Two years ago this week ours lives changed forever. We all knew they would but we had absolutely no idea they would change to the degree that they have.
They gave me the Willow Tree Grandmother statue. A matronly woman sitting with a small boy at her knee. I can tell you where I was sitting, who was there, and the amount of tears shed in excited anticipation as I realized what the gift was telling me.
Big plans were made along with being named long before he was born. Titus Jay. Titus. Jay. He would be big and strong and honorable among men and when the call came at 2am…”Mom, my water broke….what should I do?” we got up, all of us, and headed to the place of waiting.
The whole family was there with only love for the girl and the baby to come and soon they were wheeled off and my mother’s heart yearned to go too. But a C-section allows only one and that was his place, as it should be. And so we waited. People slept in corners and on chairs. Others thumbed through magazines or checked work emails until “Dad” appeared to tell us she was alright and baby was small and working hard to breathe, but good.
I’ll never forget that first look at my daughter. Titus Jay had been whisked away and she looked at me as if to say…”Mama…. I have a baby too”. My baby girl…had a baby boy and I wondered with the deepest of emotions how I had gotten there.
Now, two years later he is the most beautiful two year old on the planet and although these past two years have not been what any of us had expected, he is a light in our often over-stressed, over-filled, crazy, fast paced world. His mama made a video to show at his upcoming party…. and as I previewed it last night, and we recounted our year as a family to a new friend, it was clear how much Titus Jay has grown. But even more obvious was how much WE have grown for being allowed to love him and how much we will continue to grow as a family because of him. Although we will give him gifts and offer him cake….we are the ones who receive the gift of Titus Jay every single day.
(Our new house is on Wales Ave.)
The tree was lovely and the food was amazing. And…the gifts were very nice too. But what was absolutely wonderful about this first Christmas in our new house was the spirit of family. The laughter, the music, the smiles and naps. The warm fire, fuzzy jammies, sparkling paper and twinkling lights adding to the feelings of home.
We sat around tables with more food than could possibly be consumed only after reading from Luke and praying a blessing for the upcoming year. We played loud and crazy games until late in the night…. And all this because we were home.
Even after the tree is de-smocked, the lights all put away and the leftovers sent home with hungry kids, the feeling of this Christmas will live on through the year at the House of Wales, because we are family and we are home.
It is 1 degree outside when I awake! And….it is the day set aside for the adventure, so I don gloves, scarf, hat, boots, sweater and a puffy coat in order to make the quest tolerable and by mid-morning we are on our way to find the perfect Christmas tree for our new home! I am excited for the adventure because this year will be unique and fun. We are going to get a BIG tree. Not 8 feet big, but really big, like when I was a kid and my dad would toggle the top of tree off to the side of house Big!
The truck is warm and the attitude is anticipatory and with coffee cup in gloved hand we drive to what has become ‘our’ Christmas tree lot. We have bought two previous Christmas trees at this establishment and somewhere in the back of my mind I think it will probably be like going to our favorite bar. They will probably call us by name and have the perfect tree all picked out and waiting for us! They may even offer us a warm adult beverage or cookie. Isn’t that how these things work? I am kind of new to this whole ‘real’ Christmas tree thing. We drive with the heat blowing full throttle in the truck and pieces of my hair poking from below my hat dancing and flying as if in a sun drenched breeze, only adding to the excitement of it all. But as we pull into the parking area of the Christmas tree lot I do a quick inventory and realize we are the only patrons to be seen. A quick glance at the dash board reminds me that it is 2 degrees outside.
I look sideways at the Cowboy. He loving looks my way, knowing that I hate being cold. Together we turn and look out at the trees. Most of them are around 5 feet tall. He pulls the truck closer to the entrance. One single tree stands above the rest. It looks to be 10 feet tall although,as a girl I have never been good at judging these types of things. We sit and stare at the tree. It is a little sparse in spots and looks as if it leans a bit to the left, but its tall and I’m warm and so it is decided, from inside the warm cab of the Cowboys truck that this is the perfect tree for us. We get out just long enough to read the tag which says 14 ft/ $135 and tell the person dressed so thick in winter gear that I am unsure whether to say thank you mam’ or thank you sir, where to cut the trunk and hand the nice person our card. Then…. back in the truck I go. Shivering as the door shuts next to me and within minutes we are headed back home.
Getting a 14 foot live tree into ones house is no small feat but after a lot of maneuvering, some well placed swear words followed by a prayer that the leather couch isn’t torn as we give the tree a last ditch push over the banister, hoping it will stop its forward movement before going through the three front windows, the tree arrives and is set in its place of honor. Lights are soon added from atop a tall ladder, along with bulbs, garland and keep sake ornaments from years past and as the night winds to its close I find myself wrapped tightly in the Cowboys arms as the warmth of a fire and the twinkling lights of our tree remind me that I am Home.
Today is a special day. November 26th. More specifically, November 26, 1947 was a special day. It was the day my Mom arrived. Born in California, she often told stories of growing up in places along the California and Oregon coastlines. Her adventures of living in a windmill along the seaside, her great admiration for her mother and her close relationship to her siblings always intrigued me.
I remember her telling me often how her and my dad chose me to be their daughter. Unable to conceive, she often retold the story of her and my dad waiting for me, dreaming of me and driving to meet me before they were finally allowed to take me home with them. When the bullies at school poked fun at me, the ‘unwanted’ girl, she always told me they were jealous because their moms had gotten stuck with them and my mom and dad had got to ‘pick’ me. It always stopped my tears and was usually followed up with a warm cookie or homemade brownie.
This time of year I often recall some of the secret adventures we shared which include memories of sharing a loaf of warm French bread and a stick of butter in a parking lot after a day of grocery shopping. The recollection of going to my first movie in a theater and ordering a small soda after a very hot parade. She always wrote a note on my napkin that she lovingly tucked on top my sandwich in my lunch box. I could count on her to bring the coolest snacks for every holiday as my room mother all through the early years in school and she made the most fantastic finger puppets which only came out partway through long road trips mid-summer of every year.
Ponies, puppies and pools. Kittens, critters and crafts. All these things and many more sprinkle my memory when I think of my Mom. She worked hard to make sure we had what those with more money may not have had. We had family. We had invested parents. And I had a mom that made me feel like I was the most special little girl on the planet.
Happy Birthday Mom. Thanks for choosing me.