TWELVE MIRACLES OF CHRISTMAS
Christmas is a time to believe in miracles.
Now that I've had time to reflect upon the season, I'd like to share my list of miracles with you.
1. OK, there was the buying of the gifts. Family (always the hardest), friends (somewhat personal) and art friends (easier, but sooooo many). It was nothing short of a miracle that I was able to buy,wrap and deliver gifts for so many different people.
2. But it wasn't all about just Christmas gifts. I wanted to say thank you to folks that helped me pull through the surgery this year by sending each of them a Christmas card. That translated into addressing over eighty-five cards. Since writing is very difficult for me (I usually can't write my own return address.), it must have been a miracle that I hand-wrote each and every one of them.
3. I had to do some shopping for the wrapping station. I needed wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, tape and other essentials. I don't drive, and so I asked my husband to take me to the store. But before I could even begin to think of wrapping, I had to clean up the studio in order to transform it into a wrapping station. I don't know how I cleaned it all up and put it all away, but it did it! Another miracle.
4. But WAIT!!! Don't forget the groceries!!! Christmas means FOOD!!! I wanted to get specialty items for the kids. Remember those delicious Christmas treats that we recall from our Christmas past? We always try to recreate those wonderful memories we have by serving up those same treats. If only it were that simple. Anyway, on the Sunday before Christmas, off we went to Price Chopper, to buy all of the specialty foods.
5. My brilliant grandchild and daughter Maria were coming Monday for Christmas and so I made three kinds of cookies for him, trays of meat, trays of cheese, trays of relishes, trays of desserts, trays of dips, and a new recipe that uses raspberry jello/blueberry pie filling that I got from my art guild Christmas party. Dick made lasagna, meatballs, sausage and sauce and on and on. It was a FEAST!! We had a GREAT Christmas party and my grandson Antonio spent the night. On the next day, I wrapped presents, and Dick and my grandson and I delivered them to friends.
6. Blink. Now it was Christmas Eve and I felt obligated to visit my mother, although it was like looking into a crystal ball at what my future might hold. She is wheelchair bound, with few motor skills and is dependent, incontinent, and incoherent. This wasn't my idea of a warm and fuzzy Christmas Eve but it was well worth it. At her assisted living hospital, she immediately hugged the big, Raggedy Anne doll that I gave to her, and she kept it in her arms for the entire visit. Love is the Christmas miracle.
7. Not knowing how my husband felt about taking me to visit my son, I sprung it on him unexpectedly,“ I have to buy a pair of boots to take to my son..” Keep in mind that the expensive pair of boots that I had my husband mail to him the week before was not acceptable because they had a buckle on them. Enter yet another miracle. I found, in my own little hometown, a perfect pair of plain, tan, size 11 boots while enroute to my son's prison on Christmas Eve. I miss my son very much. My eyes fill with tears whenever I think of him. And I knew I just had to see him on Christmas Eve, before I went to see my mother. When I arrived, a polite and well-dressed woman was also waiting to get in. And as we waited for 30 minutes in the rain, what we didn't know is that the regular visiting hours were switched because of the holiday. Eventually, we were directed via intercom to return to our cars and to wait for further instructions. It was the way that my mind wandered while waiting that drove me nuts. I wonder if he's cold? Maybe he's hungry? What if the guards beat him? Is he broken? Can he be fixed? It was nothing short of a miracle that I hung in there with my thoughts and stayed, waiting waiting waiting. Once inside, I sat next to a woman with a baby and this was just the distraction that I so needed: a baby, another miracle. Just like the infant Jesus. I marveled at the baby until the guard called my number. Once the boots were accepted, I agreed to allow them to use the metal wand detector on me, seeing as how I can't go through the regular detector due to my wire implants in my brain. I walked through the lobby and into the waiting area and sat in my assigned seat, #17, earnestly waiting for the arrival of my son. Sitting right next to me in seat #16 was the same woman who waiting outside in the rain with me. What a blessing! And again, we waited and waited. All of the other inmates came out except for my son and her son. I was so grateful that she was sitting there next to me, making small talk and distracting me from my growing anxiety. Finally she asked, “Why is it taking so long? Why haven't they brought our kids out yet?” And I began to cry, not being able to stand it any longer. She encouraged me to keep it together and to wait. Forty-five minutes later, both of our sons came out. The hour I got to spend with my son Rosario on Christmas Eve flew by and the memory of his smile will sustain me. Love brings hope into the heart.
8. For nine years, my husband and I have watched his daughter and her husband and their children open their presents on Christmas morning at their house. Following tradition, we packed up their gifts and drove over to their home. Gathered around their Christmas tree, we watched as the children opened their treasures. I could see my husband's tense expression melt into a warm, glowing smile as he got to share time with his beloved grandchildren. He was so comfortable and it made me feel peaceful. After the gifts were opened, we enjoyed a delicious egg casserole breakfast and then it was off to our next stop.
9. My husband doesn't understand my daughter Christina who is schizophrenic, and so he dropped me off so that I could visit her on Christmas morning. It was at my daughter's small, unfurnished, unkempt apartment that I felt the true meaning of Christmas. After feeling decades of feeling disappointment of the big day, I realized why. I expected others to satisfy me by the same external hoopla that I spent so much time and money on. I realized that it's love that matters. It's the love that you share and give others. It's not what you get but it's what you give. I was disappointed every Christmas because I was depending upon others to make me happy. Here's the miracle: God promises His love will make you happy because His love is faithful. My heart is overflowing, filled with love for my daughter and I was so satisfied to be with her on Christmas morning. I didn't care if it took place in a foxhole.
10. On our way home, we stopped at my husband's brother and sister-in-law's and had a wonderful short visit. Next we visited my husband's cousins and spent the rest of Christmas Day with family. Miraculously, Debbie had prepared a seven-course meal for ten, after having critical rod replacement back surgery. I think that more than qualifies itself as a miracle! AMAZING!!
11. The day after Christmas, my son from Vermont visited us. Roll out the feast again, it's time for yet another Christmas party!!! I don't know where I found the energy, but it was another miracle. I felt so invigorated and excited from his visit. The candles were lit, the confetti sparkled on the table, Silent Night sang from the TV, and there was nothing more I wanted than to be with my son. He showed me some tips to use on my iPhone, he cooked us breakfast that morning, and we exchanged gifts. He's so relaxed and handsome and good-natured that he's my natural, organic tranquilizer. Time seemed to vanish and too quickly we had to say goodbye. I treasure the bear hug that he gave to me. I can still feel his arms around me.
12. And so Dick drove my son back to Syracuse while I cleared the refrigerator out of food, packed it all in a box and sent it over to a cousin. I packed all of my files, art supplies, teaching supplies, medical supplies, medicine, personal care items and suitcases of clothes for Florida. Exhausted, I got up the next morning on December 27th, at 6 a.m. and I remember crying, “Please, let's stay. It's just too much for me and I can't go.“ And in the most reassuring and calming manner, he put his arms around me and whispered, “You will feel better in Florida. Don't worry, you'll be fine.”
And therein lies the twelfth miracle, the fact that I made it with Parkinson's Disease to Florida, squished into the front seat of a car for two solid days.
I will spend the next four months in Clearwater, teaching and painting God's will. I am currently working on depicting the gifts of the Holy Spirit in watercolors. Keep your eyes open. There are miracles all around you, each and every day.
Keep shining as you do.
The perfect gift is YOU.