I found out a long time ago from my friend Cookie that "You know there really isn't a Santa Claus." "Santa is just make believe."
Now at age much older than 8, I am kind of wondering if Cookie might not have known what the heck she was talking about.
I say this because when I woke up on this Christmas morning there were many gifts under my tree. Gifts that I hadn't noticed were there the night before.
On Christmas Eve morning, Ross came into the den to find me, as usual, at the computer. As usual, he came over to give me a kiss. As usual, Rico was barking at Ross for giving me a kiss because Rico thinks that I should be a one man woman, his.
Anyway, Ross knelt down beside me and said, I want you know that there is not going to be a present for you this year. He tells me that every year, as usual.
He said "really, there are no little surprises this year." I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was serious and that he wanted to seriously prepare me so that I wouldn't be seriously disappointed.
I looked up at him and my eyes filled up with tears and in a shaky little voice I asked "why?"
"Remember we agreed that we weren't going to exchange gifts this year," he said.
I have to admit I didn't get him anything because of that agreement. But he had been hinting that there just might be a little something for me anyway.
And considering the tough time we have had lately, I thought that this year, especially this year, there would be a little something.
The next morning, Christmas day, I woke up at 5:00, as usual. Ross and Rico were still sound asleep, as usual.
I got up, closed the bedroom door, so that I wouldn't wake either of them, especially Rico.
I put the kettle on for my tea, as usual.
I was surprised to find that the Christmas tree was still lit and I wondered why the timer hadn't worked.
It was still dark, and a little chilly. I snuggled up in an old soft afghan, curled up on the sofa next to the tree and started to reflect on the past almost two years.
I guess I got lost in my thoughts because at first I didn't notice all of the gifts that were under the tree.
The odd thing was that they were not wrapped in the traditional red, and green; santa and snowmen; glittery silver and gold wrapping paper.
But I am grateful, so very grateful for each and every one.
Thank you so much my beautiful daughter, for your gift of support. You called me nearly every day these last few months. I cherish our hours and hours of phone talk. You are one of the kindest and giving people I know.
My son, thank you for knowing that you can come to me for anything and that I will always be there for you. Thank you for being there for your brother. He loved you too, bro.
Thank you to my favorite son-in-law, because you are also the best son-in-law. You are always Jen's rock. You proved that more than ever these last few months.
Thank you to my sweet "daughter" Jeannie. Your quiet little caring ways have not gone unnoticed by me. Thank you for standing by and with Jimmy. I know it has not been easy.
Thank you to my Joe's angel, Anne, I will never forget the encouraging whispers, soft caresses, and soothing foot massages that you gave your husband. They are the most tender memories I have during the most difficult and heartbreaking times.
Ross, you have given me some of the most special gifts. You have proven to me many times over the years that you are also one of the most kind and giving people I know.
I have seen you on more than one occasion, pull over to the side of the road offering help to those in need. You always manage to find something good in everyone. One of your favorite phrases is, "he or she is a good person."
You were there with me every step of the way, helping me take care of Ma. I will never forget how gentle and gentlemanly you were with her.
So I feel a little selfish and bratty when I think of my behavior the other day. Silly tears over the fact that there wasn't going to be a pair of earrings or a bracelet.
How could something bought in a jewelry store replace what you have given me these last almost two years?
So Ross, Thank you for...
The promise that you would be available to help Joe and Anne with whatever they needed. And you were.
The many appointments that you cancelled to do just that.
The miles and miles of chauffeuring.
The many chemo trips, babysitting gigs, and during the last months, just spending time with Joe.
Biting your tongue when my irrational anger put you in my line of fire. And then always saying, "I still love you, you know."
The hours and hours of listening, sometimes, most times, in the middle of the night.
Trying to get me to smile, even when I didn't want to.
The strong shoulder that I shed many tears on.
I love you.
Okay now that the mushy stuff is out of the way, you are going to get me that new iPhone right? After all you promised.
I'm sure in time the anger I feel at Santa for taking away one of my precious gifts will become less and less.
I'm looking forward to that time, the time when I can curl up on my sofa before the sun rises and remember with joy, the many gifts that my Joey has left for me.
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