December is MY month. It is the month in which I was born and the month in which a part of me died. It is the month in which I started over as a sober woman. Oh, sure, I share my month with some others. Three grandkids, a festival of lights and the Christ Child, to name a few, but I have always believed the lights and the sparkle; the peace and good- will, were for me. Is this a bad thing? I do not think so. I am grateful to celebrate so much in December.
December is a time of reflection for me. I think back over the year and take stock. I look around to see who is still standing, who has fallen away, how much terrain I have traveled and who my teachers have been. This year has been an unusual one. It was a challenging year, not bad but it required my full attention in every moment, not looking ahead. Some of my fondest moments and greatest teachers have been with and among my own family. How cool is that?
I have three, grown daughters and there is no doubt at all which of the four of us is the student. For starters, not one of them is a carbon copy of me. Oh sure, there are some resemblances, but they are strong, solid individuals with characteristics all their own. None of them is alcoholic, thank you God!
Stacy is not a girly girl. That became apparent in Junior High when she resisted wearing mascara to her eighth grade graduation and cried when I curled her hair and insisted she wear heels. I have always wanted to stand out, to be seen. Stacy wanted to blend in, which at 6’3” and being a gorgeous redhead, was and is, impossible.
Stacy says she is a jock. I beg to differ. She is an athlete, a volleyball player but she is also a beauty who has a style and grace all her own. She is a light bearer and everyone wants to be around her. Everyone. She likes to rescue things from other people’s trash and turn them in to art. She’s good at it. She has an eye for potential, which, it turns out, is lucky for me. It is also lucky for me that she likes old things and rarely throws things away. Whew!
Stephanie looks the most like me and she’s a princess like I am, but not really. She is much more frugal and less entitled but she certainly likes nice things. She abhors waste and thinks more about what things cost than I do. We like the same sappy, girly movies and books and love to redecorate and rearrange the furniture. Pretty dresses, pretty houses, pretty food, and sparkly things grab our attention. Stephanie is the one who is making plans for what to do with my diamonds after I die and who will take possession of the gold, egyptian jackals on the mantel and the Jay Strongwater collection. Her sisters could not care less. Stephanie makes me laugh. She talks way too much about farting but she would kill a bear to protect her family, including me. People are drawn to the sparkle in her tiarra.
My youngest daughter, Shelley is the enigma of the four of us. She is a first class, true-that, geek! She likes fossils and sharks, stars and gem stones. She wears evening gowns for dinner, silk nightgowns for coffee, chickens in the yard, painting with water colors, making candles and jewelry and being the lunch lady at her kid’s school. Did you get that? She’s the lunch lady? She wears God-awful get-ups complete with comfortable shoes, an apron and a whistle. She trades hand painted pins for trash being picked up, with the students on the playground at Hope School. She says “yes” to all the yucky jobs that nobody wants to do, like PTA president, and being the wardrobe girl at the school play.
The main thing that Shelley teaches all of us is to devour life. To take chances, look silly, be BIG, or just BE. Just in the past three or four years she has stepped out into the world to try belly dancing, swimming with whales in Panama, she has ridden in a dog sled in Alaska to see the northern lights and taking seven, count them, seven kids on vacation to Europe anad Figi and Alabama with her and her husband Tom. Shelley is comfortable in her own skin. She says, “yes” to everything except Botox, hair color, plastic surgery and processed foods. She takes a bite out of every, single day and I doubt she will have any regrets when her time is done here. Shelley beems a shaft of light. There is never lack of brilliance around Shelley and she teaches me that being myself, whether wearing high heels and short skirts or boots and jeans with my yummy tummy, I am enough.
This year my daughters lost their father. Theirs was a complicated relationship but they loved their Dad. His passing suddenly and unexpectedly left them remembering what is important in life; “It’s the love, not the bullshit.” I was a student this year. I am a student. The baton has been passed and I am now riding in the back seat, the Grandma seat, of my children’s lives. They are teaching ME. They tease me, which makes me laugh, I pee my pants, which makes them laugh. They make fun of my poor hearing, and mimic me saying “what’d he say?” and complain about my driving and yet, there is no one on earth I would rather spend time with than these people.
I am lucky because in my surrender to alcoholism, I was given a second family. This is my family of choice. These are my friends, the ones I have met in dingy rooms, and sat next to on metal folding chairs. This family knows my everyday struggles and the small, unseen miracles of my life. They hear my stories, laugh and cry with me through everything and tell me truths I may not want to hear.
So as this year nears its end, I am grateful for every person that has blessed my life. There have been many. The ones who are like me and the ones that fill me with wonder for being the unique expression of creation, that only he or she can be.
My life is so glamorous! It’s just not fair, lucky for me!!