We Wish You a Merry 2010 Christmas…
Surprise! It’s been a long time since you’ve heard from us! Rather than bore you with an abridged version of the past five years’ events (that was the first draft of this letter), I will do what I do best. I will share with you my feelings about this holiday season. Because everyone wants to know what I think, right???
I love this time of year! We take down the boxes of Christmas decorations and sift through the carnage of last year’s quick clean up. After all, as February approaches even I feel pressured to get the holiday decorations put away! There are always broken ornaments, torn crafts, and tangled garland to be repaired or tossed.
Emily and Marcus have come to love unpacking the decorations. “When did I make this one, Mom?” “Is this one of the ornaments your Nana made?” “Why are we keeping this? It’s ugly!” We unpack everything and lay it out on the dining room table…where it sits for several days. “When are we going to decorate the tree, Mom?” the children lament! But, it’s not just procrastination and daily life that delays the tree trimming. In the days after unpacking, I sort and reflect upon all these “things” that I’ve held onto all year. My mantra has become: Simplify. So, in the name of simplifying, I sort and purge. And it feels great to let go of some things! I’ve actually decreased the number of storage boxes we need by keeping what matters most!
Every year, the last task is the same. I delve into the box that contains cards, pictures, and letters sent from family and friends during previous Christmas seasons. This task takes longer each year, because, unlike the decorations, this stack grows every year! The goal of this task is simple: collect addresses and update information. However, the task turns into a lovely trip down memory lane. I delight in comparing Christmas photos of all of your children year to year. It’s fun to read letters from the past. I think about how all your lives have been filled with the joys of travel and new beginnings, but also, the challenges of life and difficult changes. It brings me closer to the true meaning of Christmas.
The meaning of Christmas to me was simply stated on a card one of you sent our family. It reads,
“Tis the season of miracles.”
In the fall of 2000 Sean and I were told our unborn son would have spina bifida. Our family, friends, co-workers, friends of friends, and even strangers flooded us with emotional, spiritual, financial, and tangible support. We had never felt so much love for us! One thing that I’ve held onto for the past 10 years is something said to us by two different friends. One said, “God will perform a miracle with this little boy.” The other said, “By the time he’s ten, he will be a miracle.” Marcus will turn ten this year on Christmas Day.
Becoming a family with a disability (yes, one family member’s disability becomes something the whole family learns to manage) has taught me patience and perspective, among other things. I have learned that every step any child takes is a miracle. Every milestone reached no matter how delayed is a miracle. Each recovery from surgery is a miracle. Every person introduced into our lives touches us in miraculous ways.
I’ve been hanging on to the words of those two dear friends for 10 years as if waiting for the BIG one. All the while, miracles were happening every day in the life of my family. It’s a miracle that I wake up each morning next to a man who loves me unconditionally. It’s a miracle that my children have a father who dedicates everything he does to the needs of his family. It’s a miracle that both my children are incredible students academically and socially. It’s a miracle that Emily was born to us first, as her independent and nurturing spirit help our family every day. It’s a miracle that Marcus got an “A” in PE because he takes the initiative to modify skills so that he is able to participate to the best of his ability. It’s a miracle that even though he is always the last runner, he keeps running and is proud that he is getting faster. It’s a miracle that Sean has remained gainfully employed by Verizon since 1996 enabling him to provide for our family. It’s a miracle that I chose teaching as a profession so that I can dedicate time to my family. It’s a miracle Marcus is able to have free medical care at Shriners Hospital for Children in Tampa. And, this is where you come in, it’s a miracle that God provided then and continues to provide so many people who support our family in so many ways.
I don’t know if I can express how important all of you have been to the simple miracle that my family is still together. Disability rips families apart. It cripples families emotionally. It devastates even the most financially secure. We know it is by the Grace of God that our family survives and thrives despite the disability that has come to be part of our identity. We thank God for the blessing of the many miracles He has worked in our lives including the miracle of you and your family being part of our lives!
As Marcus turns 10, I finally realize that the “miracle” I’ve been waiting for has been here all along. Christmas is a time to celebrate the tremendous gift God gave to us through the miracle of Christ’s birth. I hope you will carry the spirit of this miracle with you so that you will see the miracles around you every day of the year.
Our door is always open, guest room is always ready, and we are always happy to have visitors!
With love and wishes for many miracles in 2011,
Sean, Terésa, Emily, Marcus & Finnegan
...and a Happy New Year in 2011!