I have been busy for the past few weeks channeling my inner Martha and trying to kid myself into believing that if I only try a little harder...I can make the holidays into a grand occasion. I have been busy writing, sending boxes, purchasing gifts, and devising menus. I've decorated my home beyond the norm, and the housecleaning that was so painstakingly done for Thanksgiving has been maintained except for my bedroom and the laundry room. All of the gifts are wrapped, and all I have to do now is wait for the good things to begin happening. That started yesterday when I got the news that my sister, niece and nephew's plane safely touched down in Atlanta for their holiday visit with us from France.
As I write this, it is approximately 4:20 a.m. according to the clock that David's grandfather made for us and gave us one Christmas years ago. It sits just below the tree with the ornaments that the children made me every year during the preschool days and elementary school. To the right of it...on the windowsill...is a train made from blocks that spell out my children's names. This was a gift from Mom and Ralph somewhere around Christmas 1994.
I have traditionally surrounded myself with items that are sentimental. I have paintings from my stepmother, Irlyn, my Aunt Pitta, and my mother-in-law, Barbara (aka Mimi) throughout the house. A collage of pictures framed in black are a testament to a trip we took to Europe in 2006. My sister's (Linda) home is among those photographed. A rocking chair that was in my Gammy's living room is sitting beside the large television set that David surprised us all with five years ago at Christmas.
The house has items from David's grandparents and parents, and from my Gammy's house. I still have many of the items I received as wedding gifts, and almost every item in this house has a story. The Spode Christmas Tree dishes and serving pieces adorn my table...because my friend (and big sister in Phi Mu) Molly gave me my first plate and cup and saucer as a gift (Christmas 1985), and my parents have added to the collection. My sister, Linda, has purchased me the serving pieces in recent years as well. This year, I added the placemats that I had admired at my Aunt Pitta's house for years as a gift to myself.
The scrapbooks that fill my shelves are the result of monthly meetings with a group of wonderful women over the past thirteen years (and they said it wouldn't last...) A small table sits to my right that came from Grandma Emma's house. There are photographs of my family everywhere in this house. Even the dogs that are about to be up and wanting breakfast are the relative and descendant of my folks' "babies". Everything and everyone has a connection.
All of these are treasures of the heart. But...I know that things are not important and that people are. I have a basic grasp on reality in this realm, and do not believe myself to be materialistic. When the time comes for these things to pass to others or be replaced...I'll manage. But they serve as markers to time passed, good times shared, and as a witness to God-given talents that others have felt compelled to share.
There are many gifts that each of us possess. Sometimes figuring these out is not a struggle, and we go through our lives relatively focused. I do know people like this. However, the majority of us live lives that are spent searching for what it is we are meant to do and we expend a lot of energy trying to dimly reflect something in us that is magical.
This week, I have listened to a lot of political rhetoric about the state of the country and I've watched a once adored icon of sports be brought down to earth by his inability to stay grounded. I've seen a football team from the University of Alabama get a nod to the national championship game...and a member of that team who is my daughter's age...get nominated for the Heisman trophy. I've seen a kid that I have a lot of respect for be hit with the realization that although he has been blessed immensely with talent, a loving family, and a success record that is almost other-worldly...that it is possible to be on the other side for a change.
And yet I sit in my quiet room at an early hour pondering life.
I've been writing here for the past seven months. There are many stories and impressions to record...and all I can hope is that there is a purpose to it all. I had previously believed that all of my dreams in life were fulfilled...and that I have been just marking time since. And while that may be true...I am still here. And I'm thinking ahead to 2010.
Wouldn't it be great if 2010 was the year that I finally conquered the weight problem? If I found myself actually able to stick to the budget? That I attended reunions and laughed more and worried less? I can hope...much like we do when we crack open our new calendars at work in their pristine condition...before we mar them with appointments, reminders, and to-do lists.
I hope that five years from now I find myself sitting right here looking at something that reminds me of this Christmas. I hope that I am still recording my impressions of life, and that someone still cares enough to read what I have written. I hope that I am able to bring joy to people and that God's plan for me becomes more clear. Because five years from now...the little guy that is asleep in the room to my left will be close to graduating from college then. My Jill will probably be into her career or married to someone wonderful...or both.
I realize that this essay has been a bit of rambling on my part...but I have noticed that I often hesitate to put thoughts of this nature into words. I hope that by doing so, I can adequately release them to paper so that I have less on my mind, and more room in my heart for joy. The Christmas season can do that, can't it?
Just yesterday, I looked at the picture of Gammy on my refrigerator at the assisted living facility she was in after moving from Johnston Drive, and she is smiling and holding the little Santa in her lap. I can still smell the chess pies cooling in the kitchen and hear that television turned up (way too loud) and see her dancing across the kitchen to something blaring from the other room. The same kitchen that she kicked us all out of because we were in her way. I never fully understood that until I started having Thanksgiving at my home. I totally get it now.
I don't really know what those of you reading this are experiencing right now, but I do know that in my case...I have spent the past hour thinking of all of the blessings in my life. Yes, it is now 5:15 a.m. The coffee is made, and the house is quiet and still. I have just realized that someone left the attic light on while we were taking out Christmas decorations, and that I feel better than I did when I got up. So, I am about to go sit in front of my Christmas tree and have my quiet time. Enjoy your day, and I hope that you have time to reflect on your blessings this season. Even if it took stealing an hour of sleep to get it...I'm glad that I've had this time. Thanks for reading.