Posts Tagged ‘family’

GiftsWhen I see this table, I see gifts, many gifts. The plates are from my husband’s beloved grandmother Pearl, a tiny jewel of a woman. The glassware, Waterford crystal, is a legacy from my Irish mother; she collected the glasses; I added to it when I got married. The silverware was assembled as wedding gifts. The center candle was a gift from my girls. The table itself belonged to my parents, one of the first things they purchased after they married.

The meal we ate at this table tonight included vegetables sautéed in the chili oil and beriberi spices my son got me for Christmas.

We had a feast of gifts today. It was delicious….

Both my parents died young of cancer. I was young when they died; for a long time, I measured my life in what I had lost. But now, decades later, I see the gifts in my life. And of course, the most important gifts are not yet at this table – my husband and my three children.

In life, it is sometimes appropriate to acknowledge all that we’ve lost on our journey. Tonight, however, I celebrate the many gifts – the people who’ve supported me in my lief, and the gifts they’ve shared with me.

I wish all a merry, merry Christmas and a year full of gifts and gratitude.


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Our icicles decorate the house, white lights that twinkle like tiny stars. We’re set to get the tree this weekend. Christmas is in less than one month.

And Dexter has returned, an event that has been highly celebrated by two young girls who’ve been waiting for this all year.

Dexter is our “elf on a shelf.” He arrived last year to remind us every day in December that Santa watches us to make sure we’re nice, not naughty. He left for the North Pole with Santa on Christmas Eve.

We’ve yearned for him ever since. And yesterday, he returned.

The night before his return, the last day of November, Lindsey and Nora could not sleep. They’d heard that Dexter would return that night and thus, sleep became impossible. Lindsey woke up several times in the night, anxious for morning.

And by the time morning came, I was exhausted.

But not so tired that I could not appreciate the joy Dexter brought with him. My girls shrieked with delight when they saw him. Then they started filling him in on the events of the year.

“Mommy is working.”

“Aidan will be 10.”

“WE’RE in kindergarten!”

The narratives they shared with our elf were adorable. Dexter listened patiently. And said not a word…

Aidan, the 4th grader, is a bit smug about the whole thing. Let’s just say he’s not a believer this year.

I reminded him that when he was in kindergarten, he saw Santa on Christmas Eve, and it made him one of the happiest children in the universe that night. I asked him to share the joy. To keep his doubts to himself.

“It was Santa’s shadow,” he said.

Never the less, I told him, it’s time to share that magic with your sisters. Not bust it up. Santa’s watching. That list you wrote out might get ignored…

Tonight as we went to bed, after watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on TV, the girls chimed a cheery good night to their good friend, Dexter.

Their brother said not a word.

The magic continues. At least for this year.

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It is astonishing that school will start in two days. My baby girls will become big girls, kindergardeners. My first-born will start 4th grade – and we’ll see his tenth birthday before 2009 ends.

As a child, summer was once a lazy season, drifting over me like the white puffy clouds drifted through the blue sky of summer.

Today, summer flashes by faster than Usain Bolt’s world record sprint. Faster than a hummingbird’s wings. Faster than a flash of lightening in a summer storm.

Our summer was fun – filled with activities – summer school, swim team, swimming lessons.

We went to Navy Pier and witnessed the magic of theater and the thrill of the Navy Pier rides.

My son and I went to Great America, where we enjoyed the thrill of the American Eagle.

We went camping on Rock Island in Door County and experienced swimming, a beautiful beach, fishing, the worst storm in two summers and even a snake bite.

Summer flashed by – never boring, filled with events. But when did summer become the swiftest season to pass?

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I posted pix on FB recently – and a friend from HS, who I’ve reconnected with thanks to FB, made a comment that my son looks like my dad.

It was an innocuous comment that caught me off guard.

Yes, my son looks very much like my dad. But my father died more than a quarter century ago – and there are very few people I see in my day-to-day life who have any memory at all of my father. He simply does not exist for anyone I’ve met since 1984.

So to have someone note the resemblance my son has to my father is highly unusual. And it made me sad. My son is so very much like my father – but he’ll never really know that because he never got to know my father.

Memory matters. Our memories of people are very powerful. When you lose someone you love, you lose the ability to introduce that person to all the new people who enter into your life as time passes on. My friend’s comment on FB made me realize that my parents, so important to me, are completely absent in the lives and memories of most people I see everyday.

And I realized yet again that the tentacles of loss are very long.

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Our magical journey began on the Metra. For older travelers, perhaps not so magical a beginning. But for my girls, a glimpse of heaven…

Lindsey watches the scenery flash by…
The journey begins... Lindsey heads into the city

Nora, on the top floor of the Metra…
Nora on the Metra

Aidan, perhaps a little jaded by all the other train rides he’s taken….
Aidan, perhaps a little jaded by the train

Next, a ride on a water taxi….
Using the Chicago River to propel us closer to our destination

My failed attempt to get all four of us into the shot!
A failed attempt to get all four of us into the shot....

On our way, we encounter art and fountains…
An artful bench, using mosaic to illustrate the Chicago story...

My water babies, doing what they do naturally, gravitate toward water…
My water babies, gravitating toward the water....

We arrive, finally, at the closest thing we have to a Disney theme park in Chicago – Navy Pier. And of course, no visit to the Pier is complete without a ride on…

The Ferris Wheel…
The Ferris Wheel...

But must we wrestle in a gondola so high above the ground?
Must we wrestle in a gondola so high above the ground?

Technology can be fascinating…
Technology can be magical...

And the view is fantastic…
The Ferris Wheel offers a spectacular view....

Aidan can’t pass up the opportunity to feel the wind on the swings…
That's him, in the red shorts - having a blast on something I could never ride... the swings

They swing around so very fast, those swings on the Pier…
They swing 'round very fast....

Too short for the swings, the girls instead enjoyed the Lighthouse Drop…
The girls enjoyed the Lighthouse Drop....

And then it was time for the play… Disney’s Aladdin….

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Watching TV with my kids this morning, I noticed my son fiddling with the battery cover on the remote. So, being the pre-caffeinated mom that I was, I crankily admonished him to stop, STAT! Or else we’d lose the battery cover and life as we know it would be done.

We’d have to get up to change the channel.

Now since I’m an “older mom,” I remember when we had only five TV stations to entertain us. I remember the days before the remote made our lives that much easier – I remember when we actually had to get off the couch to change the channel!

We hardly ever did that – we hardly EVER got up when watching TV except to go to the bathroom – advertisers had our full attention in those days….

(Thus, ad campaigns became deeply embedded in our psyche – My baloney has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R… Sing along with me, if you can!)

This morning, I launched into a description of my life with just five TV channels and no remote, culminating in my piece de resistance – the memory of being in Ireland way back as a girl, visiting my grandparents, back in the days when Ireland offered just a few hours of TV every day.

THAT got my son’s attention. The idea that a TV would have nothing by white noise for most of the day seemed astonishing. He stopped watching TV for a brief second to look at me and laugh brightly at such a notion.

Then TV absorbed him once again.

I may hide the remote, one of these days, just so he can live through an experience of “the olden days…”

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And yes, since this is June and we are only mid-way through 2009, this is a wrap-up of the school year.

It was a great one, this year. And the end of it leaves me a little sad. Last year (2007 – 2008) was not so great for one of my children. The teacher was absent so many times, she would have been declared a truant, had she been a student herself. The endless parade of substitutes (all different from the last) made a tough year almost impossible.

This year was different. This year, all three of my children had teachers who loved doing what they were doing. They showed up. They cared. They let me prattle on with my worries and my concerns. They created an environment that allowed my children to flourish.

And they saw promise in all the children they taught.

We live in a world where people in the financial community have turned “bonus” into a debacle – who insist that there’s no reason to work at a place if you can’t make astronomical sums of money, regardless if you succeed or fail.

Teachers – good teachers, that is – show how nonsensical the Wall Street way really is. Teachers make okay money – not great – not awful. When they do their job well, however, it has a benefit that lasts for a lifetime.

My children received a golden bonus this year for sure – they all had wonderful teachers who were passionate about their work and their students. A great teacher is a priceless gift to students – something no “bonus” or amount of money can quantify.

And so I end this year full of appreciation for a job very well done by our teachers – and a little sad to say good-by to people who’ve made such a positive difference in the lives of my children.

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