Monday, November 23, 2009

Sitting Still

Charlie, Christmas 2008

If you know me well, or even somewhat well, you know that this is by far my favorite time of year.

I love everything about the Christmas season. The music... the lights... decorations... and random santa sightings. I love shopping for gifts for people & watching their face as they open them. I love the touching stories you hear about generosity or that rare holiday miracle. I love the smell of holiday candles & a freshly cut fir tree.

In all of this excitement, it's easy for me to set my expectations too high. Aspiring for the "perfect holiday" makes it hard to process everyday issues that may arise. Like last year when a myriad of small disasters had me in tears 3 days before Christmas. It started with our cat peeing on my favorite boots & Jackson's comforter in some sort of feline protest. Stuffing the urine sprayed comforter in our old washing machine led to it's explosion of soap & water all over our laundry room. This was topped off with us doing laundry at various homes of friends & family on the 23rd & 24th. Looking back, it makes for a good story... but at the time, washing my underwear at my brother-in-law's house on Christmas Eve was far from what I had envisioned.

This year, I feel more centered. For the first time, I actually set money aside to ease the impact of the holiday on our budget. I also started planning way ahead, building in time for us to simply spend together, as a family. (this is huge due to how much Andy travels lately)

Thanks to this planning, something I seem to thrive on, I've noticed my excitement about Christmas has changed. Instead of building it all up to a "perfect" day on the 25th of December, I'm truly looking forward to the season as a whole. And while I can't wait until Andy gives us the go ahead to put up our tree... the music & the candles are nurturing my child-like excitement.

I heard my favorite Christmas song a few days ago & it has become my new mantra for the season. While it's not one widely played on the 24 hour holiday music channels, it's one I remember & cherish from decades of Christmas memories. It's title is Still, Still, Still and currently my favorite version is performed by the Mannheim Steamroller chorus. It's message is simple, if you sit still enough, you can hear the wonder of the season. That the magic happens not in the tearing open of packages, but in the quiet moments.

Sometimes, if you slow down and listen, you can hear life moving around you. You might even get a chance to appreciate things you may have otherwise sped past.

Still... still... still... one can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed, the world is sleeping. Holy Star its vigil keeping. Still.. still... still... one can hear the falling snow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Dragonfly

On Tuesday night I heard the unthinkable. Another friend of mine had lost her baby, only weeks from her due date. This time it's my dear friend Jackie. While at a routine appointment this week, the doctor couldn't find the baby's heartbeat. While most times it's a quick adjustment of the machine or even an ultrasound to allow you to "see" the heartbeat & be assured all is well, sadly for my friend, this was not the case. Baby Harrison had passed away.

Words cannot express how much I hurt for she & Nate. I think about them several times a day, and even at night, wondering what they're doing & how they're coping. How do you survive this? How do you find joy once this amazing miracle has been taken away? How do you go from nesting to grieving?

It seems like this should be something to rally shout to the sky with all of your might... hell no, we won't let him go. But sadly, it's not a health care bill, union contract or anything of the sort. There is no negotiation. No sticker to put on your car supporting your cause. It is simply an awful truth in life, these things just happen.

Amazingly enough, my friend who lost her daughter a few months back was the one to put it in perspective for me. She reminded me of a poem that helps silence the anger & ease the mind. I thought it only appropriate to post it here, in honor of baby Harrison.

The Dragonfly

Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads,
there lived a little water beetle in a community of water beetles.
They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond
with few disturbances and interruptions.

Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of
their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and
would never be seen again. They knew when this happened; their
friend was dead, gone forever.

Then, one day, one little water beetle felt an irresistible urge
to climb up that stem. However, he was determined that he would
not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what
he had found at the top.

When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the
surface of the lily pad, he was so tired, and the sun felt so
warm, that he decided he must take a nap. As he slept, his body
changed and when he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful
blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body
designed for flying.

So, fly he did! And, as he soared he saw the beauty of a whole
new world and a far superior way of life to what he had
never known existed.

Then he remembered his beetle friends and how they were thinking
by now he was dead. He wanted to go back to tell them, and
explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been
before. His life had been fulfilled rather than ended.

But, his new body would not go down into the water. He could
not get back to tell his friends the good news. Then he
understood that their time would come, when they, too, would
know what he now knew. So, he raised his wings and flew off
into his joyous new life!

~Author Unkown~

I miss you little guy, even though we never met. I miss the twinkle you put in your mommy & daddy's eyes. I miss the playdates & family weekends with "our boys" that your mom & I had loosely planned for the years ahead. Look over your parents. Keep them safe & strong. Let them know they are loved.

God speed, little man. Sweet dreams.