Putting My House in Order in Understanding the Unthinkable

  • Dec. 9, 2016, 9:23 p.m.
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I’ve neglected Prosebox, but I doubt I’ll improve until after the holidays. Just a few more gifties to buy. Costco has a neat thing for my gardening friends: a rosemary plant that is trimmed in the shape of a Christmas tree…festive and usable! I need to find bowls for my friend who is rebuilding her life. I’ve been going back and forth but have decided to buy her some pottery bowls.

Our family is struggling a bit this year. As I come across decorations Nick loved, I get a lump in my throat. My husband and I now have a code phrase we use to sort of check on each other, emotionally. I told him I’d been teary quite a few times and asked how he was doing. He shook his head and pointed to the stockings hanging over the fireplace. “I hate that hole,” he pointed.

We’d sent Nick’s stocking, needle-point work done by my talented mother, up north to our young nephew, also named Nicholas, last year. We do not regret that. We know Nick would be tickled that his stocking was being used by his namesake and if we want it back, his mother would send it in a heartbeat, but we are at peace with where it is.

It wasn’t the stocking. It was the hole Nick’s leaving left.

I got up from my chair, went over to the mantle, and took the other two stockings down.

“We’ll do something different with them,” I said. “We’ll make new traditions.”

And that is what we are doing, but the road is bumpy. We are all struggling with what to buy each other this year. None of us need anything and most of what we want would cost more than a normal gift and we can buy it ourselves. And yes, we do philanthropic things, like buy each other donations to organizations such as MAP (they send life-saving medicines and are squeaky clean and honest) and KIVA (donations pooled with others to help people in third world countries start a business) and others. And no, we don’t want to serve a holiday dinner because we do that several times during the year and others have stepped up and because the boys want me to make their holiday meal rather than eat Stove-Top stuffing at the shelter. Selfish? Maybe, but we’re a giving family the rest of the year, so I figure we get Christmas off.

Last year, I surprised them with a trip to the Grand Canyon (only we went in summer) and this year, the family trip is to New England in autumn to see the leaves turn color, but that’s not really a Christmas gift, since we’re using the refund from the airlines to buy the plane tickets. Plus they already know about it. I’ve managed to find something for everyone except eldest son. I DID buy him a glass sculpture, but I need something else. His one bedroom condo is fully furnished.

I thought about a gift for Boston…a night at the Parker House or something, but the kids do NOT like the idea of reservations or itinerary. I’ll figure something out, but WHAT, I’ve no idea. I asked him and he has no idea, either. I’m a terrible mother....I don’t know what to buy for my own son! LOL!

The non-profit is going great. Got a $500 cash donation. God bless Anonymous! This week we helped a mom who works two jobs and cares for her disabled father who lives with her, and her ex is threatening a custody battle if she doesn’t cut her hours. “Anonymous” helped pay her $850 rent. We also helped a millennial who took time off to care for a parent with cancer.

I encourage you to donate, whether you can give $500 or $5. It all gets pooled together to do a greater good. There are so many good causes. Salvation Army, for instance, keeps your donation dollars local. No religion? Animal shelters, food banks, schools, organizations that help the disabled or the elderly all come to mind. These service organizations need your donation and trust me, they celebrate every single dollar, so put your dollar into the charity pool and know that your donation is just as precious as the bigger donations. Why? Because your dollar is oftentimes a greater sacrifice and because it is done with a joyful heart.

That’s what I think, anyway.

I’m doing a bit of baking, but not to the extent of last year. Each year, I seem to shed a little more. Oh! And I got great feedback on the articles I wrote for the magazine! Six years ago, if you’d told me what my life would be today, I’d think you were crazy.

Shattered December 10, 2016

Sending lots of love, many hugs, and prayers for strength.

ConnieK Shattered ⋅ December 10, 2016

Thanks. We have much joy left, too, in the other two sons.

QueenSuzu December 10, 2016

Hugs to you and your family. New traditions are a good idea.

ConnieK QueenSuzu ⋅ December 10, 2016


GypsyWynd December 10, 2016

Mom never knows what to get Brother, either. Men are hard to shop for in general.
I know that hole hurts. It always will. Making new traditions is a good idea. I can't make Dad's favorite cookies cause it hurts too much. So we make something else.

ConnieK GypsyWynd ⋅ December 10, 2016

A gift men seem to like is one that I make: I layer nuts in a mason jar: usually peanuts, then cashews, then macadamias.

GypsyWynd ConnieK ⋅ December 10, 2016

I'd like that gift, too!

woman in the moon December 10, 2016

I like the nuts in the jar idea too.

Discussion of non-voluntary gifts brought to mind the Seinfeld when George founded a 'charity' for Christmas giving. That was a funny and evil show.

The stocking situation is very touching. I'm glad you'll be together.

ConnieK woman in the moon ⋅ December 10, 2016

Hi there! There are constant reminders. We have to learn how to rebuild. It is a surreal experience.

Ferret Mom December 11, 2016

This is heartbreaking. I am sorry.

Do you think your family would be open to the idea of traveling over Christmas next year so you have a change of scenery over the holiday? Or maybe just renting a cabin somewhere for a few days and opening presents there because it might be less painful than doing it at home? Not sure if that's something any of you would want to do, just a thought.

ConnieK Ferret Mom ⋅ December 11, 2016

We've taken family trips but not many of us can take off Christmas. Eldest son works in the medical field (working with suicidal people) and Christmas is a very busy time and his girlfriend is in retail. We'll figure it out as we move forward. It isn't always easy and we often stop to look back and wish we still had him with us, but we all know we have to go on.

Ferret Mom ConnieK ⋅ December 11, 2016

Well it makes sense that with those jobs they probably couldn't get vacation time off.

I would imagine Christmas must be one of the hardest times of the year for you guys. I think your idea of starting different traditions is a good idea. Probably anything you can think of to mix it up and be different would help, as long as you are comfortable with it.

ConnieK Ferret Mom ⋅ December 11, 2016

Thanks. It's a learning process. I appreciate your empathy. The supportive vibes on PB have been a part of the healing.

middle age pearl December 12, 2016

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. It will be a rocky time and you will get through it. A bit battered perhaps, but secure in the promise of seeing him again.

ConnieK middle age pearl ⋅ December 12, 2016


Oswego December 18, 2016

I think it's more important than ever to support the invaluable efforts of local and national nonprofits. I do as much as I can but wish I could do much more!

ConnieK Oswego ⋅ December 18, 2016

I wish I could do more, too, but I content myself with the knowledge that charity requires everyone's participation and no one person was ever meant to carry the whole load.
Good to see you here again. Hope all is well in your world. :)

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