"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Recap

As I write this I can hear the sound of snow blowers outside as neighbors work to clear several inches of snow that fell today. There was a skiff of new snow yesterday, so the bulk of our White Christmas came a day late. 

I'm ignoring my walks and driveway that need to be shoveled, because in my mind I'm already on vacation. Tomorrow we're headed to San Diego for some R&R, warmth and fun in the sun. I can't wait! A few months back we decided that this year we'd take a trip and make some memories together instead of spending money on unneeded, frivolous Christmas gifts. It made for such a stress-free holiday. I also kept my Christmas decorating to a minimum, and shopping for small, inexpensive gifts made the experience fun.

Of course, from this picture of Gillian's Christmas haul, you wouldn't know it was supposed to have been a "light" Christmas for her. She always seems to get spoiled on Christmas! 
Here are some more pictures from yesterday. We had a relaxing morning with Isaac, Gillian and the dogs, who were never far from the action.
Mike full of excitement and ready to cook breakfast.
Gillian's new prized possession: a One Direction toothbrush
(One Direction is THE boy band of the moment).
Sophie supervised all the unwrapping.
Another Buddha for Mike's collection.
Isaac loving on Sophie.
The kiddos, opening presents.

This year I tried to very consciously focus on spending time doing what would bring me the most pleasure. For me, the most important part of the holidays is relaxing with family and friends. I was able to do this, and had several enjoyable visits with people I love and cherish. 

The holidays now also bring reminders of Julie. There isn't a moment that goes by that she isn't missed, or in the words of Edna St. Vincent Millay, "the presence of that absence is everywhere." I think these two posts, left on Christmas night by my mom and Amy on Julie's still active Facebook wall say it best. 

Another Christmas without you. Not going to lie, it sucked, but we are all continuing to put one foot in front of the other. You would have loved seeing the kids with Mr. Boston and Hannah relishing all her Taylor Swift loot.

I continue to struggle to find the meaning behind the loss of you. Our family has changed a lot since then. My hope is that the why is yet to be revealed.

I sat in church yesterday(quit laughing, it's true) and they talked about the darkness. I've never been in the darkness so long as I have since losing you. Oh Jules, I love you!!! And thank you for those stupid slippers you gave me. I hated them then, I cherish them now. 

What Amy said...

We never talked about it, but all I could think of was how much you missed out on by leaving us so soon. You never got to see Hannah become the beautiful, tall, blonde beauty that she is becoming. You would have loved seeing her with her perfume, her nail stuff, and with Boston. You don't even know Boston.

You didn't get to see the handsome, caring, supportive, gift-wrapping guy that Mason is becoming. You didn't get to see him becoming a young teenager.

Then, there are the others: Parker, Gillian, Regan, Bridger, and Atticus. They weren't with us this year, but you missed seeing the young people they are becoming.

We did go to church. We know darkness now in a new way. I also know the Light that has led me to begin to heal as best I can. I trust you are with Him this year.

I didn't go to the cemetery because as Amy reminded me, you hated Christmas. I like to think you would have liked this one. I know we would have loved it if you would have been here.

I love you and miss you so much.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls and Love

For as long as I can remember my nickname among my immediate family has been KeichaBell. When I was very young, around three or four years old, I made frequent visits to my neighbor's house a few doors down, always announcing my arrival by ringing the doorbell. I remember being so small that I had to stand on my tiptoes to reach the bell. The neighbor, an older woman named Sister Kunz (in the LDS religion adult women are referred to as sister and adult men as brother) gave me the nickname.  My earliest visits were spent sitting next to her on her bed, as she was immobilized recovering from her first knee replacement surgery. She'd do her leg exercises and I'd lie next to her, mimicking her every motion. 
Lois Kunz
November 15, 1917 - December 20, 2012
Yesterday I learned that Sister Kunz had died. She was in her nineties and I knew she hadn't been well, so her death wasn't unexpected, but I was saddened by it nonetheless.  As I looked at her picture with her obituary, memories came flooding back to me. It's been years since I've seen her, but seeing her great smile and warm eyes made her giggle and laughter come flooding back into my memory. She had a great giggle, and was often delighted, telling funny stories with a contagious glee that made a vivid impression on my young mind. 

Until yesterday, I never really thought about what a nuisance I must have sometimes been to her and her family. That she never acted or showed anything but love and a warm welcome to me is a testament to her kind, generous nature. In fact, as I reflect on those years I realize many of my memories of that period of time in my life are from her home. Most Sundays found me sitting with her during church instead of my family, riding home from church and staying for Sunday dinner, often joined by her adult children. I can still picture the stools at her counter that I'd sit and spin back and forth on while I watched her cook and frequently bake her famous dinner and cinnamon rolls.  After dinner, I'd watch the Lawrence Welk show with her and her husband while I played with the Barbies that belonged to her older teenage daughter. 

Sister Kunz was always busy, even when she was sitting and watching TV her hands were seldom idle. She did beautiful knitting and crochet work, and was almost always working on a baby blanket or booties. In her basement there were frequently quilts up on blocks, as she was also a talented quilter. I think I probably took my first stitches on a quilt on one of her beautifully hand-stitched creations. In my cedar chest, where I keep things I treasure and plan to keep forever, I have a set of placemats she crocheted as a gift for my first wedding, and a miniature quilt she made especially for my baby doll. I also treasure her cinnamon roll recipe, which is the only one I've ever used. 
Although the actual number of years I spent in frequent contact with her was small, since we moved away from her neighborhood when I was seven, her influence on my life was huge. In her home I always felt special and welcome. She treated me as she would a cherished grandchild, always patient and interested in everything I had to say. Her hugs were the kind of soft, grandmotherly hugs that make a small child feel incredibly safe and loved. In her home I wasn't a younger sister, competing for attention with my siblings, or waiting for attention from my busy, overwhelmed parents. I was simply her Keicha Bell, a little girl who for some reason was always welcomed with open arms, a warm smile, a hug and an abundance of love.