May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
-Irish Blessing

Monday, December 30, 2013

I Couldn't Outrun the Holiday Blues

We just returned from our first big family vacation - EVER.  The most we've ever done is visit family.  This year we took our own family to visit magical places.  The whole process was time consuming.  Packing for four kids, one still in diapers, and myself for two different locales with specific clothing and footwear needs was tricky.  Plus, we spent two whole days getting to and from our destination which is also tricky with four young children, one still in diapers.

So where did we go?  Disney World Magic Kingdom, the beach and Sea World.  It was an amazing vacation filled with unforgettable memories and, at times, overwhelming sadness.  My boys were never far from memory.  Our vacation timing, right over Christmas, was not a coincidence.  Christmas has always been special to my husband and I since we married just before Christmas twelve years ago.  We spent part of our honeymoon at Disney World and the beach.  I have long wanted to share that trip with my children.  

But there was a hidden agenda to the trip and the timing.  Part of it was the above and part was just escaping what has some years become sheer madness at the holidays with family, presents, lists, cooking, etc.  I needed a year off, some breathing space.  Some space to grieve too.  One of our favorite things to do at Christmastime is to visit our sons' graves on Christmas Eve to deliver their presents and see their sweet little Christmas tree lit up in the snow.  With all of the other goings on the time left for that special trip has become less and less and things just weren't on the right track.  

So we packed up and went to Florida, just us and our four little ones.  I bought Wyatt and Eli Mickey Mouse ears with their names embroidered on the back and barely managed to avoid the awkward conversation about who Wyatt & Eli were with the store clerk.  I have a pair of ears myself from my first trip to Disneyland and a Minnie pair from my first trip to Disney World and we purchased each of the girls their own so it was very important for me to get the boys their ears since this would have been their first trip too.  I wrote their names in the sand at the beach and at Sea World we got them a Shamu and dolphin for their graves this Christmas.  

Those aren't the moments that got me though.  Grief was complicated.  I almost lost it on the airplane with my extremely fussy 20 month old exhausted and sleeping on my lap.  When Cinderella's castle was lit with hundreds and maybe thousands of Christmas lights so it sparkled from bottom to top my eyes sparkled too.  

I learned yet another lesson.  It doesn't matter where I am, how happy or distracted, how sad or uncomfortable, how busy or how stressed, the holidays will always have the same effect on me and my boys will always be extra close to my heart in those days.  

Santa, you can commit this wish to memory because it will NEVER change:  all I want for Christmas is my whole family to be together.  My second oldest told me out of the blue that she wished Santa would bring something for Wyatt and Eli.  She remembered this wish when we arrived home late Christmas evening and she looked at the two empty stockings.  If only.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Extraordinariness Oversimplified

I am moved this morning to remember Nelson Mandela and his undying legacy.  Mr. Mandela's time on earth has passed but time will not pass him by.  Mr. Mandela's words, actions and legacy will live on in eternity.  He was an extraordinary man who accomplished extraordinary things in the most understated of ways and that to me is true greatness.   Invictus - Latin for "unconquered" and inspiration and motivation in my life every day.


Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.


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