Now Playing: Perry Como "The Twelve Days of Christmas"
Many of you probably wonder where I have been lately. The past two weeks have been a time of reflection for me.
Wednesday, December 14th, was the first anniversary of the death of my friend Jimmie. He was the shepherd for True North Farm up in Worthington, MA. Many of my friends knew Jimmie because of Harry, his husband whom we met on the ST list many years ago. Jimmie's death came as a surprise to all who knew him, when he was killed in a farming accident. It shocked and saddened me that this wonderful person was taken from us too soon. And last Wednesday was a time for me to think about Jimmie, his wonderful spirit and friendship and how much I've missed him this last year.
And on Monday, I attended the funeral for Mr. Jim Ostendarp, the former football coach for Amherst College. I only knew Jim in the last year of his life, and although he had Alzheimer's disease, and we weren't sure that he knew who we were, we always made time to talk to him. Sometimes we were rewarded with a smile or even a "Hello". Many of you don't know that my father has Parkinson's disease. I try to visit him every weekday, and sometimes on the weekends. During this past year of visiting my father at his care facility, we became friends with the Ostendarp family. Shirley, Jim's wife, and his 7 children would come to visit him as often. And in that time, we became friendly with them. The bonds you make with residents and family at care centers continues to amaze me. I've made friends with several residents at the home, getting to know about their lives, and families. They appreciate that someone takes the time to talk to them (other than the wonderful staff that works at the home) and I appreciate the wisdom and friendship that they have imparted on me.
During this holiday season, I have taken the time to really think about what people want. During the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, many people spend hours shopping online or in the stores looking for presents for their friends and family. Some people even go over their budget and into debt to try to procure the perfect present for that someone special in their lives.
But when you think about it; what do people really want? Look deep inside, and seriously consider this. Do they really want a material possession, or do they really just want a bit of your time?
How many of us have taken the time to sit down with one of our older family members or friends, and ask them about some happy time in their childhood? Or what were the holiday traditions in their family were before you were born? How many of us wish that we could do that, but can't because those people are gone now? I know that I wish I had spent more time with my maternal grandmother, asking her about her childhood. All I really know is that she used to clean houses at the age of 8 for 5 cents a day and that she married my grandfather when she was 16. She was born in 1901, and lived to be 95. And in that time, I really didn't ask much about her life. Now I really wish I had talked less and listened more. And with my father having lost the ability to talk much, I wish I had taken the time to ask him more about his childhood, and the farms he lived upon with his family. Or on how he used to live at a parochial school in town, because it was too far to walk from the farm, so he was living away from home during the week at the age of 6. Or his time in Germany, where he was a soldier during the Korean war. These were all stories that he'd tell us when we were kids and many of them were repeated so often, that we'd roll our eyes when he'd start to retell the story. Now I wish I had asked to hear them again as an adult, but now it's too late.
After really considering things, this past week I have spent more time with my family than in recent months. My husband was home at the end of last week, and we went out and did things together, including taking our kids on a drive through the Quabbin where we saw some deer.
My brother, who lives in California is home for the holidays. I miss him terribly when he's away, and so I've been at my mom's house every day for the past week that he's been home. Today we are going Christmas shopping, something that we've planned to do for several years, but work has always interfered for us.
I've taken my mom to visit my dad, and last Sunday, I took my mom, brother and my two boys up to Ashfield to look for a Christmas tree for my mom's house. My brother Luke, my son Cal and I walked all over the tree farm, looking for the perfect tree. We had a lot of fun doing that, and I created memories for my boys that they will never forget. And with my boys, I've read them stories, we went shopping for their cousin's Christmas presents (the boys picked out what they wanted to buy for their cousins), and we decorated our own Christmas tree listening to Christmas carols on the CD player.
And I've spent a lot of time with my dad, telling him about what we've been doing. He enjoys listening to what is going on, hearing the kids tell him about their days at school.
So here I sit, asking that you give your family the gift of your time. It is the one thing that doesn't cost anything, but is more precious than any other gift you could give.
May you all find peace and happiness this holiday season.