Posted in Family, Florida Fun

A Different Disney Magic

When the magic of Disney and the magic of the Christmas season blend together, it can create the most wonderful time of the year in more ways than one.

This year I was lucky enough to be together with all my kids just a few days before Christmas. My Oklahoma son Drew and his family would be spending Christmas week at Disney World with his in-laws, probably the best people with which to ever experience Disney, and they had arranged for an altogether brunch at Raglan Road in Disney Springs the weekend before Christmas Day.

It was everything I could have hoped for. I’d brought the OK (but great) kids some small gifts recommended by their parents, and they all seemed to be a hit. Seeing my kids together with their kids, the interaction between cousins, aunts and uncles not often experienced, gave me such pleasure.

When I was a younger adult, 30’s to 40’s, whenever our huge family was together, my mom would say how she loved just watching us. She didn’t need to get involved; she simply got joy from watching her kids.

I’d have to agree, that is a magic all its own.

Posted in Childhood, Family, Lucky Eleven

Christmas Eve Magic

Growing up, there was a Christmas Eve tradition in our home that, according to my mom, began when she was just a little girl. Her parents started it, then my parents followed in their footsteps with the reading of T’was the Night Before Christmas.

“The Reading” about 25 years ago

Each year on that night, we would all get into our pajamas and make our way downstairs for “The Reading.” Dad would lie on his belly at the foot of the tree surrounded by all his children with mom standing somewhere behind. He would masterfully and with great relish read from the pages of that well-known book. After concluding with a very dramatic, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” we would suddenly hear, “Crack! Crack! Crack!” and from the ceiling huge walnuts would fall to the floor! At the same time, dad would leap up and run to the window yelling, “I see him! I see Santa! There he goes!” As we searched the dark skies for any sign of the sleigh, mom and dad would tell us to hurry upstairs so Santa could come back. We would then race up to bed and wait until morning to descend the stairs and behold the many presents under the Christmas tree.

As we got older, of course, we were quick to figure it all out. But with such a large family, and always with little ones, it was great fun to see what our parents saw, and it made us want to duplicate it in our own families years later.

The tradition continues.

This is a photo collage I put together on Christmas Eve a few years ago. These pictures started showing up on Facebook as the evening progressed, and I just had to collect as many as I could and put them together as a small tribute to a cherished tradition started over 90 years ago. I was lucky enough to experience this great mystery as a child, and it has been passed along to my children and now my grandchildren. My nieces and nephews and now great-nieces and great-nephews are delighting in the same excitement. I’m sure my mom’s parents never dreamed their idea for a little Christmas Eve magic would be repeated for generations every night before Christmas. But I know when it is, they, along with all our missed loved ones, are smiling down on these scenes.

Posted in Family, Meg

My Forever Friend

I have one daughter. She and her older brother actually had the same due date two years apart. He came early, she came late. I knew I was having a girl even before she was born. And once I figured out she was lactose intolerant, she thrived, eventually becoming her brother’s shadow, sidekick, and rescue (twice, to be exact). There’s a reason God gave me only one daughter. As I’ve said repeatedly, this one was like having three.

If you’ve ever had a strong-willed child, you’ll understand the fine line that must be navigated constantly so as not to discourage independence, while at the same time keeping your daughter safe. Beginning around the age of five, Meg loved to explore; usually public places that had restrooms. She loved the freedom to leave the group and find it on her own, making her way back with barely dry hands and a proud smile. What she wasn’t aware of was a parent was always discreetly behind her, making sure she was safe .

Meg has always been a ridiculously social being. Once, in the comments section of her report card, the teacher tactfully wrote, “Meghan excels socially.” School wasn’t so much for learning as it was to mingle among her peers. Rather than sit and watch a movie at the theater, she was more interested in seeing who else was there so she could sit with them.

Our relationship was a seesaw of joy and frustration, probably on both our parts. Through her teen years, letting her learn through real-life consequences was probably the most difficult part of mothering this child. But because of that, she has become one of the most independent, courageous, generous and loving adults I’ve ever known. We’ve grown from mother and daughter to best friends (always keeping in mind I get to play the ‘mom’ card if necessary). She is still strong-willed, but she has learned through trial and error to temper her opinions and understand that tactfulness is an art.

After traveling the country in her job, she has finally settled just over an hour from me, and we see each other as often as we can. We enjoy morning coffee, shopping, and talking about everything. We travel well together liking the same music, the same off-road attractions. She’s grown through health issues, job issues, and family issues, and her cup is always optimistically half full. And while she claims she still isn’t where she hoped she would be at this time in her life, God’s timing isn’t our timing. I tell her be patient. Believe. Have faith. And I think she does. I think she is right where she belongs.

There’s that old mom’s saying, “I hope you have a child just like you!” Well, I kind of do and I kind of don’t. While she’s like me in many ways, Meg has more confidence, more generosity, and more strength than I ever had. And she is my forever friend.

Happy birthday, my Meg.