It’s not about what’s under the tree this year


When you are in Junior High, friendships are made because of many things, your parents are friends, you live in the same neighborhood, you sit next to each other on the bus or in class and somehow you discover you have certain things in common. In seventh grade, I met a girl that liked to write like me. Usually kids play sports or are in some kind of club and connect that way. But writing is different, it’s not really something that is considered a “kid thing” so it was pretty cool to meet someone that had the same passion…  and slowly we began reading each other’s stories. And probably because it was not the normal kind of “kid” connection, I always remembered her and have written about her before here.

Today, because of Facebook, old friendships are being re-newed and we have recently reconnected. To go back with someone that’s shared in your history and remember is sort of magical. In the case of this friendship, we still have writing in common. And today, she proposed that we encourage each other to write prompts. This one is supposed to be about holiday traditions, what we treasure and what we miss as adults.

I know that I have written about knowing just how privileged or perhaps “spoiled” I was being a Mattel Toy’s Executive’s “tester kid” and how the presents were piled ridiculously high around our tree. More so because both my parents were from meager beginnings and I think(that at least my dad) may have tried to make up for what they missed. But it’s funny, because of this prompt, it has made me realize that some of my best memories are not about the most expensive presents but of the times  when my mom would take me to the dime store before my dad had “made it” (when money was still tight) and buy one or two pieces for our little dime store nativity set. It started out with the Stable  and each week we’d buy another piece.  Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus, a sheep or donkey or shepherd or wiseman. And with each piece my mom would teach me about the story of Christmas

The other day, I was in Walmart, in the Christmas section, and ran into one of those little nativites,  complete with all of the pieces already packaged in the set. And I am not sure what happened, but I just lost it and had to stand in the corner of the aisle so no one else would see. Maybe it was because my mom died last year and I just miss her. Or maybe I miss how simple it was just being a kid. And how kids really don’t care about the presents in the scheme of things. Sure, I remember a few that stand out in my memory, but mostly I remember the memories that my parents took the time to make with me, and the things under the tree are forgotten. The way my dad would take me Christmas shopping and decorating the tree with my mom, it was those things that mattered to me in the end.

I just realized that in my line of 2018 Christmas greeting cards, I have two cards that say what is in my heart this year. One says: Maybe it’s not about what you can buy at a store… Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.... And… the other says: It’s not about what is under the tree… It’s about who is around it that matters.

This year is going to be very different. I have been out of work and trying to make it with my art business, and some other stuff has come up. And I have realized that ever since my childhood, I have tried to fill my dad’s shoes. Piling presents under all of my trees since I’ve been an adult. Well, this year is going to be a little more like those dime store years, And maybe I had to write about it, to be okay with it, and really believe that maybe it’s not about things you can buy at a store. Maybe Christmas really means a little bit more.

Advertisements

My Tara


boy selling papers without shoes
When my dad was a young boy… (I think he told me he was about seven or eight,) he had to sell magazines to buy himself a new pair of shoes. He also told me if someone gave him a nickle too much in change, he would walk backwards, barefoot, in the snow to return it. Of course, he was just trying to make a point about honesty, but point made. I would never consider otherwise because of him and the lessons he wove throughout my life.

I remember as a young child, my dad making every Christmas very special. It was almost embarrassing to have someone see the presents piled high around our Christmas tree.

Christmas tree with presents

I don’t think that I figured it out until this year, but I realize now that he most likely, was trying to make up for his “lack of” in his young life and that he probably, was driven to be a success because of his hardships in his own childhood. Kind of like Scarlett in the last scene as she stands on her land (“Tara”) reciting that famous line from Gone With The Wind….

Tara

    “As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again.”

My dad was like a kid at Christmas time. He couldn’t even wait till Christmas day! We always had our Christmas on Christmas eve. As soon as it got dark he would reach behind his chair and tap on the wall and look up at the ceiling as if he heard Santa’s sleigh landing… we would look up, totally believing and then he would scurry us up the stairs telling us we better hurry cuz Santa would not come down the chimney till we were out of sight!

santa's sleigh

We would hear “ho ho ho” and big jingle bells ringing. Until finally my dad would call us as we would scramble down the stairs, always blinded by the movie camera bulbs as we found even more presents added to the pile and usually a big one like a bike or a “Santa present” and of course, our stockings were always stuffed to the brim.

Not only did he teach me how to receive but he also taught me how to give. He could make buying a present for my mom at the drugstore a special memory because it was all from just me! Funny, I never thought about it, but I pride myself on giving thoughtful presents. Listening and knowing what people like. I hate the White Elephant exchanges, because you are buying a random gift for a random person. Though I have to admit that I do like trying to bring the present that everyone fights over. Ahhh, a reflection on my dad again, I am sure.

When my dad died suddenly of a heart attack, I was twenty six, He left a lot of holes, though Christmas was probably the time I missed him the most. Not so much because of the thoughtful presents he would add day after day to the pile around our Christmas tree.

presents

but I missed his childlike joy. I had just had my son a couple of years before, and he loved having a child in the family again, to bring back the magic. Of course, he spoiled him from the beginning. The Christmas before he died, Santa had bought an electric jeep for his two year old little grandson!

I think that something came over me, the first year without him. I knew that everyone would feel the excruciating holes that he had left and I guess I felt that I had to carry on his tradition of giving. That year, it was as if my dad’s heart for giving possessed me. I tried to fill his shoes. Funny, not until writing this TODAY, dozens of years later, have I realized that. In the past, I have gone into debt trying to fill his shoes.

I think it is kind of hard, when you come from a place of comfort and find yourself struggling rather than the other way around. This year, the presents can’t be piled high. My husband lost his job and though the prospects look good for the possibility of a new company working out for him, it has been a challenge. And though we have learned to cut back, The bills are all the same from the lifestyle we had become accustomed to.

We have a friend who has suffered with ALS from as long as we have known him. He is in the process of deciding about getting a trache. It is a matter of $9000 per month to just breathe! I figure that I am $9000 a month ahead, just because I can breathe! I can’t even wrap my head around the presents under the trees that won’t be opened this year because of that horrific act carried out at that school. I KNOW I am blessed. We are just heading towards our nine year anniversary of the earthquake that wiped out our store. (Story in my blog) :

 https://dianereedwiter.wordpress.com/category/earthquakes/

That year, I learned the lesson about how stuff is just stuff.

And yet, I have been asking myself…what is my problem this year? I mean, I don’t even want a Christmas Tree. Well, I miss my dad. I do every year. It never lessens. But it is something more, this year. I have sat through the Christmas story hundreds of times. And know that I have understood and been touched and yet, this year, I think I finally understand that it is so much more than stockings hung by the fire. It is all about The Greatest Gift Of ALL. A Baby that we seem to forget about as we stand in the long lines. But this year, I have realized that Christmas is so much more. It is not about receiving presents or even giving them, it is about the faith and joy we find when we really remember what Christmas is all about.
It is where we build our Tara.

Baby Jesus

So this year… has been an especially hard one for me but I am looking at things differently.

This song… kind of sums it all up…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmGSHZYZ74c

Clicking “LIKE”


This morning I came on and found that someone had liked 47 of my posts! It made me have to wander back with them in my archives because I thought if they are going to take the time to read and then “LIKE” something then I should take the time to at least click on each “LIKE” and re-read the things they clicked.

Blogging is a funny thing. It is like leaving your journal open for anyone to read. There was a day when I had a little diary with a lock on it. I carefully hid the key and wrote my tiny daily paragraph of all the most important events in m life… “Went to school today, came home, and maybe just maybe the boy I liked “looked at me!” Ahhh so much has changed… One BIG thing is… I could NEVER fit all of my “important”  daily thoughts in a little 5 year diary thats provides you with five little lines to chronicle your life!

When my grandma died, I wasn’t there. My mom flew to Washington and my Aunt and cousin went through all the things they wanted. I was in a different mind set then. I didn’t want to come across as greedy. I was so sad. It seemed inappropriate to “want” something of hers after she was gone and yet… she always would tell me “I want you to have my china Diane” I was just about ten when she started telling me that. I was just a naive little kid back then and even remeber thinking “Why would I want your China?” But when my mom asked me if there was anything special I wanted her to bring back… I did say “Well she always wanted me to have her china.”

Today I love it. It is actually pretty nice I think… as china and antiques go… it is Franconia from Germany. And now I realize it was probably very special to her because it was so nice and she wanted me to have it. She was my age now when I remember us talking about it… Which I thought was NOT old enough to be talking about her not being here and leaving me things. And I was right. She lived a long life. I was born on her birthday and was the first grandchild. We always had a specal bond. So besides the china… which was the one thing I knew that she wanted me to have, I asked for my grandma’s diary.

It was one of those five year kind. The thing that is so  unique, is…she started it the day after Christmas her sixteenth year and it ended when she was 21. She talked about her school events, and young girl crushes, dated a little  and then finally,  met my grandpa, fell in love, got married and had my mom all within those five years! It was as if I got to see a little glimpse of my grandma’s life all inside that little leather bound, worn book. It is an amazing treasure to me. I can almost imagine her in her bedroom, after a date writing in it.

Today as I re-read my journals, I wish I had saved one of those childhood ones with the locks on it. But I do have one that I started when I was sixteen. Filled with silly poems and pictures and such innocence. It snaps me back to a time where I had not yet experienced life. I only wrote about, dreaming of what lay ahead and then it also is filled with pages of new love and the passion that comes with it and then heartbreak and sorrowful poems of young heartbreak. It is kind of funny now. I still remember the reasons behind some of those poems that I wrote.

Today, I click on some of my old posts. The ones before I knew you guys… the ones no one “LIKED” because they didn’t know they were there. Or I hadn’t really invited anyone to share yet… I followed a friend’s blog, they followed mine… I was more vague back then. People didn’t really know what I was writing about. Now it is kind of like a puzzle.. I still have not provided all the pieces and yet you can begin to see the picture I have painted and yet you are still following me!

It makes me realize that we all have a story and our stories help each other live our lives, somehow making us feel not so alone in what we are going through, just by knowing someone else out there may understand just a little. I still have some posts in the proverbial little locked diary inside my imagination but waking up to find someone took the time to read 47 of my posts sometime in the night is the best compliment I could have as a “wanna be writer” and it inspires me to keep writing. Hoping that something I might have to say can touch someone enough to keep reading….

I know I have a lot to learn… a lot to tweak and edit and going back and reading some of my older things has made me realize that this blog has done just what I set out for it to do… helped me grow… and stretch my writing abilities to a place where I might not have to beg my family or friends to listen to something I wrote… but people actually go and click on me and search me out and sit there and read my “stuff” all by themselves! Like Sally Field said… “You “LIKE” me you really like me!” And for that … I say thank you!