It has been far too long, but I am popping in to wish you all a very happy holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or warmest wishes for whatever holiday you might celebrate.
The boys and I celebrated a lovely (but exhausting!) Christmas together. They both made special cards and scoured the house and found items to wrap up and place under the tree. Picture that scene from one of my favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. [If you haven't seen the movie, you should. My sister and I loved it so much as kids that we watched it more times than I'd care to admit. As a result, we can recite the script verbatim, complete with accents and inflection, also something I only admit sparingly.] Aunt Edna arrives at Clark’s house with two gifts. One box is leaking and the other is meowing. Old Aunt Edna doesn’t have much money (and is a bit senile) but still wants to give gifts, so she has wrapped up jell-o and her cat.
Thankfully the boys did not giftwrap the dogs this year. [Yes, they wrapped the little one up last year. She did NOT like it.] They gave me chocolates from the cupboard, one of my favorite winter scarves (which was a relief because I thought I had lost it, but it was under the tree the whole time!), and a few other special items they found.
They gave their dad some things we were able to procure together, like a nice Columbia fleece and some of his favorite candy. They also made homemade ornaments with their photos on them and special cards to accompany their gifts. And they wrapped up a handheld showerhead we had gotten a few years ago for their bathroom. Their current cheap showerhead leaks so much that their is minimal water pressure when they shower. It takes them forever to rinse their hair. So we acquired the new one from our struggling kitchen and bath supply business. It’s lower quality than what we normally sell, so we decided to keep it for ourselves and figured it should solve the boys’ bathroom dilemma.
The only problem is that my husband hasn’t installed this unopened self-proclaimed “easy installation” faucet in the three years it has been sitting next to their bathroom door. You are probably wondering why I haven’t just done it myself. Believe me, the thought has crossed my mind a thousand times. But I can’t manage it because I can’t lift my arms over my head thanks to the bilateral mastectomy & axillary lymph node dissection surgeries. [Of course it would have helped to have continued my intense physical therapy sessions instead of failing to show up one day because I was too tired. In my defense, I did call them to tell them I would reschedule when I felt better. That was 2 years ago, though. Woops!]
The boys thought that if they wrapped up their new showerhead and some of the other home improvement items that have been gathering dust, the jobs would get done. I even caught them wrapping the curtain rods from their bedroom windows! I had been really sick for months when we decided to remove the curtains, rods and their anchors so we could paint the boys’ room (ocean colors with freehand waves and plans for ocean creatures). I had just started the painting when I had to go in for biopsies on both breasts and lymph nodes. The biopsies confirmed the doctor’s cancer diagnosis 24 hours later, and the diagnosis and more biopsies and scans were immediately followed by my first lymph node and powerport implantation surgery and intense chemo until I was ready for the mastectomy and full-blown lymph node removal surgery 5 months later.
Needless to say, I could not reinstall the curtain rods because of the “not being able to raise my arms thing,” so the twins still have no curtains up in their room. Part of me thought, “good for them for wrapping up their curtain rods!” But they know their father all too well. They said they were sure they would have to wrap all of those things up again next year because (I’ll paraphrase, but it was something like this) “Dad doesn’t care about our curtains and showerhead and smoke alarm batteries and blah blah blah… because they are not the internet or a video game.”
We had a quiet Christmas Eve. I worked on finishing Christmas cards between appointments. I’d been up until 3 or 4 a.m. for the few nights before, writing personal notes on the cards (and reapplying for health insurance). I mailed a stack each day for those 3 days. So when I was finished with my appointments at the hospital, my husband and the boys came to get me and it was a relief to stop at the post office to mail out the last stack of cards.
I was glad to be heading home after a long day. I was tired and had a lengthy to-do list that had to be finished before Christmas the next day. But my husband’s bad mood won out and when something set him off, he decided to punish us by parking the car and refusing to take us home or to relinquish the keys. We sat for over an hour like this. Luckily, I keep warm blankets in the car (it’s really a minivan) during the winter, so I gave the boys a couple each and they alternated reading and playing DS (handheld Nintendo games), while I worked on the Christmas cards that didn’t need to be mailed and finished my insurance paperwork. It was 17 degree F and snowing but I dared not challenge him too much because I’ve learned that it isn’t worth it when he is in one of these moods. And I honestly didn’t think he would keep it up for that long.
We sat until the kids and I couldn’t wait to go to the bathroom. So the boys and I got out of the car and walked to a nearby grocery store to use their restroom. When we got back in the car, the boys insisted that we go home. We were going to Christmas Eve Mass at 7:30 (which they were not looking forward to earlier in the day, but were now begging to go home for) and we were still 30 minutes from home and had to eat dinner and get ready to go. So he reluctantly drove us home.
We barely made it home to eat, and I didn’t have time to change out of my wet clothes (a byproduct of a day full of hot flashes — a gift from my hysterectomy) and then ended up getting to church late. For as often as we go to church (not often at all!), I don’t think we should walk in late. We hadn’t been in weeks and filing in while everyone was seated and the priest was watching us walk in the door was not a good way to return. But the service was nice. And we ran into my aunt and uncle (and my cousin and her boyfriend), so that was a good surprise.
Christmas was nice. I was up until about 4 writing long notes in books and special cards for the boys and helping Santa get things ready (he left notes for the boys and personalized their stockings, etc.). Comet even left a note and explained how he was sorry for leaving a bit of a mess on the front step — he left some chewed up carrots from the plate we left out for the reindeer and some droppings that looked a lot like raisins that had been soaked in warm water to plump them up. [Yep, reindeer poop. Since the kids had been questioning the Santa thing all of a sudden, the big guy had to step the proof of his existence up this year!]
And then the boys were up and ready for Christmas morning at 6:30. Thanks to the kindness of a family at church who “adopted” us, and to the generosity of the boys’ teachers and school, we had gifts to put under the tree. There were even gifts for me, including several giant packs of paper towel, toilet paper, Lysol wipes, and laundry detergent. Such amazing angels who knew exactly what we needed. Despite the events of the day before (and so many days before it), I couldn’t help but feel thankful for the good people in my life. Such a stark contrast to my marriage are the relationships I have with other people. Thank goodness, or I think I would have given up a long time ago.
We rounded out the day by going to my aunt and uncle’s to spend the afternoon with my family. We hardly ever get to see them, so it was good to be together. And then we moved on to Christmas dinner and dessert with my husband’s mom and dad. It was a busy day and we didn’t get home until late, but it was really nice. And I was glad we were able to have our own little Christmas in the morning and then have time for both sides of the family the rest of the day, so Christmas felt complete. And I know the boys enjoyed the time spent with family. They fell asleep on the way home, though they were up again at 6 a.m. to build their new Lego sets!
Hmm, I was hoping to have this post serve double duty as a photo challenge post, but this week’s challenge topic is “Joy” and I think this post is just not joyful enough to qualify. So I will improvise. While I missed The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge for last week, I might as well show you the photos I would have designated for that post.
Titled “One,” the challenge asked that we show:
“photos that focus on one thing. Maybe you’ve got a stark photo of a single tree silhouetted against the setting sun, or a lone sandpiper wandering the beach as waves crash. Perhaps you’ve caught your mother sitting by herself in a moment of quiet contemplation. Maybe you saw a basket of wriggling puppies, and got a photo with a single fuzzy face in focus.”
So now you see why I have a photo of a lone jellyfish and two oddly placed bird photos here. Thanks for bearing with me!
Here’s one more:
And I promise to come back with the JOY photos from this week’s challenge. Full disclosure — I’ll tell you that I’m in a “Tell it like it is” frame of mind so I can’t promise that the text will be overtly joyful. But I can promise you honesty and I hope that’s good enough!
Until then, thank you for reading and for giving me an opportunity to share my thoughts, light and dark.
My warmest wishes and appreciation for you all…