Sunday, January 11, 2015

O Christmas Tree; It's My Surgiversary!

Before I start with the real story about our fabulous After-Christmas Tree, I wanted to share a quick, comical, navigation-related story.  So the other day my husband and I were on our way to visit his grandma at the hospital (she is going to be fine by the way Praise the Lord!) and he actually asked me for directions.  For those of you who are unaware, I have a horrible sense of direction.  If I were ever dropped off in an unfamiliar place (or even some of the familiar ones) I would never get home.  NEVER! I have been lost in my own backyard and it once took me over an hour to drive home to Nunica from Holland.  This Holland episode wasn't pretty and it added a lot of stress to our marriage that day.  The very next Christmas (without it being on my actual Christmas list) I received a TomTom GPS system from my husband.  This is only moderately helpful as some newer addresses are not recognized by it. And what about construction or accidents?  It doesn't help with those. Plus, I totally still seem to manage to find unique ways to get lost! I just do.  SIGH

Anyhow when were going to visit his grandma he innocently asked me, "What's the best way to get to Hackley Hospital?"  I  paused and thought about it good and hard and responded with my best guess and then added "maybe...did you seriously just ask me directions?! Because we both know I am probably less useful than Helen Keller or a couple of blind mice when directions are involved!"  We laughed the rest of the way to the hospital. And cracked jokes at my expense and had a jolly good time of it too!  It really lightened the mood.  Good thing I have such a good sense of humor and thick skin!  Double SIGH.  The most ironic part of this story is he had to drive to that very hospital every day for three weeks when I was in the ICU for my hydrocephalus surgery.  

You may be asking yourself, "Now what exactly is an After-Christmas Tree?"  Even if you've read the children's book by Linda Wagner Tyler and are well versed in "After-Christmas Trees", you are going to be subjected to a brief lesson on them, unless you skip the rest of this paragraph.  So skip along if you must....  Oh good you are still here!  So "After Christmas Trees" are basically your old, recycled, Christmas Trees, decorated with all biodegradable, edible, decorations with the native wildlife's needs in mind and you put them on display outside for Mother Nature.  Ours is spectacular!  This project was the perfect ending to a perfect Holiday Season!  

This year I was determined to make the season truly about the reason.  Less gifts.  More God.  Less commercialism and shopping.  More doing for others and gratitude.   Less harried schedule.  More quality time with family (and friends). You get the idea, less of the bad stuff and more of the good! I feel really good about how it all went too.  I guess nothing is truly perfect, however, it was pretty darn close! We were mostly successful, donated a lot of money (and items and time) to several important causes and organizations!  

The best part of all our generosity, we are sponsoring a little boy in Haiti, named Deny.  We did this through God's Little Angels.  Deny is very near and dear to my heart because he has hydrocephalus, the same condition I developed exactly 8 years ago.  Happy Surgiversary to me!  As a baby, Deny was abandoned by his family at a hospital because they could not provide him the medical care he needed.  He lived in the hospital for 5 years and was then transferred to an orphanage.  He has lived there since.  Now for the 2015 year he will have a sponsor family (The Constantines) who will be praying for him and helping with his needs. I am planning to go volunteer at the orphanage this year too so I can wrap my hands around him! As my Grandpa Bossi often said,  "God willing and if the creek don't rise!"  

We also supported OneBodyVillage.  A nonprofit dedicated to freeing young children in Vietnam from sex- traffic-situations and other bad stuff.  I dedicated this donation to my dear friend and intern, Thu Bahn, who starts a new job in the morning!  Best of Luck to you in your new endeavor, my friend!

We also donated to a great organization committed to providing aid to families in Ethiopia.  Embrace Ethiopia is a dynamic nonprofit and the program I supported helps provide medical care to families in a village.  

The week before Christmas, the kids and I went with some of our friends caroling in our neighborhood and  collecting donations for the local pantry in Spring Lake.  Dressed as elves, we sang our hearts out and gathered four large bags of personal hygiene items and canned goods! The kids had a great time and learned about doing for others!

And Christmas night after all of the good quality time with extended family, we took our less extended family and loaded 'em into my in-law's van and headed south to a fabulous Family Florida Vacation~and no we didn't do Disney.  And yes that was on purpose.  Disney sounds about as fun to me as a root canal without drugs or childbirth with them!  NOT FUN AT ALL! Maybe someday I will warm up to it, but not any day soon.  Instead we opted for a relaxing pool, beach and wildlife tri-fecta of a  vacation. Mother nature did not disappoint!  We watched dolphins from both the lovely beach and the boat ride that we took.  We also visited Winter and Hope at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  And we collected more shells than were probably legal and relaxed poolside whenever we were not at the beach.  And I got to run! Every. Single. Morning.  

Speaking of running, on New Year's Day my sister and I managed to find a race in Temple Terrace Florida all by ourselves (like we actually navigated there mostly unassisted and didn't get lost! Not even once) and we don't even have smart phones to help us out.  We have Dumb Phones! We ran a run called Blast from the Past.  I think they were trying to tie it to Back to the future, but they failed. We went in 70's costume anyways even though not many other participants joined us!  We both earned second in our age groups and we both randomly won pairs of sunglasses.  Talk about being fast and lucky! The cool kind too, not cheap dollar store ones, so it was pretty amazing.

Groovy Runners!  
70's and 80's themed run New Year's Day!

I hope all of your holiday seasons were just as joyous and ours.  Happy New Year and God Bless!

PS: My directions got us to Hackley Hospital although Jeff argued it was not the most direct route!


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