Monday, December 22, 2008

The most wonderful time of the year . . .

"It’s the most wonderful - - - miraculous - - - stressful - - - bittersweet time of year . . .

December 22! I have to admit, I don't know how it is only 3 days until Christmas. I guess I figured that if I didn't think about it too much, it wouldn't get here so quickly. But it snuck up on me, anyways.

It's not that I don't want Christmas - I do! But there are so many emotions that I have had to deal with this year. So many "traditions" that just stopped when everything happened. Some of them had slowly slipped away, with mom's memory and dad's sickness. But the fact that they are now gone totally, well - - - I guess it hurts a bit. It's a chapter in not only my life, but my family's life - that is closed forever.

A couple of weeks ago, my brother Rob and his wife Donna, as well as Ted and myself, went to my mom's house. We knew we only had a short period of time to get any "memories" we wanted to keep - out of the house before the bank took it over. The boys went through the basement, moving everything around - searching for what - they didn't know. They found an old victrola and it's records, they even found some tools and things like that. While they went through the basement, Donna and I went through the upstairs. We went through every picture book in the house, making sure to pack up every picture of our family. There were boxes and boxes of decorations to go through, and slowly we searched for a way to preserve a little of our past. By the end of Saturday, the house seemed topsy-turvey - and yet somehow familiar. We had boxed up quite a few things, and for the first time in years, it was a little bit in order. But working in that house, well - it had filled my lungs with mildew. And that night - I struggled to breath. I wasn't so sure I would be able to go back to the house the next day. (and Ted definitely didn't want me to go!)

When Sunday came, I begged and I promised - and I went back to the house with Ted. I told him I would only do a little bit upstairs, and so I started in the kitchen. As I opened up kitchen cabinets, I saw so many dishes that I remembered from holidays and childhood. I just stood there looking at them, and then closed them back up. How could I take everything? Sadly, I knew that most would be left behind. Then I ventured into the living room, opening up cabinets and draws, looking through books and music, and even videos. That's when I found it. The one that said "Home Movies". I took it out and held it, wondering what it contained. As I put it into my bag, I guess I hoped for a small miracle. We really hadn't found too much that we could keep, in that old house that we had grown up in. We made sure we packed up the picture books, and even some Christmas decorations; but very little came home with us that night. Looking around the kitchen one last time, I felt a heaviness deep inside.

As we left the house that night, I knew we were done looking for our past in that old house. Mom had already forgotten so much, but I guess I thought we might find a little more. Sitting in the van that night with Ted, I couldn't help but cry as we drove back to Connecticut.

It's almost Christmas, and I've watched that video 3 times now. I've shared it with one of my brothers, and on Christmas Eve - we'll share it with my brother Robbie. In it, I see myself as a little girl - surrounded by my family. My brothers, my parents - and even my aunts, uncles, and counsins are all there. We laugh and smile, through most of it. There are birthday parties, and Christmases - all on that tape. And for me, it brings so many emotions. I see my dad as he as was - before cancer ravaged his body. I see my mom, so beautiful and laughing - the center of attention. And then I see three little children, wondering about what their future will hold. Did we think we would be here today? Almost 50 years later? I don't know.

It's almost Christmas. The presents are bought, and some are wrapped. I've baked and shopped, and done so many things to prepare. And yet, I also tried to forget - - - that Christmas was coming. I have so much to be thankful for, and new traditions that are wonderful. But I'm still dealing with the losses - and that just takes time. It makes everything just a little more sharper - a little more intense. But it also makes the joy so much fuller, knowing that time is so precious. Laughter just seems to sneak up on me - and is wonderful when it is shared with the ones I love. And the love - - - well, it is the reason that I believe in miracles . . .

So many times in my life, I thought love was gone. And yet - - - it came again - in ways I couldn't even imagine.

A few days ago, Ted and I sat cuddled on the couch, watching the video again. He held me close, as we watched together. It is a way for him to see a small part of "who" I am. It is a way for me to remember the traditions - that I thought were gone. And that's the key. I am made up of everything I have gone through in my life - all the gifts and blessings - all the hard times and troubles - all that God has brought me through - to this one day - December 22, 2008.

It is almost Christmas, and I am struggling with so many emotions. But the strongest feeling that surfaces to the top - - - is the love I have for my family and friends. I am so thankful for each and every one of them.

It is Christmas, a time full of wonder and joy, stress and even sadness. But those are what makes it the most wonderful time of the year! The time when old and new traditions are formed and kept - and never lost ! It is a time to give thanks for the greatest gift of all - - - God's Love - given to each and every one of us . . . .

May each and every one of you find this Christmas to be full of wonderful memories - joyful beginnings - and Love to fill your heart.

God bless you all! And may you have a very Merry Christmas & a very blessed New Year!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers