I spent the day yesterday taking down our Christmas decorations, packing them away for another year and truthfully, reminiscing more than usual. I've been feeling really emotional this holiday season. So much is changing again and I'm trying to hold onto every precious moment and live in each one. Mothering three boys heading so quickly (and in Jimmy's case, gracefully;-)) into adulthood is like trying to keep your balance on a wave or an ice skating rink, with new surfboard and skates. Lots of falls along the way, but still worth the joy of learning to navigate both.:) The scenery is pretty awesome.
Sean was accepted to the college of his choice just before Christmas and was invited to apply to the honors program now in the new year. He has chosen to major in history and minor in music... another shift in the sands that run through my fingers as I pray for him. I wonder a lot about what he's going to do with his life and how it will look in five years. Staring out at this gorgeous blue, blue sky and water in the quiet of a cold, new morning in January, once again, I find myself feeling such a myriad of emotions over that. As their lives change, so does mine. We are bound together tightly, my little family and I.
I thought a lot about why we do the things we do around the holiday season. It's A LOT of work, truly and is sometimes so exhausting. Yesterday I sat down with all these ornaments laid out on the glass table looking for their boxes and it hit me. That tree is full of memories. SO many memories. And two thirds of it was decorated because of the long term vision of my mother in law. Every year, she gives each of us a new ornament that has something to do with what has happened in our lives the previous year. There are soccer balls and footballs, trumpets and violins. There are angels who prayed away cancer and wrapped arms of love around family. There are Disney ornaments commemorating all those Thanksgiving trips we took, when I was still dealing with the pain of the loss of my brother. There are snowmen and Yeti - which only our crazy family could understand. And sprinkled in the midst of all that, are some of our own. Trips to the Adirondacks for years of camping. A small dove given to me by an old friend who has one for her tree too... long before our children were even born. Even some, handmade by my kindergarten students I taught long ago, in what feels like another lifetime. That tree carries 30 years worth of memories. I really really love that tree. Taking it down is always a little bittersweet. Putting it up will be even more precious in 2017, when my next child comes back home for the holidays. And there will be a few ornaments moving on to their new home in Rochester. Boxing those up for Jimmy was filled with a different kind of emotion. One I know he understands well. I'll have to tell you sometime, about his Christmas gift to me this year. That child...
In the beginning, it seemed like such a small thing. Today, oh my. Today I realize what a big,wonderful, precious thing it all is. How grateful I am to her... for seeing beyond my first year with her son. And for doing it every year for 30 years. I will carry on that tradition as a way of honoring her. The holidays carry deep religious meaning to me for sure... but these softer feelings that lie closer to the surface, are every bit as precious. And here they go dripping from my eyes, yet again.