My family has always been a little exuberant about celebrating Christmas… We’d gather on Christmas Eve for dinner – often with 10-15 friends beyond the 6 of us… As we kids got married, it got even bigger. We’d exchange gifts on Christmas Eve – most of us would head to our respective homes – and all return on Christmas Day for our stockings hung on the banister with care and brunch or lunch.
When I started getting really sick – one holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas would just wipe me out. It would take a week for me to recover back to “normal”, or what counted as normal at that time. So back then Laura and I started spending Christmas Day by ourselves – we would do my therapy four times throughout the day and we would watch “The Bishop’s Wife” and “White Christmas” and have a relaxing day together. It was really quite pleasant.
Since receiving my beautiful lungs, we’ve kept up that tradition of having a nice, quiet Christmas together. We added our friend Ruth – we watch our movies – we also added “A Christmas Story” to our line-up for some extra laughs. I make breakfast – my climbing buddy Paul joined us for breakfast this year – then we sit down and watch our movies. At night we find something open and go out for dinner.
For several years I was in bed long before midnight on New Years Eve – Laura would nudge me at midnight and I’d get a kiss… And that was enough… My first New Years with my lungs we walked a mile to the fireworks at Buckingham Fountain with several neighbors. It had snowed a good foot and the city was absolutely beautiful. Grant Park was pristine, but it didn’t stay that way. We climbed over a plowed hill and barreled into a field and made snow angels. We’ve walked to the fireworks every year after that, except one year when everyone wussed out and I was overruled because it was “too cold”. The next year it was even colder – but we went because they didn’t want to put up with the months of grief I gave them the prior year. Last year, Ruth gave me a “Life is Good” t-shirt with a kid making a snow angel. It always reminds me of that first year.
It just wasn’t that long ago that during those Christmas Eves with my family, or Christmas Day with my Laura, that I would look around me and quietly wonder if I would celebrate next Christmas.
I still wonder, but it’s not the same – it was much clearer then. It’s still out there, but it’s kinda fuzzy now. And my life is so full. I never-ever dreamed breathing would be like this… I think of Kari throughout the day, every single day – and I think of her family. I think of all of her precious friends, and so many are now my precious friends. I met another precious one this month – they all take up so much room in my heart, but when another comes along it just seems to grow to fit them in…