Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Warm and Fuzzy

As I sit at my keyboard, it is almost midnight, and Christmas is ending. Birds sit on either side of me, in separate cages, one old one new. On my right is Pepper, an impulse acquisition I made this summer on a day Ray was in China. I bought her, and the following day almost took her back to the store, thinking I could never give her enough time to keep her from getting lonely. The really friendly Asian boy whose family owned the bird store looked at me and said, “It’s only a bird. I don’t think anyone expects you to quit your job to take care of it!” Pepper has endeared herself to us-Heidi included and has been a joy. On my left is the new bird I purchased yesterday for my Dad. He is a yellow canary that sings so beautifully; his trill brightens up the room. I half expected to be driving back to the bird store again tomorrow to return him, not quite knowing what my parent’s reaction might be. But to my surprise, my Dad was simply delighted! I am hopeful that he will enjoy its company and that it will give him much joy.
I think this bird reflects all the joy I have experienced this holiday season. Seems like a flurry of activity leading up to it-there never seemed to be enough time and it seems crazy that there are all these “must do’s” that we put upon ourselves. I found myself at OSH tying a Christmas tree to the top of my car a few weeks ago; it was too difficult to get everyone together to do it, and this one was such a good price! The tree got decorated, the garland hung, the Christmas photo printed, the Christmas letter written-funny enough to pass the Chin editors, cookies baked and sent out, gifts sent, gifts purchased and wrapped, and the house cleaned. Now, the kitchen is clean, stomachs are full, the house is still, and I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
We had our 8th annual Mother-daughter/son tea on sunday. What a joy it was to see these beautiful young adults, full of dreams and working to make it on their own. I am so proud to know each and every one of them. Their smiles and hugs meant so much to me; it seems like yesterday that they were huddled in the basement eating chocolate chip cookies and playing pool.
Yesterday, we celebrated Julia’s birthday and enjoyed a wonderful meal with Julia’s grandparents, listening to incredible stories of their adventures backpacking in the Russian wilderness, 40- 50 years ago. They spoke of Oleg, a wiry man, carrying a pack over 100 lbs. holding implements they would need chop logs to build a 3 man raft to carry them down river. Robert and Julia made lamb and her grandparents brought borscht. It is a life I could not even begin to imagine-the stories of relatives who endured Siberian winters, lives of those who had so little. Who are we to ever complain-how rich our lives are in comparison.
I went to midnight mass-to give thanks for what God has given me, a life as full as one could possibly wish for.
We took a long walk as a family, then Julia and I continued on for another few miles. It was a beautiful sunny day, slightly cool, the leaves red and gold. So many cooks today that I didn’t have to do much! I sat at the end of the table and looked at this amazing family of mine, young and old. We missed Calvin and Michael, who were sick and couldn’t come, but I love to see the interactions between the cousins, the difference in age slowly melting as they get older. As I had mentioned previously, food seems to be a focal point of our gatherings, as it was tonight. There is something really important about being around a table of those that love you, and care about you. I captured the moment on camera and it sits clearly in my mind tonight.