Yesterday’s headline in the Washington Post said, ”Gerald Ford dies, leaving a legacy of healing.” What a wonderful legacy to leave a nation.
I wonder what the headline will say when George W. Bush dies?
The house is quiet. Everyone has gone home. The gifts have been opened. Scraps are all that remain from Christmas dinner. My heart is full of happy memories and I find a smile keeps creeping across my face. This year I received the best Christmas gift a mother can receive. All of my children and grandchildren gathered around our tree. There was laughter and silliness and lots of good conversation. Life is good.
Did you all notice how long last night was? It was the longest night of the year. Actually I just slept through it, it seemed like any other night. I remember three nights that each competes in my memory for the longest night of my life.
Longest night number one was thirteen years ago. My daughter was in labor with her first child. Things seemed to be progressing pretty well and her husband and I were hoping for a birth in a few hours. Then everything just sort of stopped. It was late night. My daughter got drugs and slept very fitfully. The straight-backed chairs in the room were not very comfortable. The floor was hard and cold. My girl labored on and we waited and waited and waited. I went out to the nurses’ station to complain. We got here before all these other women and they have had their babies and gone home. It didn’t seem fair. Finally, after more than 50 hours of labor, my daughter gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby girl. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
Longest night number two was four years ago. It was about midnight and I was visiting with a girlfriend who was spending the weekend. My husband came walking into the room and said he thought I should call an ambulance because he was having a heart attack. That night we sat in his emergency room cubicle on little stools with wheels. It is very hard to get comfortable on a rolling stool. Eventually it was determined to be “small heart attack.” I came home about 4A.M. knowing he was stable and would probably be fine. He is still fine, but that was a very long night.
Long night number three was two years ago. The beautiful baby born in longest night one was sick. She was very anemic and the doctor said to get her to Children’s Hospital now. The fear of what might be wrong was overwhelming, but we all tried to put on a brave face in front of each other. Her mom and I spent the night in her hospital room. She was receiving blood transfusions and IVs. She had to be prepped for a colonoscopy and drink a jug of obnoxious stuff that made her gag. Finally an NG tube had to be inserted so that she could be properly prepped by morning. We were all scared and very tired. Daylight was a welcome sight. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Medicine has brought all her symptoms under control. She is healthy and happy. It was a very long night.
What was your longest night?
My tree is decorated, and the gifts are wrapped and under the tree. I nibble on fruitcake while I bake cookies. A holiday special is on in the background, a program of lovely Christmas music as seen on public TV. My husband is sleeping in his chair. It is peaceful. All is calm as we wait for the big day to arrive with a house full of family and friends coming for Christmas.
One of the perks of retirement is the gift of time to prepare without the rush and stress of previous years. I listen to my children and friends as they try to squeeze working, family and all the preparations into too short, too busy days. I remember late night shopping trips and later night wrapping and hiding sprees. It was a lot of work. Although I miss the days of having a house full of small children and working full time, I find memories are much less work and can be selected to suit my mood.
All of you remember to breathe. The children will grow up too quickly. Make some wonderful memories today for the years to come.
“Aha, I thought so!” It was Christmas Eve. I was nine years old and feigning sleep when I saw my father sneak into the bedroom and pull a pogo stick out of the top of the closet. I knew it was mine. All I really wanted for Christmas that year was a pogo stick and I was expecting Santa to bring it for me. I guess by nine I had realized that Santa needed help to deliver all those toys. It made sense that my father would be helping to deliver my gift. It was comforting to have my suspicions confirmed.
In our family we all still believe in Santa Claus. If you stop believing you don’t get any presents. There is still magic in Christmas because in my heart of hearts I believe in Santa Claus.
Do you believe in Santa? Were you traumatized or did you know anyone who was traumatized when they discovered mom and dad’s role in helping Santa?
This morning I helped sort food for the forty-eight families our church is helping this Christmas. This is the third year I have helped with this project, and I am amazed every year at the generosity of so many people. Our congregation is not huge, about 200 members, but they provide food enough for about a week including turkey and all the trimmings, plus clothes and toys for 168 children. This morning twenty volunteers worked bagging, sorting and labeling groceries for each family. Tomorrow more volunteers will check the gifts to make sure that each child has an appropriate gift and then wrap everything up. The people of the church donate all the food and all the gifts. It makes me feel good to be part of such a generous group.
What are you doing this year that makes you feel the spirit of Christmas?
Over the years I have attended more school plays, piano recitals, scout award ceremonies, and children’s concerts than I can count. The number would be very large. I love my kids and grandkids so I was always happy to be there and support whatever the activity of the day happened to be. Tonight the roles were reversed. The senior chorale in which I sing had a holiday performance. In the audience were my children, my grandchildren, my husband and several good friends. It was wonderful to look out and see my fan club all there to hear the concert. The singing was much more fun with the people I love there to listen.
There is a beautiful red rose on my kitchen table. My husband gave it to me last night along with a wonderful hug. No real reason he said. It seems he had been listening to his co-workers discuss their divorces and unhappy family situations and he just realized how very blessed we are. He thought maybe it would be a good thing to tell me he loved me.
It is wonderful to know that I am loved.
I love you too.
Today I went to see my orthopedic surgeon. I have been frustrated by the fact that I am recovering from the arthroscopy much more slowly than I anticipated. I still have pain and end up limping by the end of the day. I don’t like pain. The doctor drained a bunch of fluid off the knee and then injected cortisone into the joint. It should be much better in a week. If the knee is not better I will have to return to see him again in a month. Pray that the pain goes away and I can soon quit thinking about my knee.
Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting. Just as the world waited for the birth of Emmanuel, it now awaits the second coming of Emmanuel. Emmanuel is translated God with us. What does it mean in your life today that God is with you?
This afternoon I went to see the movie, ”The Nativity.” It is a very well done telling of the birth Jesus. I highly recommend it.
Yesterday was a day to play.
In the morning I accompanied my daughter to the elementary school where her youngest is a third grader. My daughter volunteers there frequently and yesterday she was planning to do an art project which required a couple of extra hands. She read the kids a cute story, “Stranger In The Woods,” while I passed out the makings for bird feeders. Each child had a pinecone and a big scoop of peanut butter, which they were to carefully spread onto the pinecone, getting it as deep as possible into the little shelves of the cone. (What do you call those little shelves?) Some of the kids were very neat; they spread the peanut butter without getting any on themselves and covered each little shelf with precision. Others gleefully filled their hands with the gooey stuff and spread it over the cone, their desk and themselves. It was a wonderful mess. The cones were then rolled in birdseed and placed into plastic bags for transport home. We left teachers and children happy with the activity. It was fun.
In the afternoon I dressed in my finest attire and picked up two ladies for high tea at the Belair Mansion. The mansion, which was built in 1750, was the home of Maryland’s first governor. It is a beautiful old brick house, which was all decorated for Christmas. My friends are both in their eighties. They were as excited as two little girls playing dress-up. We sipped tea from fine china cups and ate fancy little cucumber sandwiches. We had scones with clotted cream and jam and lovely little cream puffs. It was an elegant affair. Watching the delight in my friends’ eyes made the afternoon a happy holiday memory.
Today is Pearl Harbor Day. Sixty-five years ago President Roosevelt said this date would live in infamy, a day the world would never forget. There are still thousand of sailors entombed in the wreckage of the Arizona where it was sunk on that day. Did you remember that this was the anniversary of the day Japan dropped bombs on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor? Don’t feel bad if you forgot. Very few people remembered. The morning paper is full of Iraq and the war we are fighting there. Many wars have been fought since World War II ended. Sadly war is a much too common thing.
I long for the day the prophet Micah foretold, when the nations, ”Shall beat their swords into plowshares; and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Micah 4:3)
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.
After spending a long day in the stores on Monday, today I decided to look on-line to do a little shopping. It really is just a little too easy to buy things from Amazon. I see lots of things that look like good gift ideas, and all I have to do is click. I click and instantly get a message saying I have just spent a kaboodle of money. Gifts are being shipped. There is no problem finding a parking space and no shivering in the cold. The biggest problem is that many of my first choice items are out of stock and I have to keep browsing. I will have to go back to the mall for some things, but it sure is nice to be able to just click.
I began Christmas shopping today. I am blessed with a big family so there are a lot of gifts to buy. As my grandchildren get older it gets harder to find a gift that makes them go, “Wow! Thanks. This is the greatest thing ever.” I suppose I could just give them money. They would like that, but I can’t afford to give them enough to get a big ”Wow” from them. It is so much fun to watch them open presents that I really do want to get them something wonderful to open.
What was the best present you received as a teenager? What made you say, “Wow! This is the best present ever!”?