Friday, December 31, 2010

Celebrating the New

Two weeks before Christmas, my husband's father (who had struggled with prostate cancer and the side effects of over-seeding with radiation to cure it) passed away. We were pretty sure it was coming. He had been very poorly at Thanksgiving time. Plus, during the previous week, he had been unable to speak. This made our Christmas visit with my husband's family bittersweet this year.

We have just finished hosting my family for a Christmas gathering here in our home in Indiana. This was the first year since my parent's retired from Salvation Army officership that all of us were able to be together. With my parents and all five children, spouses and grandchildren, we packed the house in with 30 people.

Sadly, I didn't really bring out my camera very often. I can't claim that I was busy in the kitchen, because that really isn't my area of expertise or comfort. Thankfully, I am blessing with a very helpful husband and the assistance of several other family members.

We piled everyone into the porch (so grateful that we were able to get it heated a year ago) and took some photos. All 18 grandchildren stood still for ages while numerous cameras snapped photos and then we opened our gifts to one another.

Of course, the children from the youngest all the way to the oldest, had a fantastic time playing with our Magnatiles (that gift has been well-used!).

The littlest grandchild, ran from a dog (not ours - that would have terrified him thoroughly) and right into my arms when his family arrived. I loved those little snuggles. He's a total cutie pie!

His older sister performed some Irish dance for us in full costume. Bryce performed several of his drum covers for the whole gang. Another grandchild played part of her piano recital for us and Trevor made everyone laugh as he enthusiastically performed moves from his wrestling practices (when we erupted in laughter over his sprawl, he threatened to shoot anyone who laughed with his cap gun. Then he revised it to an offer to give a dollar to anyone who watched but didn't laugh).

I never know whether to be embarrassed about Trevor or just laugh along. He gets his talkative nature from me, so I can't really complain or fuss. Still, it was like he was on a sugar high when everyone arrived. He tried to get his 19 year old cousin in a half Nelson on the floor. Then, while seated around the table, he informed us of the four or five jobs he planned on getting (doctor, artist, snake scientist, etc.). I think someone wondered aloud if he would be able to find a wife, given that schedule. He responded by explaining that he plans to be hard on his wife. I was panicky, wondering what in the world he could possibly mean. He explained that he's going to make her have 13 kids, "like that show we watch." Ha! Watch out Duggars!

One of my favorite things about our time together was the playing of two fast-paced fun card games. For several years now, we have played Scum. Bryce even remembers it from the Christmas when Trevor was just a baby.

To play Scum, we draw cards to determine places. The highest card drawn becomes the president, next, the vice president, on down, with the two final chairs being for the assistant Scum and Scum. The cards are divided evenly, with the Scum having to take the largest pile. Next the Scum trades his two highest cards for the President's two lowest cards and the assistants both trade one card. The President leads and everyone must build piles until all the cards have been played and new places determined (with the first to go out being president, on down). It is a load of fun.

This year, they introduced me to the game of Spoons as well. This game works along the lines of musical chairs. If five people are playing, four spoons are placed on the middle of the table. Each player is given three chocolates (to represent their lives) and dealt four cards. The goal is to acquire four of a kind and then grab a spoon. The dealer begins drawing a card from the pile and determining whether it will be of use to him. He then passes it to the next player and continues to search for four of a kind. The fun comes when someone has grabbed a spoon and everyone must scramble to grab the others spoons, so that they don't lose a life. Apparently, the game played on the first evening (when I was off putting my little guys to bed) led to two individuals lunging under the table for a spoon. We're a competitive group. I was pleasantly surprised when John agreed to play with us, because he normally says, "I don't play games." I think even he had fun with it.

The kids were all able to go out sledding down our back yard hill. By the day when my youngest brother and family left (they usually stay the longest and our kids love hanging out with their kids), the snow was melting away quickly. My sister-in-law and I went out for a walk, with her dog (Harley was in the kennel up until the last day of their visit). We were hoping to work off some of the plentiful cookies and treats we had consumed.

I must say, as much as I enjoyed the visit, it was thoroughly exhausting to me. At times, I felt a need to withdraw because there was so much chaos and stimulation. After the walk, when the final family departed, I collapsed in bed for an hour. I was absolutely shattered.

We are convinced that something is clearly not right with me. Normal stresses seem to be magnified ten-fold to me. I don't even have enough energy for a normal walk. It is all very disconcerting.

Indeed, it led to some scary dreams last night. The dreams all had to do with normal unexpected changes in schedule or plans that completely threw me for a loop and I responded very poorly. At one point, I was trying to choke Trevor for lying to his teacher and coming home early from school. Another part of the dream had me heading to my room with a tie and plans to do myself in, but not a single person coming to check on me.

I must admit, I am quite horrified that suicide shows up in my dreams. Plus, I'm equally concerned about the way I seem to be declining in stamina. I'm not sure what is wrong (and haven't found a doctor who can remedy this).

Today, Trevor had wrestling practice this morning. As we headed to the van, he began to regale me with a list of stuff he wants next Christmas (good to plan ahead, right?). I told him the only thing I want for Christmas is my old self back. He said, "It's okay, Mommy. Did you know that when you get to heaven you get to have a new body?"

I told him that I knew that. In fact, I said, "it reminds me of that song:
'when we all get to Heaven,
what a day of rejoicing that will be,
when we all see Jesus,
we'll sing and shout the victory."

Trevor said, "That sounds like New Year's Eve."

I agreed and said, "yes, we'll be celebrating, but instead of celebrating a new year, we'll be celebrating a new body and eternity with Jesus."

It is comforting to think of John's dad in a new body (devoid of cancer, heart conditions or fatigue). Sounds pretty good to me! How about you?

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