Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Babies

My son, Chris, was probably the best Christmas gift I ever received, as December babies often seem to be.

Christmas 1975
I stumbled upon this photo today, taken from one of those old albums that often destroyed the photos when you attempted to remove them, as evidenced by the torn sections at the bottom!  I must have taken a photo of this photo with my phone at some point, though I don't remember doing so. A flood of happy memories returned. 

In December 1975, I was a new mom and step-mom, with three little boys to love and attempt to raise.  Fortunately, I'd had plenty of experience having step-moms, so I had a good idea of how to be a good one, and how to not be a good one.  I was pretty young myself, just 25, and learning to parent boys who were seven, five, and three weeks old. 

My Dad and step-mom opened their arms and their hearts to these little boys, the first of several step-grandchildren to come, and the boys called them Grandma and Grandpa, spent weekends with them, and knew love from not just my parents, but both sets of my grandparents as well.  Time passed, kids grew up, I got divorced, eventually losing contact with my step-sons, who went on to have pretty hard lives.

The baby in this photo, also grew up, and sort of followed in his mother's footsteps, falling in love with a woman who was a bit older, with three fatherless children.  I've posted that photo before, but I really like it so I'll post it again here.
Chris, Shari, Kenny, Emily and Arik - 1996
Chris became an instant Daddy, to kids that were stairsteps with his little sisters: Kenny was 8, sister Jessica 7, Arik 6, sister Kailyn 5, Emily 4 . . . and we became instant grandparents! 

Grandparenting, while we were also parenting the girls, was often a challenge, and I felt bad that I wasn't the grandparent to Kenny, Arik and Emily that my parents were to Chris, his brothers, and his multitude of cousins. However, there was lots of love and laughter when we managed to gather together.

All families experience tragedies, and ours was no exception.  Chris left us on December 16, 2005. That anniversary has been difficult for me the past few years, although this year, while I am sad he is no longer with us, I am seeing the many gifts he has given me more clearly.  I seem to have overcome the grief I am typically wallowing in this time of year, and instead feel only the blessings.  

What has changed? Certain circumstances, for sure.  Both step-sons have contacted me in the past year, and there is a tenuous relationship building with one of them. I'm reading "The Book of Joy" slowly, savoring it, making notations and know I will return to the inspired wisdom being revealed to me, over and over. I've embarked on a program of recovery from a long time battle with compulsive overeating, and seeing real results from this life choice. And of course, time passes - it just has a habit of doing that - life goes on.
Emily, Shari holding birthday girl Jailee, me
November 19, 2015
Above is Emily - all grown up, Shari - my amazing daughter-in-law, holding Jailee, her first granddaughter/my first great-granddaughter.  Bountiful blessings, all thanks to my son Chris, falling in love with Shari all those years ago.
Christmas baby Scarlett with great grandma Sandi
Yesterday, I held great-granddaughter number two, my first Christmas baby since 1975.  Yes, I shed a few tears, as I am right now, when I saw Emily holding her second daughter.  But, they were tears of joy, not sorrow.  Chris loved Emily as his own, and would be busting his buttons with pride as a grandpa.  Through my tears, I told her and her husband, Jason, what a blessing they were, and it was all because Chris fell in love with her mom, that I was given this abundant gift of grandchildren and great-grandchildren - despite the fact that I'm not nearly old enough to be a great grandma!  Jason has a son who is 8, so Emily is a step-mom also. I guess maybe that makes me a step-step-great grandma to Jaydin!

Shari married Tim a few years ago.  He's a wonderful guy, who loves his instant family as much as his predecessor did a few years ago. Tim has become a sort of adopted son-in-law, which probably sounds a little strange, but doesn't feel strange at all. As I said before, life goes on.

This Christmas I am feeling so blessed. Christmas babies are living gifts of the very best kind.

5 comments:

  1. There could be no better gift than a baby at this time of year. Congratulations to your family and yes, you are a very young great-grandmother. How fortunate you are to hold those little bundles in your arms. Time goes on and love continues.

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  2. I feel so blessed to learn all these stories, and to get to know your Chris and how much he is still present in your life. I sure wish my own Chris had had some children, even stepchildren, for me to love. I've had to make my own grandchildren. And of course I have grand-nieces and nephews galore. So happy for you, Sandi. :-)

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  3. I believe we're given family sometimes, those of us who come from birth families that were broken. Your story is a perfect example of that, and all because your heart is tender and open and available. So happy for you, dear friend.

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  4. Sandi, your story is amazing as it is filled with love, hope, joy, sadness, finding joy again and rebirth. Congrats on your sweet new baby Great-Grandma! Yes, you are too young! But that doesn't matter when you think of how long you will have to spend with these kiddos. I applaud your new focus on your health. I'm embarking on this journey myself as we start this new year soon. I've made tiny steps this year, but putting it into full gear in January! Have a wonderful holiday. Love all the photos!

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