Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Christmas Skates...

Christmas was always a wonderful time on Victor Drive. Not because there were elaborate gifts or fancy decorations, because there were neither of those, but because we were all together.

There wasn't a lot of money, and so I knew better than to ask for anything expensive. It was simply out of the question. Roller shoe skates were definitely more expensive than my parents could afford, but that didn't keep me from hoping. I must have been about fourteen years old the Christmas I finally did a little more than hope and actually asked for shoe skates for Christmas.

Every Friday night, my friends and I went roller skating at the large indoor rink on Summer Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee. I loved to skate. I loved to feel the breeze in my hair as I went around and around the rink as fast as I could. It felt like I was flying. I loved to skate to the almost felt like dancing on skates. I had learned to skate backwards and thought that was the ultimate accomplishment at that age.

My children will tell you that I'm terrible at keeping secrets at Christmas. I want you to have what I bought you right now. I'M the one who can't wait. So, about two weeks before Christmas 1959, I started snooping. The house wasn't that large so where could they be? I finally found the roller skates under Mama and Daddy's bed. I breathed a sigh of relief. They were actually there...I was getting roller skates for Christmas!

Christmas eve came and we all opened our gifts. No roller skates. Christmas morning came and no roller skates under the tree. I really can't remember what else I got that Christmas. Christmas afternoon came and no roller skates. The way it all evolved is locked deep within the recesses of my memory...but the bottom line is Mama simply forgot. She forgot she had hidden my roller skates!

I wish I could remember if I confessed or if she simply remembered on her own, but by Christmas evening, I was the proud owner of a pair of pristine white shoe skates. I'd like to tell you that I've gotten better at keeping Christmas secrets, but...well, just ask my kids.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Thanksgiving has come and gone. Today is the first day of birthday. I love this time of year, Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I must makes me homesick. The memories come flooding in and I don't stop them.

I see Sharon and me as children making turkeys out of potatoes, construction paper and toothpicks. That was our contribution to the Thanksgiving table. I see my sisters and their families...all of us gathered around the table in the dining room on Victor Drive. Everyone is talking and laughing at once...I can hear it still.

I remember all the years - thirty-nine - that Bill and I shared the same birthday. I'm finally able to make it, for the most part, through my birthday now without tears...for I know in Heaven there are no tears.

Years pass...many years. My life is not what or where I imagined it would have been all those years ago, but I've learned that God is faithful. Through the disappointment, pain and grief, he has taught me that He is in control and is working all things out for my good and His glory.

Now, as I sit here at my desk and look out the window, I see the foothills of the Cascades across the valley and a ribbon of the Umpqua River below. It is the rainy season and a slow mist is falling. My Christmas list is on the desk in front of me, and I remind myself that there are presents to buy and packages to mail.

For now, though, I'm deep in thought. I'm thankful...truly thankful...for the blessings my Heavenly Father has given me. Three healthy, successful adult children. Each with God-given gifts and talents. Each uniquely different, and yet, in many ways, like both their father and me. I'm thankful for their wonderful spouses...each of which is very much my own child instead of an "in-law".

I'm thankful for the unbelievable JOY of grandchildren. I love each and every single one of them with all my heart. Each one is perfect...special...unique. I see "bits and pieces" of my children in them and it brings back memories of their childhoods. Three of my grandchildren are unexpected blessings: my beautiful dark-eyed adopted Peruvian granddaughter...a precious adopted Ethiopian baby boy, my grandson, whom I will meet for the first time on December 19th...and Mason, a beautiful blue-eyed baby boy, who technically is my husband's first grandchild...but very much my grandson too.

Had you told me years ago that Bill and I were not to grow old together, I would not have believed you. Had you told me years ago, that one day I would be living on a mountain in Oregon...I would not have believed you. Life is short. Life is precious. Why don't we know the things we know at this age when we're young and we need to know them? I don't have the answer either.

My life is different now. Now, I take one day at the time. That's all I ever had anyway. Now, I rejoice in the small things and try not to worry about the big things. I'm thankful for my macho logger tree polar opposite. He has had his share of loss and grief as well. Given the best of odds, we know that we'll be two very old people if we're married as long as we were to our first spouses. So, for now, we find joy living on a mountaintop tree farm, which we evidently share with the bears, cougars, bobcats and lots of deer...

Note: The photo above was taken Christmas 1968 when our firstborn was four months old