A Letter to Our Adopted Christmas Family

I don’t know you, nor do you know me, but you have been heavy in my heart since I heard. This December, during a time that should be joyful and merry, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, you have lost a loved one. A mother, a daughter, a sister. It was sudden, and tragic, and my heart breaks for you.

She left you precious gifts, her two young sons, Jay, and Em. Since Jay is two years old, he may grow up with vague memories of his mama, but Em, at five months, will not. They will grow up knowing their mom, through your eyes, their loving family. They may never again feel their mom’s arms wrapped around them,  at least not on Earth, but they will have you, providing endless love and support.

I have had you on my mind constantly this last week. I have seen a picture of mom, Jay, and Em, and my heart breaks for those beautiful baby boys. For their grandma who has lost her daughter, and the rest of the family as well. Christmas will never be the same for you. I hope you can find peace knowing that she is safe in Heaven, and will be watching over the family from above.

You are beginning a journey that you never expected. It will take a level of strength that you may not even realize you possess. Those boys will not forget the sacrifice that you made in raising them, and you will say it was not  a sacrifice. It is what loving families do, and you could never imagine NOT doing it. Make no mistake, it is a sacrifice, but one you will love and cherish forever. Their mama would be proud of you, and can be at peace knowing her babies are in your hands..

When I heard from my friend, when I heard what had happened, I jumped at the chance to help. We, and several of our neighbors, buy gifts for families experiencing difficulties during the holidays. We have gotten together for breakfast on Christmas morning for years, and instead of exchanging gifts, we give to others.  It is one of my favorite December activities. I love the shopping trip, picking out things for children to open on Christmas morning, hoping to bring them smiles and joy. This year is different, though, it feels more personal, it hits closer to home, I suppose because my friend actually knew your loved one, and that it comes in the wake of a devastating accident. One that could happen to any one of us, at any moment.

It is a small act, I know it’s not much, but I hope it helps a little in this difficult time. I wish I could do more. I wish I could take away the pain you are feeling. I pray you find a few moments of happiness this Christmas, whether it’s watching the children open gifts, reminiscing about the good times with the boys’ mom, or merely being in the comforting company of family.

You are in the thoughts and prayers of many this holiday season. May God bless your family with peace and love this Christmas, and always.

 

 

 

 

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Blessings from Heaven- A Letter to my Friends

I have the most amazing friends. I am the luckiest lady alive. My life is far from perfect, but my friends are. They are perfect for me. I hope they know that.

I have a friend that I have known since the day she was born. She is one year younger than me.  Our families are very close. My earliest memory with her is riding tricycles in her driveway. We had dug a couple of old baby bottles out of the cupboard and had her mom fill them with juice for our “bike ride.” We were somewhere between 2 and 4 years old. We traded weekends at each other’s houses. Some of my best childhood memories.  She had to move away when I  was in middle school. I still remember the day we said goodbye.  We have never lived close to each other since, but we get together every few years, if even for a day while passing by on another trip. I hope she knows how often she is on my mind. I wish we could talk more, but when we do, it’s as if no time has passed at all. We have so many memories together, she might as well be my sister. She is, really. I hope she knows I love her. I can’t imagine my life without her in it.

Yesterday, I went out to lunch with a friend I have known since seventh grade. She cracks me up. We always have a great time. She makes me smile until my face hurts. I hope she knows how much I appreciate that. We have taken very different paths in life, but we still have so much in common. We only see each other a few times each year, as she works, and I have kids going in all directions, all the time. But when she calls to tell me she has a day off and wants to get together, it makes my day. Occasionally, we are joined by another classmate. The three of us have a blast. We also happen to have worked together at a movie theater. The best first job ever.  All the more shared memories. I hope they know how much I cherish our time together.

When I joined the local moms’ club In 2001, I met a phenomenal group of women.  I hope they know how lucky I feel to have found them. Our kids are of varying ages, but when we gather as families, there are always a few who are close enough in age to hang out together. We used to have potluck dinners every month, but as the kids got older, they dwindled. Everyone’s schedules are full. Besides, us moms need a break too, so many times we go out on our own.  Last Friday night, a few of us got together for a birthday. Dinner, bowling, and karaoke at a local bar. Just the ladies. These girls are part of a select few who I would get up and sing in public for.  Turns out…..I kind of liked it. We may be back. I hope they know how long it took me to wipe the grin off of my face that night.  I hope they know they mean the world to me.

About 9 years ago, we put an addition on our house. That summer we spent a lot of time outside due to the clutter and noise. That was when I got to know the neighbor a few houses down. We had met before, through a moms’ group friend, but hadn’t had time to hang out much. I hope she knows I gained more than just a bigger house that year. We are opposites in many ways, but not the important ones. She is a strong woman who has dealt with many hardships in life. I hope she realizes how amazing she is. She moved from that house a few years ago, but I know she’s always just a quick trip away. If she’s not, I hope she knows I will hunt her down. She’s stuck with me. Forever.

As an expat for four years, I had the privilege of meeting people from all over the world. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to make friends from so many cultures, and even make new American friends, some from my home state, while living in Shanghai. I feel blessed that I still keep in contact with many of them online, meet up with a few that live nearby, and even vacation yearly with a Canadian family we met in China. I hope they know how honored I am that they are a part of my life. I hope they know how grateful I am for the ability to stay in contact through social media. I hope the women I was closest with, know how much I miss them.

Last year was a rough year in our family. We had several serious medical issues. As I sat in a hospital emergency room with one of my children, I chatted on a social media site with a high school classmate. We weren’t really friends in school, more of acquaintances who had a few classes together. I don’t know how we started the conversation, but I know that it helped calm me during a crisis. It was unexpected. I hope she knows how much that meant to me. Around the same time of year, I was also contacted by another classmate. In our school years, we occasionally talked on the bus, and our brothers were good friends, but we didn’t really know each other back then. I hope she realizes how much I appreciated her reaching out to me. I hope she knows how it touched me. I hope they both know how happy I am to call them friends.

I’ve recently started chatting online with, and getting together with a few of the younger relatives in my family. I didn’t really know them well, until the last few years. I hope they know how much I love seeing them grow up. What beautiful people they are becoming. How much I enjoy our conversations and messaging, giggling over old family photos, or whatever the topic of the day may be. Our breakfasts. Our spring break trip for a family wedding. I hope they know how much I love that I can call them a friend, as well as a sister or niece.

I hope all my friends, every single one of them, knows how rich my life is  just for having them in it. That I will always do my best to be there for them, as they have been for me. That they are irreplaceable. That they are perfect for me. That they are blessings from Heaven.