Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why I love Christmas so much

Christmas in NY 2008

If you've ever been around me during the holiday season, you know I love to go all out (especially for Christmas!). Though some might say that celebrating Christmas, or the secular aspect of it, is superficial and insignificant--I don't believe that things like Christmas trees and nativity sets are bad, as long as you remember what Christmas is all about and that those objects aren't the only things that make your Christmas joyful.

I associate Christmas with happy times in my life, as most of us do. But the funny thing is, I learned to appreciate Christmas as an adult in a whole new light when it occurred to me that all those Christmases weren't quite so happy, just cleverly disguised as so.

One year, when my mom was single and raising me on her own, she was fired from her job on Christmas Eve. She didn't tell me at all. At this time, things were pretty tough financially, but she always hid it well and didn't tell me about our struggles until I was a lot older. There were times we got by on credit. I had no idea that my mom was struggling so much to make ends meet, and putting me through private school on her own just made it harder, I'm sure. When I had to quit ice skating lessons because we couldn't afford it and our old car couldn't drive that far without troubles, she just told me that it was too far away -- she left out the details.

Every year, until about late elementary school, I'd get a new doll for Christmas. I was a doll fanatic. I didn't like Barbie, she seemed fake and snobby. I preferred those baby dolls that did cool things like move, cry, take a bottle or wet their diapers. A doll was the one gift I looked forward to the most during the holidays (and yet I hated wearing dresses). I never really specified what kind of doll I wanted, but I remember one year I really wanted this doll called Twinkling Thumbelina (I still have that doll in her original outfit :P!).

Every Christmas Eve, my mom let me open one gift before bed. And it had to be before bed... and I wasn't allowed to stay up late just because it was Christmas Eve, my mom had her rules. I made sure to examine every box closely beforehand (those boxes that dolls come in are pretty easy to identify, after awhile :). The plastic on the front makes its own kind of noise compared to the rest of the box, which is stiff from the cardboard. (You see, I'd mastered the art of gift-shaking/guessing because I wanted to make sure I opened the right one on Christmas Eve!) So what about the year I'd asked for Twinkling Thumbelina? My mom pulled a fast one on me and said that she just couldn't find it, that she was so sorry but that I was going to have a doll-less Christmas. I said it was okay, but I was a little sad, too. I was still convinced there was a "doll-box" under the tree, though. I'd had my eye on it for days! So when my mom broke the sad news to me about Twinkling T., I figured she'd just bought me another doll.

What happened? Well, I grabbed the mystery box and opened it verrrrry slowly. Starting at one corner, almost afraid to take a peak. Who could compete with Thumbelina? Oh wait... there'd be no need to answer that question because... it was Thumbelina! (Years later my mom told me that she'd searched high and low for that doll; she said it wasn't until Christmas Eve that she found Twinkling T. in an aisle of a pharmacy, when she was running an errand.)

In spite of what was going on around us or how much we were struggling, there was always a doll under the Christmas tree. There was always a Christmas tree to decorate, even if he was so small and twiggy that we had to decorate him with mini ornaments and place him on top of the table just so he would look rough and tough. There was always a smile on my mom's face when I opened my presents, when we decorated trees together, when I woke her up on Christmas morning... even though she had her own struggles to deal with. This was a time of selflessness, especially for my mom.

Oh, but don't worry. I didn't let her get away with thinking I didn't appreciate her. Though I had a mouth and liked to talk back more than I should've, I loved giving my mom more than just a headache :). Christmas shopping! Yeah, I'm still a fan. Isn't it fun when you're convinced that you finally got that special someone the perfect gift and they'll never guess what it is? Being sneaky never felt so good, right? That brings me to another story. How did I pay back my mom for dealing with me? I bought her a fake goldtone "xoxo" bracelet with tacky fake rhinestones from the "Santa's Shop" store that my school had temporarily put into business in order to raise money, because Catholic schools don't charge enough in tuition ;). She still has it in her jewelry box, to this day. I think it's the most hideous bracelet I've ever seen. But, man, I was so impressed when I laid eyes on that glimmering gaudy piece of costume jewelry. I thought to myself "Yeah, my mom will looove this, she'll never believe that I could afford a gift this pretty with the allowance my grandpa gave me last Sunday!". Of course, when my mom opened it up there was a smile on her face...but I think she was holding back a laugh, now that I think about it. :D

This is just a glimpse of my favorite Christmas memories, things that still make me smile today. My mother's selflessness, desire to make me happy in spite of life's difficulties, and need to protect me from life's "bad news" are things that weren't so obvious to me growing up. I loved Christmas for other reasons then. As a kid, I knew that it was Jesus' Birthday, but I'm still learning about its significance to this day. Still, when I think of former Christmases now, I'm able to see the connection between her love and God's love for us--she wasn't perfect, like any parent, but she tried and gave so much. He sacrificed a lot, too, a perfect baby (not a doll :) that became the perfect sacrifice for us, so that we could experience the joy of Christmas every day, even when times are tough.

Friday, November 13, 2009

An Exciting Life!

3 month ultrasound

I purposely titled this entry An Exciting Life because life is actually quite slow for me right now. Well, maybe life itself isn't necessarily slow, but I feel like I'm moving in sloooow motion. To be honest, I'm pretty lucky that I didn't suffer from much morning sickness the first trimester; there were those few revolting smells that made my stomach churn, and a bit of heartburn, but that only lasted a few weeks. My biggest symptom was/has been exhaustion.

I can sleep 8 to 10 hours and still feel like I need a nap, come 3PM; the rest of the day I'm just dragging. This is pretty funny, since I used to be the type of person that could sleep less than 6 hours and still have energy. Now, just the thought of preparing dinner makes me yawn ;). But... if sleepiness is all I'm dealing with, then I am still very, very lucky!

On top of that, I haven't been baking very much because I don't have a desire to eat sweets (biggest surprise)! My biggest craving? Salty, spicy and sour foods... and cold fruit. Sausage, cheese, ribs, cheetos, sour cream with pretty much anything, salsa and salty chips, french fries... almost any dried fruit like mango, cold pears and grapes... oh yeah, and mexican food, but no desserts.

There is a reason why the word "Exciting" is in this post, though. Every day, something new happens! It isn't necessarily something visibly new, but I wake up every morning knowing that someone is growing in there the way they should be. I love sneaking a peak during the ultrasounds. It always feels like getting to unwrap a Christmas present! There's something slightly different at each appointment, so it's like opening a different gift each time :). And in December, the week of or before Christmas, we'll get to find out if we're having a girl or a boy; that's my kind of present!

Slowing down gives me the chance to think about all of this more. The thought of being a mom is very exciting. Getting to share this experience with Jose is such a blessing. As cheesy as it sounds, sometimes when he's busy with school during the week, I get a warm feeling inside (literally haha!) knowing that a mini-Jose is in my belly.

Before I got pregnant, I used to ask God if I could please, please just have one biological baby. I knew I'd be happy adopting, and I'd still like to, but I really wanted a little piece of my best friend. I know life doesn't last forever, and with my pessimistic/creative mind, I have ways of imagining scenarios where I become a widow (silly, I know). I just feel like it would be easier (if easy is even the word) to endure the loss of your best friend/spouse if there's a child there to remind you of them.

Now that I'm in the second trimester, I feel like I can relax a little more and really enjoy this time. Though I'm not on my feet so much, I'm finding that activities like crocheting and working with clay are ideal pass times. I'm not the world's best crochet-er (?), but thankfully the blanket I'm crocheting isn't crooked :) (it's taken me awhile to get to this point! Ha!). As for working with clay, nothing fancy... Christmas (my favorite holiday) is right around the corner! My mom appreciates homemade gifts, so I made her some kitschy festive figurines (I also made a little sign that says grandma and grandpa to go along with the Santa/Mrs. Santa figurines :P; the uncle JD is for my little brother). I feel like a little kid doing this, but it's really fun and keeps my hands busy!
Right after Christmas is our wedding anniversary! So another trip is in our future. Hopefully it won't take me that long to write another blog post, though! :O)

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