Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Presence

Baby on the way!

That was the news I received in mid-2003 - news that would cause an instant flurry of excitement among my whole family. For this was not just any baby, mind you. No. This baby was the first grand production of my brother and the woman who would become his wife that same year. Both of them, late bloomers, as it were. Franny was 41. Monica was 38, I believe.

Blind Betsy and I traveled to Maryland then for the Thanksgiving holiday hoping to be present for the birth of the latest awesome addition to our fold.

Five days we were there.

Five days we waited in quiet anticipation.

Five lovely, incredibly special days...even if the baby refused to oblige us by arriving in time for squeezes and kisses and coos.

Sarah Grace was born just a few days after we'd departed on December 3...with Trisomy 18.

She would live only 10 days.

And in those 10 days I learned about love and true heartbreak and the power of giving and the meaning of Christmas spirit.

None of us felt particularly festive that year. I, for one, couldn't wrap my mind around shopping for gifts, decorating my tree, or sending out cards. It just didn't feel...right. Instead, I said, "No gifts, please." In addition, I told everyone there would be no gifts from me and that the money I would have spent on things would be given to the Trisomy 18 Foundation on their behalf.

It didn't feel particularly good then...but it did feel right.

Ever since, with the exception of the Christmas a few years ago I spent in Seattle with Dr. Jenni and Dr. Matt, I've continued to hold fast to my "no gifts, please" policy. Rather, I spend some time during the season to reflect on the year, what's been important to me and to my loved ones, and then I select 2 or 3 charities to quietly, anonymously send in donations.

I don't hate Christmas.

On the contrary, I do love the season. I love the smell of pine and of baking. I love seeing the lights. I look forward to spending a low key day with the ducks and puppies as we drink martinis, watch Frisky Dingo and the Star Wars Holiday Special, and eat whatever's on the menu...sometimes frittata, sometimes middle eastern buffet, sometimes breakfast nachos. Always stout cake.

No, I don't hate Christmas at all.

It means a lot to me, in fact. Just...in a much different way than it did pre-2003.

I feel much more present without presents.

Because the greatest gifts of all are love...and time.

3 comments:

Franklin said...

Love you sista.

PATTY LEIDYS ZERO HOUR said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

Diva said...

You are one of the most amazing writers - scratch that, one of the most amazing *people* - I've ever met. Merry merry to you this day and always.