It is over. The presents unwrapped, the toys assembled, the cinnamon buns fresh from the oven devoured. I love this holiday. I love the joy of the season in general, but this year I had a special gift.
My beloved enjoyed it too. 12 years ago her mother received a terminal diagnosis on December 1st and it has been a long haul for her to get past the truly painful memories that the date would bring. Time does heal, but it heals at a different pace for everyone. It was a slow journey back to her for a joyful season. Not that she was dour to us necessarily, but for me, who knows her well, I knew that some of the happiness was faked. I also carried much of the responsibility of the seasonal expectations, trying to make it easy for her to back off when she needed or wanted to. And in fairness, some of this may not have been due to her mother. 2 years ago we adopted Lissa and when we got home for Christmas that year it was to arrive on 12/23 after driving 20 straight hours from Chicago. So she was exhausted that year and because the call from the agency was unexpected we hadn't finished all the holiday prep before we left for Chicago in mid December. The next Christmas Lissa was just a year and had only slept through the night twice up to that point. So she was sleep deprived that holiday season as well.
I did the holiday cards and the annual photo shoot of the kids. I did the ordering of gifts, and the wrapping and hiding of same. I did the stocking stuffing. I loaded it all under the tree. She helped with holiday baking and some of the decorating, but even there, for many years it was largely something I orchestrated.
This year it was a team effort and it was even more fun. I even loved the holiday doing a disporportionate amount of the work, so imagine how I enjoyed it when she was able to help. When she took the holiday pic with our digital camera so I could send out our cards. When she didn't crab about the amount of cookies we needed to make to give to friends and merchants in the area. When she wrapped gifts with me. We hid gifts together, we baked cookies together. Did I say it was fun? So her joy was one of my biggest gifts this holiday season. I am all about holidays and making memories and this year we made some great ones.
The kids did some amazing gifts for me and for Kirsty and for each other. Robbie's gift to me was a beautiful knotted and beaded necklace. I am wearing it now and have been fingering it off and on all day. It is special to me not just because it is from him, but because it is a gift i can tell he had to work hard at. He learned a skill and perfected it to make something of beauty for me. It makes my heart sing to look at it and wear it. KC made me soaps. They are beautiful with a soft scent of vanilla and I hoped he would do these again for me this year. I don't know what they are made of but I know they keep my skin moist in the dry winter air. Lissa gave me gloves and the girl has fashion sense! I am not kidding; this one is going to drive me round the bend with fashion when she is older; I can tell. They are beautiful and warm and unlike my pair that i have been wearing, they have no holes at all in them! Chet gave me a gift that made me smile as well. He gave a donation in my honor to a charity. I work hard to help my kids see that part of being in this world is giving in ways that we can to help make everyone's time here better. With an autistic person it is hard to get these things across sometimes. He has no real ability to understand emotions, they are either illogical or scary to him and he backs away from examining them. But somehow, he did get this, and I am so glad.
My sister and her ex husband came to dinner and while that reads weirdly, it went well. They are friends and lovers, just not able to be partners I guess. And while I have been in my relationship since 1978 and can't totally understand what seems to be lack of commitment, they are both fun to be with and good company. That leads to other musings on relationships but I'll save that for another day!
KC got a guitar from Santa and it turns out that Matt plays guitar and could help tune the instrument and show KC some basics. I don't know what he took in, he is only 4 but he is also a very musical little spirit and really was attentive to Matt. But their time here was pleasant, the conversation happy and spirited and that too was a gift. My sister and i have a hard time connecting. We love one another but we don't understand one another. This seems all the more sad to me because there is only the two of us in our family, and we don't have lots of cousins or extended family either. Yet we are day and night and our life choices, our dreams and virtually everything about us is so profoundly different it is sometimes hard to find a meeting place between our worlds. Today, in a bit of Christmas magic, that meeting place was there and it added to the wellspring of joy.