Hung By the Chimney with Care

When my daughter, Tenley, helped decorate for Christmas this year, she hung the stockings up on the mantel.

Because we never seem to have a full inventory of stocking hangers, there were only three hangers available in our Christmas supplies box. We needed six (my husband, me, her, my son, my father-in-law (who lives with us) and the cats (who share one stocking)). When she completed hanging stockings, the three she had put up were my husband’s, mine, and my son’s.

When I said, “we need to get yours up there,” she said “it’s okay. I’m not going to be here anyway.” While it is true that she was not home for Christmas (because she is at Disney World with a friend, has been there since 12/23/15 and will be there till 1/3/16), it’s not true that her stocking does not need to be there.

I should give her kudos for putting her brother first. There have been times in the family history where I might have predicted she would put her stocking up and let him fend for himself.

That one visual of the mantel without her stocking has stirred up so many thoughts. Forget those creatures not stirring (not even that mouse); my thoughts and feelings were stirring.

I am thinking of the time Wayne and I went to Lake Butler for a wedding when we had first started dating and refused to stay with my parents, in an attempt on my part to make some kind of statement of independence.

I am thinking of numerous friends who feel distant from their adult children, like everything they say is misunderstood, ridiculed, rebuffed, or minimized.

I am thinking especially of one friend, a fantastic and devoted mother, whose only child has broken off all communication with her. I simply don’t understand.

I am thinking of the pros and cons of how I have handled being a parent, of the times when for various reasons Wayne and I have both walked on eggshells around our daughter, thinking of that extremely unrealistic filter that is Facebook which makes almost every other family look happier, more relaxed, more whole.

I am grateful that, on balance, I have what I consider to be a solid, honest relationship with my daughter, and for the fact that she is a lot nicer to me at 19 than I was to my parents at the same age.

I am acknowledging that I still desperately want to matter, that I can’t help myself insecurity-wise when she is leaving after a visit from saying, “you’re going to come back and give me a hug before you go, right?”

I was okay (mostly) with her being gone over Christmas because a) Disney is her happy place b) our home with all the eldercare issues is not all that relaxing a place to be and c) making her stay would have only led to having a resentful teenager around over Christmas and who wants that?

What I’m not okay with is the idea that this mantel is complete without her. Therefore, while I didn’t get a picture of the original setup, the one that matters is this one, with its full complement of family members.

 

Mother Daughter Relationships

Alice Cooper and Bella, Our Family’s Cats

It is almost time to put up our Christmas tree (no, we aren’t one of those families whose home is transformed into a holiday wonderland before the Thanksgiving leftovers have been consumed).

You could say our tree-topper is very lifelike:

Bella-Tree

(To see our pre-Bella topper, click here.)

Our daughter Tenley rescued Bella two years ago. I don’t know the specifics of where she was found, but she had been abandoned by her mother and did not face much hope for survival.

It was a little risky to bring Bella into our home, since our other cat, Alice Cooper, had been put up for adoption because she couldn’t tolerate being part of a multi-cat home (her owner had a new significant other, and that arrangement brought new cats into their household).

Tenley and Wayne meet Alice Cooper, 2006.

Tenley and Wayne meet Alice Cooper, 2006.

I wouldn’t trade Alice or Bella for any traditionally acquired pet. Our family, having chosen to adopt, is in the minority, however. Of all the pets in American homes, only 29% were adopted from a shelter or rescue. On this 5th annual Celebrate Shelter Pets Day, I am hoping to see that number rise as rapidly as Bella can scale a Christmas tree (and trust me, that’s FAST!).

Seventeen million people per year acquire pets. Approximately 3-4 million of those pets are adopted, but 2.7 million still lose their lives each year for lack of a home. I don’t want a guy like Kuma to meet that fate:

For more information on rescuing a shelter pet, visit www.theshelterpetproject.org, where you can search for a pet from a local shelter or rescue group, read adoption success stories and learn valuable information about pet adoption.

Shelter Pet

I’m pleased to partner with Element Associates to bring you this information about Shelter Pets Day. In addition to Element Associates, Alice and Bella encourage you to “paw”se what you’re doing and consider a shelter pet!