Whew! It's been a whirlwind holiday.
At Thanksgiving I wrote that my Grandmother was very ill. She was unresponsive, and the doctors warned us that she wouldn't get better.
Those doctor's, they don't know my Grandmother so well. She's in a nursing home now, getting physical therapy, and we all hope she'll be home soon. Mom and I went to see her on Saturday. God. Aren't they cute?!!
Sunday afternoon Clint and I went to a cookout (ribs, baby, in December, nonetheless) at friends house. In addition to ribs, there was a bottomless glass of wine. Hence, I have little recollection of taking this photo, let alone offering up an explanation for it. (FYI, Clint was driving.)
Sunday evening we ended up at friend Di's house for awhile, catching up before we split for the holidays.
Monday: Momo and Woof and Matilda are home for the holidays!!! Whoo Hoo!! We hit the road, to meet them at a coffee shop in Mattoon, before moving on to Mike's brother's house.
Clint, bonding with Matilda:
She looooooooooooooves her Auntie Lori:
It was fantastic to catch up with them, despite a bit of a stressful holiday for them: While putting up the tree the day before, Momo's Mama fell and broke her leg, so their Christmas vacation suddenly consisted of ambulances, emergency rooms, casts, and vicodin...rinsed down with wine, of course. 'Tis still the season.
I have no pictures of Christmas eve. I lit 37,000 candles, Clint grilled up steaks and cajun shrimp. We stuffed ourselves to the gills, then sat around talking until midnight, at which point our first Christmas gifts to each other were exchanged.
Clint had to work today, and it was his turn to make an appearance on the news. Fireboots and Santa Hat, he wished the world a very merry. He is much more poised than I am, in front of a camera.
So many firsts on this Christmas Day. Today is the first Christmas day in our lives that Teri and I have not spent in our parent's home. We Stewart Girls, we have a bit going on in our lives right now, and adding preparing Mother's home to our list of "things to do" was not an option.
Teri decided Christmas would be in her home, and she was quite excited about it. We maintained most traditions: A roaring fire in the fireplace, she made the chili, I brought the clam chowder.
We had a beautiful day. Teri, wore plum out after lunch, fell asleep in front of 24 hours of "A Christmas story."
Heh. Wait. So did I. Mom watched TV while her daughters snoozed on either side of her. We were probably both children the last time that happened.
Here we is:
And yes, there was one, missing today. Brian was going to try to get to the phones, but babies, he's in line behind 3,000 others that want to talk to their wives and kids and parents and friends. It was unlikely.
I know he saved his wrapped gifts for today. I wondered what he'd think of some of them. For years now, I've purchased a ridiculously expensive deodorant for him, the scent of his favorite cologne. I hedged: Does a soldier want cologne-scented deodorant?
Hell-to-the-Yeah. The cutest little Macy's bag filled with red tissue paper and a $16 Armani Mania deodorant stick was in my soldier son's Christmas package from Mom, along with instant mashed potatoes and chocolate covered coffee beans. Oh. And a Listerine bottle that maybe was not filled with Listerine. Technically. I mean, maybe it was, and maybe it wasn't.
Two of his best friends called me today, to tell me they loved me, and see if I was ok.
This ornament came in the mail for me a few weeks ago, from Bryan Ingerman, from Louisiana. The weekend I launched Toys for Troops, he bought 19 beanie babies for 1 penny, and e-mailed me to ask where to send them. I've never met Mr. Bryan Ingerman (yet), but still I came home to find this in my mailbox:
His friend Nan (sassynan) hand-paints Christmas ornaments and sells them on ebay. She has a grandson on his way to Iraq.
At one point I was undecided about whether I could bear to pull out my Christmas ornaments: Baby's first Christmas. A lamb with couscous wool. Gingerbread stars slathered in glitter. Others, that Brian made, as a child.
This one decoration: It made putting up my tree easier. It contributed acknowledgement to my holiday: We miss ours this holiday, but he is still with us. He was with every single one of us today, as we hoped for a phone call, and kept tabs on AOL Instant Messenger, and noted how glad we'd be when that boy came home.
Yes. I still feel that "punch in the stomach" when it hits me that my kid is in Iraq. He's been there 7 months, and sometimes the realization of it still bowls me over: "Holy Shit! My SON is on the other side of the WORLD! At war. Fighting in a freaking war! Where am I?!
But it's also so clear, isn't it—look, look back at these few photos—that I have family, and friends, and friends-to-be, and Brian's friends (My Other Sons), standing right next to me with their hands on my elbows, making sure that I remain on my feet.
And how did I get here from there, on this entry?
When you have a loved one serving in a war, pretty much everything brings you here, from there.
What I meant to say was: It was the nicest Christmas I could have ever had, at this time in my life.
That's what I meant.