I pulled my life together enough to mail Christmas cards this year. A Black Friday deal in my email inbox caught me at just the right moment, and I was able to make it happen for the first time in my whole life.
I forced the kids to get dressed for a picture – what seemed like the worst thing I have ever asked them to do.
Jack really wanted to wear his mismatching, too-small pajamas and cowboy boots. Ellie wanted to wear a t-shirt and a pair of her brother’s superhero underwear. Gus just wanted to be left out of it all together.
My husband agreed to cheerfully help with this adventure as long as he got to be the photographer. He didn’t want to hire a professional because he knew that meant I would want him dressed too for a picture of the entire family.
After about eight minutes in the front yard, a million “say cheese” requests, some tears from Gus and a bribe for all three that included ice cream, we gave up and hoped that at least one of the pictures of the 280 Ben took would work.
I now know that ordering a random amount, thinking it would give us more than enough cards to cover everyone on our list, was a rookie mistake. But in an effort to learn from this mistake, I promise to spend the next 11 months thinking about how I need to put everyone’s name and address in Excel. Maybe in 2023 I will actually get around to doing that.
In addition to sending out cards, we made a donation in honor of each recipient to Ellie’s endowment at the cardiology department of Arkansas Children’s Hospital. (We established the fund on her second birthday to help support the people and place who make her birthdays possible.) We couldn’t think of a better gift to thank Ellie’s – and our – support system, but also couldn’t think of a more worthy group of people to serve.
Ellie’s next big cardiology check-up is this week. In the past, the lead-up to these appointments puts me on edge and this time is no different. The holidays already keep us busy with the cookie making and present wrapping, but the closer we get to the appointment, the heavier my chest feels and the more I get sentimental.
Each round of tests every few months marks time for me. I relive all of the procedures from before and can’t help but think about how far we have come. Every time she lays on the table, she is longer and takes up more space. She has a deeper understanding of what is about to happen and now looks at me, expecting reassurance and protection from what is about to happen to her body.
She and I will get to the hospital right after lunch and start the tests. Once the results are in and read, her cardiologist will meet with me – and Ben will be on speakerphone – to talk about next steps while Ellie plays with the toys she gets to pick from the treasure chest.
Afterwards, we will come home to the buzzing holiday excitement and cheer that little kids just exude this time of year, and Ben’s mom, aunt and uncle will be here for a family Christmas celebration.
No matter what happens at the appointment, just like always, time marches on. I will pull myself together, just enough, again.
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