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Saturday, November 20, 2010

This time last year:

Darrin had been out of a job for a month and I was starting another job--which made, at the time, six jobs. Fortunately, my teaching contract for the university last year was only for fall semester, so I was finishing that job up and only had the final projects left to grade. But I was tired mentally, emotionally, and physically. When it came time to put up the Christmas tree I wanted to weep. I had no energy left to decorate or spread cheer. Somehow, though, I managed to finish Christmas gifts and make cookies. I went through the motions of most of our traditional baking and singing and parties. And I played in Messiah.

It was grueling. I think I cried every night as soon as I was sure everyone was asleep. I didn't send Christmas cards.

It's not like I was trying to be miserable. I did things to keep moving. I crocheted four afghans. I gave away Christmas carols to blog readers. I helped write music for our church Christmas program.

But I also worked like a crazy person. I worked six days a week, and I worked through the holidays, as well. I didn't take Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's off, and the trend continued until July when I was told in no uncertain terms that I MUST take a vacation.

This year Darrin has a good job. He just started it three weeks ago. I've been told I need to quit one of mine, but we're still playing catch-up. I'm not sure when that will happen.

I've been playing Christmas Carols for the past two weeks. As long as there's snow on the ground, Carols are allowed to be played in our home--one of a few traditions I kept from my growing up years--and I'm making plans to bake with my mom for the first time in many years. I think it's time. I also think she needs me to help.

My mom had a mini-stroke three weeks ago. At her follow-up the doctor said all indications point to the fact that this was probably not the first. She'll have a bunch of scans done in the next week, to locate any damage to the brain, check for cancer and clots, and see if there's atrophy of any kind.

My siblings and I are not exchanging gifts this year. We started drawing names when I was in junior high because there were so many of us and the tradition has continued until now. But one of my sisters is now living in Armenia. She wrote of the need for clothing, basic necessities, and the corruption in government which makes it difficult to obtain medical assistance for most of the people. We decided to use the money we would have spent on each other to contribute to the needs of those people. My sister has sent us information about items needed and reputable places to send monetary contributions. It feels better to do this, somehow. We've always enjoyed exchanging gifts but we've done it for so many years now, it's nice to have a change and one which will, hopefully, make a small difference in the lives of others.

I'm still tired, but it's a different kind of tired. I don't feel beaten down. I'm not waiting for the next disaster. My life is utter chaos but it's okay.


  1. I LOVE your idea of using your Christmas gift money to help people in Armenia. A number of years ago, I spent three, very intensive months learning everything about Armenia and Armenians that I could and I grew to love them very much. What an amazing bunch of people! What a sad history! Did you know that Armenia was the first country ever to declare itself Christian? Even before Rome. That's so cool.

    As for baking with your mom, wow! That is progress! Congratulations! I haven't baked for a couple of years but I'm hoping to do so this year so I can send Christmas care packages to my two sons who live each 1000 miles away in opposite directions and won't be coming home. Our first Christmas without all the living family members together. It's also the first Christmas that my mom won't be having Christmas with me in my entire life. It's going to be hard but it's really quite cool that it's taken till now to have that break. I sure hope your mom has no major, lasting damage from her stroke. Those things are so scary!

    You made FOUR afghans in the weeks leading up to last Christmas? Wow! And you wrote music too? Plus worked, played for Messiah, made cookies? You're pretty amazing you know. I'm glad this Christmas will be easier for you. It should be easier for us too, thankfully.

  2. I'm relieved that Darrin got a job. Not just a job, but a good job.