Friday, December 23, 2005

I Remember Christmas

I wrote this article for a “Reader Participation” they hold this time of year for our local newspaper. Turns out when I submitted the article the columnist was already on vacation and had scheduled all the submissions already. But finding the perfect opportunity to not let my long-windedness go to waste ;-) I decided to be lazy and cut-n-paste another journal entry….

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas – and know how much we love you all!

I remember Christmas...

I remember the Christmas spirit.

This summer my not quite 3-year-old was diagnosed with Leukemia. It's a devastating blow to anyone's family to have a loved one thwarted with the "C" word, but your own family, your own child...

Because of Josh's age, he has to be treated in Pittsburgh. There aren't any pediatric oncology facilities in this city. So we make several monthly, or even weekly and sometimes bi- or tri-weekly visits 120 miles away. Our home away from home.

Over the last 6 months we really have found a sense of community. My workplace pulled together, our daughters' softball league, our friends, our church and especially our family. They've all made us feel like one giant circle.

We found family where we didn't know we had it. Our "new" used-van found miles it never knew it would see. Our other children found maturity beyond most adolescents' responsibilities. Grandma and Grandpa found patience that would make any saint pale in comparison, the vigor to chase a toddler, the knowledge to do homework all over again and versatility deal with a teenager.

We all found hope.

When the holiday rolled around I was ready! Determined that this would be the best year yet. The day after Thanksgiving came and as our tradition goes, out came the decorations and up went the tree. Not a real one (as Josh can not be exposed to the potential molds) but a fine representation to hold all our collected memories of year's past. Dad and daughters lit up the outside of the house, and I went around doing my yearly dusting as I made room for the holiday display. Then daddy went hunting and the kids and I made candy, burnt fudge, chased away thieving hands, and baked pre-formed cookies. It was a sentiment that had since been lost in the material madness that comes with the season. It was a celebration of life, the life we have now.

Just a week into our celebration Josh was hospitalized with a blood infection. What was thought to be a weekend mend in Pittsburgh, turned into a weeklong overhaul. Once again family pulled together and carted children to school, from school, from basketball practice, from after school activities. They made dinners for 6 instead of 2, they rearranged sleeping arrangements, harbored the family dog, did homework... once again.

And work was missed. And vacation had already been exhausted from previous hospital stays. But just when you resolve that everything will be okay despite it all, and that you will make do with the "sentiments", the real reason of the season, more people come forward with their own camaraderie.

A family drives from Buffalo to deliver a puppy. The church and its families calls and calls again. Visiting nurses. Neighbors. Family lavishes gifts from Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, and across the state in our very own Pennsylvania -- beyond even previous years' splendor. And although they carry material possessions, the feeling they deliver goes beyond any emotion I can convey on paper.

The true meaning of Christmas.

And as our priest pointed out, sometimes Santa isn't always dressed in a big red suit.

I remember Christmas... and this one will forever be etched in our hearts!


Alina Lockhoff said...


A very merry merry Christmas from across the state to each of you - all of us love all of you more than you'll ever know!!!!!

Lots of love and best wishes, 4 2 7 :-)

Alina Lockhoff
Palm, PA
United States

Melissa Morgan said...

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2005 01:05 PM, CST

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas. May the spirit of the season bring warmth to each of you. May your New Year be filled with hope and endless possibilities. You are always and forever in our prayers. God Bless!

Melissa Morgan
Palm, PA
United States

Marilyn Koehler said...

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2005 09:05 PM, CST

Dear Joshua and family,

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!! We did here in Kentucky. Many family and friends came to my house to visit and more importantly EAT!!!

You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I love each of you.

Hope you have a great and getting healthy New Year!

Aunt Marilyn

Marilyn Koehler