This year, we knew we'd be celebrating the holidays without Thomas, who would remain in China. With that in mind, I decided that it was time to do something totally different on Christmas day. I compiled a list of people who have been near and dear to us and invited them to join us for Christmas, knowing many would already have plans for the day. I also had a feeling that the number who would accept our invitation would be more than our house could comfortably hold.
I rented a building in our little town, which I knew would have plenty of space for the occassion.
As the responses to our invitation came in, I realized that this was definitely going to be a great day. I enjoyed the whole process of watching this "idea" materialize into a space with tables festivaly decorated for the special day. Everyone who was coming planned to bring a dish to share, so I knew food would be abundant.
As Christmas morning arrived, Larry and I arose quite early. Throughout the years, for some reason, we've always been awake and waiting for the children to appear. I don't quite understand it, but I know there's an undescribable love that causes parents to act this way.
Finally Ellen appears and because Thomas doesn't seem to be out there in cyberspace, we proceed with gift opening. The "other tradition" must be put on hold until we can find Thomas.
About an hour later, after making some last minute preparations for the day, Thomas appeared 'on line' and we were able to see and hear each other on skype. What a wonderful invention ! The 'other tradition', which I speak of, is many years of writing letters to Santa the night before Christmas. There was no need to write earlier, because especially as the children grew older, these letters were no longer about asking for gifts, but sharing their thoughts and experiences. The kids would make their appearance Christmas morning and immediately look for letters from Santa and Mrs. Claus. This year these letters arrived via email to and from Thomas.
For the next hour or so, thanks to skype, we felt like a family unit, being together on Christmas morning, reading Santa letters and 'catching up'; Thomas, sharing his amazing life in China and Ellen talking about her days at school and spending time with Josh, her fiance', who would be arriving here in a few days.
As the time drew closer for people to arrive, I realized how rich our life has been. This huge room slowly filled with an amazing group of wonderful people.
If it happens again, which I hope it will, I'll be truly amazed. For some reason it's difficult to repeat a magic moment where people from all walks of life come together in true respect for one another and have a great time. I think this is what happened and I loved it.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
After spending the past three years working for a non-profit organization, called "Center for Conscience and War", in Washington, D.C., Thomas was left without a job due to shortage of funding. Fortunately, he was given plenty of time before his job ended to search for another. During the process he found jobs almost non-existent. This is when he decided to explore the possibility of teaching English as a second language. That was back in December of 2009. The whole process began with signing up for classes, on-line study and tests in preparation for an assignment thru TESOL.
After leaving D.C. in March, Thomas then spent two months with a close friend in Dallas while studying for the TESOL exam. I anxiously waited and observed. Finally Thomas flew back to Arkansas. It was wonderful having him at home, helping with the business and of course, just being with us..
The process of reaching the point of preparedness and an assignment finally reached it's final stage. Tomorrow Thomas boards a plane, which will take him, for the first time, out of the country, to Hengyang, China. I'm amazed at the calmness and confidence he's displayed throughout this long process and I'm sure I've been a bit annoying at times...."Thomas, did you do this yet ?" "Thomas, are you sure you really want to go?" "Thomas, I think you need to make lists of things to do and take."
Thank goodness for all the long distance communication options we now have !! And yes, I realize that this process of learning was and will always be a partnership between parent and child.. I'm loving the journey.