Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Two More Sleeps

Dear Lyla,

Only two sleeps until Christmas Day. Your Great-Aunt Debbie arrived last night and your boy cousins are due in a few hours.  Already Aunt Debbie, Grandma and I have consumed several pots of coffee this morning and have reminisced several decades in the span of a few hours. We were decked out in bathrobes and grubby clothes, having laughs and pumping our veins with caffeine; this is the way Christmas break is supposed to be.  When you are surrounded by loved ones, good conversation, tasty food and enough coffee grounds in the pantry to last until New Year’s; you are rich beyond measure. Nothing under the tree this year will last longer or be more important than the memories you will make in the next few days. You will carry them with you forever. I will tell you a secret Little One, they do not fade over time. If anything, they are more vibrant and accessible as you age. Along with the memories will come a sense of comfort, purpose and belonging. Today as you, Daddy, Grandma and Aunt Debbie are out shopping and I wait for the boys, my mind drifts to the Christmases of my past. I realized that it has been 19 Christmases since your Bumpa went to heaven. While you would think my memories of my father may fade with time, the memories  I have of him at Christmastime are so fresh it takes me by surprise. Your Bumpa loved Christmas, everything about it. Hanging up lights and swearing a blue streak when  a bulb would go out, watching us put up the tree, listening to Grandma’s Elvis album (Blue Christmas I think), decorating cookies and the games. I remember the games most of all. We would play cards or board games until we could barely keep our eyes open. What I do not remember were the presents. Oh, there were plenty under the tree but I simply cannot recall what Santa brought us. I have a feeling this will be your legacy as well; memories that are rich and warm, recollections of all of the people both present and past that you will carry with you for many years to come. Only two more sleeps my most beloved child, but until then there is much coffee, conversations and card games to be had.

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lyla flowerDear Lyla,

When I look at you I can clearly see both daddy and me staring back. You have the color of my eyes, but the slope of his forehead. His nose sits squarely in the middle of your face while my hair provides the frame for your face. It will be all but impossible for you to deny your parentage; our DNA has lefts its unalterable mark on you. Although your chromosomal inheritance is clear in your physicality, it is your mannerisms and your language choices that truly reveal your lineage. Often I will hear you utter phrases that parrot my own language choices and I am taken aback at how much you have already assimilated from daddy and myself. Your penchant for science fiction at the tender age of six is entirely daddy’s fault and your need for happy endings with a soundtrack rest entirely upon my shoulders.  Since you began to speak I have marveled at how much of our family history is already embedded into your vocabulary. The ability to turn a phrase or tell a story is certainly part of one’s personality, but it occurs to me it is also a map of one’s family culture. I often hear myself responding to someone that I am “finer than a frog’s hair.” While the chuckle in response is certainly gratifying and I would like to think myself clever; the use of that phrase is most likely due to the fact that I heard my grandfather say that more times than I can count. My uttering the phrase keeps him in the present with me even though he passed away when I was in the seventh grade. Language is a way to keep my dad close as well. Although you never met Bumpa or listened to him spin a colorful yarn, he has certainly influenced you. When you get yourself into a sticky situation and I say “you are up a creek without a paddle,” that’s Bumpa talking to you. When I get frustrated and say, “I am as unhappy as an outhouse mouse,” you are hearing your Bumpa. Grandma Jo also has a specific vernacular all of her own and I am afraid you and I will both someday lament our housekeeping and say “It looks like the wreck of the Hespers in here.” Or we will make a silly mistake and declare “Right church, wrong pew.” The point is Little One that we are more than our DNA. We are a reflection of our familial heritage and those who go before us live through us in many different ways. You come from a long line of talkers Little One; your ancestors have left you with a hefty collection of colloquialisms and one-liners…use them well.

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batgirl bwDear Lyla,

It has been a long since I have written a letter. I am ashamed to admit that I have not been so good about the work/life balance lately. I suppose the rush I have experienced in the last few weeks is normal when the semester is about to end. One thing you will learn is that our household runs on the academic calendar; the first of the year for us begins at the  end of August. Most of us embrace the comfort and consistency of routine even when it may not be in our best interest. It is possible to be too dependent upon routine, too resistant to change and too unwilling to engage the messiness of life.  I admit, I like to plan. I want to know what, when, who, why and for how long. I like the comfort  a “to-do” list written reverently on a post-it note provides. But alas Little One, the sacrifice of spontaneity for the sense of comfort can act like a false prophet leading us to fatigue and creative exhaustion. I suppose this is why I have not written for a while. Over the past few weeks I have been so focused on the minutiae of the end of the semester that I have forgotten the big picture. I have neglected to nurture the part of my personality that loves to turn a phrase, snap some photos and whip up bakery confections to share with my colleagues. I have missed out on the joy I find in mentally visiting my past in order to create a narrative for you to explore when you are ready. While this letter may not introduce you to some new character on your family tree or expose the adolescent adventures of one of your aunts or uncles, I do hope that you will find something valuable within the text. While it is noble and right to meet the deadlines that you are given and to honor your obligations, it is important that you allow yourself time for reflection and rest. The soberness of life must be balanced by silliness if you are to maintain a sense of self in this very fast paced world.  How blessed I am Little One that between you and Daddy I have a bounty of silliness in my life to keep me centered.

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I Want My Mommy

lyla grandmaDear Lyla,

Today’s letter will be very short as I am feeling, as Bumpa would say, sicker than a dog that has eaten a chocolate bar. All I want to do today is sleep on the couch curled up in a blanket, dog behind my knees with the TV making noise in the background; today I want my Mommy. If Grandma were here she would make me some soup and bring me liquids to drink and I wouldn’t have a care in the world because mom’s make it all feel better if you are sick. But Grandma Jo isn’t here and I have to work because the thought of canceling class makes me feel worse. My hope for you Little One is that when you are older you will feel the same say about me that I feel about my mom. I guess you are never too old to want the familiar comfort of your parents; life lesson learned!

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Koel and LylaDear Lyla,

If I could choose the shape of the family tree on Mommy’s side it would be a Christmas tree. Like you, I love all of the holidays but have special place in my heart for the yuletide. The magic of Christmas has long been an accepted fact for the Pier clan; and the adoption of that particular viewpoint starts at a very young age. Evidence of our love for the season can be seen on the Christmas tree in our front room, there are ornaments on that tree that I made in preschool; lovingly preserved for me by Grandma Jo and passed down to me at an age when I was old enough to understand the value in such rudimentary handiwork made by tiny hands. You and I watch the same Christmas specials that have been around for over 40 years; yet the cadence and timbre of Boris Karloff’s voice as he narrates “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” resonates with each new generation. As I grew older I began to appreciate and relish how children envision the season; how they make sense of the impossibility of a large jolly man stuffing himself down every chimney in one short night.  The sweetness of the revelation that, for those who believe, the night represents that birth of a baby that would be a light to the world; a gift of sacrifice. Long before you came into our lives Daddy and I had the pleasure of watching our nieces and nephews experience the awe of the season. Your cousin Kaila was the first of the grandchildren to be born to Bumpa and Grandma Jo; overboard does not even begin to describe the spoils the little urchin gathered on that first Christmas.  It was a good many years before Kaila had any competition around the Christmas tree and then Koel was born. Daddy and I lived very far away from Kaila and Koel when they were little and we did not get to see them very often. However, there was one Christmas when Koel was about a year younger than you are now that we traveled up to the lake to see everyone. How excited the children were for Christmas to finally arrive; they counted the days and nights with the solemnity that belongs only to children waiting for Santa can express at this time of year. Koel was finally at the age where he could identify and recount for any adult who would listen all of the trappings of Christmas. So enamored was he with Santa that Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, pronounced “Roo Doo,”  became his best friend and constant companion. The adults in the room would receive frequent admonishments because of our rude behavior; we were forever stepping on poor Roo Doo’s toes or blocking his path.  Afraid of another tongue lashing from our wee nephew we would ask as to Roo Doo’s whereabouts before entering; often  Koel would tell us that his friend was outside having a snowball snack or taking a snooze on his bed,  the coast was clear. Koel’s conviction and faith in the symbols of Christmas was so strong that he inserted himself into that holiday narrative. At sixteen Koel no longer carries on conversations with his childhood friend Roo Doo, but I do believe he still believes in the magic of Christmas. How blessed you are little one to have such colorful ornamentation decorating your family tree. I hope my little cherub that you and I never reach the age when we no longer believe.

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