Merry & Bright & A Little Bit Sad

Today is the big day when I will gather with my siblings, our kids, my grandkids and my dad to celebrate Christmas. Our first one without mom. I’m struggling just a bit this year.

I think that I’m just apprehensive about it all. How to balance her memory into things without neglecting the fact that she is missing and so missed, and still make new memories that are fun, full of joy and laughter.

Today I am up early, at 7am, finishing up on things for this shindig. Yesterday I spent quite a chunk of my afternoon constructing the plastic wrap ball of goodies for the ball game. If you haven’t done this one it is a blast and a great way to bring everyone together for fun. Just google or search on Pinterest for Saran Wrap Ball Game. Ours has a LOT of candy and candy canes throughout, lottery scratch offs, some gift cards, a pretty notebook, a coffee cup (that was a real trick to get into the mix), socks, mittens…it will be fun for all.

As this party plan progressed it took on a life of its own. We used to do gift exchange but dropped that some years back because we all have everything we need and money was always tight on someone. We would bring one small item for our kids but our kids are adults and I have the only grandchildren. 6 of them. This year it is no gifts. Then someone said lets do a silly sock exchange. Males and females, you buy a pair of fun or silly socks and fill them with goodies you like, keeping the value at $25 or less then women pick from the ladies and men from the guys bags (no peeking at the socks til they are in your hands!). I wavered on this one so I had to brave the Friday-before-Christmas retail insanity in search of cute Christmas-y socks and goodies for inside them. I found them and some patience for standing in lines and dealing with frazzled shoppers. I also discovered a bunch of stuff for the ball game, as if there wasn’t enough already we now will also have antler headbands, and a couple of elf hats. Because a 9 pound game ball might not be enough. I know, I’m crazy. Just wait, I already let it be known I will do next years ball and I’m going to be on the lookout ALL year for things to add to it. That ball will be epic. Good thing I’ll be living at my daughter’s because it will likely be too big for the table and we will all have to sit on the floor to play the game! Or have 2 going at once.

Yes you caught that, I hope. My move is into my daughter’s home. Her husband is big on generational cohabitation…grandparents living with the family to be more a part of the family unit, like in the old days. I balked at first because I’ve come to love my apartment and my space. But this house her best friend is renting them (more about this in another post on another day), has a finished basement with a walk out on to a patio and deck with a fire pit, then steps up to another large deck off the kitchen/family room. I will have my own bathroom (already a half bath and son-in-law upgrading it for the owner to a full bath), off my large bedroom space. I will have my own area to retreat too when needed. I will also be there with my daughter, like my mom was with us her final years. The more time I spend out there the more excited I get at this new arrangement. It is only a half hour to work, and I used to drive 50 minutes each way (when traffic was decent) when I lived in Kentucky so this is nothing. But it feels like you are far away on a retreat in the country. Deer in the backyard and woods behind the house, lakes, STARS VISIBLE AT NIGHT! And family. I’m from a family on my mom’s side who is big on the importance of family. So now that secret it out!

Well, I’m off to shower, get myself together, pack my jammies because my nieces and daughter decided we all needed to wear Christmas or other fun jammies today to this party. Don’t panic dad you are exempt and I’m not wearing them into the nursing home to pick you up or to cook my ought-to-be-famous black bean chili.

Mom will be there in our hearts and in spirit I’m sure. She would want us to LIVE, she told us that many times as she was facing her death in her final year. So we will remember her, miss her, and make merry today. She would have absolutely loved the way we are enjoying this time together this year.

Love you mama, so very much!