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Monday, December 13, 2010

A Walk Down Memory Lane....






This weekend, I took a walk and I didn't even leave the house.  I went as far as the attic, where I opened boxes of Christmas decorations.  That's where it started...


When the time comes to decorate the Christmas tree, all of the kids want to help.  One wants to string the lights.  Another wants to put the cross on the top.  And they all want to pile on the ornaments.   I let them help, of course, but all the while I selfishly wish I could be the one to place every ornament on the tree.  These ornaments, you see, tell a story....





I'll take you with me for a moment.  Forgive the photo quality-all I have is my camera phone right now because SOMEONE DROPPED MY COOLPIX IN THE RIVER.  But we won't dredge up the past...



I always start with the special ornaments.  These deserve the very best branches and to be honest, I want them placed in positions of honor.  Once I'm satisfied, I move on to the filler ornaments.  You know, the balls, bows, and candy canes that change with the color scheme.  Those can go anywhere.  So, I compromise.  The kids get the fillers and I get the walk down Memory Lane.



These kissing angels settle onto the branches front and upper center every year, where they have been since Christmas 1986...our first.  The angels were on the second tier of our wedding cake.  I picture the cake, the groom, the wedding, the people in attendance as I hold them in my hands.  So long ago....


I gently lift each 'Baby's First Christmas' ornament from the box.  1991, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2001, and 2005.  Each ornament is as different as the child it represents.  With each ornament I picture the pregnancy and the ups and downs that come along for the ride.  These ornaments always go on the right side of the tree, spread from top to middle.  Not too low, to keep them safe, and not too close together.



I hold 1991 and  I see the anxiousness of what would come.  I see my naivety and selfishness smashed.  I remember the ride to the hospital and the long, long labor.  I remember the first night in our new home with a new baby and in a FLASH my mind is taking me on a whirlwind journey through first words (they came early and did.not.stop), first steps, first school days, first date.....I hear her voice, singing...always singing.   I have to stop myself and reel it all in.  Contain it.  Save it, somehow.  Can it really be nearly 20 years?



I hold 1992 and I remember the surprise of another little one so soon.  I remember the ultrasound at 18 weeks that revealed a healthy baby. I see the baby and hear his kitten cries.  Why did he sound like that?  Why did they keep putting the oxygen on him?  Maybe because he was missing most of the right side of his heart?  I see the doctor telling us that our baby had the most complicated heart anomaly he had ever seen.  I see NICU and IVs, a ventilator, heart surgery, infection.....I see a tiny casket.....  I have to stop myself, once again.  It only takes a spark of a memory to cause the movie in my mind to play from start to finish.  I can't handle that right now.  Eighteen Christmases ago I had no idea that my boy would be gone in a week....



I hold 1994 and I see my careful plans gone awry.  Another baby, yes, but not in October.  But there he was, just 2 years and 4 days after his brother.  I remember a quiet, serious baby who grew into a superhero.  I see Power Rangers and Zelda, rewind and repeat.  I see his solitude, his quiet insight.  I hear his guitar...  I have to stop myself.  He will soon be a man...



I hold 1997 and I see an extra long pregnancy-the one that lasted forever or nearly 42 weeks, which felt like forever.  I remember the long labor, my longest, stretching from an induction on a Wednesday night to his birth late on Friday night.  I see my Dad in the delivery room, the first to hold his new grandson.  I never dreamed that Dad would be gone in just over a year's time.  I wonder what I would have done differently, had I known.  I see a boy bundle of mischief with bright eyes and a shy smile.  I remember the times he spent under the table due to his extreme shyness...  I see him running and riding his bike, skateboarding, reading, and drawing....always drawing.   I have to stop myself.  He's a teen now....



I hold 2001 in my hands and I see the surprise on my face.  I didn't expect to add to my family.  I remember the certainty of a boy long before any testing would prove it to be true.  I see the lack of baby supplies--everything given away the year before.  I see the Easter Bunny at my bedside during labor on Friday the 13th.  I remember the doctor filling out the paperwork for my Friday the 13th baby.  It was early in the day--I had arrived with contractions at 10:00 am--and this was the fifth baby.  I'm sure he felt it was safe to say that would be the day.  I remember the panic when the birth certificate arrived weeks later with the wrong birth date.  I see myself holding a 2 day old baby and crying, trying my best to soak up every second, not missing anything.  This would by the last baby, I was sure.  I remember an early walker with an impish grin and blond hair.  I see a talker, much too intelligent for his own good.  I have to stop myself.  He is nearing double digits....


I hold 2005 in my hands and I choke down tears.  I remember shock.  I would be 40 when this baby was born.  How did this happen??  Followed immediately by... I'm so glad it did!  I see the ultrasound tech's face at 20 weeks and I know.  I'm not sure what she sees, but I know it can't be good.  I remember the fear, the grief, the pleas of my heart...  Doctor visits, ultrasounds, emotions going up, then down.  This one is overwhelming.  I have to stop myself.  We just celebrated his 5th birthday, and well, you probably know that story.....



Next I come across an angel ornament.  It's a baby boy angel and they are hard to find.  As I hold it, I remember that first Christmas my son spent in Heaven.  This ornament goes near the top of the tree, under the cross and above the kissing angels.  A protector...





The ballerinas are next.  My girl was obsessed with dancing during her preschool years.  In her mind, she WAS a ballerina.  These go on the left side of the tree.


Then there are the homemade treasures...kindergarten and elementary school projects with photos and scrawling print.  Smiles with missing teeth.... Cutouts with crooked lines....  Each is perfect.  These go around the bottom of the tree so even the smallest visitor can admire the handiwork.  No photos of these because of the lighting and my...um...camera situation.




There are more, like the 2007 New House, the fisherman, the photographer mouse, the Snoopy, the Santas, the Dallas Cowboys, the angels, the crosses....

Each represents a step on the path of Memory Lane.

I'm sure I will walk down that path again when it comes time to pack them all up for next year.

It's been a good life...







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