there, the nurse in charge told Judy that if she could take the time when I was ready to deliver, she could scrub in to be with me.  I was good with that—I had no idea what to expect.

A couple hours later I was ready to deliver my first child.  Back then the method of pain relief most used was a paracervical block.  The doctor would use a long needle syringe to reach the cervix.  Only the tip of the needle was inserted, and the pain medication was administered.  Well, the first one was wearing off, and they doctor administered a 2nd dose.  I could feel all the pressure but not the pain.

Judy scrubbed in and came in the delivery room with me.  She was the best delivery coach.  I couldn’t feel the contractions any longer due to the 2nd shot.  She laid her arm across my pregnant belly, and as the contraction started, she would push me forward and tell me to push.  She was there when Matthew Christian Taylor came into this world with a head of black hair.  As soon as he was delivered, an announcement came over the hospital intercom, “five-five-five, intensive care, five-five-five, intensive care.”  Because I had previously worked at this hospital, I knew “5-5-5” was a code blue—a cardiac arrest.  Upon hearing this announcement, Judy bolted out of the delivery room to her area, and as she was getting on the elevator, my husband was getting off the elevator.  The nurses saw him coming and threw him a gown and told him to go into the delivery room.  It was good to be having your baby with people you worked with—the baby was there already—no need to scrub in, just go be with her.  I don’t think they would have done that with any other dad who showed up late.

The other huge memory I have of Judy was seven years later, when I had an ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy) that almost took my life. The doctors did exploratory surgery to figure out why I was hemorrhaging, so I had an incision from my breast bone to my pubic bone. I was given five units of blood in the operating and recovery rooms. It was a harrowing experience. Judy would drop down to my room every day when her shift was over. She would ask me if I coughed recently—I hated telling her no because then she handed me a pillow to hold against my abdomen, and would tell me to cough. Next she asked me if I walked that day. Of course, I hadn’t, so she would get my slippers and robe, and help me out of bed, and she walked the halls with me. She would tell me that I need to do this to heal. I hated it because it hurt so much. I was in the hospital for eight days. Everyday around 3:30 pm, I knew her shift was over, and she would be in my room making me get out of bed to walk. I wasn’t excited or happy about it, but as I look back, what loving care she gave me.

Now years later, she had been given a death sentence, and there is nothing I can do to help her.  I spent as much time as I could being at her bedside in the hospital, and when she was home, coming to her home to be with her.  From the time she was diagnosed until her death was slightly over three months.  It was probably the hardest three months of my life, watching life ebb away from my sister.

When I would visit her, I always had my laptop with me because 99% of the time she was sleeping.  On July 15, 2012, I made this entry which I titled, “In the Midst of Suffering.”  Judy went to the presence of Jesus on August 9, 2012.  I am grateful that eating this delicious meal brought back memories of my sister.  I miss her, but I know I will see her again one day.  Here is what I wrote:

It has been a long time since I have written anything.  Life just moved on like it had everyday.  There were the regular struggles, but they could just slide off my shoulders.  In the last few weeks, the things in my life cannot just slide away.

Judy is very ill  Her cancer is in her liver and instead of getting better, she is sicker day by day.  Want to feel helpless in this world?  Be around a very sick person.  Be around a brother-in-law who says he doesn’t need any help.  I sit in her room and she sleeps.  Just sleeps.  Her face is red with fever.  She opens her eyes for seconds and then falls back asleep, and I sit there wondering what I could do to make her feel better, to make her well.  And there is nothing.  So I visit with her husband and chat, and go to my computer and read or write, but concentrating is not easy.  Nurses come in and out.  They change the infusion bags.  I watched 2 units of life-giving blood go into her veins, but I don’t see more life.  I see a big brown bag of something, dripping into her–the chemotherapy drugs.  It will be hanging there for 24 hours.  Big bags of fluid and little bags of specialized meds and antibiotics flow into her veins.  And yet she still sleeps.

Do you want something to eat?  “NO” is the answer.  But with the fever she does ask for a lot of water.  No nourishment.  How does one get well without nourishment?  I remember her being so frustrated with Dad when he refused nourishment, and now the tables have turned.  

Ev, very emotionally, says he is afraid he will not bring her home. I think she might go home, but not healthy. I don’t know how she will get in and out of the house. She is too weak to walk. That house is not ADA compliant! Ha! Who would have thought of that? It is a house for healthy people, not sick people. How do we bring her home?

The tears well up when I see so many hurdles.  It aches in my chest.  And all I can do is sit there for 8 hours, go home exhausted, as if I just ran a marathon.  Sleep came easy.  I’m too tired to think of anything else.  

This is a good time for me to get in my “God Spot.”  That very spot where I know I am completely loved by the creator of the universe.  How awesome is that?  He loves me completely.  He loves Judy completely.  He holds us all in his arms.  I close my eyes and I feel his loving arms around me.  I feel the comfort he gives.  Is my sister suffering?  Yes, she is.  But I must not forget that Christ suffered to death.  He knows pain, he knows suffering.  He understands, and not only does he hold me in his arms, he holds Judy in his arms.  See the scars?  He suffered.  He knows.  He loves.  

Tears flow.  My breathing stops for a second.  I don’t know her pain.  I don’t know Christ’s pain.  I only know my pain.  If feels so selfish.  I am here.  I am waking up, eating, walking, talking, seeing my family, seeing my friends.  I am having good days and bad days, I am experiencing life, and it all seems so selfish right now.  Yet, God knows.  He says that is okay–he loves me in my weakness and in my strength.  And I need to feel his loving arms right now.

The last photo of sisters together. 2012

I’m Back–No More Silence!

I realized I was quiet the month of September.  It is unusual for me to be quiet.  No thoughts, no words, no memories.  It was a hard month.  I was so desperately tired of politics, and it seemed to be in my face.  I was still at our Missouri home with a sales contract that was about to expire.  I was not going places like the past because of Covid-19.  It was just a hard month.  

Life, as we knew it, has not been the same since early March of this year.  We sheltered in place in Arizona.  We washed all our packages from the grocery store.  We were washing or hands every other minute.  All I could think about was getting back to Missouri to see our children and hope they were healthy.  

We weren’t sure how to get there in the midst of a pandemic, and having a three day trip where we didn’t want to stay in hotels or eat in restaurants (if any were even open).  Then Dennis got a stroke of genius.  He decided what would work is to purchase a travel trailer that was small enough that his car could pull it.  The only stops we had to make were for gas, and RV parks along the way.  If the RV parks were full, we could boondock in a Walmart parking lot.  

We found a trailer in April, and asked the dealership if they could hold it for a month so we could just pick it up when we were ready to leave for Missouri.  It was quite an adventure.  Our trailer was small, but had a love seat that fold down to a queen size bed, table with two reclining chairs, and a full bathroom, although a small one!  It had a ton of storage, so we were good to go.  We did find that the 2 recliners were pretty useless—first the bolts fell out of them on our first few hundred miles of driving, and the seats were too low for the table.  We have since replaced them with 2 regular chairs, and it was a perfect solution.

We made our way to Missouri, and parked the trailer in front of our home—our home is in the country, so there are no rules about parking a travel trailer.  We made a couple trips into the St. Louis area, and stayed several days at an RV park.  We could visit family without having to stay anywhere but our own place.

Things weren’t much different in Missouri than Arizona.  While Covid-19 was raging through the state of Arizona, it had not yet hit hard the middle of the state of Missouri.  Because it hit hard in the city of St. Louis, visiting our kids was limited.  They were wearing masks 24/7 outside their homes.  They were wary of us coming from the hot spot of Arizona.  

My grandkids ended their school year doing online classes.  My grandson who was a freshman at the University of Missouri, moved back home to finish his classes.  The university was refunding a good portion of their housing money if they moved out.  By June, Jack and his cousin, Niki, were tired of being confined in their parents’ homes, and they ventured their way to mid-Missouri where they stayed with us for almost three weeks.  It was so much fun to have them there.

But, that was not even easy.  A week after we arrived in Missouri, Dennis got sick.  I mean he got, “I cannot breathe sick.”  It was scary.  The really odd thing is that for three doctors’ visits no one suggested he get a Covid test.  Finally, we asked for one and was approved to get it to day the grandkids were to arrive.  I quickly called them and told them to not come until we got the results of the test.  Fortunately, Dennis got the results in 4 hours, and he was negative.  So, I called the kids, and they didn’t want to wait for the next day—they drove out that evening.  I think they really needed a change of scenery.

Their visit was not like previous visits where we went places and out to eat.  We were confined at our home.  The pool was used a lot, they took walks in our wooded neighborhood, an we played a lot of games.  It was a good break for all of us.  Then they went back home, and I needed things to keep me busy.  I started making quilt tops.  I became a sewing fool, but it kept me optimistic, and productive.  I am a project person, and I always need something to keep me going.  

As the summer moved on, the political world heated up.  There were demonstrations, okay, the most of them turned out to be riots.  Cities were burned, people were being nasty to their loved ones for not agreeing on things.  It was ugly.  It made me buy more fabric and limit my use of social media.

I was fortunate to make a couple trips. In July, I flew to the east coast to visit my sister. To my surprise, the airport in Washington D.C. was a ghost town. I had a great time visiting with her and her east coast kids and grandkids. Early September Dennis I drove to northern Georgia to visit dear friends/family. Their mountain home was a great retreat for us. The rest of  September was the low point.  I realized we didn’t see our kids as much as we wanted.  We didn’t see friends and extended family hardly at all.  Our contract on the house was about to expire, and I just wanted to go “home” to Arizona.  We planned our escape back for the first week in October.  It was time to go.  

Our house is back on the market, and we are getting really excellent showings and interest.  It is looking positive.  We packed up the whole house.  There is nothing left but furniture and a few cleaning products.  We traveled back with our trailer and stayed at the same RV parks we used going east.  When we pulled up to our Arizona home, I felt like I was truly home.  That was a good feeling.  We unpacked our trailer and took a couple days to unpack boxes and find new homes for the last of our Missouri belongings.  It feels good to be here.  We haven’t seen any Arizona family yet.  We are still finding our new normal.

The other day Dennis took the trailer back to the place we purchased it for a minor repair.  He said the lot was empty.  We bought our trailer before the everyone decided that was how to travel this year.  The lot was loaded with trailers of all sizes.   A friend of ours was thinking about purchasing a trailer, and when she priced them, they have doubled in price from when we bought ours!  Everyone is on the road with their RV!

So, here we are in Arizona.  Yesterday I took four of my quilt tops to a long arm quilting lady.  No, her arm isn’t super long—but her machine is!  I will continue sewing to keep me sane, and hopefully soon I will get to visit with my Arizona relatives.

Until then—I am back.  We are good.  We are happy to be back home.  Because we are still officially permanent Missouri residents, we voted at the city hall before we left.  Now I can ignore all the hoopla of the elections, and watch for the results on November 3.

I Do Love Gifts!

Businessman offerGifts — who doesn’t love gifts?  As a child, I loved receiving gifts for my birthday or Christmas.  As an adult, I love gifts that bring me memories of the giver.  I got thinking about that today, as I lay on the couch, recovering from the flu, watching the football playoffs, wrapped in a quilt my cousin randomly sent me recently.  Yeah, how often does that happen?  

One day I received a text message from her to be watching for a package to be delivered.  A package from the suburbs of Chicago sent to the suburbs of Phoenix!  I was curious, and had no idea what this package was.  This is what she said, “Expect a package from me on Tuesday for a belated house warming, early birthday wish and a Merry Christmas! I shipped it express mail from the post office and have a tracking number if it doesn’t get there.  Hope you like it!”  My reply was, “Oh okay. What a surprise. Are you coming in the box?  That would be super nice!  I’ll let you know when it arrives.”  When it arrived, I was so surprised to see this handmade quilt from one of my favorite quilter cousins. IMG_1083IMG_1084

What I don’t think givers of gifts realize (at least, to me), is that the gift is not the only thing, but the gift brings memories of the giver each time I look at it or use it.  So, here I am wrapped in this quilt that lays on my living room couch, and I think of Peggy, our years growing up, her kids and grandkids, our times together as adults, and it just makes me happy.

aunt maryI came to this reality years ago, when out of the blue, Peggy’s mom, my aunt, called me and gave me a similar message that Peggy sent.  “Be expecting a delivery.”  My Aunt Mary told me that she found the complete nativity set to the three original pieces I had, and she bought them for me.  It was 2000, and I had recently moved into my new home in St. Charles, Missouri.  I told my aunt that the gift for no reason was too extravagant, and she said it was a house warming gift of something she knew I would like.  Every single year I put out this Coleport by Wedgewood nativity set, and I think of Aunt Mary.  Many times when I would be setting it out for the holidays, I would stop, call her, and make a trip to visit.  The last time I did this, I realized she was slipping.  I told her I came to see her because when I set out this set, it reminds me to visit.  I pulled out my iPad and showed her a photo of the set sitting in my living room. Twice through this visit, she would look at me and ask if I still had the nativity set.  Shortly after that, she passed.

I have informed my children that of all the nativity sets I own, this one is financially valuable, and emotionally valuable to me.  Do not just donate to some charity.  Someone of my kids or grandkids who might cherish this gift I got from Aunt Mary should be the one to take it.  If none of them or interested, maybe they will contact someone of Aunt Mary’s grandchildren and see if they would like it.  Once again, this past Christmas, as I set up this nativity, which each piece is individually boxed in molded styrofoam in a cardboard box labeled by the manufacturer the name of each character, I think of Aunt Mary.  I think of all the times I went to her home as a child to play with my cousins.  Aunt Mary had seven children, so there were lots of cousins, but two were near my age who I played with the most.  Then over the years, I became friends will all of them, older and younger.  When my mom died, Aunt Mary (my mom’s youngest sibling) and I spent much time together, having dinner, watching movies, and spending late nights talking.  I always thought she was taking me under wing with the loss of my mom, but today, I believe I also filled void for her of the sister she was so close to over the years.

SusanI have a ton of little gifts from my friend, Susan Durbin.  She was my sponsor in my 12-step group for codependency, and we became fast friends for years following that.  Most of her gifts were Christmas decor, since my birthday is in December, and she is the great giver of gifts, mostly of giving herself.  I also have little things around the house that are not Christmas gifts.  Whenever I see these items, my thoughts go to Susan, to her sponsorship of helping me to learn to “let go and let God,” to fun times we had doing lunches and dinners, attending my son’s and my granddaughter’s school events, hosting us every summer at her swimming pool where all my grandkids learned to swim.  Her little gifts remind me of the wonderful love we had as friends.  She has been gone for over five years, but these little items bring her spirit back to me.  They bring a smile to my face, that I have been blessed to have her as a friend for so many years.

giftsEven gifts like the multitude of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit we received from cousins who generously shared from their trees here in Arizona — every time we ate the fruit or something cooked or baked with those fruits, my thoughts would go to cousins, Joani, Richard, and Janine, for their generosity, but it also brought back memories of times with them in the past, and now enjoying their friendships currently in Arizona.  All these gifts are bigger because of the givers.

And, then there is the gift that was given to me, that I also did not ask for, did not expect, and definitely did not deserve.  The gift of God’s love and redemption for me through Jesus Christ.  Whenever I am in the presence of the gift, in worship, prayer, in fellowship with other Christians, I am reminded of so many memories, of how God has redeemed me.  How through the death of Jesus, he freely took my sins on himself so I could be in Businessman offerfellowship with God.  I didn’t do any thing to deserve this gift, God gave it freely, lovingly.  It wasn’t an easy gift.  Jesus, being man and God, struggled before his death.  Matthew 26:9 states, 

“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’”  Jesus prayed if this “cup” (what was his coming death) could be removed, but then he knew it was His will to give his life for each of us.  It was a gift.  It is free!  No strings attached!  We just have to take it, just like I accepted the nativity set, the quilt, and all other gifts I did nothing to earn.  I took the gift.  I accepted Jesus’ death as the punishment for my sins, and accepting that gift, I am a child of the God Most High.  I am a daughter of the King!  Wow!  What a gift!  What memories I have and future memories I will have in His eternal presence.

Thank you, friends and family, for gifting me and helping to remember you as dear friends and family.  And, thank you, Lord, for gifting me, so that I am in your family for eternity.  It is the best gift I will ever receive.Romans 5-8

 

Forever Changing

I realized the other day that not only we were into a new year, but also a new decade.  I have lived seven decades and one year.  This past decade has been one of great changes for me.  I went to my computer to look at photos since my Mac can allow me to look at each year of photos.  This quick review has gone on for three days, and I’m not done yet.  There are a lot of photos taken and scanned over the last 10 years.  I think of myself as a newlywed until I realize that the most of this decade I have been with Dennis.  How time flies.  Not just getting married (something I never expected), but the travels.  I have seen much of the United States this past decade, and even a few countries in Europe and the Caribbean.  There are a ton of photos of time with my grandkids—swimming, overnight parties, and trips.  There are photos of family and friends at our home.  Also during this decade I lost a dad, a sister, and one of my very best friends.  Reviewing these photos brought all kinds of feelings.  One of the things that really stuck out to me is the word change.  I remember years ago a work colleague made a comment to me that I always seemed to reinvent myself.  Reviewing these photos reminded me that not only did I change, but my surroundings changed also.

I thought it might be fun that instead of talking about change, that I would show you change in my life and surroundings by showing photos.  I would call it before and after photos, but some are probably before, later, and after still to come.  So her goes:

This is me before and after.  Not much change except a bit of aging.  I suppose that is a process that cannot be stopped. These are both unretouched photos.  Ugh!

These are three of my grandkids and how they have matured these past 10 years.  They were young children, and are now young adults.  I love that I can relate to them as young adults, but I miss these cute and funny little kids.

GRANDKIDS2.jpg

My home in the St. Louis area changed.  It is amazing how changing a floor, countertop, and stairway spindles can give a different look to a home.  I had that home built in 1999, and moved out when I married Dennis in 2013.

The biggest transformation was the home in Mid Missouri.  Here is how the outside looked, and then the transformation to what it looks like today.

And the interior of that house was the same way.  Dennis allowed me to put my touch on it.  We repainted the interior together.  It was frightening to see Dennis on a tall ladder to cut in at the ceiling at 20’ above the ground.

Also, here is the transformed kitchen.  Once again, only the floors and countertops were the big change.

One of the things you may have noticed is that I cleared things out.  When I was a kid I was messy.  I must have been really messy, because as a teenager my dad told me I could never get married unless I cleaned my room.  When I got engaged and called my best friend to tell her, she asked me if I cleaned my room!  I recall telling her that my dad was probably glad to get me and my messy room out of the house.  The funny thing about that is that as I have matured, and clutter really bothers me.  It almost makes me feel claustrophobic.  I need clean lines and a reduction of “stuff” to not feel overwhelmed.  I have learned over the years that less is more—at least for me.

In the last ten years I have changed, not only in appearance, but also on the inside.  I have more confidence than  I ever had.  Maybe I no longer feel I have to prove myself to someone, to be loved, to be valued in the work I do, to love and value my family and friends.  I have grown in my faith, and can see how the challenges I had in the past have made me a more loving compassionate person, and also ever more grateful for God’s loving grace of holding my hand and bringing me through some very tough circumstances.  I have moved from having a career in human resources to being retired, occasionally dipping my toe back into the field, but doing so less and less these days.

time fliesAs for all of us, it has been a decade of ups and downs.  It flew by faster than I could ever imagine.  By the time we end this decade, which will probably move at warp speed, I will be 81, God willing.  I look forward for this decade to be one that I can remain relatively healthy.  I say that because I have learned that once one turns 70, the wheels start falling off.  I will do what I can to keep the wheels in place and the engine running!  I will see grandchildren find their careers and their life partners.  I hopefully, sometime later in this decade, get to meet some great grandchildren, and watch my sons become grandparents themselves.  I know that this decade I will lose some more family and friends.  That is always difficult.  This decade I want to lean into my faith in Christ even more.  After all, being in his presence gets closer every day.  I want to be prepared!

I wish for you a decade of love, joy, peace, and contentment.  I wish for you to let go of what is not important in the scheme of things, and embrace your future, whatever it be, full steam.  May you look to the future with optimism no matter the circumstances.  Happy New Year in 2020 and beyond.

Outdoor Light

Christmas–My New Normal

Some traditions hold true.  Some change.  Christmas is no different.  I remember the first Christmas we had after my mom died.  For years, we went to our parents’ home for Christmas, even after she was too ill to prepare the meal.  We three girls brought the Tommi, Maggie, Paige, Danicafood, because my mom wanted us together.  The only time her holiday was changed was the day my sister went into labor in the wee hours of Christmas morning, and delivered the only girl grandchild to my parents.  They already had eight (8) grandsons, and no granddaughters.  That was a nice gift for them.  For my kids, they felt robbed of the day.  A few years later they said the day was not the same.  We all got together, short of my sister and her husband, and then the adult women all ran off to the hospital to see this Christmas baby girl.  We then returned to open all the presents under the tree with the family.  Every year, we went to my mom and dad’s, ate dinner, and had a huge gift exchange with all our family.

Our mom died in August, and all of a sudden we had to come up with a new tradition.  I don’t remember what we did that first December.  Maybe we showed up at our dad’s or one of my sister’s home.  The following year, we sisters decided to have a “progressive” IM001639Christmas celebration.  We loved it, the men hated it, and the smaller kids were okay with it.  We started at my home.  My home was very small back then, so I started with the appetizers, so I wouldn’t have to have folks around the table.  Everyone showed up and were fed whatever the appetizer I selected to make.  We also had to do some sort of small entertainment.  I don’t really remember what I did—maybe lead everyone in a Christmas carol.  After those two things were completed, I gave out my gifts to the family members.  We then went on to the next home.  As we progressed from my home, we went to homes to have soup, salad, main course, and desert.  No one had to drag presents with them because the adults who bought presents for all the kids, delivered them at their own home.  It was a fun day, and it took all day to eat our meal as none of IMG_1307.JPGus lived next door to each other.  After that year, my dad moved to Arizona, and one sister and her husband moved out of town, and also a couple of their kids scattered.  Two of my children made their way to the west coast.  The whole Christmas tradition changed again.  I had since moved to a larger home, and I worked out a deal with my remaining local sister that if she did Thanksgiving, I would do Christmas.  We did this every year through 2011.  Then in early 2012, my local sister was diagnosed with cancer, and passed away later that year.  We once again started a new normal.

I was like my mom.  I wanted Christmas at my home as long as I was healthy enough to celebrate with my children and grandchildren.  I hosted Christmas, even after I married Dennis, and lived 2 hours from my Missouri kids.  That worked every year until Dennis and I decided we wanted to move to Arizona.  Last year we were just snowbirds.  We wanted to leave the day after Christmas, so instead of hosting our children, we went to St. Louis and had Christmas at one of their homes.  We were still all together.

sledThis year the dynamic changed.  It changed for everyone.  One son in San Francisco got married, which changes the dynamic of his holiday, although he didn’t always make his way to the midwest as he had found his new normal in California.  He and his wife shared photos of their celebrations with friends who they love as family.   My youngest son, in Los Angeles, married and has a small child, and doesn’t have much opportunity to travel. My #3 son, his wife, and daughter flew to Arizona to have Christmas with us.  It was not a Christmas with lots of wrapped presents, since most of the grandchildren have grown up.  It is hard to shop for older teenagers when we don’t live near them, and they love to receive cash to do their own shopping.  I kind of miss having all the packages to wrap, always giving a toy, some clothes, and every grandchild would get a pair of warm winter pajamas and a book.  I was the book and pajama grandma!

 

So, the tree was bare underneath except for a few envelopes.  We did have Christmas cookies.  The consensus of the celebrants wanted grilled steaks, and since Arizona is supposed to be warm, their wish was granted — except, St. Louis, Missouri, was actually warmer this year on Christmas Day than Arizona!  We were fortunate that was the one day it did not rain, and steaks were grilled to perfection.

2019As my other children and grandchildren called me that day to wish me a Merry Christmas, we talked about how this holiday was different for all of us.  My grandson mentioned that this was the first one that not all the midwest family will be together—he will not be with his cousin who he celebrated with for 17 years.  My son, his dad, said that since they sold their home and moved to a new place in November, it was all new to them also, just making the new place their Christmas home.

I was sad to see my kids leave for Missouri.  They had an early flight this morning.  Life goes on though, and they have to get home and back to work and school.  We now have our tree and Christmas decor around the house that will need to come down and be packed away.  

I still think it was the right thing to move here.  Our family is growing and the kids and grandkids have their own busy lives.  I am no longer babysitting grandkids and having them come for sleepovers.  They have school activities, boyfriends, girlfriends, other friends, and even work obligations.  We also have a place that they love to visit.  One granddaughter was here for the week of Christmas.  A grandson is coming with his friends in January during their winter break from college.  I am working on a date for my oldest granddaughter to come visit.  Our home in Arizona is open to friends, but is especially open to our family.  Our Christmases will be different, but that is what happens in all families eventually.  We will learn our new normal.

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