Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blue's Christmas Miracle

How many of us try to complete all of our Christmas shopping well before the holidays? For the most part, probably the majority. Unfortunately, I am not that majority.

Having no choice, I had to venture out to the mall yesterday. I tried everything in my power to avoid it, but it was just inevitable. It had to be done.

I knew the dh and I were in trouble when we weren't even out of the car yet and everyone was fighting. There were no parking spots to be found. After driving around for several minutes, we finally found one. As we sat patiently waiting for a man to back out, some young blonde in her compact car flew into the spot, cutting us off. I can usually rein my temper, but I had to admit, my hand was on the latch to the door. It was crazy out there! Tempers were flying, people were pushing, men and women alike were rude... Gheez!

Barely escaping the mall with our sanity, I realize I forgot to buy wrapping paper. Mentally kicking myself and refusing to go back to the chaos of the mall, the dh drives me to our local K-Mart. My poor dh was through with the masses and decided to stay in the car. I grab my son and we go to buy the wrapping paper.

As we're standing in the check-out line, I notice a man standing behind us carrying a blue, fleece blanket. As he turns, a cute little puppy with big, floppy ears pokes his head out. 

"Aww... look how cute," I say, nudging my son.

The man steps closer with his precious little cargo and the dog has the most beautiful, crystal-blue eyes I have ever seen on an animal. Breathtakingly beautiful

"Your son can pet him if he wants to," he says, bending down within reach of my son. "His name is Blue."

As my son pets the dog, I shake my head. "His eyes are amazing. Truly beautiful and an appropriate name for such pretty eyes."

"Thank you. Blue was a rescued animal."

I smile in return. "That was so nice of you. Our dog, Zoe, was rescued as well. Someone dumped her on the doorstep of the shelter the night before we picked her up."

The man harrumphs. "Blue was dumped in a garbage can and we found him a couple of months ago. How can someone do that to an animal?" he asks with disgust.

"I have no idea."

I turn around and was silent the entire time through the check-out. Frankly, I was irritated and my thoughts raced. How terrible are people? Truly. That was horrific. Throwing a puppy in a garbage can... I was dumbfounded at the cruelty. 

Leaving the store, I am holding my son's hand and his voice breaks through my reveries. "Mommy, did that man say that someone threw the puppy in the garbage can?"

As a parent, you try to protect the innocence of your children for as long as you can, but there are some things that you just can't shield them from forever. Some people are just mean and vicious.

"Yes," I reply, shaking my head in disgust.

My son has this amazing ability at his young age to tell when Mommy is upset. He pulls on my hand so I glance down at him and he smiles at me with his blue, innocent eyes. "Don't worry, Mommy. Blue is home... and so is Zoe."

Giving him a warm smile, I sigh. "You're right... Blue is home."

May all of you find your way home safely this holiday season and be surrounded by the ones you love.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Best Holiday Memories

Over 35 years ago...

Christmas Eve, a special time of year and one of the most cherished memories that will always hold a sentimental place in my heart.

Springing out of bed and giddy with excitement, we were going to Baba's (my grandmother's) for Christmas Eve. It could not be here soon enough. "What time are we leaving?" I would ask for the millionth time. It seemed like an eternity, but it was finally time to go.

Proudly displaying our Christmas dresses with our Mary Janes and white tights, we get all bundled up in our winter coats. Donning our hat and mittens, exhilaration filled the frosty air. My sister and I jump in the car, restless in the back seat. First, because we were going to Baba's. Second, because the car took forever to heat up. Singing every Christmas carol under the sun, we would surely make the Griswald's proud! We were on our way.

Glancing out the foggy windows, winter-white snow drifts graze the landscape making the picturesque Norman Rockwell scene come to life. The houses appeared as though they were merely a little village that belonged under a Christmas tree. You could actually feel the holiday spirit come alive. 

At last, we pull into Baba's driveway, her brick Cape Cod covered in snow. It always reminded me of a storybook gingerbread house and it was the perfect holiday backdrop. Sprinting out of the car, but careful on the driveway (Mary Janes were quite slippery with snow), we follow the stone path between the house and row of emerald green arborvitae trees. Reaching the back porch, we stomp our feet, shaking off the snow. We finally made it.

Opening the wooden door, the warmth brushes against our cold skin. Baba is standing at the kitchen sink with her green apron as we have seen her so many times before. Raising her head, she casts a warm smile and opens her arms to embrace us--her hug so comforting. *sigh* Immediately engulfed with the smell of Christmas Eve dinner, we search the counter for something we can sample. Yelling at everyone else for picking, she turns away from them, sneaking us a taste of anything we want.

Surrounded by family and sitting around her enormous dining room table, this is what it was all about. All of Baba's prepping and cooking was well worth the effort. It was simply delightful. 

Having finished dinner, the men made their sly escape into the living room (no surprise there) while the women cleared the table and washed the dishes. Had I known then what I know now! LOL. With the last dish washed and put away, we were finally ready for my favorite part. 

Bustling into the living room and everyone finding their spot, the old record player was brought down from the upstairs bedroom. The Mitch Miller Christmas sing-a-long albums were spinning and we all sang our little hearts out. Glancing around the dim-lit room, the fire crackled and popped, the Christmas tree was twinkling with baubles of Christmas past as the outside world was lost to us all. All that mattered was family and that particular moment in time.

With the last song almost sung, there was only one remaining. White Christmas. When my grandfather came home from World War II, he called my grandmother to say he'd be home for the holidays as White Christmas played in the background. Ever since then, my grandmother and grandfather would cry at the drop of a hat every time they heard the song. It has been many years since they left us, but the song still makes me tear up when I hear it.

It is with a gentle sadness that in my own youth I took those times for granted. I would have appreciated those times so much more. You always think the ones you love will be with you forever. Even though my Baba and Pap are no longer with me, those memories will always hold a special place in my heart--as will they. 

The best holiday memories are made with family and friends. Care to share a favorite holiday memory?