Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It is difficult to believe it has been one year ago tonight that I was rushed to the hospital from my youngest daughter's home. Needless to say, my recall of last Christmas is not great nor are events in order. All I know for sure is that I spent Christmas Day in the Grove City hospital and that my family was called together because my outlook for recovery was not good. The morning after Christmas, I was moved to Butler Memorial Hospital where I had quadruple bypass surgery. The next eight days were spent in ICU and the next two in a step-down unit. Finally, I went home to my daughter's house on January 3. I don't recall much about New Year's, either.

My daughter asked me to come again this year, but I declined. Not so much because of fear of a re-run, but rather because I don't want to miss Midnight Mass at my church. I have much to be grateful for, even with all the negative events since my surgery. My cardiologist and cardiac surgeon both told me they didn't expect me to survive. The surgeon said someone must have been watching over me. Yes, that would be the angel I saw prior to surgery.

Today I am also recalling Christmases of the past. There are so many!! When I was a child, the only two children in the house were my brother, Bill, and me. Our family, like so many others in the '50s, didn't have a lot of money. Throughout the year, the only toys Bill and I received were the comic books our father let us buy when we went shopping. Those comic books were read and reread many times over. Christmas, however, was another story. Our parents didn't spare any expense and Bill and I received many, many Christmas gifts. I loved Christmas and still would love it if I wasn't alone.

I always had an extensive list of gifts I wanted, a list compiled from the Sears and Spiegel toy catalogs. Most of the time, I received what I asked for. One year, when I was in 6th grade, I got into a heated argument with another student who said there wasn't a Santa Claus. I insisted there was, because I had seen him on two occasions. Finally, the teacher drew me aside and told me the other student was right - that my parents were Santa Claus. I was crushed.

That same Christmas, as it turned out, was the one that my parents ordered our Christmas gifts from the Spiegel catalog. When the gifts hadn't arrived by Christmas Eve, my parents went to Vandergrift about an hour before closing time. It was dark and snowing and most people weren't out still shopping. Our Christmas gifts were bought at a small hardware store. If I hadn't been told at school that there wasn't a Santa Claus, I guess I would have found out that Christmas Eve anyway. Christmas was never the same, in a magical way of speaking, after that Christmas.

I know I was pretty old to still believe in Santa in 6th grade. I encouraged the same beliefs in my children, and I have found out in recent years that they only pretended to believe because they knew I wanted them to believe.

Well, I am still that little girl who wants to believe in the magic. That kind of hope has not stood me well in life, especially in relationships. It has helped my artwork.
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