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Happy Anniversary

Today is my Mom and Dad’s 59th wedding anniversary.
When people comment about the sacrifice I’ve made to care for Lynn, I truly don’t understand why it seems so different.  I practice now what I saw my parents demonstrate for each other and for us, over and over again. Before I was born, my mom quit her job to take care of her family.  She has never gone back to work outside the home but her work inside the home keeps her busy more hours than most “day” jobs.  When we were in school, she was always active in the PTA; she and Dad often were the classroom parents who brought in cupcakes and other goodies.  They came to every play, every ball game, ever presentation that any of us had. They were always there for us.
When one of them is sick the other one is right by their side helping to make them comfortable. If one grieves, so does the other. If one is happy, so is the other.  They go everywhere together and not because they have to but because they want to.  They truly are the ultimate example of togetherness and oneness.  It was through their example that I learned commitment and self sacrifice. 
And it wasn’t just for us that they sacrificed their time.  They always pitched in to help our other family members with their projects and needs. My parents have always done what they can for others.  If someone in the neighborhood lost a family member, they always went to the wake and they always brought food to the house.  If there’s a celebration, they again bring food and enjoy the event with others.  My Mom records everything through pictures–then she creates these awesome photo albums that includes names, dates, locations and events –each picture has it’s own story.  She’s become the community historian.  She shares those memories with others at all types of community events and enjoys the pleasure her albums bring others.
My Dad can build and repair anything.  He spoiled me in my expectations for a husband.  If he sees something that needs doing, he does it then and there. Be it a car, a piece of equipment, an electrical appliance, plumbing, siding, brick laying, carpentry, whatever it is, my Dad can fix it like a pro.  He loves to read in his spare time and I’m sure that’s where I got my love of reading as well.  We often exchange books and talk about characters.  When we were young, he worked shift work.  He often took only a short nap before returning to work so he could stay up and be with the family, or watch a ball game, or help coach the team for one of his sons.  If there is a community event that needs a helping hand, he’s there. 
At the age of 79 my Dad and Mom are key partners in the community’s fire house and fund-raising.  They help clean up the parks in the area.  They cook for hundreds of people to raise money for the fire house.  They never stop.
When my Mom’s mom started having TIAs and strokes, she and her sisters took turns staying with her and caring for her.  During her last days, I think they  were there nearly full time.  When my Dad’s mom needed a place to live after my Dad’s brother died, they took her in and made her at home. 
My parents are caregivers at heart and they have passed that trait down to me.  They seek to make other’s lives better and there is nothing they would not do for me and my family.  I have been blessed to have them as my parents and to have their example as my guide.
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

Christmas with Family

 

My Mom and Dad arrived today in anticipation of our family get together at our house on Saturday with my family and my brothers and their families.  Everyone comes to our house now because Lynn’s powerchair and other equipment do not fit as well into a home that is not equipped for them. 
For years we all traveled to Franklin County located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I really miss seeing those mountains with the snow caps through our kitchen window each morning.  Richmond has hills but those Blue Ridge Mountains are awesome with snow on them.  Every once in a while there would even be snow at my parent’s house when we went and that really made it feel like Christmas.
My brothers and parents are the ones who offered to start having Christmas at my house a few years ago.  I was worried about going to my parent’s home that year due to Lynn’s mobility issues and wondered how to help Lynn get around when we were there but did not share my concern.  However, they realized the struggle and offered to change our tradition and come here instead.  I know that was a sacrifice for everyone because, after all, home for Christmas is where you met Santa years ago, right?  I really appreciate them giving that up and coming here.
This year is especially special.  For the last two years, Lynn has been home but too sick to participate or really remember any of the activities.  Though he’s really tired from the ferritin deficiency, this year he should be able to participate.  He’s very excited.  He has decorated his wheelchair with blue LED lights (or rather I put them on with him telling me how to do them) and we have a small Santa hat and scarf on the back of his headrest.  It’s really very cute.  He even has a special Santa hat that lights up and bounces like a spring and blue and white toe socks to wear.   I’m jealous.  I don’t have anything festive to wear but then maybe I’m really okay with that. 
Several people have helped me decorate this year.  My brother, sister-in-law and niece came and got it started two weeks ago.  Then I did a little and a group from church came and decorated outside and finished up inside.  I must say, it really looks nice around here. It may stay up a lot longer than Christmas though since taking it down is not my favorite thing to do!
I love Christmas decorations.  I admit I wouldn’t do as much as we did this year if it was just me doing it but I’m so happy having so many Christmas items sitting around and having all the windows and doors decorated.  There is just too much to do to have spare time to decorate by myself but I’m very blessed that so many people seem to know how much Christmas means to me and came out to help me have the enjoyment I would not have otherwise.  God has blessed me with so many wonderful friends and family members.  I am so fortunate.
Another way our traditions have changed is the food.  My mom used to fix a huge spread.  She made everyone’s favorite food and had about 10 different desserts to pick from.  Really! It was awesome.  She still brings several desserts but we don’t cook on the day we celebrate anymore–we order pizza!  We all love it and not cooking or needing to clean up gives us all more time to visit. 
We don’t exchange presents either.  Most of us are on tight budgets. Instead we play games and win prizes.  We don’t really need the prizes but they are fun none the less.  We divide up into teams and all ages play together.  We have lots of good laughs.
The main joy of Christmas is the love of family and the celebration of the birth of our Saviour.  Traditions are a fun way to celebrate but when they no longer work for you, then it’s time to stretch them a bit and make the love and joy of the season be the focus rather than doing something that takes the joy out of the season.
I hope you get to celebrate with your family.  Christ’s love for us was so strong that he gave up his kingdom for a time and all the comfort and joy of home to come be with us so that we could live forever, if we only choose to follow him.  That’s the true spirit of Christmas and the joy and love of family together reinforces that same love.
May God bless each and every one of you this Christmas season. 
Merry Christmas!!!