The last time we spent Christmas at home we spent it as a family of five. We had no idea, of course, that it would be our last one together. I’m not sure we would have done anything much differently. We cut down our tree and visited with Santa and kept to our usual traditions.
This will be our first Christmas at home as a family of four. The last two years we have headed out of town as soon as school let out and celebrated Christmas by waking up at the beach or in Disney World. I thought I was creating new traditions for the kids, but in reality, I think I was the one who wanted to escape from it all. We bought an artificial tree. We bought a lot of new decorations so that we didn’t have to dive too deep into the memory laden old ones. We went away so that we didn’t have to wake up at home navigating the present unwrapping and Christmas breakfast without our biggest of elves.
Last year when we woke up Christmas morning to giraffes roaming outside of our window the kids decided that they would like to be home for this Christmas. I have tried to honor their needs and wants first and foremost throughout this process and so we will be waking up here Christmas morning.
But it is hard.
I have shopped. Alone. Dave and I would always have a date night/dinner out/shop for the kids evening.
I have signed things “From: Mom”.
I have cried in the car thinking about Christmases past. Dave was such a considerate gift giver, enthusiastic Christmas specials watcher, and spirited eggnog drinking decorator.
I have put off buying stocking stuffers. I remember one year when Dave wasn’t feeling particularly well that as he was filling my stocking he looked around and was searching through bags. He had forgotten to pick up the rest of the items on his list but only realized it when it was much too late. I reassured. I didn’t care.
I am trying to imagine Christmas morning. Dave and I would head downstairs first torturing the kids while we lit the tree and started the coffee and got the camera ready. After all the gift giving Dave would make us all an enormous breakfast.
We will manage. But we will be missing him.
I think that might be subconsciously why I waited so long to plan our post-Christmas trip. So that during the most Christmas-y days I would have something else on which to focus. Some days it works better than others.
We will manage. And we will find the laughter. And we will be missing him.
I put my money where my mouth (or at least my keyboard) is and made donations to both organizations today. I will do another round of giving at the end of the year. No matter where you contribute, support something that feeds your spirit. If you can’t give money, give time. It feels great. I promise.
Now that you have had your fill of turkey and found all kinds of great deals, I would like to do my yearly donations pitch. Many of you make donations on Giving Tuesday or do year end contributions. Here are 2 places worthy of consideration.
David S Tremaine Memorial Scholarship – in 2 years we have been able to award 11 renewable scholarships with plans to give out more in the spring. Donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE so it really is a win-win. Donations can be made through http://collegeaccessfairfax.org/donation/.
You will be mailed a receipt for your taxes and will also have my undying gratitude when they email me and tell me you donated!
Camp Kesem William and Mary – you have already seen and heard about this incredible camp and what it has done for Parker. There are chapters all across the country and I know all of them would appreciate your support. Again, all donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE.http://campkesem.org/williammary/donate
Thanks in advance for considering these very worthy causes when making your donations this year! xo
#campkesem_wm #collegeaccessfairfax #givingtuesday
Today, as every day, I am thankful for the three best people I know. They just happen to be my children. They are so much fun to be around. Want to be inspired? Spend some time talking to any one of them. They are not just doing okay in our post-Dave world, they are kicking ass.
I have always given so much credit to Dave for how well they have navigated life since June 2014. He provided for us financially so that we have a roof over our head and food on the table, tuition can be paid and trips can be taken. That peace of mind has been a blessing many times over. He provided for us emotionally especially in the last few weeks before he died. I believe that we all carry his words letting us know that we would be okay and to take things one step at a time close to our hearts. I will always be thankful for the man and father that he was and how completely selfless he was during those last days so that his energy could be spent wrapping us in a Dave sized security blanket to last us a lifetime.
I also want to give so much credit to Sam, Grant, and Parker. They could have fallen into a pit of self-pity. It would have been understandable. It certainly has been tempting a time or two for me. But they didn’t, and I didn’t. Together we have been able to be strong when one wasn’t. We have in pairs and as a group bolstered each other through the saddest of times. We laugh. We cry. We always find a way to laugh again. I know every parent thinks they are the luckiest, but I happen to know for fact, that I hold that title.
Happy Birthday, Babe. How I wish you were here. This picture cracks me up. I don’t forget how tall you were. This just illustrates it perfectly – me on tip toe and you bending at the knee and there is still a pretty big difference between us. I miss tucking under your arm for a hug.
So much has happened since you have been gone. Good things like honor rolls and dean’s lists, volunteering and other kid milestones. There have been some not so great things too. You would be apoplectic about the election results, but you wouldn’t have been surprised. We disagreed about the make up and wants of this country, but it turns out you were right. Completely.
I miss our inside jokes, the ridiculous nicknames, Saturday morning breakfast and sharing the newspaper. I miss you. Love you always.
I voted today. I didn’t “hold my nose and vote” or “pick the lesser of two evils”. I certainly didn’t cast my precious vote for a candidate who realistically has no chance of winning this election. My kids deserve better than that.
I respected the system that we have and considered the two candidates that the people have chosen to represent our two parties. I voted for the candidate whose ideas and plans more closely align to what I think is important. I voted for the candidate I trust to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court with the possibility of more to come. I voted because I care about my kids’ futures. They deserve the best.
My kids have had a challenging time, though less difficult than some but more so than many. They face their future without their dad. I want everything in the world for them especially a life as free from worry and full of joy as possible. I read something this week that really hit home for me. It was written by a woman who has been widowed for some time.
“I wish you knew how badly I will always hurt for our kids. It never goes away; it’s a forever part of who I am.” One Fit Widow
So for my part, I try to provide them with experiences and opportunities to enrich their lives. I try to support them in all that they do. I pray that their lives will be full and rich. And I vote.
I am listening to the chatter of Parker and her buddies downstairs. They are commiserating about their middle schools and talking a mile a minute to make up for lost time. She wanted to celebrate this birthday as she has so many before – with her friends, eating, laughing, gabbing, watching movies and likely getting very little sleep.
All three of my kids have celebrated milestone birthdays this year. Grant turned 18 in March and is actually very excited to be able to exercise his right to vote in this historic election. Sam hit 21 in May which feels so huge. She can drink (legally), of course, but more than that she is on the verge of her adult life and all that that entails. She is equal parts excited and stressed about the whole prospect, I think. And today, my youngest, sweet Parker is 13. Another teen in the house. We did okay with the first two so I am hopeful.
They all had these milestone days without their dad. Which sucks.
He would have loved talking to Grant and getting worked up over a certain presidential candidate. He would have loved toasting 21 with his first child. And he would have celebrated the start of teen-dom with an enthusiasm that only he could bring.
And I would love to have had my partner there for all these occasions. Now, every celebration is given the reverence it is due, but there is also a tinge of the bittersweet. I wonder if that will always be true. I imagine it might be.
I realized as I was out walking the dogs on this beautiful fall day that it has been some time since I checked in here. We’ve been busy with school starting and all the activities that happen at this time of year. Dave has been on my mind a lot, likely because school beginnings will always make me think of him. And also because after all this time, what I miss the most is the day to day sharing.
We’d talk about how Grant has settled into college so nicely. How he likes his apartment and has made new friends. How he is going to classes and staying on top of his studies. When he hit a road bump in Biology, he figured out a game plan and bounced right back. All those years of hard work seem to be paying off. I guess the mix of my nagging and your unending support have given him skills to navigate this new phase in his life.
Boy would you be proud of Sam. You instilled in her a love and curiosity about science from such a young age. She has embraced it and taken off with it. She is doing so well in school with her studies, with her volunteering, with the sorority. She is applying for graduate schools and lab positions for next year. I know you would be as amazed as I am at her passion and drive.
And little Parker. Not so little any more. She has gotten taller than me and Sam. She has made the transition to middle school easily. She misses having her siblings around but we get to spend lots of time together which I love. She’s about to start her new wind ensemble which means that she has activities every night of the week now. But she is so organized. I never have to ask her about homework. And remember those emailed progress reports I dreaded so much? I don’t mind getting them anymore. She saw a picture this week of the two of you at the pumpkin patch and got a little sad. She misses you. We all do.
And me? I am doing okay. I can only imagine the talks we would have over this election season. I know your head would be spinning at the absurdity. You would have been stressed knowing that your whole family has found themselves in the paths of hurricanes this season. On both sides of this continent. But they are all okay.
Every time I look at Rufus I think about how much you would have loved him. He is your kind of dog through and through. Goofy, hyper, loving. Loves to play catch and fetch. We never could get the others to do those things well. Remember how the ball would just bounce off of Winnie’s nose?
I wish you were here so we could sit with our coffee and talk about things, but thank you for visiting me in my dreams.
Love you always.
PS Parker looks shorter here but presumably it is because she is hunching down so Grant can be seen in the background. He is protectively holding the 75 electronics in his pocket so his hands look a little suspect. Typical family photo. You would probably be peeking in from one of the sides getting in on the action.