Friday, December 16, 2011


There's a lot going on right now.  We are in the midst of class parties, holiday assemblies, family gatherings, and so much more.

It is so far away from where I was a week ago.  Stressing about my crazy mother.  Being dragged back into painful memories from the past and worries for her future.  

I am not complaining. 
I now wish it was early December and I had more time to be jolly and look at the lights.  I am having my Christmas morning Scrooge moment.  Screaming "Did I miss it?"while I throw open the shutters.

Well, I don't have shutters and thank god it's not Christmas morning and I didn't miss it.

Last night I took my oldest two kids to church to help assemble food baskets/boxes for needy families.  I am a big believer in service. To help people, but also to help yourself.  That's right I can make any situation about me.  

But seriously, I have felt the most alive, the most in touch when I am volunteering.  Trying to make a difference.  Trying to matter.  

My first bout with depression was my freshman year in college.  (I probably had dabbled in depression earlier, but this was my first semi-serious funk.)  I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska where I didn't know anyone and didn't feel like making any friends.  It was not a good situation.  But it changed my life.  I started volunteering a couple times a week at Bryant Memorial Hospital.  I stuffed envelopes, delivered flowers to patients too sick to get out of bed, I read to kids and wheeled patients to their cars.  My favorite part of the experience was working with all the older ladies, Mabel and Ruth and others,  and hearing their stories.   Connecting.  Mattering.  And making a difference.

I have tried to make service a part of my whole life.  And I tried to impress this value onto my children.  A few years ago, on Christmas day Tim and I took our kids to a nursing home.  The kids had made holiday cards.  I envisioned my children cutely going from room to room spreading joy and lightness.  A real 'tis the season moment.  Warm and fuzzy for everyone involved.  And my children would grow up knowing the importance of service for others and themselves.

But of course, as is life, things did not go according to plan.

My son Peyton who was 6 at the time was too afraid of the older, sick people to talk to anyone.  One older man was sleeping in his wheelchair and a terrified Peyton grabbed my hand and said "Is he dead Mommy?"  He had nightmares about that man for weeks.  Merry Christmas son.

While we were at the nursing home we lost Lucy who was 4.  We found her when the fire alarm went off.  Yup.  Lucy pulled the fire alarm.

The super loud alarm made JT, who was only 2, scream and cry, which upset some of the patients.

The director kindly asked us to leave in a "Merry Christmas, please never come back" kind of way.

Needless to say, we took her kind advice and never went back.  And I scaled back my expectations for my family

But now that my kids are getting older, it is changing.
Peyton, age 10, and Lucy, age 7, are able to be more involved and ask questions and participate more.

The food basket/box filling at church was the perfect service activity for them. We talked about helping families, we were put to work stuffing and stacking.  We prayed, sang and saw friends from church.   And it went really fast so we got out of there before anyone could pull any fire alarms.

'Tis the season.  
I am so glad I didn't miss this.

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