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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

He’s a cute kid! I remember before he was born. I told myself I would not love him. There were lots of reasons but boy was I wrong! He’s very sweet and very thoughtful. He’s sensitive but also very tough. For the last three weeks, he keeps asking to come to my house and once he is here, he doesn’t want to leave. He even says he will go on errands with me, knowing that it will be boring. He’s also a good helper.

So before Christmas, I got an Amazon Echo Dot for their house. I have the original Echo here and have had it since it’s release years ago. I love it. It occurred to me that if there were an emergency, the boys can’t call me or anyone else. Their parent’s iPhones are password protected so they can’t use them. So I figured that if I got one for their house and taught them to say “Alexa, call Nana” or “Alexa call 911” they will be able to get help in case of an emergency. It also has games for the kids and tells them stories and jokes and looks up questions on wikipedia if needed. So I got it and they finally set it up. So now, at least five times a day, Alexa rings and says it’s a call from them. I answer it and it’s Spencer. He just calls to say hi! It’s very cute! I know he’s thinking of me when he calls in the middle of a show or a blog post or reading Facebook or listening to an audible book. It makes me smile. And when he comes tomorrow, I will teach him how to call for his mommy or his daddy if something happens to me and I need help, like the other day when I fell and it took me a while to get up by myself. I guess I should have called them but it didn’t occur to me. Now it will.

He’s a fixer. If something is broken, he takes it upon himself to fix it. He changes batteries and opens things up, like completely takes things apart, and fixes them or puts them back the right way if he can’t fix it. He’s four years old! I never get tired of his little voice saying, “I fix it, Nana. Let me. I fix it.”

Then there is the side that asks every time we are coming home in the dark, “Can we go see Christmas lights?” Even though we’ve told him over and over that Christmas is over until next year, he still asks. I have a light in the yard that he picked out after Christmas. It’s one of those laser type lights that has a moving function so that it looks like ripples in water. It’s just plain white. He loves it. But the other night, after my daughter told him one more time that Christmas is over, we drove into my driveway and he said, “Nana, turn off your light. Christmas is over!” Silly boy. The next night, he came over and did this:

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He took out my Christmas stuff and set it up, all by himself, and turned on the lights inside my dining room! So I guess Christmas isn’t over yet!

That Spencer is a special little boy. At least he is to us. He is different from his big brother and different from his baby sister. He’s himself and I guess I like it that way!

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Just me and my Spencer!

 

 

 

 

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Well, we got our first snow of the season. This morning. It’s not supposed to get over 30 or so degrees so it looks like it will be icy out on the roads. It’s now sleet. That’s why I didn’t want snow until after today. Oh well. It is forcing a slow down. I won’t complain. I had one thing that I wanted to do today that would take me on the roads but I’ve asked the three people in the mobile home park that I can ask, to let me know if they go out and can pick up the one last gift that is ready for pick up. Two of them have snow tires and the right “fixings” to go out in the snow and they are moms so they may be going out. If not, the world will not part.

I’m still in my pajamas at almost eleven in the morning on a busy day but I’m not going to stress. I’m going to finish this post then put some food in my Instant Pot (if you don’t have one, run, do not walk, to go get one) and I’m going to dye my hair then jump in the shower. And relax.

But first, I wanted to come here and share a few things that have happened this week that have put me in the Christmas spirit. I hope you get something out of them, besides tears.

On Monday morning, I was feeling pretty low and feeling like I just didn’t matter to anyone. Then I opened the front door to put something out for pick up by another Buy Nothing member. For those that don’t know, Buy Nothing is a movement where members list things they no longer want and others that need those items ask for them. You can also ask for something you need and if someone has it, you get it. It’s a money free exchange. Just gifting to each other. So I put something out that a woman was coming to pick up and I found a holiday food box from the local church. It brought tears to my eyes. Someone had cared enough to put me on the list at the church where I have never set foot. That was the first thing and it set the stage for more things.

On Wednesday, in a Facebook group that I belong to, someone posted a question: Are you in the Christmas spirit yet and are you finished with your shopping? I answered that I was trying to stay in the spirit but it is difficult this year because my son-in-law lost his job right before Thanksgiving and my daughter’s hours were cut so there is almost no money to spend on the kids. Spencer got a HUGE box of presents from Head Start so he didn’t need anything more. Maya got a big box of gifts from the Healthy Families program they she is enrolled in and she is only ten months old so she doesn’t need anything more. However, that leaves Anderson who is seen and understands now about gifts and gets disappointed when Santa doesn’t bring things. There was no money to get him the Lego set he wanted. I got him a few small things but I don’t have the money for the big set. I said I was remaining hopeful that somehow it would be fulfilled. I was thinking maybe a super sale and taking back my cans and bottles for a little cash. Well, about two hours later, I was contacted by private message by a woman…an angel of a woman…who wanted to buy Anderson the Lego set. I gave her the info and the package arrived Fed Ex on Friday! Wow! What a blessing.

On Thursday, in that same Buy Nothing group that I belong to, this happened:

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This exchange brought tears to many and the post now has something like one hundred comments from people that were touched by the whole thing.

Also through this Buy Nothing group, one single mom has gotten a fridge full of food and two boxes full of toys for her two children because she posted a very modest inquiry stating she didn’t have food or gifts. People came through. Another post by the admin in one of these similar groups asked people to post if they were needing a gift for anyone in particular so another ten or so people got their gift lists filled by some of us.

Christmas Angels. That’s what I call them. It’s people helping people and people accepting the help. It’s such a wonderful feeling. Every time I think about this past week and the angels it has uncovered, I want to cry. Happy tears. Good tears. And I do.

If I don’t make it back here later on, imagine me relaxing and doing some things that need to be done here inside the house…like wrapping the last two gifts and setting up the tiny tree. And maybe a cup of eggnog.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Soulful Solstice. Wonderful Winter. This is what I wish for you all.

Look for the Angels. Be an Angel. It’s a wonderful feeling.

 

 

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Saturday Once More

So many Saturdays have passed without me posting. So have the other days of the week. To say that I have been busy or exhausted would be putting it mildly. Between my daughter’s errands, babysitting, my medical appointments and my errands, I’ve been having mostly 14 to 16 hour days. Way too much. No naps. I was used to napping, even for twenty or thirty minutes but not anymore. I’m hoping to change this after the first of the year. In fact, I rescheduled all of my doctor and physical therapy appointments for next week. The only one I couldn’t reschedule was with the dietitian. I’m starting a two month program on January 4th so I need to get in for one more  one-on-one visit before the CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) program starts.

Since I last blogged I got the nerve to say no to my daughter once and another time I let her know that she was being inconsiderate and taking advantage of me and she should come home. She had left me with the kids saying that she would be back in no more than two hours. Five hours later, she was still gone and wasn’t answering my texts so I started to just call her until she picked up.

You know how some people pick a “word of the year?” I did that a couple of years ago. I picked “create” but that was the year that I got sick, ended up in the ER, and then in surgery. That threw me off so I didn’t get to create much. Well, I think in 2018, as selfish as it may seem, my word will be “me.” I need to concentrate on me. At least try to. I know I will still be watching the kids and all that but I will also be trying to take care of me. That’s one of the reasons I agreed to enroll in the CHIP program. It’s about helping me to improve my health. I need to do that and no one is looking out for me so I need to do that.

Well, it’s almost four in the morning and I have not been to bed yet. I need to do that because I need to be up and out of the house by about nine at the latest.  However, I do mean to come back after my errands and catch you up a little more and I’d like to post links to my favorite Christmas stories. In fact, here’s one of them.

Cross your fingers I get back here in a few hours. Maybe not for you, but for me. Because I really need to get back home and do stuff here. I don’t even have the tree up yet. It’s going to be a small artificial one but at least I will have one and this year that’s important to me.

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I went to Target tonight. Just me. No Tina. No kids. I was looking for a Lego Minecraft toy that Anderson wants but when we were there yesterday Tina said “no Lego toys until after Christmas” so I couldn’t get it. Instead, I hid it so I could go back and get it today. It wasn’t expensive. It was $14.95. So I went tonight and the toy section had been completely redone because they had a toy sale today and the toy I hid wasn’t there anymore. It had been the only one last night; tonight it just wasn’t there. I’ll have to wait for them to re-stock and/or go to a different Target store.

However, on my Target trip, I got a chance to check out some of the toys. I wanted them. Some for the kids but some for me! Do you ever do that? Go to buy for someone else and end up getting for yourself? I actually didn’t buy anything for myself. I got a few stocking stuffers for the boys and a little music light up toy that clips on to the car seat or highchair or whatever, for Maya. The only thing I got for me was a $3 pair of slippers. I have several pair but I used them non-stop, even to go outdoors and to go to Tina’s and back. With the nerve damage on my foot, I need to have the soft furry stuff to cushion the bottom of my foot or I end up in a lot of pain so I need lots of slippers so that I always have a clean pair. That’s all I got. Not a lot but it was refreshing to go by myself and to actually get something for myself. Yay!

I’m looking forward to this Christmas. I feel like it is a gift. A few months ago we weren’t sure I would have one more Christmas. I do have one more and hopefully many more.

Are YOU looking forward to the holidays? What’s your favorite part?

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[NOTE: This is the story about the night I was born. The words the mother speaks to the baby at the end are the words I spoke to my daughters at their births. And yes, my parents really are named María and José, although they both use their middle names because they feel their names are too common. I have heard the story over and over again over the past 60 years. My mother swears it was 11:52 PM but my birth certificate says I was born at 11:19 PM. In any case, I was my mom’s Christmas baby!]

María lay in bed exhausted, yet unable to sleep. She’d had an endless day and had just finished putting out the gifts for her four children. Tomorrow would be filled with joy and much activity. The kids were sure to waken by seven, anxious to open their gifts and play with their new toys. There would be lots of cooking to do, too.

Just a week ago things had looked quite bleak. They didn’t have much money and her heart had ached at the thought of disappointing her children on Christmas. Somehow, José, her husband, had managed to work a few days and had brought her enough money for groceries and a couple of modest gifts for each of the children. They had even gotten a small tree to decorate.

He had come through and María appreciated it. It allowed her to push back the memories of all the times he’d come home late, drunk, and smelling of dime store cologne.

María thought about her life. They lived in a tiny two room house with no heat and no indoor bathroom. They were far from town. The car was always either broken or out of gas. Her husband worked in the fields during the season and at odd jobs in the winter. Her children never had new clothes. She had to accept old clothes from her neighbors and her comadre’s. María’s beautiful little girl had to wear boys’ clothes. Her boys needed shoes that didn’t fall off their feet when they ran so they wouldn’t fall and get hurt. She was very familiar with the second-hand stores where José took her to shop when the boxes of clothes from her comadre didn’t fill all of their needs.

She had given birth four times in five years and was now nine months pregnant with their fifth child. She wondered how many more times she’d give birth before José tired of her and left her alone or ended up dead on the highway on his way home from the cantina he always managed to visit, even when he said they could afford nothing else.

Sometimes things were alright. José could be thoughtful and attentive if he wanted to be. He loved playing with his children. He even helped María with the housework when he wasn’t working. He had taught María how to cook when they had married. José was a hard worker and always managed to provide his family with what they needed.

María loved her children. Sometimes they were all that kept her going. They needed her. They loved her. She loved to see their happy faces and feel their sticky kisses and tight hugs. She liked being able to console them when they were hurt and crying.

María thought about the baby inside of her that made it impossible for her to find a comfortable position. She hoped this one would be another girl. When her first child had been born, she had wished for a girl, only to get a boy. She had cried but soon she loved him so much that she had wished for sons when she had become pregnant for the second, third, and fourth times. When God gave her a daughter for her fourth child, she had cried with disappointment, only to grow to love her so quickly that now her wish for a second daughter made her smile as she rubbed her swollen belly.

She wondered what the future had to offer this innocent child. María feared that perhaps it was a sin to bring children into the world when she and José had so little to offer them. Her exhaustion finally gave way to sleep, as the infant inside of her womb settled down also.

The next morning the children woke their parents asking eagerly if they could go open their gifts. They were happy with what Santo Clos had brought them. They were not used to getting toys or new clothes. The boys had each gotten gun sets–belts, holsters, guns, and even tin badges. José’s boss had given him a small cowboy hat for one of the boys and María had found a couple of bandanas at the segunda. They had also managed to get their hands on three tricycles for the boys. José had worked on them late at night, fixing and painting them to look like new.

Their little daughter was busy playing with her life-like baby doll that had moving eyes, hair, and drank from a bottle. María’s comadre had sewn a small brown bear for her. The last trip they had made to the segunda had provided them with toy dishes for the little girl and a warm coat of red velvet.

After opening the gifts, the children had breakfast. Their mother had fixed huevos con chorizo and fresh tortillas. While she cleaned up after breakfast, María turned on the radio. She tuned to her favorite station. The announcer was excitedly bragging about how his wife had given birth to a baby daughter shortly before midnight on Christmas Eve. She thought to herself how wonderful it would be to give birth on Christmas day!

When she finished with the dishes, she sat by the tree to watch the children at play. It was cold and damp outside so they had to stay indoors. María looked at the tree. They had only a few glass ornaments on it. They were painted shiny, bright colors with dainty designs that looked and felt like fuzzy snowflakes. María could see her reflection in them. She had cut a silver star out of an old pie plate. The plain, simple star now stood guard on top of the little tree. María hoped that maybe next year they would be able to get some colored electric lights like her comadre had on her tree.

All day she waited for the pains to begin. She couldn’t believe how crazy it was that she was actually looking forward to the pains that she had dreaded so much the other times. She felt that there was something special about this child and certainly it was God’s blessing to have a baby born on Christmas day and so she was almost eager to feel the pain that would threaten to tear her apart from the inside out. She dozed for a while, as the children played and she listened to the gentle rain falling outside.

Later that afternoon María was wakened by the thunder outside, crackling loudly. It had begun to rain violently. The house was dark. The wind was deafening as it threatened to blow the tiny house away. The rain fell as if being poured directly over them from a pitcher. The sky had darkened prematurely.

The children were scared. They gathered near their mother. The radio announcer reported that many roads had been closed and that the reservoir was threatening to overflow. At this, María turned down the volume and went into the bedroom to tell José. She was frightened. Their house was just about a half mile from the reservoir. If it overflowed, their small house would be washed away. It was time to load up the car and get as far away as they could. They had friends in town. Their compadres were sure to let them stay for a night or two.

José came into the room and listened briefly to the radio reports. He told her to gather their things and get the kids into the car. They would go into town for the night. When they were all in the car, José could not get it started. He got out and tried everything he knew to try to get the old car going. Nothing worked.

The children, sensing danger, cried softly and obeyed every order given them by their parents. They seemed to know instinctively that their cooperation was an absolute necessity. Even the youngest acted like an angel.

After some time of futilely trying to start the car, José began walking the half mile to the nearest neighbors to get help. When he arrived, there was no one there. He continued to walk toward the road to look for help for his family. It was very difficult to walk against the oppressive rain and wind which seemed to be concentrating their joint efforts on keeping him from reaching the highway.

As José neared the main highway, he could make out flashing lights. He quickened his step and waved his arms, even though he knew they couldn’t see him. It was about nine o’clock and the night was black, except for the lights that flashed from the highway. Finally, as José reached the road, a Highway Patrolman spotted him.

“What are you doing out here? It’s very dangerous. We’ve evacuated the place and have road blocks to keep people out of the area. How did you get back into the restricted area?” asked the Patrolman.

“I live back there. No one evacuated us. We heard the reports on the radio and tried to get out but our car won’t start. My family is stuck back there. We need help,” answered José.

“Your family? We thought we had everyone out of there. How many people are back there? How far? Where exactly are they? Are there any others still back in there, besides your family?” quizzed the Patrolman rapidly.

“It’s about three miles back. Right up against the dam. My wife and four kids are out there. I didn’t see anyone else on my way out here,” explained José.

The Patrolman sent two cars back to get the family and some of their belongings. José rode along in the lead car to show them the way.

When they got to the house, they found the car empty. Inside the house, the only light was the flicker of a candle. When they entered, they found María in hard labor, the children gathered around her with wide, frightened eyes.

One of the Patrolmen took a single look at thescene and started to give orders. “Officer Taylor, help me get this woman into my car. I’ll take her directly to County Hospital. You can stay here with this man and help him get the children to safety, then you can bring him to County.”

They quickly and carefully carried María into the car and rushed inside the house to get the kids without waiting for the first car to drive away.

An hour later, José rushed into the Obstetrics Ward at County Hospital to ask about his wife. “She’s in labor. She’s not quite ready to deliver. You can wait downstairs. I’ll call down when there’s any word,” instructed the pretty nurse with a sympathetic smile on her face.

In the Delivery Room, María gasped for air. “Please Doctor, you have to help me deliver my baby now. It’s almost midnight. My baby has to be born before midnight. Please help my baby come now. What time is it? What time is it?”

“It’s about 11:30 María. Don’t be in such a hurry. This baby will come when it’s ready. I can’t do anything about it. Relax. It’s almost here. On the next contraction, push as hard as you can!” the young intern smiled at María reassuringly.

After pushing through three or four more contractions, María felt the baby being born. She heard the strong crying. The doctor gladly announced “It’s a girl, María! You have a beautiful, healthy baby girl!”

“What time is it?” asked María. “Did I make it? Is she a Christmas baby?”

“It’s 11:52. You made it! You have a Christmas baby! Congratulations, María.” The intern smiled as he continued to examine both mother and baby. “Why was it so important to have a Christmas baby anyway, María?”

“Because this baby is special. She is my gift to the world. She’s going to be a very special person,” beamed María as she put her arms out to take her baby.

Later, when she was in the ward, after José had come in to see her and the 5 pound little girl María held in her arms, María spoke to her daughter with complete adoration: “You are my hope for the future. You are a gift. A gift to me…to our family…a gift to all the world. You will bring good things into this world. I know you will be a special daughter. You bring me hope that out of the darkness of my life, something beautiful will come. Joyful, beautiful, and wonderful things will follow you wherever you go and everyone you touch will be blessed with your joy. You are my joy today, tomorrow, and always.”

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Just me and my mom, around May,1956.

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If we were having coffee on this Christmas Eve, we would be in Seattle! The weather is much better than when I drove up here yesterday. That was a stressful drive in heavy rain and for a short 50 or so miles, heavy snow! But I’m here!

I am enjoying knowing that my daughter and her family are safe about 40 miles from here with her in-laws. I won’t see them tomorrow. I won’t see them until they go home, probably Tuesday. My other daughter has texted that she’s an hour away. Then I’m here with my son and his family, including 7 month old Mati who is so different now than he was last month when I came up for Thanksgiving! It is tough to believe that he wasn’t with us last year, he’s become so much a part of our lives!

It will be a low-key Christmas. I don’t have to do much but enjoy it and play with the baby! I couldn’t ask for much more than that!

How about you? Where are you? Is all your holiday planning done, leaving you to just mellow out and enjoy? I certainly hope so.

Have a wonderful Christmas and Hanukkah! Enjoy family and friends and feasting! I’ll be back tomorrow with the story of the night I was born, many Christmasses ago.

I will leave you with links so a couple of favorite Christmas stories from the past:

Stille Nacht

Here Comes Santa Claus

#WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog link up hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster Blog. Come check it out!

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Re-posting an old favorite:

One of my fondest Christmas memories is also one of the saddest.  It happened in 1978, the year I got married.

My mother lived in Long Beach, California and my husband and I lived in Santa Monica.  His parents lived in Mexicali, Baja California, which is about a four or so hour drive from where my mom lived.  I had never missed a Christmas at home.  It was very important to me that I not miss being home, not just for my sake but for my mother’s.  I knew she wanted me to be home.  So we consulted with everyone and figured out a plan where my husband and I would drive to Mexicali a few days before Christmas.  We would have an early Christmas lunch after opening presents with his family, then we would leave there and come across the border by one in the afternoon or so.  We would then drive to Long Beach and be there for a late Christmas dinner and opening presents with my family.

We were staying on the U.S. side of the border, in Calexico, at my husband’s grandmother’s house while we were down there.  On Christmas Eve when it was time for bed, I couldn’t sleep.  I talked for hours and hours.  My husband heard about every one of my Christmases that night.  I think I was nervous about being with my new family (I had just met them two months previously and had not spent much time with them) and also nervous about the timing of the drive to my mom’s house.  I didn’t want anything to go wrong that would keep us from spending a part of the holiday with my family.  They were all waiting for us, including a number of nieces and nephews who weren’t going to open presents until we got there. So I went on and on about Christmas and about birthday cakes (my birthday is on Christmas).  I think I recalled every single gift I had gotten in my 22 years!  Finally, I let him fall asleep at what was probably about three in the morning.   I stayed awake after he fell asleep.

The next day, everything on his family’s end of the planning went well.  By nine we were finished opening presents and our lunch was being prepared.  We ate by noon and even though I offered to stay and help with the clean up, we were ushered out of there so we wouldn’t be late getting to my mother’s house.

To get on the road, we had to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.  The road we took to get from my in-law’s to the border, was the fastest route.  It had businesses on one side and a very high fence on the other side, which served as the division between the third world country and the richest country in the world (at least in those days).  As the road approaches the border, the last mile or two, the fence is just a cyclone fence and you can see right through it, (at least in 1978 you could; I’m not sure what it’s like now).  We slowed as the road ahead of us narrowed from four lanes to the two border patrol booths that were open.  It was not a long wait but to me, it was way too long.  Because there was little traffic that day, there were no cars between us and the cyclone fence, giving us full view of the “dividing line.”  As I sat there, I looked over and watched as families congregated at the fence, exchanging gifts through the openings in the cyclone fence.  Once I realized what it was that they were doing, the excitement I felt about being on my way home left me along with my breath.  For what seemed like forever, I couldn’t breathe.  I was riveted to the scene before me.  There were mothers and their children passing crudely wrapped gifts from one side of the fence to the other.  On both sides of the fence, people were smiling and chatting as they exchanged Christmas gifts.  It seemed to be normal to them, and I’m sure it was.

I was struck by the fact that these families could not embrace or pass any gift bigger than three or so inches to the other side.  The families’ economic differences were clear.  The ones on the Mexico side of the fence were very poorly clad, especially for what was a crisp December day with the promise of rain in the sky.  The ones on the U.S. side were better dressed and wore shoes and coats appropriate for the weather.  The families although together, were very far apart in many ways.  Before I knew it, I was crying.  My chattiness was gone and we drove home to my mother’s house in almost complete silence.  When we arrived, being there with my family, in the same piece of earth, was more special than it had ever been.  I could hug them and kiss them and hold them near to me.

That was the Christmas in which I left my childhood innocence behind in many ways.

 

For a lighter Christmas Story, click on the link:

Baby Jesus Bridge

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