And, amazingly enough, my Aunt Tammy had a 7-foot pre-lit tree sitting in her attic, still in the box, just begging us to decorate it.
I was so excited that we were going to have our first real Christmas tree I didn't even consider the fact that we would have to, you know...decorate it. I had one week to come up with enough ornaments to decorate a 7 foot tree (or at least the front of it...). I switched in to Craft Warrior mode and raided my supplies. Go time.
Sixty hot glue sticks, four balls of yarn, three bad hot glue burns, two pillowcases, some leftover wedding ribbon, a few yards of leftover upholstery fabric, and one old book of hymns later: magic happened, people.
It looks freakin awesome.
And I spent (brace yourself): $8.
I was so pleased with myself when I finished making all the ornaments that I displayed them all on my dining room table and took a picture. It was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.
But what the picture didn't show was the mess underneath the dining room table.
I'm not talking about a few pieces of paper and some hot glue strings here-and-there. This was a mess of epically disastrous proportions. Bits of yarns, paper shreds, glitter everywhere, half-empty spools of thread, buttons scattered all over the floor, hot glue strings hanging on everything, piles and piles of fabric, scissors in very dangerous places...this was the definition of mess.
Thanksgiving is here once again, and I am feeling a little overwhelmed with the memories of the last two holiday seasons. Two years ago, I was just sitting down with my plate at Jason's family Thanksgiving when I got a call from my brother. My dad had had a grand mal seizure and was being taken to the Emergency Room. J & I drove to Fort Wayne as fast as we could. While we were still on our way, Dad had another seizure at the hospital.
That night we found out that Dad had two brain tumors and would need major surgery. My dad had always been in great shape; I don't think I even remember him getting the flu. It just didn't seem real.
The next couple months we spent a lot of time in hospital rooms and waiting areas . Dad went in for surgery about a week before Christmas, and everything went perfectly. They got the entire tumor out, and it was benign: he was even home for Christmas Eve. Miraculously he's 100% back now, like the whole thing never happened.
That Thanksgiving, I realized that my dad--my dad--was not immortal. He will not live forever. I came so close to losing one of the people I love the most, one of the people that is just always supposed to be around, and I realized that this whole gig is hanging together by such a thin thread. People get sick. People die. Bad things happen. And not just to other families, other people. It can happen to my people, my family.
It messed me up.
I thought we were in the clear for last year's holidays: everyone was healthy, we had a baby on the way, I was well past the morning sickness stage so I could actually enjoy food again. Thanksgiving was wonderful (besides the fact that--true story--my dad invited the Verizon guy to our Thanksgiving, and, much to everyone's surprise, he actually came. Talk about awkward.).
Then, two days before we came home for Christmas break, we went in for the 20 week ultrasound and were handed Avram's diagnosis.
And the whole world stopped.
So here we are again, the day before Thanksgiving, the start of the holidays. Despite my best efforts, I have found myself staring at all the scraps, all the mess, at all the pain from the last two years. A lot of this year really sucked. Big time. The first month of Avram's life was spent in two hospitals. He had to have brain surgery at two weeks old...two weeks old. He's going to have a big plastic helmet on his head for his first Thanksgiving and Christmas.
But at the same time, I'm sitting here staring at this beautiful Christmas tree. It would have just been a big green plastic tree without all those scraps, all those hours at the sewing machine, all those little burns on my fingers, all that glitter everywhere, all that mess.
We have a baby: a beautiful, sweet, strong little baby boy who is proving all the doctors wrong. A healthy baby.
We have great health insurance, some of the best doctors in the country, the most patient physical therapists.
We have a warm & cozy apartment, a kitchen full of food, money in the bank, more clothes than we need, a car that gets us where we need to go.
We have the most loving, selfless family, who have all gone to the ends of the earth to support us this year.
We have friends who have brought us meals, made us laugh, sent us the perfect notes of encouragement at the perfect times. Friends we can be brutally honest and transparent with, and love us all the same.
We have each other, which has made all the difference in the world.
We have a gracious, gracious God whose presence fills our little home, who has answered so many prayers, who keeps giving us strength when we are at our weakest.
If it has taken all the scraps--all the junk, all the hurt, all the bad--in order for us to have the countless beautiful blessings that fill our life, this Thanksgiving I am grateful for all the scraps,
for all the mess,
for all the pain.
"For we are God's masterpiece."