Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Christmas of Memories and Love

I really didn’t know what to expect from this Christmas. I wanted it to be as normal as possible but of course, it wasn’t. An important part of our family, Walter, husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend, pun master, was not here to celebrate with us this year. He loved Christmas and his sense of humor and childlike excitement made it fun. How were we ever to recapture that which was now lost to us?

Despite the melancholy memories of Christmas past that crossed our minds from time to time, we were able to be surrounded by love for each other. This year there were more hugs of reassurance, to remind us “we are still a family”. This year we added to our circle some new friends and acquaintances that felt like a new family. Rather than isolate ourselves, we tried to be inclusive. We felt the love and caring for one another.

We enjoyed the childlike excitement of our grandkids, ages 2 and 4 that was contagious and charming. We played Candyland and Shutes and Ladders, as well as the adult strategic games we have enjoyed in the past.

When the day was over and the giftwrap discarded, we discovered that we still had one more present to give. The day after Christmas, there was a piano dedication for our church in memory of my late husband and his family, who were charter members of the church. It was filled with wonderful hymns, a very practical and encouraging message by the pastor, and a special music by our son and pianist that summed up all that we had experienced that weekend.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hanging of the Greens

And the pastor announced, “Next week, we will be decorating the church”. All of a sudden my mind flashes back 35 years ago to the Annual “Hanging of the Greens”. Same church, … some of the same people. Instead of the energetic youthful spirits of teenagers, there are energetic senior men climbing ladders to put up Christmas lights and a Christmas angel on top of the tree, and gentle senior women hanging handcrafted ornaments on the branches. There are garlands of green and red flowers wrapped around banisters and pillars near pews. The greenery may not necessarily have that fresh pine and douglas firs smell of old, but the effect was one of beauty and joy. As teens, we used to climb into the Red Van of one of our fellow youth and raid the Christmas tree lots for discarded greenery from trimmed trees. A nighttime Christmas scene was also being built by the Vietnamese church members who now share the church facilities.

I cannot recall when this tradition started, but I remember participating in it with my young friends. In fact, it may be one of the first fun events that drew me to return to this lovely church where I gave my life to follow Christ as my Savior and that gave me a special meaning to celebrate His birth. It was a lovely time and 35 years later was no different. There was much joy and laughter mixed in with some melancholy memories of church members laid to rest or those who have moved on. Of course, I could not help but think about my Walter and how he loved this time of year. 

 Isn’t it amazing?! It made me realize that life will go on and so will Christmas until every day will be celebrated of the Lord’s coming. Emmanuel, God is with US.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Catching Up with Crochet

I know I have been writing more about my family events and my coping in widowhood, but I do have some craft talk to share…..

I have a friend whom I reconnected with, staying in a convalescent care center for an uncertain amount of time. I was very thrilled to know she was crocheting a lot, making lap robes and blankets, to pass the time. I brought her a big bag of acrylic yarn from my stash. It was like watching a child open up presents on Christamas. She was so excited. What a joy!

How interesting to talk about crocheting with a fellow crafter! She shared with me the wish to relearn making granny squares and learn how to make a ripple crochet stitch. I looked among my many books and found one that had patterns for both.

Describing to her how to make the stitches was rather confusing, so I decided to make a swatch for her to follow. It all came back to me as I crocheted that granny square and then the ripple stitch swatch. I suppose I can make them into scarves or something small so that the sample will not be wasted.

Presently, I am forging ahead on my knit friendship shawl, which is almost long enough to cover the shoulders adequately. When it is done, I will crochet an edging and perhaps add some buttons to close it and block it. The feather and fan pattern will show better when blocked.

I am also knitting on some slippers for my grandkids that will be felted. I’m guessing at the size as they should be. They should be larger so as to shrink when felted.

I seem to be finding more time to knit again. I am beginning to settle in a routine. I can only take so much audio input of screaming little voices of my excited grandchildren, before I have to retreat to my quiet sanctuary, plug in a quiet Christmas CD, curl up in my comfy recliner and knit a few minutes before the grandkids discover my hiding place. Ah…..isn’t grandmotherhood glorious!

Friday, December 3, 2010

When Life Gives you Lemons, make lemonade!

I recall people saying “Live each day the fullest. You never know when you can be crossing the street and get hit by a car!” A few days ago this event became very real to me. I was hit by a car crossing the street….well perhaps bumped by a car backing up while parking is the reality and I was knocked down with a jolt. Perhaps I’m being a little overdramatic. There were no serious injuries, just a few bumps and bruises.

I was about to step up to the curb between two parked cars after crossing the street and suddenly I realized I had been hit and was on the ground. I was stunned and thankful to be able stand on my own after a few minutes. I don’t blame the driver. I suppose I was in her blindside. She was more upset than I was, and I was trying to comfort and reassure her.

Some people are beginning to think I am cursed with bad luck, but this is not so. After losing a husband to cancer, having to share my house with son and his family due to multiple difficulties and now this, it would seem that nothing could be worse. However, in fact, I feel more blessed than ever before.

My husband’s loss has allowed me to reconnect with friends that truly care and provide emotional support. I can never be lonely with such active grandchildren around in the house and the accident…..well… perhaps, it is God reminding me to get enough sleep, be alert and take care of myself. The accident could have been worse and wasn’t. As I was lying on the x-ray table, I couldn’t help but miss Walter and think, “Walter should be here”. However, I was comforted by the fact that my son, whom I work with, was there with me now, even braving coming into the exam room with me to give me the support and assistance. How comforting to know that my children are there for me when I need them.