This is how we decorated my sister’s Christmas tree this year. I took the beer and soda cans off the kitchen sink and hung hooks through the tabs. There were about six cans on the tree when “the girls” came over to play cards. Well, the cards were flying and the beer was flowing and the tree was decorated in no time at all. A new Christmas tradition!
I went home alone for the holiday this year. Flew from Nashville to Albany, New York the day before Turkey Day. No traffic, no waiting, no problem checking my suitcase.
I was carrying a small tote bag, my purse and an extra large Titan umbrella for my sister to give her friend for Christmas. Getting ready for the security, I had my driver’s license and boarding pass ready for the first highlighted “OK” from the first checkpoint. The second checkpoint was the conveyor belt where I laid the umbrella, the tote, my shoes, purse and sweater coat. I was sent into the beam-me-up-Scotty tube where I really wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I was instructed to “stand on the yellow foot prints and do this.” So I did. I held my hands up in surrender as if I was being arrested by Hop-Along Cassidy. The scanner whoosed in front of me. “That’s it?” I said to the not-so-happy security lady. “Yup, c’mon out.” That’s when I saw a guy come at me with a wand; I refused eye-contact and he walked right past me. I’m a pretty tough broad.
I walked over to the conveyor and started picking up my stuff when a guard came up to me with his arm extended. “Are these yours?” “Mine?” I asked demurely as I looked at my driver’s license and boarding pass. Shit! “Y-e-e-e-s-s. Where’d you find them?” He pointed to the beginning of the damn conveyor belt. “You want’m back?” Smart-ass. I grabbed them and asked if he’d like to follow me around the airport until I got on my plane. He didn’t think that was cute. So I thanked him and hightailed it to a bench where I could gather my wits and my ID. My shoes were on, my ID and boarding pass were in my purse, my sweater jacket was on, the tote was dangling from my hand – phew – I walked down the concourse, got a coffee, browsed the bookstore and had a couple of books I was interested in as I texted Ter to let him know I made it through security without a problem. “I even have the umb” Shit! Where’s the umbrella!? I shut off the phone and hurried out of the bookstore into the concourse – with the two books I hadn’t paid for. After returning the books before security got me, I headed to where I thought the umbrella must be. On that damn bench; but nothing was on that damn bench. The main security pen was close-by. I rushed it, peeked over the top, spied my umbrella on a desk and said, “Hey! That’s my umbrella. Right there! Mine! It’s mine!” The guard, with a gun on his waist, turned and looked at me and then at the umbrella. “This? This umbrella?” Smart-ass! “Yes, that umbrella. It’s mine. I left it on the bench over there and my sister is giving it to her friend and if i don’t bring it to New York she’ll kill me and it cost $40.” Needless to say, they handed it over.
I did not let that umbrella out of my sight the rest of my trip – only when I had to put it up in the overhead storage on the plane. I was blessed to have sweet, young ladies as seat partners who reminded me to get the umbrella as requested when they sat next to me. I was relieved to throw it in my sister’s car when she picked me up in Albany. Phew! “Wait until I tell you the umbrella story.” Oh, how she laughed on our way home.
We pulled up in front of her house (this is where the bricks enter the story), we get out the suitcase, which I insist on carrying myself, the umbrella, which I also insist on taking and Ally grabs my tote. The suitcase is in my left hand, the umbrella in my right. I have all new clothes on. I turn from the car, chatting with Sissy, stub my shoe on the highest brick and get propelled forward by my suitcase which is leading the way to doom, the umbrella is pointing at the house, I’m seeing a concrete landing or muddy landing in my future and I choose mud.
Sissy thought I was so excited to be home I was in a hurry to get into the house. She almost wet her pants from laughing when I took the dive into the mud. “I thought you were rushing on purpose. I would have helped you if I knew you were falling.” Of course, she was laughing so hard I had a hard time understanding her. (Every time she told the story at a gathering of family and friends during the week she had to run into the bathroom)
So, we decided to fix the bricks.
Cousin Bob came out and helped our dainty stone work by pounding and cussing them instead.
The umbrella was not hurt.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads.
Depending on who you think wrote that famous poem I don’t think Clement Moore nor Henry Livingston were caregivers or needing care during the creative process. If they were, I applaud them for getting past the ‘ugly’ of the whole deal.
In our house of three, where two are caregivers and the adult child is the care-needer, none of us have any sugar plums dancing in our foggy heads at the moment. Any sugar plums in our heads are wallflowers this year, kinda like last year – only different. Last year our son was home and our disabled/needy one was full of holiday cheer and her sugar plums were doing the hokey-pokey once in a while. Until we ended up in the ER with her. The dance was over but at least she got the chance to experience a few days of those famous sugar plums doing a jig or two.
This year the boy isn’t coming home for the holidays but he will be here for his sister’s birthday in February. Fantastic! It will be Christmas, Valentines Day, Sis’s Birthday all wrapped into a long celebration of family. So Bossman and I will try hard to brighten these upcoming days for our daughter – the needy one; the sugar plum-free one. Over the last three years of holidays she’s been able to joke about her disability and illness by calling herself Tiny G after Tiny Tim. But, Tiny Tim didn’t have a lovely pink walker like Tiny G does. He had that crippled little tree branch of a crutch.
I realized how much she needed a sugar plum last night when I asked if I could do anything for her. She said, “Yeah. Push me down the stairs.”
During my sleep no sugar plums danced in my head; only her words. They pounded and kicked. I knew I had to get them out of my head and this is how I do that. I write. I write and then I can breathe again. She’s having a bad few days and they will pass slowly and painfully. Picture a ballroom dancer with shards of glass in her shoes dancing for hours trying to smile and be brave. G’s braveness had run out last night and I thanked God she wasn’t at the bottom of the staircase when I woke before the sky lightened. Steven King would have had a whole new movie to make.
I’m praying for all caregivers and care-needers to have a sugar plum dance in their head this holiday. Just one will do.