What a difference a year makes

Each month I go back and read what I wrote this time last year. October through March were extremely difficult months for me. I had my good moments, but there were days that I was lucky I got out of the bed at all. That was the one thing I forced myself to do. I refused to let my depression take over my entire life. But if you ask my girlfriends it pretty much did.

I took a moment to read December 2005. Most seems to be pretty light despite the fact that I was totally faking every single second. I look around my home now. It is littered with toys, I can hear cartoons in the background and I will soon be getting ready to dress my son up for his first Christmas. Times, they have changed.

I think about the friends that I have made in the last year. I see the children that have entered their lives and I see the children still waiting to come home. I see the moms that ache to find their children and the moms just entering into our little arena. I am so proud of all of you. Without you I would have likely shriveled up like a prune under the collective loony bin bed. But you all yanked me out. This year it is my turn to pull out those who are still waiting. In honor of this I will share some of my family traditions.

My dad?s mother put up a small little Christmas tree in her living room every single year. (she is in Mexico now so she no longer puts up a tree) She would slap every single ornament anyone had ever given her on that thing. The tree was likely to crumble under the weight of the ornaments. As if this were not enough in the gawdy tree department, she found it necessary to the plaster 500 pounds of angel hair on top of the whole thing. That is until they found that angel hair was pure unadulterated asbestos (not really, but it looks similar to fiberglass) Once she couldn?t find angel hair anymore she proceeded to tinsel. Sometime around Easter we?d still find tinsel stuck to various things. This is just in retribution for the fact that we could never find all the Easter eggs and would usually find the last one of those sometime around Christmas. (we used real eggs, yum!)

Somehow every year my mom?s dad finds a dancing Santa or other music playing, dancing thing. You walk into his house and he would immediately grab you by the hand and take you to see it. A few years ago my mother, in her infinite wisdom, thought it would be a good idea to get my grandparents a dog. We all love the dog. The dog is just about the cutest thing in the world. She?s a Jack Russel. What do a Jack Russel and a dancing Santa have in common? Instead of my grandfather making us watch the dancing Santa alone, he plays the dancing Santa while the dog shrieks with delight. Then my grandfathers eyes light up as tears roll down his face from laughter. I love the dancing Santa and the dog.

And my favorite Christmas tradition of all… Chow Mein.

I am pretty sure my family once told me this tradition came from my great grandmother, but I could be wrong. Someone thought it was a bit much to cook the traditional turkey or ham for Christmas so they decided to find a dish that was easy to make and fed an army. It was either my grandmother or great grandmother. The consensus was Chow Mein. Every year my Grandmother or Uncle would cook up a huge pot of beef Chow Mein and this is what we would eat on Christmas Eve. When my grandmother started having strokes my Grandfather took over Christmas Eve dinner. Chow Mein was not his forte. Thus we got ham. Chow Mein on Christmas Eve is a bit hit and miss these days, but it will forever be something that is Christmas.

This year I look forward to sharing the things that I treasured as a child with my son. I also look forward to creating our own traditions as a family. May all of you have a very Merry Christmas!

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