Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Remains of the Day

Why is it a surprise to wake up the day after Christmas and be a little overwhelmed by the remains of the day? So much effort and preparation has gone into making a holiday to remember, the ordinary things of life have been neglected. Now it’s time to “face the music.” I have yet to figure out how people have enough time and energy to rush to the after Christmas sales. I've seen enough malls and stores to last awhile. However, I am tempted to visit online stores and spend my gift cards. But first I must deal with household clutter, leftover food, and paperwork. I tell myself it will be easier to tackle the unpleasant if I dwell on all the joyful and fun events of the past few weeks.

Then I remember, there are only five days left in the month of December and the beginning of the New Year. Writing my last blog post of the year suddenly seems much more important that cleaning up all the clutter. So I back away from the broom and mop and try to get my creative juices flowing.

The lead up to the holidays started on Veteran’s Day weekend when Frieda’s son and family came from Toronto, Canada for a pre-Thanksgiving visit. Since the Canadian school holidays are different than ours, we had to celebrate earlier than usual. Did you know that the Veteran’s Day sales are as good as Black Friday sales? We ate and shopped until I dropped. During the next few weekends we had visits from my nieces and grandchildren from Charles’ side of the family. At Thanksgiving, Frieda’s college-age granddaughter came to visit. More shopping, cooking, and eating concluded with the realization there were only 28 days until Christmas. And you know the rest of the story – four more weeks of shopping, cooking, and eating. 

The remains of the day are looking pretty good right now. The leftovers mean I have at least a two day reprieve from cooking; the household clutter will eventually be put in order and I have a warm, comfortable house to keep it in. The receipts will get organized and there is enough money to pay the bills. Soon all of that will be history, but the warm glow from being with family and friends will last long after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

Thanks for following my blog “Two Late Bloomers” this past year. As I enter my third year of posting, I continue to be challenged to write fresh and interesting material. Your feedback is always appreciated. My goal is to do more writing in 2015. What’s on your agenda for the New Year?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Christmas Tree Lesson

Childhood Christmas memories make us feel nostalgic this time of year. My childhood memory was traumatic and triumphant at the same time. I didn't really appreciate its value until later in life. It proves to me that God wastes nothing in our lives if we allow Him to work His will in us.

A Christmas Tree Lesson

I stood on the shore of Gull Pond watching the last hurrah of summer. The trees in this picturesque place were bathed in the glorious fall colors of red, orange, and gold. A perfect mirror image reflected in the sparkling waters. My eyes fixated on a beautiful sugar maple and a tear trickled down my cheek. It occurred to me that this might be my last time to see this beautiful place. One by one I watched the red leaves float on the autumn breeze and skim the surface of the water. My life was ebbing away just like the life in that tree. 

I had survived a rough year, with numerous hospitalizations and near death experiences and there were more challenges to overcome. I had come to my family’s camp in the mountains for a time of recuperation. Soon I would be added to the national organ transplant waiting list. There was no guarantee I would receive a liver transplant in time to save my life. I wanted to be optimistic about my chances, but I was having a pity party. My prayer was short and to the point, “God show me your will and your plan for what remains of my life.”

Immediately my mind flashed back forty years. I stood in our living room looking at our Christmas tree. Like any ten-year old child, I awaited Christmas with great anticipation. All my hopes and dreams were wrapped and ready under the tree, but the tree itself was unwrapped and almost naked. 

The bitter cold winds and lake effect snows had blasted my town on the shores of Lake Ontario. It was an unusually cold winter and the old oil furnace in our upstairs apartment worked overtime. My mother’s asthma and my dry skin suffered that year and the Christmas tree didn't like it either. My bedroom was next to the living room and at night I could hear the steady drip, drip of needles falling from our newly decorated tree. By Christmas morning dead needles and shattered ornaments covered the presents. 

I was devastated since our family tradition was for the tree to stay decorated and on display until well after New Year. Our naked tree just wouldn't do since I couldn't show off my tree and gifts to my friends. I carried on so that my father agreed to go look for a new tree. He drove the old car around town until we saw several trees at a roadside stand. A farmer saw us coming and probably wondered about folks out looking for a Christmas tree on Christmas morning. It was my job to explain why we were there and only had five dollars to spend. “No charge!” the farmer said as he loaded the tree into the trunk of the car. My father sputtered and fumed as he dragged the tree up the stairs and mounted it to the tree stand. I didn’t dare complain as I swept up piles of dead needles, strung the lights, and hung the unbroken ornaments on the tree.

A squawking flock of geese diving into Gull Pond brought me back to reality. I suddenly realized that like that tree so long ago; I too was on life support. Just as my earthy Father had saved my Christmas by helping find a new tree, I believed that my heavenly Father would spare my life long enough to get a new liver. I left the peaceful setting of Gull Pond with renewed hope and a confident faith in God’s provision.

Two years later when the springtime trees were in full bloom, I received my donor liver and a second chance at life.

My memoir:  Born three Times—A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love tells this story and many others from my life. You can purchase my book from in either paperback or e-book format. It is an inspirational Christmas gift for anyone on your list.