The tree is lit. The house is decorated. The cards are sent. The presents are in different stages of 'wrapapalooza' and I'm waiting on just two last items to arrive on my doorstep, on Monday no less. We made Christmas candy and decorated some cookies over at a friends' house today. Honestly I cannot remember a more relaxed Christmas in recent memory. Wow, that is nice. Perhaps that is why I felt relaxed and started sifting through my Christmas memories tonight.
One of my earliest Christmas memories is of waiting, with my brother and sisters. Waiting, waiting, waiting... for Mom and Dad on Christmas morning to get that 'all clear' that Santa had indeed arrived and the morning of amazing happiness would begin!
Looking at this picture, I so 'get' my kids and that feeling of a-n-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-i-o-n.
My childhood Christmas memories range from scattered memories of amazing corporate Christmas parties where the entire family would attend at my Dad's workplace. IBM in the 1970s was a different place than it is now, certainly. All of the memories are warm and happy and downright Hallmark-like, if you ignore this rather 'bowl' hair cut. (MOM!).
And then I started thinking about how things have changed since I grew up and moved out of my parents' house. I realized tonight that Neil and I are going be spending our 24th Christmas together this year. Hard to believe it!
The first years were always spent back 'home' visiting my parents house or his - and still getting together with our siblings.
And even though things are pretty cool at this point, in the late 80s; with Neil and I living in Florida and learning to scuba dive. There was that something missing from our lives. Our own set of short people. A few years into our marriage and I was starting to really get that *need* to start a family. The one thing that sprang to mind tonight was how every year at Christmas, I would say to myself, "Next year we'll have a family." "Next year, we'll have a baby." "Next year...". And year after year went by without meeting that goal. It wouldn't really hit me until the holidays rolled around. Probably because we would get together with family and see our siblings' kids. Probably.
Now here's a caveat -- this is my personal story, and I know that many couples choose to live 'child free', which is of course their own choice and right. But that was not the path I had chosen. It seemed like it was choosing me -- and I didn't like that one bit. So we set about on that long voyage of infertility treatments. Oh yeah. Good times. NOT!
During that time, our Christmas Tree changed so much to reflect that stage of our life. It used to be that I was all about 'decorating' it - when I use quotation marks, I mean decorating in as much as making the tree look like it came out of a magazine.
We moved to Connecticut. Both of our corporate careers in full swing. And I embarked upon heavy-duty IF treatments, injections, needles. Trips to Yale. Trips to NYC. Bad news. Unexplainations. No reason why not. Ugh. Until...Finally...
There she was... in our arms. Part of the Christmas Tree.
What an amazing miracle. You could not have asked for a more perfect baby in all the world. She was a gift. I still call her that. She was born the day after my birthday and it's like getting that gift all over again each time we celebrate our birthdays. I always remember my best gift evah.
And so our lives, our furniture, our Christmas tree and our own family traditions changed with our new addition.
And then two years came to pass and two more gifts arrived on the scene.
Our tree reflect all of these family members. And no longer does it all look 'matchy-matchy'. It's an amazing hodge-podge of ornaments.
I love that Neil's sister sends us a new ornament every year with all of our names on the characters. Unpacking them and putting them on the tree is such a treasured time.
...and I mean that I am looking forward to taking them to the mall to visit Santa's workshop.
Although I must admit there is one thing I wish I could do at that mall. You know the food court? The haven of Moms with their kids, that every sweet lady who it trying to conceive would avoid like the plague, because it makes her heart ache so? You may not connect with that thought... but I hope you can empathize with it. I wish I could look into the eyes of someone like the former me and let her know in that instant that I too went through those struggles. That the answer will come, her personal miracle will happen -- and it will seem so right when it does. That she just has to BELIEVE.
And if I could do a smack-down on every person that tells her that she just has to 'relax' -- I would. I really would. Nuff said.
Hold on, dear lady to those dreams.
So tomorrow I am looking forward to going with the entire crew to the NY Botanical Garden's Holiday Train show and seeing the wonder on their faces and the imaginations fired up.
And I feel blessed beyond any measure. I am seriously, beyond-goofy-grin-on-my-face and tears-in-my-eyes BLISSED OUT. Thank God.
So now, when I say, "next year..." it isn't with wistful sadness. Although I will admit they are growing up too fast for me. No, "next year" now is about wonderful things to look forward to TOGETHER.
And that's my Christmas story.