Beautiful Ride

The somewhat self-indulgent rantings about the beautiful ride that is my life!

All Is Calm, All Is Bright December 26, 2011

Filed under: beautiful ride,Family,Holidays,Home — beautifulride @ 12:49 pm
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All is calm, all is bright.

It is the morning after Christmas, and these words couldn’t be more true. As I started my day early this morning, my home was blanketed in the beautiful silence and stillness of the morning that I have grown to love. My family was sound asleep, hopefully still dreaming of sugarplums and Christmas memories. The light of the sun was just beginning to glow, slowly bringing to life another day. The traffic was slow and quiet, as it is on a holiday…no commuters rushing to the train…no school children headed to classes. I started a little laundry, picked up a few dishes that mysteriously appeared after I drifted off last night, took care of my mama chores. I stepped out into the chilly morning to bring in the milk and yogurt and bread dropped off by the milkman, impressed that he had already stopped by and a little disappointed that I didn’t get my empty bottle out for him. And then I poured a fresh, warm cup of coffee and sat in the living room, with the tree lights twinkling in the corner and the remnants of yesterday tucked into tidy little piles of boxes and surprises on the floor.

The piles are a bit smaller than years past…and that’s ok. In fact, it’s more than ok. Perhaps it’s because the boys are getting older, and gone are the days of large, brightly colored plastic playthings. Those were great days, and magical mornings, but now they are older and their gifts of choice come in much smaller packages. Perhaps though, it’s because they had much smaller lists this year…more modest, more thoughtful, more practical. Maybe it was all the talk of the economy and it’s downturn this past year. Or maybe it’s that with every passing year, they look more and more toward our family traditions of Christmas and less and less at what’s under the tree. Don’t misunderstand…the surprises under the tree, in their beautiful wrapping and fancy bows, are still a huge part of the anticipation of Christmas morning; but, I’m finding that they are becoming more appreciative of the gifts that we give that speak to who they are…less so with the idea of stuff for the sake of getting stuff.

They would probably say, just about now, that Mom is sappy…just being Mom…and that none of this is true. That they would want to find iPads and laptops and flat screens and whatever is the latest and greatest under the tree attached to a gift tag with their name on it. But from what I saw yesterday, and from the thank you hugs and conversations about what an awesome Christmas it was and what cool stuff they got, I would say that they are more grateful and more grounded than they would want anyone to believe.

It has been a roller coaster ride of a year for our family, both good and bad. We’ve watched those we love struggle with illness and tough times. We’ve felt the beginnings of a shift in our own lives, as one son moved to the other side of a neighboring state, and another got a letter of acceptance that will soon take him north. We’ve been blessed with work, but it has kept us very, very busy…and apart…as Rick travels a great deal for business. We’ve seen my little business grow, but not without the growing pains and time commitment that come along with that. We’ve seen our other sons work hard and find success in the activities that make them so happy, and their willingness and devotion to doing what they do. We’ve experienced an earthquake (slight), a hurricane and an autumn snowstorm that left us with damages we didn’t expect. We have cried and we have worried and we have prayed…and we have lived and we have laughed and we have loved.

One of my favorite images of this holiday season happened this past Friday, as we took our annual train ride into the City to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, the windows at Macy’s, and the crèche at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We were walking down the street, and I was in the back of our little crowd. And I watched them together, brother to brother and father to sons. They were laughing and talking and enjoying their time together. My heart was so full I thought it would burst.

A little later, the very next night, we attended Christmas Eve services together. We sang the words to “Silent Night.” That hymn, sung at that time, in that setting has always made me well up just a little. I become flooded with memories of Christmases past…my grandparents, my parents, my husband and our children as babies…those that are with us still and those that have moved on. And I was reminded that things change. That time does not stand still. But for that one moment, as I looked to my right and saw them all standing there together, singing together and creating a memory that they may share together in a Christmas yet to come, I felt truly happy and truly blessed. And all was calm…and all was bright.

 

Merry Christmas to All… and to All a Good Night December 26, 2010

Filed under: beautiful ride,Faith,Family,Holidays,Home — beautifulride @ 12:22 am
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It’s a little after 10 pm on Christmas night, and I’m comfortably settled on my sofa, a glass of wine within reach, a new book on the table next to me, and my family surrounding me…and I feel full of  the spirit of the season. I have had a wonderful Christmas, and as my boys get older, I’m surprised and delighted that the wonder of Christmas, the excitement and the anticipation, has not faded for them. They continue to amaze me with the amount of joy they get from the Season…not just the stuff. Yes, they have lists of “things” that they would love to have…games and movies, musical instruments and electronics,  legos and books… all of the things that boys 11-20 years of age dream of. But what I find so charming and endearing is that even though they have lists of things they would love to HAVE, they also hold another list close to their hearts, a list that seems more important to them.  This is a  list of things they want to do…with us…to celebrate Christmas. From “Christmas Vacation” on Thanksgiving night through New Year’s Eve  celebrations, they talk about, plan for, and execute family time in a way that many their age would not. They watch a Christmas movie every night in December. They plan our day in New York City, where we visit the “Big Tree,” Macy’s windows, and St. Patrick’s. They shop for each other, and for me and Rick, thoughtfully and enthusiastically. They plan the grocery list of the Christmas Eve “finger food feast.” They seem to want to be with us, and with each other, and over the last two days, the conversations I’ve been lucky enough to overhear have been about how much they love the feeling of Christmas, and the way we celebrate it together.

It starts on Christmas Eve morning, when I get busy in the kitchen, preparing the Christmas morning casseroles, the blueberry coffee cake, and the appetizers for later in the day. They offer to help, sneak a taste, play games with each other, watch movies and listen to music. They never ask to go hang with friends, or tell us we’re boring, or retreat to their rooms. They want to go to church, because they love the service, and because it makes it feel like Christmas–the songs, the message, the beautifully decorated sanctuary. They come home, track Santa on Norad, grab some eggnog and some food, and wait for “A Christmas Story” 24-hour marathon to start. And while we watch the adventures of Ralphie and Randy, they chatter about how much they love Christmas, mostly Christmas Eve…because once Christmas Day arrives, they feel a little blue that it’s almost done. They talk about how they won’t sleep, how early they may get up, who’s turn it is to be Santa, and how we shouldn’t rush through the gifts. They talk about how much they love our Christmas Eve and our Christmas Day…stress-free and calm, and even predictable, family time.

This Christmas has been a quiet, beautiful end to what has been a crazy, sometimes diffiicult year. I’m blessed with a loving and generous husband, and loving and generous sons. I know that they are getting older, and that in a blink of an eye they will be celebrating Christmas with their own families. I wish for them Christmas after Christmas full of love, tradition and contentment. I wish for them Christmas after Christmas laced with memories of the times we’ve shared. I wish for them Christmas after Christmas filled with child-like wonder, excitement and anticipation. And I wish for them Christmas after Christmas filled with peace and joy and family. That’s what they have given me, and that’s the best gift ever.