Christmas Countdown

Christmas Memories in My Heart is a place for me to share all things related to Christmas, which is my favorite time of the year. I plan and prepare for the holidays all year, so that I can enjoy that busy time without having to stress about shopping and all the details of the season.

I am actually able to decorate and then enjoy the spirit of the holidays and celebrate Jesus' birth and the reason for the season.

You can find links to my three favorite holiday sites in my sidebar. They are Organized Christmas, Our Home for the Holidays, and Magical Holiday Home. All three of these special places are like my home away from home. I have cyber friends there who I feel a great bond with and we share a common love of Christmas. We understand each other and support each other in our quest to have magical, wonderful holidays.

Please come back to visit often.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Christmas memories and reflections

Do you remember when you were told that there wasn't a Santa Claus?

This day is as vivid to me as the day that President Kennedy was assassinated or the day that Elvis died. I can see that day and hear my mother's words clearly in my mind.

Although I don't remember my age, I still remember the numb feeling that I experienced. I was upset and wanting to go somewhere (again the details escape me) with my older sister. I think that I was probably being a little brat about it and throwing a temper tantrum. I just remember, my mother going into my sister's room and opening the closet. I had followed her in there and she reached up on the top shelf and pulled down a box that contained a beautiful doll. She told me that it was supposed to be my Christmas gift from Santa, but that I could play with it that afternoon!

I have no idea what was happening or why my mother gave in to me. It was not like her to do something like this. So, I sort of think that there was something happening that made her respond to me in this way. I really was not accustomed to getting my way after a fit. I just remember standing there holding the doll and thinking, "This can't be right. There is a Santa Claus."

In some strange way, I think that this event helped shape me into the person that I am today. I was greatly disappointed in being told that Santa didn't exist, but I believe that it made me into a much better mom and truly cemented my love in the magic of Christmas and believing in Santa to this day.

We used to always open our Christmas packages on Christmas Eve and have something special on Christmas morning when I was little. I was the youngest child of three and there were 7 1/2 and 10 years difference in my older sister and brother and me. So, I was like another family age wise to my parents. I always wondered if I was an accident. Then, my older brother was killed and his two young children were adopted by my mom and dad. They were 8 and 10 years younger than me! So there was a third age group for them to cope with.

My mother was always fragile in many ways. She was hard to understand and as they years went on, she didn't cope very well with the murder of my older brother. Although they took the two little ones in and they were raised as my brother and sister, I know that it was hard on mom and dad.

I know that I have always had a very different view of life in our home than my younger sister or that of my older sister. It was as if I lived in a different house if you compare our memories. I don't know why. I think that my older sister got more caught up in the shadow of my brother's death and the two little ones were so much a part of him that brought joy and sorrow at the same time.

I have always been a person who tried to make the most out of what I had and usually view the glass as half full instead of half empty. That has not been the case of the rest of my family. I guess I learned to make lemonade at an early age. That, and I learned to enjoy books and learning. I spent hours reading and visiting the library from an early age. It was often a way of escape, but I learned so much about life and the world that we live in from my reading. Again, this all shaped me into the person that I am.

Back to the Santa story.

As I look back over my life, I realize that this one of the pivot points in my life. Of course I didn't realize it at the time.

Mr. Printersdevil and I were married for over seven years before we had children. We were working and I was finishing school, which took a long time going part-time. During those early years we established out holiday traditions. We always shared the magic of the holidays. We never opened packages until early Christmas morning, and were always surprised and delighted by what we received. One year, I woke up to find a set of Saladmaster cookware spread out all around our living room. I had wanted a set for a long time and "Santa" brought me one.

When I found out that I was expecting Mickey, it was just several days before Christmas. We were so excited. I bought a cheap little baby doll and wrapped it in a package and we gave it to our parents on Christmas Eve. The rest of our families still opened presents on Christmas Eve, but we always waited to Christmas morning. He was truly a touch of magic to us and it was so appropriate to announce this arrival at this time of year.

He was born very premature in late July and was born with major health problems. We spent all but about five weeks of his first seven months in the hospital having numerous surgeries. We were able to bring him home for those few weeks when he was about 3 months old and then returned for more surgery. His first Christmas was spent at Children's Medical Center in the ICU. All the first year photos with Santa are of an intern dressed as Santa. Again, this experience made me more committed to having wonderful, magical Christmases.

Jim and I ate our Christmas dinner that year in the hospital cafeteria and spent the day in the ICU. But, the good Lord, pulled our Mickey through and gave him to us for 23, almost 24 years.

You might wonder why this rambling about this in July. Well, you see, we lost our Mickey on July 6, 2003. His birthday was in July on the ninteenth and what would have been his 30th birthday will be this weekend. My birthday is the 22nd and this has become the hardest time of the year for me. We loved going to the beach and traditionally spent several weeks there each year around this time. We had just returned from the beach that summer. Summers were special, just like Christmas was.

So, if you wonder about my Christmas in July frenzy, just know that it is a coping mechanism, and also a way to honor the memory of my son, who loved the holidays as much as I do. It is difficult to cope with this month due to his death and both of our birthdays, but it is also now a time for me to reflect on what we loved and to share the memories.

Our family of four was so close. We enjoyed doing things together. We camped. We vacationed. We went to the golf course together. We vacationed together. We often just watched television together. We also shared the love of the holidays together.

I've talked about Mick in this post, but most of you know that we also have a beautiful daughter, Tracie. She has been a rock of support during these past six years. She is so much more than a daughter to me. She is a best friend.

I truly believe that Tracie will always find a way to be at our home on Christmas mornings. Although she is 27, she still wakes us early on Christmas morning full of glee and promise and runs to the tree for us to share this special morning. We still enjoy the magic of the day and share our love with each other. When the kids were little, it was not unusual for them to wake us around 5 a.m. on Christmas morning.

Tracie and I enjoy baking and making candy and cookies for the holidays together. Although she is not much of cook, she helps cook the large Christmas dinner that we host for our extended family. In recent years, we have each shared an Advent Calendar that includes small holiday stories, jokes, quotes, etc. and a small daily gift during advent. This new tradition was started through an advent swap on the old Organized Christmas site. It has become a wonderful tradition for us as a family. These small items and our Christmas stockings are my favorite part of the holiday season.

This past week, we buried my DH's only living brother. This was during what I call THAT week. So, much sorrow for one week. However, I have comfort in knowing that Mickey has another loving family member with him in heaven. I also rest assured that we will all be together one day again.

In the meantime, I honor Mickey's memory with continuing to do the things that he loved. I also am blessed to have so many fond memories of him and the rest of my family.

I think often of that day when my mother all but announced that there was no Santa. It reminds me of what my daughter will still tell you, Santa is alive and visits as long as you BELIEVE! In our home, we BELIEVE...