My phone rang yesterday while I was working in the kitchen. Of course, it was Aaron making one of his several calls from his day group…calls in which he updates me on his doings, reports good times or bad times with friends there, asks me when I’m coming to pick him up, and stresses that he wants me to come EARLY!!
Since this day was Friday, and since Friday is the day we usually have a special meal of Aaron’s choosing, this phone call greatly concerned food. He also wanted to know if we were going on our Friday Wal-Mart trip to buy him his “end-of-week and beginning-of-weekend” snacks.
“MOM!!” he began. “Are we going to Wal-Mart after you pick me up?!”
I assured him that we were.
“MOM!!” he continued. “Can I get some Pillsbury Crescent Rolls to have for our supper?”
I assured him that we could.
“MOM!!” he added. “Not the kind in the box but the kind that you bake in the oven. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls!”
I assured him I understood.
And then he chuckled…his deep-throated chuckle of pure delight.
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls filled him with the greatest joy at that moment, a contagious joy that was passed on to me as I joined him with a laugh of my own.
One thing about Aaron that continues to teach me so much about handling life is his joy in the simplest of things…things that I often take for granted.
I typically don’t play Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, but for the past few years I have caved somewhat on that standard. Two days ago, while cooking supper, I turned Pandora to a Christmas station. Music has always, from my childhood, been a huge part of my life. I listened as I prepared our meal, waiting for that illusive “Christmas spirit” to wash over me.
Instead, though, I was soon brushing away tears. Silent Night was playing, and that song above all Christmas songs, reminds me of times past and of my parents and of how I miss them and of so many other memories. Sweet memories, but memories now…people and events of the past, not the present.
And the present…the now…is where I wish they still were.
This Thanksgiving and Christmas season, above all other seasons…with its music and traditions and memories…is so very full of emotion and expectations.
Expectations that often don’t materialize and so leave us with sadness.
In November of 2004, my parents called with the unexpected news that dad’s cancer was no longer in remission. Doctors had found inoperable cancer in his liver. All our close family was devastated at this news. Gary and I decided to quickly change our Christmas plans that year. We loaded up our van the next month just before Christmas and traveled the long distance home to West Virginia. All of us wondered if this would be Dad’s last Christmas.
This long, sad trip was very hard for Aaron in all the ways that change and travel have always been hard for Aaron. The most stressful aspect for Aaron, though…for all of us…was the raw emotion that we couldn’t hide. Aaron doesn’t like crying and on this visit we couldn’t successfully hide all our tears from him. The early morning that we left Mom and Dad’s to return to Kansas, we all stood in a circle as we held hands and prayed. And we all cried.
Except for Aaron, who sat off to the side rocking in a recliner and saying over and over, “Crybabies!! Crybabies!! Crybabies!!”
To borrow an Aaron phrase, it was half sad and half funny!
Yet a very sweet moment with Aaron happened during that trip. As Mom and Dad opened their Christmas presents, they unwrapped a framed poem of sorts that someone had given them. Aaron saw it and he held it carefully as he began to read. We all sat still and listened to him read every word in his monotone voice. It was good that he was looking down and didn’t see my parent’s tears, and ours as well.
I have this precious piece now and was looking at it the other day as I did some sorting. I thought of it as I listened to Silent Night and my heart filled with emotions about what used to be and what isn’t now.
I know that I have a choice to make. I also know what God has told me to do.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)
As the poem said, happiness is all around us. I like to substitute the more meaningful word “joy” for happiness, for joy is a fruit of the Spirit in my life and is possible no matter my circumstances. But whichever word you use, know truly that there is joy and happiness all around us, every day, in sometimes the smallest of ways. Yet small things are huge when we look at them through the lens of thankfulness.
Over the years, life changes…a lot…but joy with a thankful heart should be a constant for us.
Aaron has seizures, but we are thankful for good doctors:
Thankful for yummy and very cheesy chicken enchiladas:
Thankful for God’s amazing creatures in our own yard:
And thankful for Pillsbury Crescent Rolls!