Holiday flotsam and forehead smacks

Late on Christmas Eve, our advent calendar was completed and our stockings were hung by the chimney ..... left on the floor with care.

We plated up some cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for all the reindeer. Plus we left some spiced nuts for Santa with explicit instructions for him to share with Mrs. Claus.

Magically, Santa left a present outside of Z's door. Even more magically, Z didn't wake up until her clock turned green at the appointed allowed hour of 7 am.

My parents were here for Christmas to help us overeat our parade of cheeses, the never-ending supply of Christmas cookies and the melt-in-your-mouth Harry and David pears. Plus, they put in some serious time holding a teething baby and listening to a whiny preschooler.

It was actually a lovely Christmas all around. No one was sick (a Christmas miracle!). For all her whining, Z was gleeful about everything Christmas and not TOO grabby about her presents. For all her teething, E is just so delicious I have a hard time not chomping into her for an extra dessert every evening. But I've been a bit strung out this holiday season. There is the usual "I didn't get the right things for people" stress-out that I always go through. Then there is the usual "eating too much sugar which tends to make me grumpy" situation. Lastly we have the usual "a toy store puked in my living room and what's with all the plastic twist ties?" lament.

But mostly I think my poor mood is a result of the fact that my dad has to start chemo again, and this time with radiation. Fucking cancer. My parents were just starting to recover from his first round of chemo last spring and were looking forward to a sunny vacation and some time spent getting stronger and moving forward. No such luck.

I'm not very good at compartmentalizing things. My dad's cancer feels like one of those mysterious refrigerator stenches that won't go away. Every time I inhale it's there, if only just a little. And I'm a little too scared to really look at it.

So I have to sit with it beside me (we'll move away from that stench metaphor right now THANK GOD), to know it and still truck along, doing everything else that is my life. It feels unfair to have had this holiday (like last years) overshadowed by a dark CANCEEEERRRR cloud. Not to get too Pollyanna-ish but I do find it helpful to think about how lucky we all are that my parents have good health insurance and the means to pursue all treatments recommended to them. I can't imagine how much more stressful and difficult all this would be if that weren't the case.

So this is my current personal project: to move forward with positivity, even in the face of the usual cluelessness and imperfection and the fucking cancer. To do the little things that make a difference. To focus on the big, good stuff (and not let things like the fact that our basement just flooded after our last rain storm make me totally bonkers with stress).

To finally get Z's prints (from etsy) hung on her wall after framing them four months ago (and to immediately let go of how long it took to get them hung).

To receive and enjoy the gingerbread man ornaments for Z and E the day after Christmas (and immediately forgive myself for not realizing that they had to be shipped from the Netherlands. Etsy! It's international! *forehead smack*)

To find continuous inspiration in the openness of this face (and find a deep well of understanding for how hard it must be to have those blunt little suckers poking up through her gums)

To make the trek up to New Jersey next week to see my parents again as well as my grandfather, brother, sister-in-law and niece (and not grumble once about lost naps or messed up schedules). Because family is what it's all about.

Feel free to smack me on the forehead each and every time I forget this.


Swistle said...

Pfff, no way I'd smack. It's like we can't help thinking of ALL the trees in the forest, even if it's only certain trees that would be pleasing to focus on. Plus, a mysterious smell in the refrigerator is SO DISTRACTING.

Michelle said...

It is a family tradition of ours for our mother to forget a present until after Christmas. So think of it as starting a tradition!
Your daughters are beautiful as always.
Thinking healing thoughts for your dad.

Marie Green said...

Christmas is an emotional time. Even when everything is going along swimmingly (ie: not THIS year, for us), I still feel this well-up of emotions. Like every happy moment has a sister shadow of sadness.

I can imagine that CANCER would only make the sun brighter, and the shadows more intense too.

And here's the other thing with cancer: all of us are merrily walking through life, but certain among us have a giant X above our heads. An X that we cannot see, until we get our own diagnosis.

Anyway, I wouldn't smack you either. I'd instead nod understandingly and offer you some booze.

sagessa said...

No smacking from this corner. Sometimes you need to talk about the bad stuff in order to be able to focus on all the good.

Sending healing vibes for your dad.

miyoko said...

all our best wishes for your dad's health--- please cancer go go go go go away!!!! (NOW!)

december is an emotional month for everyone. (in our family add in 70% of our family being born or having gotten married in this month). maybe that's why the new year is so refreshing. begone you december! while we loved the holidays-we're tired! we're done! on to the NEW!!!!

one of your trips to NJ, we will have to trek to your parent's house too. to share a meal and some hugs and let the girls reunite and the newbies meet for the first time :D

man, santa got a buffet at your house. and this year we totally left the reindeer without a snack. we were much better at that part last year.

sending my best for your dad.

Hillary said...

The stench metaphor is so horribly beautiful. I'm sorry you and your family are dealing with this still. But Swistle's right ... no forehead smacks here either. A person can't be positive all the time; at least you're making an effort, which is more than many people can say.

Sarah said...

Wow, basement flooding... that's just the cherry on the sundae, huh?
No smacks, just hugs, from one person who finds it VERY hard to ignore that fridge smell to another.

Good Enough Mom said...

Wow. It is so sad that your dad is struggling with cancer. Your smell analogy seems totally right on...and it must be impossible not to worry. I worked at a cancer center during my post-doc and really saw what families go through. I feel for you guys, and will send all the positive vibes I got in your direction!

And, yeah...isn't it amazing what our kids can help us to get through? I think of this EVERY DAY, even when I am going nuts from too much childcare. Without them, annoying as they are, we'd be goners! (at least I would be...)

Thanks for sharing the photos, by the way. I just love your photos.

Anonymous said...

What a sparkly wonderful time it was when you all came to visit! Rolling around with Z on the rug! Reading pop-up Cinderella (a little!) Marveling at E crawling, full of smiles!
Yummy. Hope for more in 2010!
I am keeping your sweet, sweet Dad in healing light.

Aunt Bobbie said...

hit the wrong button, so I'll just add you were so sweet to come and share time in the house.... (I wrote the other post too above this one)
much love to you all

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