I can’t believe that Christmas is just 3 days away. I have to tell you…the past few weeks have just about been more than I could handle. For those of you who don’t know this, I had to go in the hospital on Tuesday of last week to have a cervical cone biopsy due to the fact that I was diagnosed with severe dysplasia after a biopsy a couple of weeks ago. (If you don’t know what all of this means, just google “sever dysplasia” and you will know all you want and more.) Anyway, I will summarize all of this just to say that everything is good. The results of the cone biopsy were exactly what we had hoped for. My doctor got it all and got “clear margins.” Don’t you love all this terminology? In layman’s terms, “he got all the bad stuff out”…which is all I needed to know.
There was a period of time over a couple of weeks where my mind was going in a trillion different directions. I was waiting to go into the hospital for the cone biopsy and the only thing I knew was that I was “this close” to stage 1 cervical cancer, and even though the initial biopsy didn’t show cancer, there was a possibility they could go in with this next procedure only to find that I had parts of my cervix that had develped into cancer. Every move I made, every step I took, every look Brittain gave me, every time I held her, or kissed her, or talked to her…I thought it might be the last. The fear and the sadness was almost more than I could bear. In only a couple weeks time, I successfully “banked” about 20 hours of work that I will have to eventually make up. There was no way I was missing anything when it came to Brittain, and in the midst of savoring every moment I found myself giving into the mornings where she was moving slow or just didn’t feel like getting dressed. What can I say? I gave in and just let her take her time. (Thanks, Bradley, for understanding.)
Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year. We’ve all said it. None of us can believe how early the stores start decorating. And we’ve all said it to each other when we’ve run out of other conversation…”I tell ya, next year they’re going to start decorating in August for Christmas!” We get it, okay? The decorating is TOO EARLY. Let’s just get past it. *Admission: I kind of liked it this year… I know, I know, I’m a terrible person. But I have a 2 YEAR OLD! And it was FUN. And I wanted to teach her early about Christmas and Santa Claus and the REAL MEANING of the day.
It kind of all started when Dan and Brittain went to Lowes right after Halloween. There were a few straggling Halloween decorations, but the whole place was already full of “holiday cheer.” I found out after they arrived home that Dan took the opportunity to bring up the true meaning of the holiday season during that trip to Lowes. Apparently, as Brittain was marveling over all the lights and trees and big blowup Santas and snowmen, Dan asked her, “Brittain, do you know whose birthday these decorations are for?” Brittain looked up at him with those big blue eyes and said, “Ooohhh…Uncle Doug?” (Doug, she obviously thinks VERY highly of you.) Dan quickly explained that they were actually for Jesus (and she hasn’t gotten it wrong since.)
Christmas festivities have happened very quickly ever since. The first was a gingerbread house making at her preschool. Mimi and I attended. Although all the supplies were provided, I brought my own expensive aerosol can of frosting thinking that it would perhaps make Brittain’s gingerbread house the very best. In the end, I could hardly figure out how to use the damn can of frosting…and our gingerbread house certainly wasn’t the best. But it didn’t matter what our gingerbread house looked like. I was there with my precious little girl doing something fun together. (Oh, did I mention that while waiting on Mimi to arrive, Brittain and I ate the gingerbread man that was also meant to be decorated? Yeah…we did.)
Brittain’s preschool Christmas party just happened to fall on the day after I was having surgery. There was no way I was going to miss this of course, so I brought help along and attended as if I hadn’t just undergone surgery the day before and been under anesthesia. I love it that I can sit here and say that I was there. I may have been in a slight amount of pain and under the effects of heavy narcotics, but I was there, and I have those memories filed away in my brain for all eternity.
Since Aunt Su Su and Mimi continued to be my caretakers after Dan had to go back to work, they drew straws as to who would attend the Christmas party with Brittain and me, and Aunt Su Su won. She was the one in charge of the driving, picking Brittain up when necessary (since I couldn’t lift anything over 5 lbs.), taking some pictures, and just making sure that all was well and good. I loved having Aunt Su Su there. I ALWAYS love having Aunt Su Su around, so obviously I was happy that she could experience the day along with us.
But, while it was fun, I have come to find that any time I spend at the preschool in Brittain’s class is a term beyond exhausting that I don’t even know. The times I have been there before, it hasn’t even been for the entire 3 hour class time. Usually it’s only for an hour at the most. But when I leave there, I feel like I have just been through battle, and a lot of times I want to come home, bury my head into a pillow and just scream (jk, of course). The preschool Christmas party was no different in that there was a LOT of activity, and a LOT of 2 year olds, and a VERY SHORT amount of time that seemed like FOREVER. During the 1 hour and 15 minutes that Aunt Su Su and I were there, we never spoke one word. The only communication we had was a few fleeting glances at each other. It was only when it was finally time to leave and we were walking to the car that she said, “So, how much do those teachers get paid?” After I explained that the teachers at this preschool teach these kids because they want to, and not for the money, she said to me, “I would slit my wrists.” We both laughed a HA HA knowing that that was a joke, of course. But then we gave each other that look and did a “nanoo nanoo” kind of thing where we read each other’s minds and knew we were each thinking, “I am TOTALLY serious.” And then we just smiled and went about our day.
1) It’s a good thing that I don’t have 10 children the age of 2
2) I am not cut out to be a teacher of 2 year olds (and neither is Aunt Su Su, apparently)
3) Please, dear Lord, give me another child as well-behaved as Brittain when we decide to have another child.
4) I am kidding about all of this, so please, no one respond to this post saying to me, “You know your next kid is going to be a hellion so you better just prepare yourself for the worst” because I WILL hunt you down…and prove you wrong with my next kid.
UPDATE: Having “almost cancer” can sometimes be a good thing. I won out on making sure Brittain got the “castle.” I got the go-ahead from Dan, so I went straight to the person who I knew was sitting on ready to give the ultimate gift – Aunt Su Su.
The day finally arrived – Christmas. Oh, no, not ACTUAL Christmas…Christmas Comes Early! Since it was the year for Cecilia and Matt to spend the holidays in Boston, they arrived in Griffin on Saturday to have Christmas here before leaving for their trip. ******I will interrupt this mushy, everthing-was-wonderful story to tell you that Cecilia arrived from Florida in horrible pain. Their 8:00 a.m. departure time from Florida turned into a 1:00 p.m. departure time due to Cecilia’s doubled over with abdominal pain. I am crying thinking about my poor sister. They arrived at our parent’s at 6:30 and Cecilia kept a permanent smile on her face the entire evening despite what she was going through. I will jump ahead to tell you that by the end of the weekend she was in the ER only to find out that she had a hemmoragic ovarian cyst to rupture (this was what happened Saturday morning before they left). THIS is the pain she was dealing with for the rest of the day. Again, my poor sister. Talk about putting a smile on your face…Cec, I’m so sorry you had to go through all of this. You are clearly a better person that me (and most anyone else)!**** Now, back to the Clark Christmas…all of the family gathered together to spoil Brittain, so after chowing down on some fabulous food, we herded everyone into the living room to open presents. Since the adults decided not to exchange gifts this year, the gift opening only involved Brittain, which trust me, was enough excitement for all of us. As she opened gift…after gift….after gift…all I could think about was how much MORE stuff she was going to be getting from us and from the other set of grandparents on Christmas day. During the gift opening she quite obviously switched over to some sort of twilight zone.
Fortunately we had sort of come up with a game plan for the order of gifts. I was privy to most everything she was receiving, but there were a couple of surprises even to me. The biggest was the ball pit that Aunt CC and Uncle Makhew gave her. In addition to some great outfits, they also gave her this ball pit (which has proved to be a favorite in the following days.) Then, there was the dollhouse from Mimi and Doot. A couple of months ago while trying to think of ideas of gifts for Brittain, I had suggested a dollhouse to Mama and Daddy. It’s so hard to determine what kids are going to like…I mean, right now I will say that Brittain’s favorite things to play with are her toy kitchen and a baby doll from Big Lots. But, I went out on a limb and told them that I thought a dollhouse would be a good idea. They ended up purchasing it, so at the end of gift opening, Doot brought in her new dollhouse that he had put together that afternoon. I nervously watched to see her reaction, but there was obviously no need for nervousness. She LOVED it. And, I could hardly pull her away from it in order to show her the last gift of the evening from Aunt Su Su…the jumpy castle.
I have to admit it…my calm, almost-had-cancer-so-I’m-going-to-appreciate-and-savor-every-moment attitude quickly left me when it was time to present the jumpy castle to my pride and joy. I suddenly became that bitchy wife/daughter/sister/mother who starts shouting orders. But, let me just tell you that not one person tried to argue with me. Yes, the jumpy castle was Brittain’s gift, but you know what?…for the last 2 months I’ve been thinking about what the look on her face would be if she were to get this for Christmas. This was just as much my Christmas gift as it was hers.
After what seemed like WAY too much coordination and preparation, Dan and Matt (with the help of others) set up the castle in the driveway and it was time for “the unveiling.” I will say to you that Brittain’s reaction was not what I had expected. I pictured her giving her patented “O”, surprised face. Instead, the look on her face was better than I could have ever imagined in my dreams. It was the look of disbelief and an inner excitement that radiated from within her. As Aunt Su Su texted me later that night, “It was as if she was reunited with a long lost friend when she got in that castle to jump.” That was what it was. All of us sat outside for a long time and watched her jump and listened to her say things like, “This jumpy castle is great.” Perhaps it was too much for her to take in and comprehend, but I absorbed it all. I don’t think anyone could have known how special that moment was for me. Seeing the joy on my child’s face was what I had been waiting for. I watched her with an inner peace and joy that I’ve never known. Is there a more perfect Christmas than this? I was seeing my child with that sincere joy…and knowing that I was going to be around to experience this Christmas and many more with her and the people that mean so much to me.
My cup runneth over.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.