Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and this year I had a lot of time to reflect on what I'm thankful for since Thanksgiving for the Zimmers is tomorrow.  I knew that Thursday would not would not give me enough recovery time from treatment on Monday, so we decided wait a few days to decorate our house with turkey ornaments, autumn place mats and fill the house scents of cinnamon and sage.  A wise decision.

Thankfully my parents still got to enjoy Thanksgiving on the real day without having to fuss for hours in the kitchen.  The Griffins did the fussing around and my parents got to enjoy a delicious AND relaxing day, but tomorrow all the fussing is done by the Zimmers (AKA mom). As hard as it was to make the decision sit Thursday out, it gave me the day to reflect on all my thanksgivings and this reflection I will share with you.  

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with my good buddy, Melinda, about Christmas.  I shared with her my anxiety about the holiday.  I love the idea of Christmas, spending rarely found time with family eating red and green treats, going to Christmas concerts and remembering the spirit of the season.  But it's the gift part that every year makes me throw up my hands say, "next year, I don't want any gifts and I won't buy any gifts."  But every year, out of guilt, I find myself shopping for that one perfect gift for a family member or friend, mostly because I worry about hurting feelings if I show up empty handed.  I want these people to know that I love them, that they're important to me and Christmas gifts are a pretty big deal in this country.  And the fact that I am a mediocre gift giver, meaning I have a terrible time figuring out what to buy each person that I usually end up handing out gift cards like business cards, puts an extra amount of stress on me and nothing says,"I haven't really paid any attention to anything you've told me over the past year" like a gift card.  Do we really need to get all those scarves and pre-arranged gift baskets full of shaving cream or 20 varieties of hot cocoa? Are we just buying this stuff because we "have to"? I can't think of anything I think I need right now, and I barely own anything and honestly, I'd rather save the little amount of money I have left to my name and not spend it on a gift you're going to forget in a week or put it out in next year's yard sale. Melinda shared the same grief about Christmas and announced she was adopting a family at the women's shelter and I fell in love with her idea.  In my opinion, this is the most brilliant idea for curing my Christmas shopping blues.  I feel justified in my quest for finding "the perfect gifts" now.  This family needs a this day to be special and I'm going to do what ever it takes to make it happen. 

So there I sat yesterday, in my recliner in the living room, with a shawl wrapped around my neck and fleece blanket hugging my legs, reading the paperwork I received from the women's shelter about my family. My family consists of a mom, age 33 who has 3 children ages 7, 4 and 6 months old.   All I have are two sheets of paper that describe their clothing sizes, needs and wants.  There is very little personal information. I have the children's first names, their favorite color and favorite animals.  I know mom likes candles, but needs everything to cook meals for her kids. Beyond that, I know virtually nothing about this family.  I began to imagine myself as this mom.  We are the same age.  We probably grew up listening to the same bands and fantasizing about going to the prom with Edward Furlong.  But now our lives couldn't be more different and I couldn't help but to think about why, or at least try to imagine why. I realized, even with cancer, no job, no money and no possessions, my life is a great life. 

I've been dealt an awesome hand in the game of life and having a life like mine obligates me to seek out to help those who might not have been as lucky.  Actually, having cancer has been a small blessing, reminding me that I am loved and I have an army of people to rely on.  My parents never complain about my messes or various glasses of water i leave around the house because I forgot I already had one.  They make sure I am taking all my vitamins and for the first few months, they drove me around to wherever I needed to go and got me a car when we realized it was getting too complicated with only 2 cars and 3 drivers. They listen to me when I just need to cry and hold their breath when they see blood boiling to my surface.  They're riding the emotional and physical roller coaster with me, laughing at some parts and wishing it would just end at other parts. But my parents aren't the only ones on that roller coaster with me.  I have cars linked up behind my parents and I, filled with people riding along with us. I have a sister who sends me a down coat from Asia because she noticed I was cold during one of weekly skype dates, I have a brother who calls to check in on me and ditches his girlfriend to spend the weekend in VT, I have friends who will bring over milk shakes, books, scarves, wigs, knit me hats, come over at the instant I call, spend an entire Saturday night sleeping in chairs next to my bed in the ER, drive me to doctors appointments, buy me pajama jeans, plan a party that turns shaving my head into a fun day, shave off years of facial hair to go "bald" with me, cry with me, and most importantly, besides the extra gifts and tears, they don't treat me any differently than before and in fact let me know when I've overused the "cancer card".  I have crowds of strangers raising money in my honor when the Rutland Rugby club, a group of some of my closest friends, organized a fundraiser filled with boobie hats, boobie cupcakes, and "Erica's Boobs: I'll Drink to That" cups to which they raised $2000 for the Foley Cancer Center. Mount Saint Joseph Academy first surprised me by "pinking" their field with pink uniforms, balloons and carnations, but just last week a received a package from the school.  Inside was a pink MSJ t-shirt, a check for $142.05 and a handmade card with a picture of the entire school wearing the pink t-shirt.  $142.05.  That check, could have been $2.05 and it would have evoked the same reaction from me.  I didn't even try to hold back the tears while my mom, dad and I stood over the package and admired the items, especially the check for $142.05.  That odd sum, the random amount, meant that the students participated in the collection.  I know that students searched the bottom of their back packs and threw in the change from their lunch money to donate to a teacher that most of them never knew.  

I am one lucky girl.

This year, my Christmas wish is to pay forward for all that I have received to this family.  I don't know if they have support like I have, but chances are they don't and I want to be their support.  I want to ride in their roller coaster car for Christmas and I hope you will too.  All I want for Christmas is to get everything this family wants, so if you were thinking of getting me a Christmas gift, please purchase something from the link below for this family, that would be the best Christmas present you could get me.  Also, if you have any hand-me-downs that might fit these kids, also please let me know.  
Going from Mullet to Mohawk


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  2. You are amazing Erica, I'll check the list!

  3. Erica, Here are a few hugs for Christmas! Paolo