Regardless of what Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, and Oprah say, sometimes the best gifts at Christmas are the re-gifted ones. My family found out last Thursday, after my mom had to go to the emergency room in tremendous pain, that there was a large tumor growing inside her about the size of a large grapefruit. That emotionally charged and frightening word "cancer" has hung in the air all weekend, especially scary for my dad who is also sick with Parkinsons. Yesterday as I waited with my dad in the waiting room for my mom to come out of surgery, we talked about how different Christmas would be this year - not the same as the joyous Christmases of the past with our many family traditions. I knew it would be different this year, it's already passed me by a little and hasn't been as much in my heart as in times past. The challenges and experiences of this year have definitely weighed heavily upon my heart and now this one rejuvenating, merry holiday was marked by this dark cloud, this heavy sadness with the potential to usurp the joy of the season. But somehow, and to my amazement, I didn't feel what I thought I would. I just felt a pure and simple hope - not that nothing bad or sad would happen, but a hope that all potential sadness, loss, weakness, could be overcome and by that I mean Christ can make us better inside. He can truly heal us and strengthen us. Things we never thought we could do or endure are always possible with Him. I didn't expect to write all that in my blog but it just came out and even though I often struggle to believe that I pray everyday to believe that more and more. I felt that yesterday - the true gift of Christmas, and the gift of having the good news that my mother is well. The tumor was benign and the surgery was a success. The doctor came out and told us around 6:30pm. It is a great blessing and gift to have mom back, and to be reminded of the gift she is and the gift that family relationships truly are. All seven of us kids and my dad gathered around her bed last night as she came back from recovery and we said a family prayer together. How grateful I am for my family this Christmas and for the gifts the Savior gives that we don't always realize are gifts. I am grateful for that.
Now, to transition to a few of the things that have happened since I last wrote which was a long time ago cause I've been a slacker. I went to California a couple of weeks ago to sustain my complicated Catherine-like lifestyle. I flew back to substitute for one day so I keep my health beneftis and this time I went to teach in Compton. I didn't have my own car with me so I relied on the mercy of my uncle and a great friend in Huntington Beach to drive and pick me up. They both have pretty nice cars so I was a bit concerned for them but they thought I was worth the risk so I'm very grateful to them. I love the contrast between Salt Lake and LA. It's always good to be reminded what it feels like to be in the minority (not many pasty-white redheads around Compton).
I was also so hungry that day I actually broke down and bought school lunch. I know, I shocked even myself. I didn't even eat school lunch when I was in school, especially not tater-tots, but it gave me enough energy to finish out the day reading the Crucible with the the juniors and seniors. I also made a trip to Disneyland while I was there and had two glorious runs on the beach wearing shorts and a tank-top. Such a far cry from my running in Utah - fleece pants, three shirts, and a headband, and worse I haven't been able to get up in the morning and go like I usually do. Something about the complete darkness, freezing temperatures, and slippery roads that discourages me a little. I don't know, maybe it's just me. I also took a shopping trip to my favorite store in the world Trader Joes and got some Peppermint Joe Joe's dipped in chocolate. What a good trip. Still loving my roommate, my guitar time, and have a bunch of movies and books I'm looking forward to devouring this holiday break. Thought I've also got a lot of writing to do so we'll see how much I get done. Life...life is quite an amazing journey. Happy Christmas everyone (I like the way the British say it) and God bless us everyone.