Yesterday I got my Christmas cards out. When I was going through Mom’s closet I found a couple of boxes that she must have purchased at one time. When we were young I think Mom had about 60 people that she sent cards to. Aunts of Dad, all of my cousins, friends but the last few years the number had dwindled down to about 30 and we would be lucky if we got half that number back. Mom’s generation were good at writing letters but we didn’t get letters back from cousins. When their kids were young we would get the card with the yearly Christmas photo.
My Dad’s Aunt May was so appreciative of Mom’s Christmas letters. One of my Dad’s cousin’s (who was over 100 when he died) said that my brother was the spitting image of my Dad’s father. And where else but family would you hear him called “Uncle Willie” for William. The wife of a cousin of Dad’s would do water colour pictures on her cards into her eighties.
I miss going to the mail box and getting a big bundle of cards. It now costs 1.00 per stamp to mail a card. It’s ridiculous. And it costs 2.50 to mail a card internationally. I have a couple of friends who I’m going to send to this year because I’m not buying gifts. Who doesn’t love getting a letter in the mail?
I wrote a letter to my cousin. I know that she will pass the card around to her brothers and parents. Usually Mom and I tried to make the letter sound bright even if our year had challenges but I didn’t do that. I wanted to explain what happened with Mom and not sugar coat it like my brother did. I also put the poem I wrote for Christmas in. People are shocked when they read it. “You wrote this?”
I have written some cards to people on Mom’s list as some were friends of Dad that she still corresponded with. And there are ones she only writes to at Christmas.
My cousin sends us a card and her husband prints out a page full of pictures from their year. The daughter is in gymnastics, one son is in karate, school events etc. Mom and I would sit beside each other and wonder at how much stuff they fit into the year.
Janet and I used to split our list. We had about 14. We would have cards addressed to Janet and Jennifer. I missed it after she died. My twin friend in the States does it and it’s so special.
Christmas really is about the traditions.
Yesterday I went to my neighbour’s house for coffee in the morning. She is the librarian at my Mom’s church and was going to be decorating the library for Christmas in the afternoon. Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent. The picture that I have included in this post is of our name ornaments. Somehow it seems unreal. I guess it’s partly because I’ve avoided the whole thing. I haven’t been to church because it’s such a family time. Who among us hasn’t heard the expression “oh I go to church twice a year…Christmas and Easter”. Janet and I used to help every year for the Christmas Eve service since we were 13 or 14. We would light the candles at the back of the church and we were usually called on to usher. After she died I couldn’t even go there were too many memories. Sometimes I would just go for a walk in the neighbourhood or one time Mom and I took a drive to look at the lights. My neighbour asked if I have someplace to go for Christmas and I said I’m probably going out to eat. It’s just easier.
I got a letter from the church that they are doing Memorial Roll on December 6. The church I attend does it All Saints Sunday which actually makes sense! A friend of mine that used to go to the church too is going to come with me. She’s a teacher so it’s a very busy time of year for her but she said she would make time. I’m taking someone with me so I don’t have to talk to anyone.
Yesterday I took advantage of the Black Friday deals and purchased a skirt on sale for 40% off. It’s to wear for the Twinless Twins banquet next year. People don’t really dress up as much but I like to.
Advent is a time of waiting and it certainly feels like it for me. Waiting for things to be settled. At least I know that I have events to look forward to.
I chose this picture because last year was a change in my life in which I started making myself a priority more. I had a manicure for my birthday. Then in July my friend took me out for lunch and I had another one. I think it was also a time when I decided that “I’m worth it”. My profile picture for my blog is one that was taken on this day and it’s one where I think I look beautiful.
Teach Your (Bloggers) Well
When we were growing up my Mother would say that we weren’t like other kids that had to have piles of toys to keep them entertained that we were ok with just the two of us. Growing up Mom was the same, she could play by herself.
When Mom went into the hospital the first time i was so lonely because I wasn’t used to being alone in the house. But eventually I developed my own routine and it was easier. After Janet died I used to tell people that I would go for walks “by myself” not alone. They didn’t understand the difference. For me Janet was always with me. There was a difference between being alone and the independence of choosing to do something alone. Janet and I had a friend that had a daily planner full almost everyday. A family friend of moms is out everyday except Tuesday. My Aunt does it too. For all of these people it’s because they don’t want to be alone. If I keep myself busy I don’t have to remember that I am alone.
I have gone out for dinner alone. It sucks but I’ve done it. I eat alone at home, I don’t really see the difference. It’s tough making a reservation for one.
I have wonderful friends to talk to. I’m going to a neighbours for coffee tomorrow.
Teach Your (Bloggers) Well
I can’t teach others how to honour their loved ones that have died but I would hope that anyone reading this would learn from what I do.
Here are some things that I have done.
1. I still do something special for OUR birthday. I no longer call it “celebrating” because it’s not. Mom and I try to go to the cemetary every year on our birthday and put flowers on the grave. It was our way of remembering her too. I buy gerbera daisies for myself. This year Mom and I did a balloon release.
For our 40th birthday I put a poem that I had written in the paper along with my favourite photo of us.
I buy you Daisies, Gerbera, to mark our day
Red, for you, Yellow for me…..
Something to remember
in my own special way
The colour of love, the colour of laughs
I can feel you guide me on this path.
I place them, carefully, on the bed,
The words between us, deep, unsaid…
I’m not alone though you are gone
The twin bond always lives on
2. For my Dad’s birthday Mom and I would make his favourite dinner and have a piece of cake.
3. I still put up the Christmas tree. The first year it was hard because every ornament had a memory but I did it because I knew Janet would want me to. I put their names on the mantle this year. I am going to send out Christmas cards in honour of Mom.
4. I made a donation to the Twinless Twins organization for Christmas in Mom and Janet’s memory. Joining the Twinless Twins organization was a way to honour Janet too, honour our twinship.
5. I started this blog as a way of honouring their memory by sharing our stories. Talking about them is healthy.
6. Crying because I miss them. Being honest with myself.
7. Being strong for them. Living my life everyday honouring them. Remembering their love for me and my love for them.
I Can’t Stay Mad at You
Do I hold a grudge? If I had to go by the definition “a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury” then I would have to say yes. I feel ill will towards family members based on things in the past. I resent the fact that I had to look after our parents alone. I got to the point in my life where I had let some of it go and my Mother’s death brought a lot of it back for me. I have written here before about this topic that forgiveness works both ways.
I used to be more trusting but I also think that because of the things that have happened in my life I am a lot more wary which has helped me. It means that I am on my guard, that I ask questions.
Yesterday I met with our lawyer who also happens to be our cousin. She did ask if my brother and I were working together ok and I said no. I didn’t go into specifics because it’s between me and my brother but I did figure out that she could tell a little bit on her own. Janet and I were good observers of people and that has certainly helped me too.
I have forgiven people in my life. I had to phone Mom’s brother in order to tell him she was in the hospital. I forgave him for what he did to my grandparents and Mom. He gave me information about Mom’s illness as a child that really helped me a lot. But even Mom said that she never fully trusted him again.
I forgave a friend who wrote something that hurt me after I posted a piece of writing on fb. I came to the realization that I needed their friendship more than I needed them to understand what my writing meant to me. Some people just don’t get it and that’s ok.
I know that I have friends praying that I can have a family again but I truly know that their are people that shouldn’t be in my life. That my values don’t line up with people who care more about money than they do about someone else. When I signed the papers yesterday my occupation was listed as caregiver not “unemployed” which is what my brother wrote down. Because he never saw it as a job. Because I didn’t get “paid”. Oh not in money…I was rewarded in seeing their vulnerability, their love for me. The fact that they were proud of me. Learning how to do things on my own.
That is priceless.
You get to plan a dinner party for 4-8 of your favorite writers/artists/musicians/other notable figures, whether dead or alive. Who do you seat next to whom in order to inspire the most fun evening?
I had an appointment this morning at 10:30 so while I waiting I was thinking about my answer. I would have a dinner party with singers…free entertainment. I would have Michael Buble and Josh Groban sit beside each other. If you have ever seen Michael do an impersonation of Josh Groban you can see that they get along. They are both sexy as heck but don’t take themselves too seriously. They are both goofy. Of course I would also have Blake Shelton and Adam Levine for the same reasons as above. They just make me laugh so much.
To balance it out I would have to have some women. Meghan Trainer because she seems like a fun girl. Plus she’s not a skinny minny. Jann Arden. I’m not a big fan or her singing but she’s very opinionated.
For main course we would have beef, mashed potatoes and I’m definetely not serving kale! I just know that these people are not into kale! And for dessert we would have chocolate cake because who doesn’t like cake?
Now that would be a fun evening!
Literate for a Day
Last night I got an email from a friend of mine who lives in Australia. I asked her what she was doing for Christmas. In her reply she wrote that she will be coming to London next Christmas. I actually did a happy dance in my chair when I read it. I sat there thinking we can go to Victoria Park together, do a gift exchange or just hang out at my place.
Next year will be a new beginning for me. Hopefully I will be in new apartment. I will be able to go to writing class in the spring without the same responsibilites. I get to hang out with my twin friend at conference.
After a year full of heartache I am so glad to have opportunities for joy in my life. Hang out with two special people.
Yesterday I decided to decorate the mantle. Growing up my Dad wouldn’t let us decorate the mantle so now I get to have fun with it. The ornaments in the middle are ones Janet and I bought at a Christmas bazaar many years ago at Centennial Hall. They have our names on them. My Mom always had a red and white theme on our Christmas tree. Of course we also have ornaments that were given to us, ornaments that I gave Janet as gifts. You know when you see the fancy trees on tv–well ours doesn’t look like that.
The big mouse plays “We Wish you a Merry Christmas”. We often get the house professional cleaned near Christmas. The woman was dusting the mantle and accidentally set it off. Not sure how she did because you have to press the foot.
I’m not putting up a tree this year. It’s just too much work lugging it up and separating the branches according to colour and then lugging the boxes down the stairs. Plus there aren’t any gifts to put under since it’s just me. It seems strange that this is the first year that I don’t have to buy gifts for anyone.
I am going to send out cards this year. A way to honour Mom but I also know there may be some people that she only corresponds with once a year that don’t know that she died. And I would like to send some people the memorial card.
This is a poem that I wrote last year for my writing class Christmas party. It sums up what Christmas was like growing up for me.
By Jennifer Rudd
Christmas music fills the air
Seems there’s little time to spare
Mom is baking Christmas treats …
Round the corner to have a peak
Brownies, hermits, macaroons
Where will we find the room?
Christmas cards upon the table
Ready soon to be labeled
A note to share our year
Spreads some Christmas cheer
Our tree is placed into the stand
Dad will lend a helping hand
It’s leaning left, now it’s right
Perfect, that’s just right
Carry boxes down the stairs
Soon tinsel is everywhere
Ornaments with our names
Branches hung with candy canes
Take a walk into the night
To see the houses alit at night
A Tale of Two Cities
Yesterday afternoon I went out for my monthly coffee date with a friend. On the way home from the coffee shop she was telling me about her grade 12 class and how they are “a handful”. She got talking about their sense of entitlement. Sitting in the driveway I said “where does that come from? Because it’s getting worse”.
I guess it seems counter intuitive to talk about this so close to Christmas. Growing up we didn’t have presents piled high under the tree. We maybe had one big present each and a couple of little ones from our parents and one each to each other. We had a budget too. When we were teenagers it was $50. And I could make that stretch quite a bit. I would buy Mom books on the reduced table, maybe find a sweater on sale another year it all takes a little thought. But there was never a year where someone didn’t like what we bought them. Eventually we upped it to $100.
I have friends that put Christmas presents on credit cards. They believe that you have to buy what the person asks for. But how do you teach a child the value of money when they always get what they asked for? We have kids that have Ipads and Iphones. I don’t even have an Iphone because I don’t need it.
I am so thankful for parents that taught me the difference between a WANT and a NEED. I had everything I needed. I was thankful for everything that I got for Christmas. Well…I didn’t like getting pjs when I was little but I used them.
I sent in a donation to the Twinless Twins organization. Some years I do it in memory of Janet. I take what I would have spent on a present and donate it. This year a generous donor will also match any donations which is such a blessing.
This Christmas be thankful for all you have. I would give anything to have my family with me.