How was your Thanksgiving? Did you get to spend time with family or friends? Did you have your annual Turkey Bowl/civil war? Did you stuff yourself so full that you barely had the willpower left to roll yourself to the couch where you lay in a semi-comatose state…..until the effects wore off and you were ready for seconds?
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. We actually debated going out to a buffet for our meal this year; my husband wanted to take the stress off of me and the girls, having to spend hours cooking the huge feast and setting the table and finding enough matching dishes to look good….and then cleaning up afterwards. With the size family we have, it probably would have cost about the same to go out to eat as staying home, but we wouldn't have all those wonderful, exasperating, where-in-the-world-do-I-put-these leftovers that are now crammed in our fridge. There's nothing quite like the satisfaction one feels when one has managed to perfectly balance two bowls, one cheesecake, and a plate of cranberry sauce in one beautiful, if precarious, tower! I think most of us did, in fact, pass out on various couches after dinner, hoping to sleep off the effects of holiday overindulgence. But, all in all, we had a lovely day.
I think one of the highlights of this holiday was the conversation that Dale and Ashley had in the evening. Dale was extra shaky yesterday and having trouble with, what seemed to us, the simplest tasks. Walking down the hall to the bathroom, remembering to flush the toilet, sitting down on the couch without falling down….that sort of thing. Ashley was frustrated with him because he wasn't listening to advice given by her and the falling-down results were the same. I chose to stay out of their conversation, not because I wanted them to bond or anything but rather because I was tired of dealing with him. This lack of listening behavior has been going on for a while now, and I was more than willing to let someone else do the talking. And I'm so glad I did. Dale began telling Ashley things I've never heard him say before. He told her how he felt about the falling down, he told her that Dad and Mom don't let him try to do things on his own anymore, and he told her that he didn't see the need to try harder when nothing made any difference. I couldn't believe what I was hearing! The realization struck me that Dale's and Ashley's relationship is different than Dale's and mine; after all, they are brother and sister whereas he and I are son and mother. There are certain things he feels he can't say to me that he had no trouble expressing to Sash. I let them talk for a bit, just listening in, before going into the other room and joining them. I realized that, in my efforts to motivate Dale to see all he was giving up on by not working as hard as I thought he should at his exercises (mobility, control of limbs, possible college, future job, life….), I was actually stripping him of any hope for anything better than the present. I was wiping away all joy and desire and ambition for life beyond high school. My efforts to prod him to walk better, to think better, to listen better were having the opposite effect; I was pushing him farther and farther into the grip of depression and misery.
Was that ever an eye-opener! I---the one who believes herself to be the only one who understands Dale, who has the ability to help him walk, who has the patience to help him as he struggles---am the one who is holding him down and not letting him try to succeed on his power. I realized I wasn't just clipping his wings; I was strapping them to his body and blaming him for not being able to fly. Ashley, Dale, and I talked for a long time, apologizing and loving and encouraging and bonding together. We each expressed the desire to see Dale regain lost muscle tone and balance, to help him achieve more independence, to look for new ways he can grow and develop his future, to reaffirm our commitment to help each other any way we can. Because that's what family does. We're there for each other, we help each other, we support each other, and sometimes we carry each other.
So, I'm going to be looking into college-level computer courses for Dale to set his mind toward. He's a junior in high school right now and is on track to graduate with his class. He is taking Spanish this year through Rosetta Stone, and I was surprised to see how steady his hand in when moving the mouse! Normally, even with a pencil and paper, he struggles with the jerking movements that sometimes occur; but he seems to excel with the mouse and headphone set he uses in Spanish. So I'm going to see about other computer-related possibilities for Dale. I'm kind of excited to see what might pop up!
We're entering one of the busiest times of the year, for parents or children or businesses or teachers or students or anybody. The rush of holiday shopping, the chaos of Christmas decorating, the panic of last-minute presents. For teachers, it's the efforts to capture and retain the students' attention, the push to cram in actual teaching around excitement and home games and parties. It's easy to get so wrapped up (see what I did there?) in the whirl of Christmas activities that we forget to enjoy the simplicity of the holiday. We need to decide now that, at least once a day, we'll stop and thank God for Christmas and for sending His Son to be born as a babe. We need to appreciate our families, our jobs, our health, our houses, our cars, our pets, our friends, our neighbors. We should rejoice in the ability to buy tons of awesome presents or just a simple gift for each loved one. The lights, the sparkle, the music, the decor, the food, the tree, the gifts---these are all just reflections of our Father's love for us, displayed in the greatest gift of all, the gift of selfless love. When God gave us Jesus, He gave us everything. Let's choose to remember Him in the midst of celebrating His birth.
John 3: 16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."