As Life Rolls On

As a friend of mine always says, "We plan, God laughs." You never know what life will bring, but the ride can be a blast!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Our Life on the Tree

Bruce & I have two trees every Christmas. The small tree is the "Theme" tree. It is the silver and gold music tree. It's actually quite lovely. The big tree however is a conglomerate of ornaments that we have collected over the years. When we were putting the tree up this year, we talked about whether that tree could now become a "Theme" tree as well, now that the kids are adults. We both very quickly said absolutely not, as there are many precious memories hanging on that tree that reflects our life together, and truly reflects the true meaning of Christmas. Have a look:

In 1977, the year before we were married, we received this as a table favour at the company Christmas Party where Bruce worked at the time (Charles Tennant). It was our first ornament. The irony for me is that this ornament reflects what society sees as the "norm", in that there is a couple in a house together. Who would have though that long ago that I would have a passion to work with those who are ostracized by society because they do not fit within this "norm".

My aunt made this. I have 4 of them. She gave them to my mom to give them to me the first Christmas we were married (1978). They were stiff because they were starched with sugar. When Jenn was 2 years old (1980), I had to put them at the top of the tree because she found one and started to suck on it because it was so sweet. I soaked off the starch after that.
Every Christmas, each of the kids received their own ornament for the tree. This is the one James got in his stocking his first Christmas (1982). When they each started to get married, 1/3 of the ornaments on the tree left. All that's left of those ornaments now are James'.

When the kids were little, I was somewhat selfish. I wanted to work, yet I wanted to have my kids with me, so I worked in daycare. Best of both worlds, kids with me, yet I was bringing in an income. In 1984, I received this from one of the kids in my class. I had alot of "characters" in that class. There was the "youngest spoiled child" who was developmentally, socially and emotionally a little delayed because mom & dad didn't want him to grow up. There were the two cousins, only children, who were true "princesses". There was the child who would spend great lengths of time in the bathroom, and when he was asked what he was doing, inevitably his response was "I feelding dood!" Then there was young Matt (who gave me this ornament), who was a content, easy child, the type of child who is easily overlooked in a class of "characters". Interesting that his is the name I remember.

One of our kids greatest joys was making Christmas ornaments for us. They would jump around in excitement as we opened it, and would immediately ask "do you like it, do you like it?" as soon as we had it opened. James made this one in 1988 when he was in grade 1
Jenn made this one that same year (1988) when she was in grade 5

In 1992, Bruce had serious back surgery. It was a trying time for all of us, as we were unsure as to what would happen. The surgery took place on December 10, the day before Jenn's 14th birthday. The kids were worried, as they always saw their daddy as being invincible. They wanted to do something special for him to make him feel better. James had received a kit to make ornaments at Bruce's company party. The three of the kids decided that they would make the ornaments, then take them to him at the hospital to make him feel better. A gift James received for himself became a selfless act of love for their dad

Jason made this one when he was in grade 5 (1995). I remember him coming home from school about the second week of December announcing that he had made something really cool, and "I think you're really going to like it, but I can't tell you what it is". Of course on Christmas day, his question was "do you like it, do you like it?"

When our nieces were very young, their mother and Bruce's brother divorced. Wanda and the girls moved back to Nfld, Wanda remarried, and they moved to Calgary. Bruce and I were adamant that we would have a relationship with our nieces. Wanda and I stayed in touch and remained good friends. Every year, Wanda, Kevin & the girls sent us an ornament for our tree. This is the one we received in 1996. The back says "Love is the Gift of Christmas". I add to that Love is the gift of family, where bonds are not broken
When the kids were in public school, one of the fundraisers every year was selling of Christmas wrapping paper and ornaments. One year (around 1988), the ornaments were birds in a glass bell. Bruce's mom loved birds, especially Blue Jays and Cardinals, so the kids all pooled their money together and bought her this ornament. She loved this so much that she kept it out year round. When she passed away in 2000, we brought it home, and every year it now occupies a branch on our tree in remembrance of her. She is greatly missed. I can see this one becoming a family heirloom
So as our tree has emptied 1/3 at a time, we have had to start getting some of our own. This is our latest addition, a funky stained glass stocking that Bruce got in his stocking this year.
We have many more the kids have made for us over the years. Some are now so fragile, like the bean and wax angel Jenn made for us in grade 1, that they remain wrapped in boxes. Most occupy a special place at the front of our tree every year, and always will. I foresee that as they start having children of their own, these will become conversation pieces, and will give some insight into the wonderful people their parents are and always have been. So, no, our big tree will remain as is, a conglomerate of ornaments that reflects our lives, and reflects what to us Christmas is about.........unconditional love.

Our Tree

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Didn't Kick the Bucket, I've Just Been Underground

Well, it's been a bit. I think this is the longest I've gone between posts. Life has been it's been nuts..........but it's slowed down just a little so I thought I'd get caught up. So here's what's happenned the last couple of months:
  1. I've worked alot
  2. I've worked on my research when I've not worked alot
  3. I've had a change in position at work. I am now the ED for Housing & Homelessness. This has allowed me to really focus on moving the homeless programs The Salvation Army runs in Calgary and look at how to improve, expand and move forward. It has been a big challenge, as I have had to do the "dirty deed" with some staff and help other staff understand why and what our new direction is. As a result...............I've worked alot
  4. I transfered corps. I now attend a corps that is completely outside my comfort zone. It is a small town corps (church) in the little town just south of where I live, where the majority of congregants are senior citizens, and the pastors are as young as my children. But I had a real sense of this is where God wants me to be. Sure enough, you "wait on the Lord" and he shows you why. Captain Shannon shared with me that she and Captain Jeff have just been told they cannot have children of their own. When I shared what Jenn & Kevin have had to come to grips with, Shannon stated that she had prayed that God would send somepne who truly understood from that personal deep emotional place. It always amazes me that God knows what he's doing.
  5. I've worked alot
  6. Mom & Dad came for a visit in November. We went to Edmonton for a few days and hung out at the West Edmonton Mall. Now we can say.........."bin there, done that". We alos spent some time with Donna & Don Bladen, as they are now stationed at Edmonton Temple. Hard to believe that they were in my very first teen bible study class!
  7. I got all my Christmas shopping done early 'cause Mom & Dad were taking our gifts for our kids back to Ontario.
  8. I've worked alot
  9. Bruce & I have continued to prepare for Christmas. Bruce insisted the tree went up early. The house has been decorated for a few weeks now. It will be an interesting Christmas for us. All our kids have to work this year, so they'll be in Ontario while we are here. I'll be at the shelter on Christmas Day and we'll have our Christmas with Stephen and Gayle on the 26th. It will be bitter sweet.
  10. I went on a wirlwind trip of Portland Oregon. If you've never been there, it's worth checking out. It's a lovely city with a real charm and ambiance in it's downtown. I went with a delegation from Calgary to have a look at how the city has been dealing with the issue of homelessness. Very interesting. I have come back with alot of excellent information
  11. Bruce has been preparing to go home for a two week visit with the kids. He flies out on Jan 1 and will be ice fishing with the boys and spending time at Jenn & Kevin's. He flies back in the 13th.
  12. Oh Ya................did I mention I've worked alot?