Sunday, December 11, 2011

Turkey, Lights, and Beads

I've been looking at the holiday season with a little bit of dread.  I'm not gonna lie.

Jim was a LOVER of Thanksgiving.  Last year, he was horribly sick (as in hospitalized sick), but he was bound and determined that he was going to make it to his sister's for dinner.  He'd been in the hospital for four days and he was ready to GO.  He was literally ripping his heart monitor off when the nurses weren't quick enough to discharge him.  I had to pretty much smack him around to stop him from taking out his own IV.  It was a four hour drive the next day, but we made it to Lisa's house- on time- for dinner!

This year, Marley and I spent Thanksgiving with my family.  We'd missed out on the festivities last year, so it was nice to spend that time with them.  This year I brought sugar cream pie... in memory of Jim.  It made me smile to think that the Lord probably makes sugar cream pie available to him every day if he wants it.  Even though the pie I made was good, it had a little bit of bittersweet to it for me.  I suppose it always will.

I was raised with a lot of traditions surrounding Christmas.  Jim and I made the trip to be with family on Christmas day until we had Marley.  Then we made the hard choice to spend Christmas Day at our home, four hours away from our loved ones.  But in doing that, we blended traditions that we both loved about our own upbringings.  I love to have a freshly cut tree in the house.  So, Jim would faithfully follow me through tons and tons of trees, until we found just the right one.  Then he'd haul it home with me and help me set it up.  That simple feat alone is a great test of marital communication.  Seems like the trunks got crooked on the way home somehow. 

Jim and I would make gooey chocolate chip cookies (my tradition) while we decorated the tree.  We listened to Elvis Christmas music (his tradition), and he'd put the hooks on the ornaments for me so I could hang them up.  When Marley came along, she made it her personal mission to "help" put on the beads.

This year was different.  Jim wasn't here.

But someone that we love and who takes care of us was there.  I guess he knew this would be a tricky time for me, so he suggested that he come over and helped me get a tree set up while Marley was in preschool.  The look on her face was priceless when she walked in the door and saw the livingroom rearranged and the tree ready to go.  Out came her Santa hat, and off to work we went. 

This year was her first time putting the star on top too!
It needed a little *ahem* straightening later on.
And of course, we have her little window decorations
to play with too. 
 I guess this is her addition to the Christmas tradition at our place. 

One memory this year that was precious to me...
I love Nativity sets.  I have three or four of them, and I'm always looking for interesting new ones to add to my collection.
Jim loved Santa and those little dolls that sing REALLY LOUDLY when you squeeze their hand.
This makes for an interesting mix, for sure!
{And yes, Virginia, I do believe there's room for Santa and Baby Jesus in my livingroom... but I digress.}

This year I pulled all of the customary things out of the Christmas tubs... lights, beads, ornaments, candles, my favorite Nativity (poor Joseph is missing a hand, because Marley loved him especially much last year!).
And then I uncovered the dolls.
Marley jumped and then squeeled with delight when I squeezed their hands and they began singing goofy Christmas songs.
And that's when I realized I had a choice.
I could be sad and feel sorry for her and me because he's not here to push those buttons and laugh his contagious laugh.
Or I could giggle and dance around with our daughter and help her remember how she and Daddy used to drive Mama nuts with those silly dolls.
Jim's not here in body, but those dolls sure are, and they were a fun part of him.
And now they are perched under the little tree in her bedroom.
Because they still sing REALLY LOUDLY.
And she wanted them there.

This is precious to me, because a simple act of squeezing that doll's hand brought back memories that I thought were gone.  When you lose someone, it seems like many of the good things that you love and remember about them can get buried under the trauma of how they left.
Then you find something random~ like a singing doll~ and suddenly it's like they're here again.  It helped me to remember another piece of a wonderful life with a wonderful man. 
A life full of God's blessings and faithfulness.
And that's really, really great.


  1. This brought me to tears... are you surprised? ;) I love your faith and admire it everyday. I can't imagine the pain of losing someone so close to you, but I guess that's the thing.. you're not "losing" them, it's an "I'll see you later." God will provide those sweet memories, and the strength when we need it most. As much as I can't stand those LOUD singing dolls, I will now smile each time Layne plays one of ours. I love you & Marley "Bug", always.

  2. THose little dolls are hysterical. I will always remember that hard/wonderful few days we spent with you and Jim last Christmas. Between the dolls and the reindeer song I don't think I've laughed so hard.
    I'm glad God brought that joy to you this year. Remember when you asked us to pray that God would gift Marley with memories before she should even begin to have them? Answered prayer comes in many and sometimes surprising ways. This one makes me laugh.

  3. so sweet, it takes times but the good is always there. It just needs to be uncovered. You are doing a great job. Love from both of us.

  4. What beautiful memories! I love that you said it was a "choice"...Marley is so blessed to have you as a mommy! And your pictures are gorgeous! Love, Jen


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