The New Jersey fam and I went ice-skating earlier this week. First time the three Ugandan-born grandchildren have ever been on skates. Of any kind. First time they’ve seen ice this big.
Daughter Summer: “It’s not Christmas until Santa photobombs your family picture.”
I was caregiver for all six kids last week while The Parents celebrated their 20th anniversary in Disney World. One evening, while I took the girls Christmas shopping, 13-year-old Titus was left in charge of putting his three little brothers to bed. The next morning, when I asked if they had been good, 7-year-old Godfrey answered, “A little bit.”
It’s been fun seeing the world through their young eyes. I took The Littles to see the Peanuts movie one afternoon, followed by beverages at Starbucks. The barista asked my name and when I answered Marlys, 5-year-old William looked up at me and said, “That’s not your name.”
Me: “What is my name, then?”
William: “It’s grandma!” Hmmm … you may have a point there.
If I had to list the top 3 factors that have made the cancer caregiver and widow journey more peaceful, more joy-filled than it ought to be, they would be these:
1. Friends. There are these hiking-snowshoeing-walking-knitting-Chai-tea-drinking friends who have been a strong support to me simply by being themselves and including me.
2. Family. I am surrounded by love. Adult children and children-in-law. American-born and Ugandan-born grandchildren. Siblings and siblings-in-law and nieces and nephews.
3. Faith. I am reminded during this season that “the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.” Immanuel means God with us. Which means I now have direct access to relationship with the Creator of the universe.
A while back, I copied a quote into my journal with Hubby in mind. This from one of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, written by Alexander McCall Smith:
She looked at him fondly, that he had been sent to her, when there were so many other, lesser men who might have been sent, was a source of constant gratitude. That we have the people we have in our life, rather than others, is miraculous, she thought; a miraculous gift.
I read this quote with fresh eyes this morning. That these children — the ones I gave birth to and the ones who married them — are in my life; that these grandchildren and extended family are part of me is nothing short of miraculous.
This thought from Albert Einstein:
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Yes, this season can be hard when there are broken relationships, bad memories from holidays past, a job lay-off, a cancer diagnosis, single parenthood, loss of a loved one.
And there are numerous miracles.
This breath. And this one. And this one.
During the holidays as a widow, there shouldn’t be much joy. And yet. This miraculous gift to me. Joy.
This New Jersey house filled with commotion and kids and dogs. With piles of laundry and wrestling and tickling and reading of books. And good cooking. And yes, bickering because they are children. And much, much love and laughter. Miracles.
Here is my Christmas wish for you: May you recognize all the miracles around you this holy season.
(Now if my central Oregon friends would just quit sending videos and electronic messages proclaiming white fluffy stuff falling on my hometown. And if Jersey could receive the miracle of snow … )
What about you? Whether dealing with widowhood, cancer or any of life’s setbacks, what holiday miracles are yours?
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