Thursday, November 29, 2012

Because Christmas Means More...

I was inspired this morning to write, to write what I'm feeling. Isn't that what a blog is for?  I started blogging way back when Blogger was in Beta, I believe it was 2003. I had a different blog URL than this one but in building a family with Michael, it sort of all just moved it's way over here. Anyway...

This morning I woke up as I do every morning, hurting but happy that the sun was shining. I asked Mike what the day was like with his schedule and I stood up and came downstairs. I fed the 2 babies and sat down here to check our bank, as I do daily.

The money situation is incredibly bleak right now. We never use credit for Christmas gifts for our 7 children and each other, and we'd saved a pretty nice bit of money for this year. 3 weeks ago, Mike lost his job due to a lay-off. Suddenly, the money we'd saved for Christmas was needed for November and December's rent, for our utility bills, our car payments and a few other things we pay monthly. Suddenly our medical insurance was gone and with me having Fibromyalgia, this means we will have to pay cash for my very expensive medications and appointments. To put it lightly, Christmas this year is gone.

As I sat down at the computer, I was prompted to go to my email, a place where I've been emailing myself a list of things I'm thankful for. I do it there rather than on Facebook because really, I don't need to profess to anyone but myself and my God what I am grateful for. I feel it's a very personal thing and to blare it out to everyone on my Facebook profile would just seem "showy" and really, I don't need to impress anyone. Yet today, I'm going to publish this list because I feel prompted to.

I've been so depressed about the money situation and Christmas that today I decided that instead of writing what I'm grateful for, I'd write what Christmas means to me in 1 or 2 word phrases. Just a few. The first thing that came up was "Love".

Love. Christmas is about getting together with the ones you love. It's about showing your love for your kids, for your spouse, your parents, siblings, neighbors. Christmas is showing love for The Savior. For me, it's about "love" first.

Next, I typed out Sharing. Christmas is about sharing our time, our attention, our true feelings and about sharing stories of Christmases past, times we remember when our family was young, when we ourselves were young. Our kids love hearing stories about our Christmas times and the things we did when we were little. For some reason, they get a huge kick out of it.

Service. Service was next. I can remember when we were young, my dad bought a bunch of breakfast food and juice and took us down to a really seedy part of Las Vegas and we fed the homeless. It wasn't an organized thing, we just did it. I remember thinking "man, we should do this on Christmas, I wonder if they'll have breakfast on Christmas..." A few years ago, Mike and I lived in Yucaipa, California and we were struggling to take care of all of our kids and money was tight. The recession had just hit and it was tough. We were the beneficiaries of so much service, especially that Christmas. That year, my children learned that Christmas was about service. And every year since then we've tried to help another family in need. The words of my most favorite hymn are always present during Christmas time even though it isn't a hymn dedicated to the season, but they still fit for me. Because I have been given much I, too, must give. These words stick to me like glue this time of year and it's no wonder this paragraph is the longest one here. Christmas is Service for me.

Christ's Birth. Last but not least, these two words mean "Christmas" to me, as they probably do for all Christians in the world. Let's think about it. Christ was born in a lowly stable, no room for a bed. His parents were weary travelers without a home. He had no gifts other than what the Wise Men brought and yet, he was the King of the World. He was the Savior and the Son of God and yet, he had almost nothing.

As I typed that last one I realized that yes, our kids will be lucky to get a single thing this year and yet, I was still filled with the overwhelming feeling that I can still give them a Christmas they'll remember. I'm going to have quiet nights lit by candle light where we can read the Christmas Story found in Luke, we can sing hymns, we can bake and make things for our neighbors and we can call family members who live far away. We can incorporate Love, Sharing, Service and by doing so we will create for ourselves a Christmas we may talk about for years. 

Be thankful for your jobs, guys. Be thankful for your abundance. Be thankful for your savings accounts and for your money saved. Be thankful for your families. Remember that many of your friends, friends you know and speak to on a daily basis, might not have all of these things.

I'm so thankful for my kids, for Mike. I have the most amazing husband and children. This year will be tight and sparse, but at the very least, we'll have each other and I can't imagine a better gift than that.

Monday, January 9, 2012

...and I'd Like to Welcome 2012 to the Game

You know, I've done this my whole life. Written furiously for months and months at a time, hands cramping while I wrote out in BIG! CURLY! LETTERS! about how cute Tass was when he talked or how angry I was at Lisa for telling her parents it was my fault we were late coming home from the church dance when we all know it was because she wanted to drive by a certain boy's (or two's) house just to see if we could catch a glimpse of him in his bedroom, you know, doing boy stuff like putting his hats on a shelf. Or throwing a ball repeatedly at the wall for no reason at all. (all true. Boys are so boring, by the way)

I have journals that go back to the time when I was 7 years old. There's a book my parents got me for Christmas that year written by Dr. Seuss called My Book About Me. It was page after page of details about me. What color my eyes were. What my nose looked like. What kind of house I lived in. Did I live in the city?  An apartment?  A house?  The answers were very simple, I was 7. My eyes were "blue!" (I even liked to abuse punctuation then, surprised?) My hair was "yellow!" I lived in a "house!" But the best was the one that left a blank spot for a number. For example, the question read "It is _____ steps from my bedroom door to the kitchen"/"It is _____ steps from my front door to my mailbox". You see the point right?  Well, because my parents are cool, they knew that whatever I'd fill in was who I was. My 7 year old understanding of the question wasn't something numerical, no. It was a question to me that I had to visualize, and when I visualized it, I saw my feet. So that's what I put. I remember thinking "what other dang kind of steps would there be? This is the worst page ever" I'd filled in each blank with a huge, dark red word:


"It is FOOT!!!!!! steps from my front door to my mailbox"

"It is FOOT!!!!!! steps from my bedroom door to the kitchen"

You have no idea how hard I laugh at that page now. That simple book is so precious to me because it perfectly illustrates who I was, how I felt then. And it's proof that I've been who I am since the second I was born. Not much about me has changed, at all.

You know,  I have journals from my especially early youth. I have journals from my pre-teen years. I have journals from my teenage years and from Challenger. I have journals from my early marriage to J, from my middle years to J, from the end of my marriage to J. I have journals from the sweet time when I met and married Michael.  And then I have my blog. I've had many over the years but really, the one that is "me" is this one. It's changed names and url's a few times but this is basically who I am, take it or leave it.

Sometimes I'll proclaim that this is it!  I'm going to blog again and then life gets the better of me. Sometimes I'll blog and save it, never to publish it. One thing you can know about me. When I blog, I'm real. I don't pretend to be something I'm not. I'm who I am 100% of the time.

The last 6-7 years have been ones of pure discovery. I think that's what happens when you turn 30. I see it all the time with friends. I know that I've been on a quest to find out who I am. I have been so weary pretending to be something I'm not. I've found friends and family who know me, who've KNOWN who I really was. My health has deteriorated those times when I pretend to be something I'm not. I can literally look back at my journals and my blogs and there you see it, the sickest times of my life and say "oh yes. I see the pattern."

I'm a mother of adult children. I have looked at my oldest daughter and her choices and while we have helped her make some of the biggest decisions she's made, I would never want her to be anything she's not. If she wants to run off to Bali to discover who she is by volunteering at an orphanage, I'm right there with her. I've taught her all I can. I feel that way about all of my children. And I want them to be 38 year old adults who are not sick because they've hidden who they are. I want them all to be happy.

This year is the year of strength, the year of being me, the year of loving me. 2012 is the year of LIVING.