Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Making Memories

My dear friend Katie always takes loads of pictures of every family outing and vacation and declares with every snapshot, “We are making memories.” This year, I have taken her motto to heart as I have been busily making a Christmas of memories for my children. It is my knee jerk reaction to my friend’s recent cancer diagnosis and my brother in laws death. I think that I went a little overboard though.

It started with the weekend after Thanksgiving. My mom, dad, and my family went to see a staged production of “White Christmas.” We dressed up and went downtown on a Sunday night to see the spectacular musical. Bridget was mesmerized and I spent half the time looking at the joy in her face as the actors sang and danced for hours. Luke, of course, was more worried about the snacks that were available at intermission but he really enjoyed it too.

The next weekend we took the children downtown to see “The Dickens Village” and “The Light Show” at Macy’s. It is in the Old Wannamaker building in Philadelphia which is a gorgeous old department store. We shopped a little bit and then had dinner in a family restaurant.

Then I decided to have a big Christmas party. I hadn’t had a party since the children were very small and this year I decided it was time to open our house to all of our friends and neighbors in Philadelphia. I shopped and cooked for the days preceding the get together in order to be prepared. Then on Sunday afternoon we greeted about ninety of our closest friends for a few hours of merry making. It was a success and parents and children alike enjoyed the festivities.

I recuperated Monday and Tuesday we did our “family shopping night” which has always been a Christmas tradition. I was still a little tired and feeling that I had done pretty well at “making memories” but there was still more to come.

Thursday, I took Bridget to see “the Nutcracker” at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. The building alone is stunning but then to have the entrancing ballet to delight us for two hours just made the day perfect. When I asked Bridget if she liked it she succinctly described the entire experience by saying, “It is beautiful Mommy.” She hugged me and kissed me repeatedly throughout the performance much to my delight.

Christmas Eve was spent with our friends at their home, a tradition that began when we moved to Philadelphia five years ago. Then Christmas arrived with the plethora of presents and both children declared that it was their best Christmas ever. I felt enormous satisfaction.

After morning coffee and clean up we hopped in the car and went to my husband’s family’s home for Christmas Day. We enjoyed a buffet dinner at my in law’s country club and then prepared to drive to my parent’s home in Virginia for yet another celebration.

Last night we had Christmas again with my mom and dad. We opened poppers and put on our crowns as we each recited our fortune embedded inside. The children sang, danced and read stories for us.

It was a wonderful Christmas and we made many memories this year. As I watched the children enjoy their holiday in so many ways I felt a sense of accomplishment. They will remember this Christmas always. The only problem I have now is repeating the performance next year and quite frankly, I am exhausted!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I have neglected this blog too much as of late. I was overwhelmed with the funeral and the holiday and now it is December. Now that we have made it through that tough time, I am excited for the Christmas holiday and looking forward to seeing the joy on my children’s faces when they see the goodies Santa brings to them.

I did have my appointment with the gynecological oncologist and upon examination she exclaimed, “Oh my, that is sitting right on your bladder.” Yes, it is getting more and more uncomfortable everyday and thankfully I am scheduled for a laparoscopic hysterectomy in January so it is a minimally invasive procedure.

I am concerned about another surgery on the one hand, on the other hand, I will be glad not to have to use the restroom every half an hour. That part is getting old. I am more concerned about my children and how they will hold up. I don’t want them to relive the trauma of my cancer so I am going to spend a great deal of time after the first of the year having conversations with them about the surgery. Hopefully that will go well. I hope that by preparing them better than I did last time, they will be less stressed out.

The other reason I haven’t written is that several days after we returned from the Thanksgiving holiday I got a call from an old dear friend who was a bridesmaid in my wedding.

“I don’t know how to tell you this gently so I am just going to tell you. X has esophageal cancer.” X was a bridesmaid in my wedding too.

“Oh, my God,” was all I could say.

For several days I was really depressed and feeling down but then I started to look at things a little bit differently. I started to think about how precious life is and how I, we, all of us should focus on the things that truly give us joy. When I was thoughtful about it, I realized that there are so many simple things in life that give me immense joy.

A great yoga class, the smell of a good cup of coffee, decorating our Christmas tree, the sun setting on the beach; the list can go on and on. So as I pray for my friend and wish her well on her journey with the big C, I will try to mindful of the simple things in life that can provide comfort and joy each and every day.