Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Christmas Wrap Up

Another Christmas has come and gone, and this one quite memorable for a few reasons. First of all, it was my first Christmas as a married person. One of my wishes came true when we got our Christmas tree. C got it to please me, but I know he loves having it just as much as I do. Now he doesn't even turn the tree lights off at night, but we keep them on all the time, because it's such a pretty sight. The gift-giving was multiplied, but C did all the shopping. I thought I could make all my gifts, but of course I ran out of time. Anyway, we picked names in my family, and so we were only supposed to buy one gift, but C couldn't resist getting something for everyone, so when we drove up to my mom and dad's house on Christmas Eve, C had a Santa hat on his head and our car loaded with gifts. My nieces and nephews were overjoyed to see him, not just because of the gifts. He's their favorite uncle by far, the only one that will play games with them, carry them up into the tree-house, and run around the yard with. The kids were adorable, but little did we know that they carried a horrible secret...

After a wonderful Christmas Eve spent with my family, C and I spent the next afternoon and evening, Christmas Day, with his family. It was a lot of fun. So much delicious food, and the anticipation of snow in the air. His family is delightful. We arrived home late and went to bed, and three hours later I awoke as sick as sick can be. Ugh. A day or two later, my dad called and said that he, my mom, and my two sisters were all sick too. We'd caught it from my littlest cutest niece, who'd had it two days before Christmas Eve, and apparently these things are still contagious after the symptoms manifest.

Nobody likes being sick, but its worst of all when its a stomach bug and you've just eaten a huge Christmas dinner. Not to mention the scads of leftover cookies, pies, meats, and breads that you've been sent home with, and all the gifts of chocolate, nuts, and candies, which you now cannot enjoy. As the snow started covering the land, I moaned with agony, and have been too sick to eat anything but pretzels for the past three days. It's not fair! When everyone else was out making snowmen and sliding down hills on saucers, I was in a cocoon of blankets, sleeping all day and all night. Only today did I finally begin to feel a little better, to finally venture outside, to get out of bed for more than just a few minutes.

But the snow is already almost all melted away. The weekend half-lost. All the things I was going to do, undone still. Sigh! It was a really great Christmas nonetheless. I was able to enjoy both family get-togethers before getting sick, and now I've had three lovely days in bed watching TV and movies, with a wonderful man doting on me. I've read half a book, crocheted half a hat, and best of all, C is feeling fine. I guess he was blessed for being such a fun, kind uncle.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I know I complain about all the stuff that C hoards, that is filling up our house, but there are times when his propensity for collecting comes in handy. Every time I need something, he miraculously has it! No need to go shopping for random things. Whenever I ask him for something, he just goes into another room, roots around for a few minutes, then appears with the thing I needed. So far he has provided me, on the spot, with: bay leaves, tiny earrings with real silver backs, pads of paper, a metallic gold pen, a knob for my crock pot, Christmas tree lights, and tapes of Christmas music.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's Christmas Time

Finally! I'm going to try to start posting pictures of Durham churches, to follow my tradition of posting Harlem churches every Sunday when I lived in New York. I picked this one for today, partly because I already had a picture of it, and also because if you look carefully up at the very top, there is a tiny window and, though it's hard to see from my picture, the window has a nativity scene etched in the glass, with a manger and a star.

Yes, it's that time again! Christmas is almost here, and my mood has been very festive since Thanksgiving, when my sister-in-law gave me and C a handmade wreath bedecked in hollyberries, pine boughs, and spotted feathers. We hung the wreath on our front door, and then a week later it snowed, making the Christmas music on the radio all the more apt. At work, we had a big holiday open-house for our customers, friends, and family, and spent the entire week decorating a huge tree and making all sorts of last-minute decorating projects. Then, at church, we had our ward Christmas party, and C and I were in charge of coordinating the food. It was fun shopping for industrial-sized amounts of cider and hot cocoa, and manning the refreshment table to make sure no kids burnt their hands on the pot of hot water for the cocoa. I got to see children helping themselves to heaping portions of marshmallows as if it were a side dish. C voluntarily washed everyone's baking dishes after the entire table full of food was consumed, while ward-members performed talents on stage, decorated cookies in the back of the gym, and Santa himself made an appearance at the end. My mom told me that her ward party was going to center around "A Walk To Bethlehem" where successive rooms of the church would be decorated with the scenes of the story of Christ's birth, and kids would reverently go along and see all of them. Our party was more of a raucous hullabaloo, probably a result of all the sugary foods, but it was a lot of fun.

But outside the party, it was a rainy, dreary winter Saturday and, besides Christmas, my mind has been occupied with the tragedy of a wayward sibling. There's not much I can do about the situation--I've already given all the advice I have to give, and not even sure that it's welcome--so all I can do is pray, try to be a good example, and be available for any help or support that other family members might need. Sometimes I feel like doing something dramatic to try to fix the situation, but then again, I don't know that anything can really fix it except the person whose decisions are affecting the family peace. Then I wonder if I could have been a better sister, stayed in closer touch or given advice that would have prevented what has happened, but I don't know that, either. All I know is that from my own experience, keeping the Lord's commandments are the only way to find happiness, and I cannot keep them for another person. They must find that out on their own. But how hard it must be to be a parent and see your beautiful children falter and fumble in life and make horrible decisions and mistakes! I wonder if it seems like a waste, or if it is somehow possible to retain hope that your children will turn around, wake up, and become better? Certainly, it is possible, but it must be so hard. I know it's hard enough just being a sister!

Meanwhile, my own tiny family of me and my husband is doing wonderfully, and despite the wintry weather, we went and got a Christmas tree. Speaking of people changing, C has lived in this house for 16 years and never had a Christmas tree. I guess he didn't feel like making room for one, or going to the trouble for just himself. Yet I somehow convinced him that he could move a huge pile of his stuff into another room and thus clear a perfect space in our little family-room for a tree. He did it, and we brought home a lovely little Fraser Fir, which is now all bedecked in colored lights and flashy baubles. When he set it up in it's stand, the tree was still all tightly bound up, as it had been for travel, and C told me to wait until it relaxed and opened before decorating it, but I just couldn't wait. I found a radio station playing Christmas music, and set about rediscovering all my treasured ornaments--some handmade by my mother during her first year of marriage--while C brought down some of his own from the attic. When it was all done, he looked at it with wonder, like a kid for whom last Christmas was eons away and so everything about Christmas is new and amazing again. Not only is it his first tree in this house, but our first Christmas together. For that, I feel so blessed and happy. So, despite the weather and family drama, I'm going to enjoy this season! Sitting here, warm beneath blankets, beside my twinkly tree, my husband nearby, I feel perfectly content.