Wednesday, December 24, 2003

"LEUKEMIA IS THE GRINCH THAT STOLE MY CHRISTMAS SPIRIT (or at the very least, spit in my eggnog.)"


We are back, safe and sound, from an uneventful clinic visit and fun family get-away to Atlanta. Since the older two are out of school for the break, and our trip home for the holidays was cancelled (no desire to put an immuno-suppressed child on an airplane, aka flying petri dish, to our home state (OK) which has reached epidemic flu status) we traveled as a family to Atlanta for Kendrie's appointment, and took time to do a few fun things in addition.

First, BIG thanks to the Dallas branch of our family who let us use their home as a bed & breakfast and took time to have dinner with us, and guide us to the drive-through light display at Lake Lanier. We also spent time both afternoons playing at local parks which the kids enjoyed greatly. Our home town here in GA is sadly lacking in the public parks department -- the few we have are still sporting death-trap playground equipment from the 1970's. So parks with new equipment, duck ponds, walking trails, and public restrooms that are not only clean, but unlocked (!) were quite a treat.

We got back late last night and spent today relaxing and preparing for the BIG DAY tomorrow. I'm not quite sure what went wrong, nothing went outstandingly wrong, but this Christmas Eve was just not the special time I had envisioned. When Kendrie was first diagnosed, I made big promises to myself that once she came home from the hospital and things settled down to normal, I would appreciate the small things, hug her and Brayden and Kellen a little tighter, live for the moment, etc. You know, "not sweat the small stuff". Well, much like a new bride promising to keep a clean house and prepare a hot meal for her husband every night, my promise went right down the toilet in a matter of weeks.

This vision I had of the perfect Christmas, of our entire family standing around the beautifully decorated tree with hands held, singing joyfully, loving one another with pure happiness in our hearts and voices ............. yeah, right, like THAT was going to happen???

Tonight started out well enough --- the kids were freshly bathed and dressed in their new Hanna Andersson PJ's, ready for the photo shoot I had planned. We sprinkled reindeer food outside, arranged cookies for the Big Guy, took some photos..... oops! Had our first episode of chemo-induced nausea and Kendrie threw up on her new PJ's... that's ok, cleaned her up, she felt better, took some more photos, maybe that's where I went wrong and stretched their patience a little far. Next thing I know, I'm getting images of rolling eyes, frowns, kids refusing to look at the camera. (as a scrapbooker, nothing makes me madder than uncooperative photo subjects, and then I find myself threatening along the lines of "if you want to find a single present under that tree tomorrow with your name on it ...............")

Admitting defeat with the photos, but not wanting to give up on my picture-perfect evening, I went into the kitchen to make hot cocoa while Blaine prepared to read them A Christmas Story. This is pretty much how things went:

Blaine: "God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary."
Kellen: "She's touching me!"
Brayden: "I can't see the book"
Kendrie: "Hey, he got more marshmellows than me!"
Blaine: "You will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus."
Brayden: "Make him scoot over!"
Kellen: "I don't like this cocoa. Can I just have milk?"
Kendrie: "I want his marshmellows if he's not going to eat them"
Kellen: "I don't like the cocoa but you cannot have my marshmellows"
Brayden: "would you two hush so I can hear Dad??? Go ahead, Dad"
Blaine (voice is getting strident): "Joseph went to Bethlehem with Mary"
Kellen: "Aaah! She spilled my drink!"
Kendrie: "Move over so I can see, too!"
Blaine (starting to get upset): "and so they stayed in a manger because there was no room at the inn"
Brayden: "they did not stay in a manger. They stayed in a stable. My Sunday School teacher told me that."
Kellen: "She is still touching me but with her foot this time!"
Kendrie: "Kellen, did you know that I threw up earlier?"
Blaine (practically yelling now): "She gave birth to baby boy and wrapped him in strips of cloth!!! Strips of cloth, I'm telling you!!!!!!! Would you guys hush and listen to the story?!?!?!"
Kendrie: "this is boring. I'm going to play" (gets up and leaves the room)
Kellen: "well I don't want to stay here, either" (also gets up and leaves)
Blaine: "Brayden, would you like to hear some more?"
Brayden, "um, no. Thanks anyway. Can I have more cocoa?"

And I'm sitting on the sofa wondering what just happened to my vision of the perfect Christmas Eve?

I keep reading about these people who appreciate things so much more after their child is diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness. Wouldn't you think Christmas is the one time of year I shoulda/coulda/woulda feel that same appreciation? How did Christmas become a list of to-do chores, all made more difficult because of Kendrie's condition? Where the heck is my Christmas spirit???

If anyone finds it before morning, please tuck it into my stocking.

Thanks so much, and happy &@@&*@&&@#!@#$ holidays,
ps. I am only kidding, in case any of you are rushing to look up the phone number to a local mental health professional.

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