Saturday, December 19, 2009

Miles apart and smiles from the heart

photo by simon howden at

This will be a most unusual holiday
for us, and I'm trying my best not to be down-in-the-mouth about it. We knew our two older children and their spouses and babies wouldn't make it -- but the closer the time draws near, the harder it is.

I'm not resenting the time they will have with their other families -- not at all - but we will miss them nonetheless. Perhaps the hardest thing this year is that my hubby will be working both Christmas Day and the day after. When I sigh about that, he grins, "Most people still need to use water on holidays..." and he's right, of course.

As the plant operator, he is responsible to keep enough water treated and available for the many customers on the Hawk Pride Mountain Water system, and he takes his job seriously. I admire him for that, because he's a man of commitment and faithfulness. He wouldn't slack on his duty. It's just that Christmas is a family day, and it won't be the same with him there and me here.

I suppose I could go to work with him and putter around the office. I'd even daydreamed of taking a nice meal down there and spending the afternoon watching an old movie (on the flat screen TV the plant provides for the guys)... but I have other people to consider.

I'm the only family my dear Mom has, and she's coming over for the day. Also, our son Kevin is off work and lives fairly close by, so he will be with us part of that time. I want to make it a special day here with the three of us -- or four of us, if my sister Brenda gets to come for a visit.

A small family gathering, to be sure, but precious members nonetheless. Phillip will be home that evening if all goes well on the water system. This means no major leaks or pump problems at the treatment facility. I don't want to consider that possibility (though it has happened on other holidays!), because I could really get down-in-the-mouth.

At my age, a frown can do major damage to your face.

You know what I mean ... once you do stop frowning, those little wrinkles hang around long enough to cement into little crevices around your mouth. If I'm going to have those crinkles and wrinkles, I want them to come from smiling -- not frowning!

Back when I was a child, I remember hearing someone say, "If you frown too long, your frown will get stuck." Maybe that's why I practiced smiling a lot. I would slip into my parents' room and sit in front of the big round mirror on their dresser. Leaning forward, I'd cock my head and grin, or frown first and then smile real big to see if my frown was stuck.

Oh, how I loved admiring my little self in that mirror as a four year old! I knew how to pose, too, because I had four big sisters to observe 24/7. So there I'd sit, turning my head this way and that, patting my hair and practicing the biggest smile I could muster.

It paid off, too! The day a new store opened at our little shopping center on Broadway, there were games, contests and freebies. To my delight, one of the contests was called the 'Biggest Smile' contest, and yours truly was confident she could win it!

The judge lined us up - probably a dozen children - and told us to give our biggest smile. I'm quite sure he'd never seen so many teeth at once as he did when he stopped in front of me.

I was smiling so big it hurt -- but I won the prize! A giant lollipop was mine to savor for the next few hours.

So, while I am bit sad about a low-key Christmas this year, I'm smiling outside to give myself a temporary "face lift." I have much to be thankful for, and I will focus on that. We'll have a warm fire, a light lunch, and probably pull out a jigsaw puzzle to work. Mom enjoys that and I do, too. When my hubby gets in, we'll have our special meal together.

So I can't complain! We are healthy, happy and have a roof over our heads and the love of family and friends. My siblings will call here Christmas Day -- another advantage of having Mom at my place -- and I'll get to connect with them even though we are many miles apart.

Our two older children will no doubt call home to say hello to those at our table and share with us about their visits with in-laws. If they put our grandsons on the phone (and I'm counting on that), their goos and coos will give this Nana something else to smile about!

When I focus on all these blessings, how can I possibly be down-in-the-mouth? I'm smiling as I finish this post, and I can just feel those little down-in-the-mouth wrinkles easing up and disappearing as I do.

Anybody wanna challenge me to another big-smile contest? Nah, I didn't think so ...


  1. I am thankful for men and women like your husband who work so that we may continue to enjoy the necessities of life. We tend to not stop and think of those who work on Christmas, and I am very thankful to him for his service.
    I wish you could spend Christmas with your children and babies. I know that you will miss them.
    I hope that you enjoy the time with your Mom and Kevin and Brenda...I hope that she will be able to make it. Maybe the 4 of you could surprise your hubby! That would be wonderful. All show up at work and have a Christmas of 4 or 5 there!! :)) would have to let the children know to phone Phillip's you wouldn't miss the cooing of those precious babies.
    I love your post...the frown turning to a smile...and I have a picture in my mind of your praciting 'that' smile as a little girl.
    Congratulations on winning the contest! Your smile lives the hearts of those who love you and who you love.
    Many blessings to you, Nan.

  2. Dearest Nan, Yes, it's official...we are truly kindred spirits!!! I have always joked that I smile because I'm vain...and would rather have smile wrinkles than grandmother told me this when I was young, and I never forgot it!! I LOVED this post...perhaps because I can relate so well to it...last Christmas was the first without my mom...and that means there are only 3 of seemed odd to prepare a big Christmas for such a small group...but this year Thanksgiving seemed more normal...I guess I am adjusting...and a small intimate gathering with those we love is just as precious!! Thank you for reminding me of that!!! You are truly a treasure! Merry Christmas, dear sister!! Love you, Janine XO

  3. Merry Christmas to you, Nan.
    I'm thinking of you.....

  4. You've been much in my thoughts, dear Nan...hope your Christmas was lovely in spite of being far from those you love...and the necessary "low key" circumstances...Sending you much, much love, Janine XO


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