Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Presence

I remember when I was a child I'd go to bed on Christmas Eve filled with anticipation and excitement. Then I'd get up early the next morning and creep downstairs to find the tree surrounded by presents. I wasn't really the 'dive in and shred the wrapping paper' type of kid. I liked to savor unwrapping each new gift and setting it carefully aside. Each gift was special, and each would be loved.

Over the years, the Christmas holiday became less about presents and more about sharing and family togetherness. And over the years, family celebrations have dwindled as relatives have passed on. Traditional large family gatherings sadly are a thing of the past in my family. No more aunts, uncles and cousins stopping by. No more driveways lined with cars.

Now more than anything at Christmas I want to be surrounded by the love and warmth of family. I love watching my nephews open their presents. I love being the gift giver now; I had my time being the beneficiary of Santa's generosity.

Every Christmas day takes me back, just for a little while, to the days when I'd be opening presents one minute and then joyfully heading off to Grandma's house, or Aunt Jean's or Auntie 'Del's to see my relatives. I couldn't wait to see my cousins, enjoy Aunt Jean's delicious candy cane-shaped butter cookies and watch the grown-ups play cards after dinner. My Grandma and her sisters had the holidays down to a science, and their spreads were enviable. And I can't help but smile when I remember Uncle Dan giving me pennies to play the pinball machine in Aunt Jean's rec room, and how Auntie 'Del's swivel container of poker chips was always a favorite for us kids. (So much for the presents they always had for us under their trees.)

Looking back at those times now, I cherish the memories of the people who came together on those brisk winter days far more than any present. No gift ever would or could be as special as the family that used to be.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Year-End Review

So let's review. I started to write this blog a little over a year ago and then hit a bump in the road. My computer broke in late August, and I spent the next three months without one. Living on disability income doesn't exactly lend itself to keeping pace with technology (or even owning a computer), so I finally used some savings to get a new one.

This incident is kind of fitting as the year winds down and the feeling of a lack of accomplishment sets in. That feeling of regret that the year is ending, and I didn't do this or that. This past year didn't go exactly as I would have liked, but as they say, "There's always next year."

Next year. It lies ahead waiting for us, offering new hope and a new chance to get it right. A chance to turn plans into action. And the hope that it's going to be better than last year. A time of change, a fresh start.

Looking back at the past twelve months is a popular thing to do at the end of a year. We recollect the year's events, good and bad. Print media and television shows offer up highlights and countdowns of the year's best songs or moments or whatever. I like to take stock of things at the end of the year, to think about my life and what I would like to do differently in the coming year.

Now is the time for looking forward, and as I look forward, there are many things to contemplate. So many things have happened in previous years that I did not expect; so many things have changed. As I look down the road, I see more changes coming, and I worry that some may not be favorable. I know I need to focus more on things I can control, to take charge of making positive changes in my life.

I have been thinking of going back to school, and I still want to try to work again. As I continue with my MS treatment, I am working on physically being able to continue to handle things as I have been. I know I will keep battling against the fatigue and other symptoms. I do not plan on backing down.

I have been thinking about whether I want to continue writing this blog. I don't know. I have other things I wanted to write about here before the computer broke. I still have a list. Maybe I'll just work my way through those topics and see what happens (probably more ideas will come).

Despite a few minor setbacks, it has been a good year. My life may not be exactly the way I want it to be, but I feel like I am making progress. The year is ending on a positive note - it's no worse than when it began. So that's a good thing.