In 15 days, it will be Christmas. I don't know how I got to this state of mind, but I'm downright giddy! Our tree is up and decorated (thanks to the boys, who always do a wonderful job) and I can't stop listening to Christmas music on the radio at work. We have a tree up there as well, and lots of garland. I went a little crazy with the garland, but that's okay because my sister went a little crazy with the outside lights!
For those that don't know, I work in a convenience store. It's owned by one person and we have just 3 employees: the owner's brother, my sister and me. It's a very laid back job. No uniforms or name tags. I usually wear jeans and a ratty tee shirt because on my shift, something gross is usually getting cleaned. We have old gas pumps outside. So old, that they don't have credit card readers! People actually have to walk in to pay me. We have a lot of regular, neighborhood customers. We get to know them and they get to know us. New customers get confused. They will begin a conversation like "remember yesterday, I was telling you...." or "you just carded me this morning!" They're stunned to realize that my sister and I are not the same person. We do resemble each other strongly. The best part is when she's there with me and someone comes in the store and does a double take, realizing there are two of us and not just one person working all day long.
For the past week at work, I've been listening to Christmas music and wearing a jingle bell necklace. When I am in the mood, I wear reindeer antlers. The customers love it! I dress up for all of the holidays. I wore head to toe green on St. Patrick's day, complete with glitter covered hat. On Halloween, I wore a green wig and a glow in the dark tee shirt. Antlers aren't really a stretch.
Two days ago, I had one of my regular customers come in the store. He shook his head in disbelief when he saw my antlers, making the comment he hadn't finished digesting his Thanksgiving dinner yet and wasn't ready for Christmas. I told him I couldn't help it, I was full of Christmas Spirit this year as I cheerfully rang up his purchase. He laughed a little and said he'd probably walk in to see my sister wearing a Santa hat. I showed him our collection to choose from for her to wear. I think he said something about us being crazy as he left. Last night he came back.
He told me he was starting to get into the Christmas spirit and it was because of me. He said he'd thought about me that day and it cheered him up and put him in the Christmas spirit. I shared with him the reason for my silliness and love of the holiday this year.
I told him, last year, my baby died. The last thing I wanted to do was celebrate anything. I was numb and went through the motions for my other kids. The two previous Christmases were difficult because we didn't have family around and could not travel because of Tommy's complex issues. I told him this year, I felt free. Free from the grief that consumed me last year and I I felt like Tommy was giving me permission to be happy. I told him I would always, always miss my son, but now is the time to celebrate and to find the normal again with the family I have left. I could see from his face that he walked out of there changed inside. Even from Heaven, Tommy is still touching people's hearts.
I haven't bought one gift yet. I usually wait until the last minute because the boy's tastes change hourly. I also have no place to hide anything. In my last update, I wrote about giving of myself to my kids for Christmas. Our family has never experienced a typical Christmas, so this year, I am trying to give them wonderful memories. I'm 38, and can only remember a few gifts I got for Christmas as a child. What I do remember is the way the house smelled when my dad baked cookies and no matter what, I had an apple, an orange and walnuts in my stocking every year. I want my kids to be excited about what Christmas means than what they can get.
Today, as I was walking the kids to the bus, Brandon asked me if he could have another surprise today. I asked him what he wanted to do after school today and he couldn't decided. He just wanted it to be a surprise! We settled on baking a batch of brownies while we color pictures and make paper airplanes. I hope when he's an adult spending time with his own kids, that he looks back to the December when he was 6 and remembers parades, brownies and coloring with mom. I hope Matthew and Brandon both feel loved more than ever this Christmas and no matter what is under the tree, they have memories of how they felt and not of what they unwrapped.