Sunday, December 21, 2014

Growing Closer to Christmas

Long ago my friend Jo Barger said something to the effect that she loved the rush and over-crowded December days with the pre-Christmas lists and all the busy activities that we try to cram into our lives during this season. So one of the ways I would comfort myself when I was feeling pushed was to remember that busyness was part of the pleasure of the season.  Age has greatly reduced my Yule time observations—no baking, fewer decorations, fewer living friends to correspond with, fewer expectations by others.  But unfortunately, even with these lessening activities, I am much slower, and also have responsibilities that I did not have when younger, so I am still often behind schedule.  So I have again used Jo’s wisdom to whisper to myself a few times this year.  And I remind myself that the one we are honoring was born in a humble place and not with elaborate celebrations—until the angels burst forth in song, that is. So whatever my circumstances, my participation in the season is appropriate whether simple or painstakingly complex.
We have had many concerns. My brother came through with his newest heart stint and is back home in Mattoon with the help of his visiting son Robert.  Just as we were breathing a sigh of relief, Gerald’s youngest brother Keith was taken to the hospital at Cape Girardeau and found out he had had a light heart attack a week or so before.  He came home with a monitor until he was scheduled for a defibrillator.  But before that happened, after a peaceful Sunday morning, he almost left us. Keith and Barbara have a daughter-in-law and granddaughter who are both RNs at the Cape hospital, and they were rapidly on hand to assist Barbara until the ambulance arrived to take him to the Anna hospital to stabilize him.  He was ready to go on to Cape by the time we arrived.  The monitor kept shocking him and slowing his heart down as family cars followed his ambulance to Cape. We were told the next 24 hours were critical, and his sons and wives stayed with him through the night.  On Thursday he had the defibrillator implanted, and now he at home for Christmas with everyone telling him to take it easy.
Despite all these scares and other time-consuming problems, there is a tree downstairs in the family room and another upstairs in the living room.  I have never seen an ugly Christmas tree, so I have thoroughly enjoyed them.  I mailed the last of the Christmas cards this morning, whereas in past years, I have often mailed the last ones way after Christmas.  I shopped for groceries to be able to fix easy meals while loved ones are here, and I have wrapped most of the token gifts, which is all I am giving to loved ones this year.
Two Texas granddaughters are driving up tomorrow after they celebrated their family Christmas tonight in College Station.  Their sister’s family will stop by sometime when they return from Chicago on their way back to Texas after Christmas. We had been expecting their parents for Christmas too, but that is not to be.  And although I am disappointed, I have to smile at the reason why.  When Erin was a graduating high school senior, if I am remembering this right, she bought or perhaps given by a boyfriend, a tiny white dog she named Chloe.   Chloe was such a sweet little dog, but with dorm life ahead for Erin, you know who ended up with little Chloe.  Vickie is good with babies, children, and dogs.  She graciously took on raising Chloe just as she had Tara’s big white dog when Tara and husband moved to Chicago area. (It had some sort of health problem and died, however.)  But gentle Chloe has been  part of every family celebration.
One of my favorite memories was when Tara and Bryan’s first born—Aidan—was a tiny toddler and we all sat around at Gerry and Vickie’s house admiring Aidan and watching his every move—just as we had done back when Tara was a baby.   Chloe was right there in the mix with Aidan; and all of a sudden, Aidan wordlessly widened his eyes with the realization that Chloe was just the right size for him to straddle as a horse. We all saw and knew instantly what he was thinking, so that misadventure was avoided, but we knew Aidan would have been safe with Chloe whether she was with Aidan or not.
Well, last year as a college sophomore living off campus in a house with others, guess who felt she had to have a dog.  And before too long because of some sort of illness or problem, this little black dog of Geri Ann’s was often at Gerry and Vickie’s house with Chloe. It was cute to see them together, and when Geri Ann went off to school in Oregon this fall, of course the little black dog stayed behind at Gerry and Vickie’s.
Chloe is nine years old, and had never had puppies.  But nature prevailed, and an unplanned surprise pregnancy resulted. Now with the help of a vet, tiny Chloe is the very proud mother of three adorable little black dogs—just in time for what was planned to be Christmas travel time.  When they realized that a caesarian birth was going to be necessary and saw on the Internet that these sometimes cost $2000, they were surely alarmed.  Fortunately, Gerry has many dog friends (no I mean friends with many dogs) among his hunting buddies, and one steered him to a kind and excellent vet with a doable fee.  They wondered how Chloe would cope as an inexperienced mother and the doctor assured them Chloe would do fine.  Gerry and Vickie are thrilled with how devoted Chloe is to her babies.  She can’t crawl under the covers of the end of their bed anymore to sleep because she has to take care of her little ones.  And being the devoted mother that Vickie is, she is unable to upset the new little dog family with such a long trip home to Southern Illinois.
Our son-in-law Rick, Cecelie, and her friend Ryan are coming through Tuesday night from a college visit In Virginia and then a Nashville stop on their way back home to northern Illinois.  The Taylor family is heading to Arizona to Brian’s family sometime, but the last I talked to Mary Ellen she still was not sure whether they would leave before or after Christmas.  Katherine has made arrangements with an aide to help her get ready and in her chair for a van ride to the farm if someone can drive her out.  Gerald’s brother Garry is invited up  There is a huge ham waiting in the garage fridge, a new box of instant potatoes, plenty of okra in the freezer from Gerald’s garden, and pies in there left from Mary Ellen’s Thanksgiving baking. 
Tonight Gerald and I hopped in his pickup after supper and drove over to this fantastic decorated house in the middle of the country not too far from us.  We’d tried to see this coming home from the Taylors the other night, but the lights are off before l0, so we needed to go earlier. I see the amazing bright lights in the distance if I go by in the evening to Katherine’s.  I discovered this remarkable lighted scene a few years ago but somehow missed going down the lane to see it last year.  I wish I knew who these people are who go all out with their house and the area around it containing more items than your eyes can take in.  If you live locally, don’t miss seeing this if you can at all.  Take the Old Creal Springs Road from Marion and turn right onto Cherry Valley Lane.  Or go down 166 to New Dennison and from West Ellis, go north onto the Old Creal Springs Road and turn left onto Cherry Valley Lane.  The lights will guide you long before you reach the house.  It has to be a time-consuming task to create such an elaborate scene.  I hope they and all the other folks whose homes we drove around viewing tonight enjoy the hard work and the busy rush it took to create such colorful beauty for others to enjoy.   I hope viewing lifts the sad spirits of those in grief or with severe problems during this season of joy and celebration.


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