Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons

Posted on | December 14, 2011 | 11 Comments

Lately I’ve felt pulled in so many directions that my head seems on the verge of spiraling off my neck and off into the sunset.  Everything is in disarray: my car, my house, my office, my friends; and I want to tidy it all up neatly.  I want to wrap everything in shiny red and silver paper, adorn it with a bow, and hand this year off into the record books, ready to start clean and fresh in 2012.

But I don’t know how to clean these messes.

My friend is struggling.  She is struggling to talk, struggling to stay awake, struggling to make sense out of being where she is… one week from Christmas with her precious little girl… one week from spending the holiday with her family… one more week of living with cancer… and then another… and another.   She is scared. I know she’s scared.  And the mother/friend/heart of me wants to buckle myself into the front seat of my car and drive non-stop until I can deposit myself at her bedside and pour my strength into her body.  I want nothing more than to give her strength and health and the ability to climb out of bed and spend Christmas with her child.

But I do not have wrapping paper quite that big.

My grandmother was back in the hospital last night, struggling with back pain and hip pain and blood sugar issues… all common, I’m sure, for a woman who has stood tall for 95 years.  She still lives by herself, though she has home care nurses, and she still makes a mean poundcake, but she’s fading.  We all know she’s fading.  No one wants to really face the fact that she’s lived 95 amazing years and that her body is just tired of putting up with all the nonsense.  No one wants to face the fact that every day with her is a blessing at this point.  No one wants to face the fact that she’s holding on to life because she is stubborn and strong-willed, and because she wants to see her family together again… sans grudges… before she goes.  No one wants to focus on the fact that all she wants for Christmas is for her children to get along again. 

But I can’t box up that gift, either.

The boxes and bows and toys that scatter about my house in various hiding places are just things.  They are just plastic and metal and cloth… they mean nothing.  They can’t solve any problems or mend any hearts… they are just trinkets.  I am just a trinket. I am just flesh and bone and aching, aching heart… wishing I had the power to channel my love into healing, to channel my heart into courage, to lend my strength to another.

We get so caught up in giving the right gifts.  We want to put the biggest smile on our friends and families’ faces.  We want to know that we gave exactly what was wanted at the moment it was wanted.  And let’s face it… giving is a lot of fun.  But I wonder, especially this year, if I’m focusing on giving the right gifts.  There are stacks of toys for J in the back room, and I know that he’s going to light up like a Christmas tree when he sees them on Christmas morning.  But there is also a man I see every morning when I take J to school.  This man passes by my car without a second glance at me or at my son, who is tucked warm in his cozy car seat, clothed with his warm clothes and soft jacket.  This man walks down the street toward the soup kitchen, hunched and shivering, two ratty blankets wrapped around his too-thin body.

Two ratty blankets.

And I wonder what  it says about me, that I have stacks of toys for J in the back bedroom… and yet I have not bought that man a coat.

I will go today and buy that man a coat.  

Because that’s the sort of gift I should be concerned with.  That’s the sort of gift that might bring a little peace to my conflicted spirit this muddled up holiday season. 

And above all else, that is a gift I can wrap.


11 Responses to “Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons”

  1. Heather Griffitts Clark
    December 14th, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

    LM – My 94 year old grandfather is also fading fast. And also wants the same thing your grandmother wants for Christmas. And it breaks my heart and brings me to tears that I can’t do the same for him. I so wholeheartedly feel your pain….in so many ways.

  2. MaconMom
    December 14th, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

    Counting my blessings and my heart goes out to your friend, grandmother, and the gentleman.

  3. Anonymous
    December 14th, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

    Found your blog a few months back through a search to determine the proper spelling of spilled milk for a story I was writing. And this is why I keep coming back. A coat is a beautiful gift.

  4. Heather
    December 14th, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

    What a wonderful gift.

  5. Ruthie
    December 14th, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

    You are not a trinket. You make a difference — everyday.

  6. Kristinayellow
    December 14th, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

    So true. A group of friends and I are putting together a Christmas for another friend who’s going through some tough times. She actually told her kids that Christmas wasn’t happening this year–we’re going to make sure it does. It sucks that anyone has to go without basics–food, shelter, warm clothing, laughter and love. But I’m determined to do something–even if its just something small–so that at least one family has a miracle to make them happy on this special day.

  7. IS
    December 14th, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog a few months back, not sure how, but I come back everyday. You’re such an insightful writer and I can relate to so much of your story. Love this post.

  8. aw
    December 14th, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

    You are a good woman, worrying about others besides your family. I am the same way, my hubby and I are broke this year, but every chance we get, we get extra food for the food bank, give away clothes we do not need b/c we are so thankful for all the things we do have, and know, that others should have the chance to be thankful for something that someone has done for them. It is the right thing to do, and whether they say it or not, it really is appreciated. Give what you can, and you will have a lighter heart for it. Wonderful post, you are doing a great job 🙂

  9. beachmum
    December 14th, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

    You sum up so beautifully what I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Thank you!

  10. Amy R
    December 14th, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

    If I could cry with you and share a hug I would do it right now as I feel the same way. I’m currently looking for a homeless woman that I see from the library to one of the main roads easily 20 miles apart. More than anything I want to give this woman something to know that she is cared about as a person. Even just a hug though that feels so inadequate. So many things needed in this life that cant be bought & wrapped.

  11. Danielle Burris
    December 15th, 2011 @ 10:22 am

    Thank you for your beautiful words you share each day! You are truly inspiring! I am blessed to have stumbled up on your blog! I’ll pray that you and your son have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas! You seem to be an amazing woman and mom!

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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