09 December 2005

And The Little Child Shall Lead Them...

"There is no normal life that is free of pain. It's the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth." ~ Fred Rogers

"It's all about friends, it's all about love and having someone you know you can trust. We're in this together, it's all about us... Hold onto to the good things..." ~ Shawn Colvin

And so it is...the season of hope...so much hope and I've got a well-spring of it. I still stumble, I occasionally fall, but I do know how to get back up again. Sometimes the road is clear and free of debris and feels just like a golden path really should. Other times, things appear so murky and obscured in fog, but I just have to hold on and trust my compass - discard that artificial horizon and trust that I'm still upright and making progress.

I am grateful for many things, even though I still feel twinges of fear as my kids navigate their way toward maturity and adulthood. I just have to trust they'll find their way and remember that I'm still finding my own. Making more meetings helps because the energy exchanged with others in recovery is so palpable and potent and most times I walk out of an AA meeting feeling as if I've been given a spiritual booster.

Last Saturday, Justin asked me if I would be interested in tree shopping. Yes! Yes! Yes! We needed something light, fun and seasonal.

First stop - depositing my paycheck. Justin drove to the bank and as he approached the drive-thru, it was then I realized that I had left my check at home. Oh well, it could wait. We were hungry with fajitas on our mind. We needed a Chili's fix and pressed on.

After lunch, we realized that we were in the same plaza as K-Mart and the Optimists Club had set up a tree lot. First we trekked into K-Mart and after about five minutes, Justin was ready to bolt but not so fast. I made this guy, I like to think of it as "encourage", walk down every aisle of Christmas decorations...though I tried my best to skip anything hinting of Martha Stewart. We're not huge fans.

After spending a small mint on lights, ornaments and one poinsettia, it was onto the tree lot. Nevermind that we had a perfectly adequate 7 1/2 foot artificial tree that was only 3 years old and barely used. Justin and I love live trees and I have no idea how we ever came to possess an artificial tree in the first place, but we didn't let that stop us from walking through a forest of recently cut evergreens and finding about ten that we found to be perfect.

Finally, we both wound up staring at this gorgeous 10 foot Frazier Fir and it had our name written all over it. Justin ran and alerted the guy in charge and before we could change our mind or wince at the price tag, the gentleman had the tree on the really cool contraption that nets the whole thing up and was asking which vehicle would be taking it away. Fortunately was driving his Blazer.

A very long Christmas tree
Originally uploaded by susiewrites.
After lots of rope and a little adjusting, the tree was soon atop the truck and off we went - headed for home and an evening of decorating - "Christmas Vacation/Griswold Style".

Justin had already fished out the lights from the garage and found the video - so after a bit of rearranging, a few photos and some popcorn, Justin built a fire in our Vermont Castings Wood stove, hung six stockings on the brick wall behind the wood stove and directed us to find our places - sitting amid boxes of decorations, warm with the glow of the fire and even warmer in the glow of being a family.


I hardly ever make it through a movie without eventually falling a sleep, but after I finished some popcorn, I looked around and I felt completely blessed. Everyone in that room wanted to be there - Justin coordinated the entire evening. I ran upstairs at one point to retrieve a battery or bulb or something, and I overheard my son make a comment downstairs that stopped me in my tracks.

"You know, if we had more evenings like this, I'd never think about getting high. I love nights like this - it's the best. We should have more evenings like this...".

I wasn't sure I heard him correctly, so when I came back downstairs, I asked him what he had said a few minutes earlier. Justin repeated his statement without reservation or hesitation. I looked around at the mass of clutter, the boxes, the strings of beaded garland, the half-decorated tree and felt the heat of the fire he built which, by now, was putting out so much warmth we had to open one of the patio doors.

Our living room was hardly photo-op material - "Southern Living" or "House Beautiful" wouldn't give us the time of day, but who needs a second opinion? I took it in because it contained three of the most precious things in my life; my son, my daughter and our animals. So what if there was scattered, mismatched decorations, a couple of cats eyeing the tree, or a coffee table with empty soda cans and spent bowls of popcorn? This evening, this gathering, this ritual, I wouldn't have taken anything for it. This was an early Christmas present and I can't imagine anything close to the treasure, the gift, really, of being with people who make my life completely crazy and rich beyond anything I deserve.

I guess Christmas isn't really a ten foot Frazier Fir, or shiny ornaments or brilliantly colored lights. It's looking around the room and seeing people who, merely by their presence, make you feel as if your heart could surely burst - because of the love exchanged that makes up for mistakes, miscalculations and missteps that are part and parcel of being human. And even though you know that there will still be times these people you hold so dear will get around to driving you nuts and worrying you into gray hair and wrinkles, you wouldn't trade them, or moments like a special evening, for anything the world could possibly offer.

Katie. Justin. Pops. Granny. Princess. Sylvester. Tabitha. Cassie. Even weird Felix. I love you more than you will ever know.

Yes, Justin, let's have more of these evenings. The next time I tell you that I have to do one thing or another - nag me until I get the point and remind me to thank you.

Christmas tree 2005

Christmas tree 2005
Originally uploaded by susiewrites.
With an aviary above and cats down below - It's a toss-up as to what might wind up in this tree...There is never a dull moment in this house. Oddly enough, it all feels perfectly normal and I love it all. Hey, before the season's over, I might wind up in that tree.