Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 129

Our Christmas Gifts!

Friday December 24, 2010

I had so longed for Nina to be "well" for Christmas, to be able to come back home to be with family, to give the kids one more set of holidays and memories (if we are taken down that road) with her and as an intact family. God had given me that gift. Now it was up to me to be joyful, just joyful! I woke up with that task on my mind.

Addie had spent the night with Nina and me at my parent's house. Todd had stayed with Silas and Teddy at his folks. The kids had a blast with their sleep overs. The girls slept in until 10:30, which gave me plenty of time to start helping my mom with setting the table for that dinner's Christmas Eve party. That had been our routine for decades.

Christmas Eve dinner was traditionally the main get together for my family. Each year my cousins Luis and Lucy, along with their kids, would come over for dinner. Since my parents have a Portuguese Bakery they always work on Christmas Eve, unless it falls on a Sunday. While they are working, I go back to my childhood home (actually I lived there until I was married :).....22 seems so long ago now!) and help my mom prepare by ironing the table clothes, folding the napkins, setting the table, decorating, and preparing the appetizers. I love doing this! Looking back, it is funny how certain routines become "traditions" without that ever having been the intention. So, while the girls slept I scurried around the house. Everything felt right, but then again, everything felt wrong. Each time my mind started slipping, I tried to refocus on the joy.

After the girls had breakfast, I started a tub for them. They love taking baths together. Adelae has the most incredible patience with Nina and she also has an extraordinary imagination that always comes to life each time they are playing with bubbles :) While the girls took their tubbie, I dried my own hair and tried to make myself presentable. In the midst of drying hair and putting on make-up, that's when I heard it.

I heard the voice of an angel, fluttering out of the bathroom where the girls were. I snuck toward the door, sure to not be discovered. Adelae was singing to Nina. Immediately I felt my arch nemesis make his appearance again. The lump. It instantly crawled up into my throat and dug his claws in. I heard Addie sing "Butterfly Fly Away", each word beautifully enunciated, draped with sugary love. Intermittently, Nina would join in and sing a few words.....
Caterpillar in the tree
How you wonder who you'll be
Can't go far but you can always dream

Wish you may and wish you might
Don't you worry, hold on tight
I promise you there will come a day
Butterfly fly away

Butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away
Flap your wings now you can't stay
Take those dreams and make them all come true

Butterfly, butterfly, butterfly, butterfly fly away

Tears welled. I didn't want to cry!!! I texted friends and family. Whenever I am overwhelmed, trying to fight off being taken captive by my emotions, I seek the strength of my family and friends. Technology has been a dear friend of mine throughout this ordeal. Because of texts and emails, family and friends who are so far away are constantly within reach, always providing words of comfort, and many times just being goofy as a way to fill my day with doses of normacly and humor.

Instantly, I was surrounded with words of encouragement and support. Most helpful was the reminder to follow Nina's lead, to be sassy like her and seize happiness. Sometimes the most obvious solution, the one right in front of you, is the hardest to see. When I read that advice, I felt anchored again. So, I took a deep breath and just enjoyed the privilege of listening to something sacred. I decided it was a heavenly gift instead of a grueling match with my nemesis. People ask me how I do it and I don't know....somehow I'm just able to flip the switch. 

After we three ladies finished getting ready, I took Addie and Nina to Todd's parents. They joined the rest of the gang to play on the new zip line Papa Gordy had installed in the backyard. I took advantage of the wild rumpus to run a few errands for my mom. For about two hours I went from store to store. My last stop was at Safeway (the Northern California version of Vons). Before I went in, I looked in the rear view mirror to check that I didn't have sandwich crumbs all over my chin. To my chagrin, I discovered that I had been running around town with make-up on only one eye!!! Lovely! My left eye was delicately detailed with eye shadow, eye liner, and mascara, while my right eye was barren like the desert. I just shook my eye and sent off a text to all my family and friends sharing my holiday cheer with them. For the next hour I was greeted with a myriad of sarcastic remarks :) That's what I get for sharing my follies with crazy people.

Around 4pm, Todd and Teddy went with Papa Gordy to church while Nina and I continued to help my parents get ready for dinner. Right before 6, Nina put on her beautiful Christmas dress. She simply looked precious and I could tell that she felt beautiful! This made me incredibly happy! She radiated happiness. I thanked God!

Playing Go Fish with Auntie Michelle

Waiting to open gifts. Come on....we smiled...can we open them now?

I know there's one here for me!

I love it!

We ate, we drank and we were merry! We were all together! What more could we ask for? Nothing!

Playing with Cousin Luis and Vovo!

Happiness and joy with Vovo and Vava!!

Around 11pm, the kids went to bed. They were so excited about Santa coming. Teddy whispered in my ear that he knew that Santa didn't exist, that it was all us, but that he would pretend for Nina's sake :) I smiled and kissed his sweet face! I cuddled with the kids, tickling their backs and kissing their noses. They were my gifts! I lay quietly with them and thanked God for the precious treasures they are in my life!

Teddy and Mama cuddling right before bedtime.

At 11:40pm my dad waved at me from the kitchen. I kissed the kids once more. It was my turn to go to church with my parents. I grabbed my coat and off we went.

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