Friday, December 21, 2007

Magical Christmas

For those of you that haven't figured it out yet, I married a man that was raised to follow a completely different faith than mine.
I was raised Lutheran.
He was raised Jewish.
I am still Lutheran.
He is still Jewish.

He supports my yearning to have more faith within my heart and Soul, and has even accompanied myself and our boys to my church.
He has even walked with us up to stand by his family as mom takes communion, our boys receive their baptismal blessings, and our Pastor always gives Bigdogg a special Children of Israel blessing.

I return the balanced favor by supporting his holidays.
Sometimes having to remind him when Hanukkah will be.

Sometimes reminding him that Passover is coming up, what would he like for the Passover meal, besides the traditional foods.

So each of us had our own traditions growing up.

Yet somehow life has wound their paths to bring us together, different faiths, same love for each other though. Every marriage has their own unique dance, their same issue to tackle, and ours isn't about faith. Surprisingly it's about his driving. Problem solved, I just drive so as not to have to complain to him about his driving because I know that can be quite nagging, and he can relax and sit back because he's not listening to my nagging, "slow down," "that car is stopping," "watch out," "would you please follow the speed limit on the highway curves and not see if you can careen this minivan off the off or on ramp?"

See? I bet you're annoyed now, too.
Point is, we make it work.
We're the lucky ones.
Sure we've been faced with diversity, and our relationship hasn't always been simple and carefree. If it was always that way, you could never learn and grow.
We never faced issues with faith though, surprisingly it came in the form of catty women from my church, and my sons former private preschool. They judged my husband's faith. Remember that post last year?
Shame shame.

But, this isn't what this post is all about, so I will try to get to the point of this before running your eyes into your coffee or your midnight lit lamp.

When two people marry, you also marry your partners traditions. Compromise ensues and you create a pattern of celebrating holidays. For both of us, besides Thanksgiving, it's been an easy thing to work out, naturally. For my sisters they have to alternate each year with their in laws and us-their family. For us, we've always gone along with the flow of things, celebrating with the same people on Christmas day, even if it's in a different family members home.
Keeping all of that in mind, when two people marry, they also marry each others families.

This year is different.

There is a branch, a large branch of our wonderfully large family that will be spending Christmas Day with their 5 children, their mom-mother in law, their 3 son in laws, their son's girlfriend, and lastly their 7 (with one more in a few months) grandchildren. Now usually we congregate together every other year on Christmas Eve, when my sisters are with their in laws on Christmas day. This year we are together for Christmas Day, and that is usually spent with my moms family that I am tremendously close with. Another large family, I feel for my Bigdogg because when he met me his own family-extended and all-was about the same size as my immediate family.

Again, you adjust, and you grow and you learn from both sides of the family. Or, at least that's what you're supposed to do. The good and the bad.

Christmas Day will find us watching the boys open up gifts from Santa.

Our tradition of a big breakfast with my breakfast casserole, some sticky buns, caramel toast, turkey bacon, sausage, eggs, eggs and lots of eggs. After the boys have some time to play with their gifts, we'll prepare to leave for our first stop on our Christmas Day family time. We will head to my aunt's and uncle's house to see my mom's 2 sisters, 2 brothers, 2 brother in laws, 2 sister in laws, 6 cousins, one cousin in law, and three 2nd cousins. Throw in us, the family of 5, and two dogs, and you can see how large this party would be when the entire mom side of the family is together.

Together we will dine on ham, Chicken, egg nog, and I'm certain at one point, my dear Uncle will attempt to have me "taste" this wonderful drink. Only to find it to be Wild Turkey whiskey. (I think it's whiskey) But we all have a great time, and I love all my family, and as you guys all know, I have this mantra that it is possible to be there for all family. To have relationships in some form with all my family. We will be there for around 2 hours and then we will pack up and head back east towards my mom and dad's home for our own Christmas Gathering. Imagine the size of all of us in one room! It's very overwhelming to many people.

Arriving at my parents we will be greeted by my dads twinkling yet aging eyes, marveling with wonder at how cute his grandchildren are. My mom will most likely greet us at the door next to my dad, smiling, with her Christmas pin on, and her red or green sweater. Her eyes as sparkling as such, with the excitement that Christmas Day brings for everyone. With warmth and love hugs will be given to everyone, and by my wonderful sisters that are two of my very best friends, my hilarious brother in laws, my amusing and ever involved with revving up our children brothers.
We will dine on roast beef, more chicken, some ham-which so happens to be my husbands favorite- and listen to the 7 grandchildren eagerly ask, "when can we open up presents?" "Is it time, yet?" Doing the same thing we did when the five of us were little, and we'd be sitting at my mom's side of her family's home, at our grandparents house, and while we were for sometime the only kids there until Punda (our cousin that is nearing the age of 30) came along, we'd find fun little games to amuse ourselves with.

Like how in one of my grandparents bathrooms, on the toilet lid she'd have a Santa fluffy cover. When the seat was closed, he'd be smiling, eyes wide open. When you lifted the seat, you'd see this Santa with big red gloves covering his eyes. We thought that was the funniest thing. We'd head down to their basement, and in the back, they had Saloon doors put up, actual Saloon doors to separate a room, and we'd run back and forth swinging those doors until someone from the elders would come downstairs and remind us that "It is TIME TO OPEN UP PRESENTS."

I miss all those old traditions. I miss watching my grandparents pick on each other playfully-or was it? I miss watching my grandma with her really long nails, and her perfectly hair sprayed hair smoke her cigarettes and sip her coffee. They had their same seats, they watched TV at the supper table, and to me, a child as not having them as parents, I loved them to death. They were fun, they were my grandparents, and I had such a bond with both of them, that I still remember telling myself that I hope that when I have 5 girls someday they will have as much fun with their grandparents as I was then.

We will enjoy ourselves on Christmas day, we will eat, and eat and eat. Someone will end up tipping something over, and usually it's me. It will be a busy Christmas with 7 grandchildren ages 6 and under, but it will be a new way to start a new tradition for our family-every other year.
Remember, next year, my sisters won't be with us, and someday when my brothers do marry, the same could go for them.

Only this year, in our own home it's a bit different too.

A brief background, my mother in law is jewish. Her husband is Israeli. His family still resides out in Haifia, Israel, and never cease to amaze me with their strong faith, and endurance. My mother in law has always been an active role in our sons lives it started from back when we lived near her in Florida, and even now, with us back up in Illinois.
She has developed this incredible bond with Jackson and it's amazing to me when the two of them are together, it's like watching two long lost best friends pick up right where they left off. It's everything I ever wanted for my children, and even though she's far away, she still makes a huge effort every 2-3months to fly in to see her precious 3. We take turns, though it's not easy to book 5 or 4 plane tickets south, as it is to book one or two tickets north.
With Jackson in Kindergarten, it's important for him to not miss all this school for trips to Florida. For Bigdogg and I, we feel it's important to start showing them the value of education at a young age. To have it ingrained in their heads the importance of education. Lucky for us, at this point, our Jackson LOVES school. He's missed one day so far and that was due to a fever which means no school. Fever free for 24hours. But if he's tired, he'll go to school. If he's up in the night, he'll still go to school. He's learning the importance that attendance brings when it comes to education. For us, we feel the need to start showing him now, because if we're lackadaisical about it now, it will only be harder to change when they're older. The drawback is the fact that we can't just "go to Florida" like we'd wish we could.

My mother in law was set to fly in on December 5th with Bigdogg's stepdad, they were going to take our two older boys to the Hard Rock Hotel in Downtown Chicago, stay the night there, and walk magnificent mile with all the Christmas lights, and Window Displays. They wanted to start a special Christmas tradition with our boys that involved this fun venture. A train ride in from the suburbs, a free trolley ride outside of the train station to their hotel. Smells of Bloomers factory chocolate that finds its way under your nose when you debark from the train. Lights, and people. So many beautiful displays. It was something that Jackson couldn't wait for. It was something that meant a lot to me mainly because they don't recognize Christmas. Naturally.
She believes what she was raised to believe, and that belief is in the Jewish faith. I don't judge her, she doesn't judge me. We are together in family and combined by the love for her son, my husband. We love each other, and although we've had our squabbles, we always talk it over afterwards, and move ahead. We embrace any issue that may come up (which is not a frequent thing anymore), and confronting it, we express ourselves somewhat equally, even if we have to agree to disagree. I love this woman so much, and she is someone that I will even refer to as my "momCK."

Going back to their planned excursion on December the 5th, sadly it didn't happen. Recently my mother in law was diagnosed with Menieres disease, and at the time that their trip was scheduled, she had one of her worst weeks with this awful disease. She couldn't even stand up straight. She couldn't pick anything up and place it on the table without missing the perception. When she was able to walk, she'd walk sideways, although to her, she'd feel as though she was walking straight. She wasn't well enough to come, and it crushed her. In tears she called and said how sorry she was, and when we informed our boys, Jackson was equally crushed. He understands that she is ill, and not feeling well. That she was sick, and having dizzy feelings. He did understand, but still for him, he wanted to see his Grandma. He even said, "we don't have to go to that hotel, we can stay here, at home so she doesn't have to walk. So she can rest and stay on the couch and just read me books." He has such a kind soul, my Jackson. He's just so aware of everyones feelings, which can be a beautiful thing, but it can also be a curse too. You hurt more, you hurt more because you're able to feel the pain that people carry when they themselves are hurting.
Grandma assured her Jackson that after Christmas, she'd come in sometime in January. We will be heading down there in March for my sister in laws wedding, so it will be that usual 2-3month time frame. Those were the plans.

Until recently.

When we were at Kohl's last week, a store employee came up to Jackson and said, "Who's coming in X amount of days?" His reply? "After Christmas is over, and Santa has gone home to his family, my Grandma is coming to see me in January."

How precious is that? He loves Santa, and LOVES Christmas-but his love for his Grandma runs so much deeper. I loved that he said that, and even though my mother in law doesn't celebrate Santa, and Christmas, I called her while she was on her way to yet another large hospital for more testings to tell her just how much her grandson loves her. Even as I am writing this, I am tearing up. Because it's all that I had hoped for with my boys. They have 3 sets of Grandparents, and they have 2 very involved sets of Grandparents. For my Jackson, he's just got this bond with his Grandma. She couldn't believe he had said that, when I retold the Kohl's story to her. It made her heart grow even more, and even though it was slightly heart pulling due to the long wait of January, it made her feel good that he couldn't wait to see her............
The Magic?

She will be arriving via "Santa's Sleigh" on Christmas Day. She will be sitting under the Christmas tree with a big red bow that she will pick up at a Dealership, and after all of our family visits are over, and we are on our way home, we will inform Jackson and Sullivan that there is one more present that they have from Santa at home under the tree. One present that wasn't there before. That Santa had forgotten to drop off, and had returned while we were out.

Arriving home, there she will be, on the floor of our living room, near my nativity scene, near our Christmas tree, and my fun little Christmas Village scenes. There she will sit, with her arms open, welcoming her grandsons with such available love, as they run shocked! into her open arms, on the evening of Christmas Day.

How's THAT For a Magical Christmas?
My jewish mother in law is coming in on Christmas day, to not stay for a week, but during a Christian Holiday, to bring more happiness to our boys. A true testament of anyones faith, I am just overjoyed at the happiness that this will bring our two older sons.

Welcome To Crustybeef~
It's almost time........................
I can only hope that each and everyone of you will somehow find some extra magic in your own special ways on Christmas Day!

Happy Birthday to you, my Savior, and thank you for working your magic in everyone!

I leave you with a poem on Bethlehem:
(not written by me)

Secrets live in the space between our footsteps.
The words of my grandfather echo in my dream,as the years keep his beads and town.
I see Bethlehem, all in dust, empty a torn piece of newspaper lost in its narrow streets.

Where is everyone? Graffiti and stones answer.
Where is the real Bethlehem—the one my grandfather came from?
Handkerchiefs dry the pain from my hands. Olive trees and tears continue to remember.

I walk until I reach an old Arab man dressed in a white robe.
Aren't you the man I saw in my grandfather's stories?
He looks at me and leaves. I follow—ask him why he is going?
He continues.
I stop, turn around, realize, he has left me secrets between his footsteps.
First published in The Space Between Our Footsteps (New York: Simon & Schuster)


Cheryl said...

You know this ruined my makeup? How sweet, bittersweet and beautiful. This is the important stuff. My stress stuff? Tiny. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Cheryl: Awwwwwwwww, thank you!!! I hope you have a great Christmas! And I just have to say that your card is absolutely beautiful! I LOVED IT!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am sitting at my desk and i have tears running down my face. thank you!!!!! It is going to be a great xmas for the f5. One if not my favorite post of all time...awesome!!!!!

2x deleted because forgot to remove the private info that I had accidentally stuck in there. sorry!


ANONBDD: ANF! ily l'dodi! and DITTO 2!


Mary said...

Beautiful! Brought tears to my eyes and love to my heart. Wish could see Jackson's eyes when he sees the late gift Santa brought. His Grandmother is truly a lady of faith. . . As are you, Crusty.

Portia said...

What a sweet story:) It got some tears rolling here too. I'm so glad Jackson will get to see his Grandma this year after all! I hope she feels better and better. Merry Christmas to you all!

Tex said...

Heh....good one! The Grandparents thing got to me a bit...largely cuz I am, as you know, and have been since I can remember, Grandparent-less....A void that can never be filled. For all of you that can remember, cherish your memories of your family.
As for the typical comments people say about other faiths...A Jewish Carpenter once said, "Judge Not, & you will not be judged."
Merry Xmas, Crusty!

JLee said...

Merry Christmas Crusty!! xo


Mary: WOW! I will make sure to remember that and relay that to her. Thanks for reminding me that I must charge the video camera battery even though we never use it-it's 7 years old. :)

Portia: Merry Christmas to you too! I have a nice email christmas card coming to you soon in reply fyi.. :) Merry Merry Christmas to all of the Groovie family!!

Tex: 2weeks vacation-unreal.
I like that saying...another thing to remember. Wish your family well for me, please!!!

JLee: Merry Christmas XOXOXO ditto!


Martha said...

What a lovely post. Your kids sound amazing, and my hat is off to you for making a dual-religion marriage work. My husband and I are both Catholic and we still butt heads over religion!


Hi Martha! Thank you! My sister's husbands are Catholic, and they lutheran, but last year my own brother in law converted to being Lutheran..religion can least that's my hope and dream. :)

Have A Merry Christmas!!

and, we all have our arguments, yours is one, us, the driving,.. :)


austere said...

Crying too.
Thank you.
Your son has your heart, crusty.

abbagirl74 said...

Tears, tears, and more tears.

Summer said...

Wow. Thank you for reassuring me of the spirit of the season. It doesn't get any better than this does it?


austie: {{{Hugs!}}} You are just the sweetest person~ :)
He has quite a large heart for being little 6. :)

Abba: Here, I'm passing you a kleenex..I hope you have a WONDERFUL Christmas!! :)

Summer: HI!! You're right, it can't possibly be any better....unless there's more magic to be seen, right?
You wake up just as early as I do!! :)


simonsays said...

Wonderful story, Merry Christmas Crusty. :)

Damn, stop making me cry....

SOUL: said...

wow .. when the spirit moves you-- it really really moves you, doesn't it? :))

i hope you ALL have a fabulous christmas!!!!

you deserve it.


KYRIE said...

Beautiful!! And to write such beautiful words like this can only come frm one with a beautiful soul like u Crusty!!
My grandparents, I am afraid never were the affectionate type, they were cold and distant.

Catch up with u later :)


Simon: "i sorreeee.." :)..I hope you're in your snuggle clothes are are resting on the couch, or I'm sending Soul up to sit on you until you rest..Course, it's cold out,so I don't know, I may have to come for Soul and sit on her as she sits on you so Soul is warm, and you are resting. And I have female company. :)

Soul: Bigdogg is in the spirit of the season, and Sent me out for a drive thru Sbux..sipping the badboy right now..ahhhhhh, peace..but I DON'T WANNNNNA WRAP..I am a horrible wrapper. My mom will say, "you just have to take your time," I do, and it still is jacked up and crusted. :)

Kryie: HI!! To someone, to the children of my grandparents they weren't the greatest, but they definitely made up for it when it came to us, or at least me because I was the first oldest pal, tex, grew up not having grandparents around, as are my little cousins, so I am definitely grateful to have had the memories..lucky for me, I do have one grandma left..but time has changed her, and the hurt runs very deep, she still laughs though. I just don't know if it's laughing at people..but there is good in everyone...we all have the good and the crappy.
Speaking of, I think I smell a diaper change.

I'm OFF like a Christmas tree lite strand that you can't find the missing broken bulb!! :)

Merry Christmas All!

Palm Springs Savant said...

that was really are very fortunate.

Merry Christmas~

HeiressChild said...

hi, Cheryl's comments made me want to come here and read what she had read. what a beautiful testament of what love is all about, and how thru Love, anything can work, and anything can be worked out. Love. we can't do without it! thank you, and may you and ALL of your families have a safe and Very Merry Blessed Christmas!



PSS: Great post today, by the way!! I am obsessing about that snow shovel! Seriously! Thanks for the warm regards, and holiday wishes, yes, we are very lucky in love. :)

Your Heiress:Hi there! Thank YOU VErY MuCh! I've seen you over at Cheryls before...and I'm happy that you stopped over to see the words-Cheryl is awesome, isn't she? An example to us Moms!! :)


Kelly Jene said...

Aww Crusty. You got me crying too. Truly beautiful. The word you kept repeating over and over is a lesson to our whole world.... LOVE. Love brings respect, sensitivity, compassion, understanding, equality, everything needed for peace and happiness.

I love your mother in law too. How precious for her and Jackson to have such a love for each other. My Darik is much like him... I call him my Walking Heart. He is so full of love and hurts so easily for people.

With the problems with my parents and hubby's parents, I know my kids will never have the kind of relationships your kids have. But I also know that my husband and I will be the new generation of grandparents some day. Someday I will wrap myself in a bow, ill or not, and sit underneath the tree for one of my grandchildren. I will think of you, Crusty, and smile.

God bless you!!!!!!!!!

Kelly Jene said...

P.S. I also do the driving. My husband makes me crazy and I will nag and complain til we're both irritable. So.. I drive. He naps.



Kelly Jene: I like that, "your walking heart." Great way to look at it. Unfortunately we aren't all lucky to have the involved grandparents..and believe me there are ALOT of cycles that occured in our families generations and past that I feel necessary to stop that cycle and move forward with new makes me feel for those that have younger children that don't have involved grandparents...which come to think of it makes me think of something...thanks for bringing out a thought!!

Remember, Christmas has magic..Your children will love it. drive too! I bet we have very very similar "Type" personalities! :)