Friday, December 30, 2011
1. Plan too many projects that must be completed before the big day.
2. Plan too many activities that keep you running from event to event.
3. Plan a big holiday dinner with over-tired, over-stimulated children as guests.
4. Find your father who has been missing for 54 years.
This was an exceptionally difficult Christmas. There were some beautiful, meaningful moments--driving around looking at lights with Fred and the girls, the concert at church, our candlelit devotions in the morning, seeing the girls' joy with their gifts and receiving lovely handmade gifts from each of them. But overall, the holidays were stressful this year. And then, a most unexpected gift landed in my lap--the gift of a father. And I'm still asking if this is really a gift or something else.
My parents split when I was a little girl. I never heard from my father again. Was it his choice to never pursue me? Or my mom's choice to prohibit him from finding me? Who knows. And does it matter? I've been curious about him off and on through the years but I assumed I'd never know anything about him.
Right before Christmas I heard from my sons that their dad was researching his own family tree. For whatever reason, he left his tree and decided to go in a different direction and research mine. I think he wanted to give this information as a gift to the boys. He asked one of them what my original maiden name was. (I was adopted by my step-father.) Now here is the eerie part: Years and years ago my mother gave me a silver rattle and silver cup that belonged to my birth father when he was a baby. I still have the cup but the rattle has been long forgotten and lost. At the same time that the boys gave their dad my name and he did a little research, he discovered this rattle on his daughter's dresser. Where did she get it, he asked. She told him she found it at the bottom of his toolbox. He examined it and saw my father's initials and birthdate. He made the connection to recently discovered information he'd found. He asked my oldest son if he wanted him to contact his grandfather. Yes. So he called the home of my father, far away on the other side of the country. The rattle gave him an opening.
Two days before Christmas one of my boys tells me this story. I am shocked, and buried memories and emotions surface. At this point, the boys' dad has only talked to my father's wife, but they decide on a good time to have a phone conversation with my father--Christmas Eve. So he calls my father and supposedly has a long, interesting conversation. (All info is coming to me second hand from my sons.) My father says he never knew where I was all those years. He is interested in finding out about his daughter and grandsons. He is old. There may not be much time.
So I am planning Christmas with all this turmoil swirling inside. I can't concentrate on anything. I can't sleep. Where is God in all this? (For He is in everything.) The boys and I collect some pictures and information to mail to my father, their grandfather. I find an old picture of a young man holding a blonde giggling child on his lap. His arms are tight around her in an embrace and he is kissing her cheek. Father and daughter.
Christmas is over and there is time to contemplate all these things. I have no illusions of a grand reunion. I would just like a little information to fill in the blanks. Maybe some medical history. Maybe my father really doesn't care after all these years or maybe he wonders if I'm after something. Maybe this is the end of it. And that's okay.
When the girls and I were looking through the box of old pictures, I found several of my grandmother, the woman who adopted my mother when she was a tiny girl. No, she is not my biological grandmother. But she is the one I loved and the grandmother who loved me. I tell my girls that blood doesn't matter. This is my "real" grandmother and nothing will change that. Arielle says, "She's pretty." Liana says, "She looks so kind, just like my own grandma." They are right. She was the best grandma a little girl could have.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
The same moon, the same house, the same child. But time has changed the people here. I grow old; Arielle grows up. I feel so blessed--so incredibly blessed--that I had the opportunity to nurture this girl through her childhood. I was chosen to be her mother! Of all the mothers of the world... What a privilege! Arielle will continue to grow apart and away from me. It's the plan. But she will always be my precious daughter and I will always be her mother and the moon will rise full through all the seasons of our lives.
Of course, I have another equally treasured daughter who might read this and say, "What about me?" Liana, I will tell your story at another time.
Monday, December 12, 2011
"It is foolishness and a stumbling block. Foolishness, because the very idea of the sovereign creator and ruler of the universe being born of a teenage virgin in a stable in a tiny nation of no account at the far end of the Mediterranean is utterly ridiculous. Indeed, one might say that it looks very much like proof that God cannot exist -- at least, that is, God built according to our specifications and requirements. An offence because I do not need salvation, especially salvation brought by a pre-modern peasant's child in some backward place nobody would otherwise ever have heard of." As we proclaim the message of Christmas, we should not attempt to "make Christianity look sophisticated or moral as the world understand these things. Least of all is it stand-up comedy designed to entertain those who might otherwise seek their fun elsewhere. Its agenda, especially at Christmas, is not to be determined by unbelief or what the hipsters in the Village will tolerate or what the brain's trust at MIT think is plausible."I stand on what I know to be true. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." (Romans 1:16)
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
It was a wonderful morning! Each year women volunteer to decorate a table, bringing their own special china and table settings and creating a centerpiece. I am definitely not creative enough to do this, but I so much enjoyed walking through the room seeing their beautiful artwork during the "Tour of Tables." Music played and the mood was festive. Then we had a lovely lunch, heard a speaker, played a silly game (Helen won!) and sang Christmas carols together at the end. A highlight was when I was able to introduce Helen to a single mom who has been blessed by Helen's generosity for years as she has shared her daughters' outgrown clothes with this mom who also has little girls. These two had never met and I was so glad to see them together for the first time. More than anything, this morning meant I was able to spend time with my friend and catch up with her. How can we be too busy for people we care so much about?
Helen says she knows how to decorate and we decided to do our own table next year! What about "I-can't-be-bothered"? Well, I'd forgotten that when women get together like this, there is joy. There is healing in connecting with other women, each of us with our own stories of happy times and heartbreak. We need each other.
I've just figured out what my real problem is, this sickness I have. It's called selfishness. We are not meant to live in seclusion and hoard our lives to ourselves. I hope to do better.
Monday, December 05, 2011
"So to help you out, I’ve worked really hard to narrow down this list to five items that no kid should be without. All five should fit easily within any budget, and are appropriate for a wide age range so you get the most play out of each one. These are time-tested and kid-approved! And as a bonus, these five can be combined for extra-super-happy-fun-time." Jonathan Liu