This Christmas is an interesting one for Liam and I. Our 7th together. Our 5th married. In the last year, we’ve moved house twice and bought our 1st home. Liam’s started a new job, and I celebrated a one year anniversary at my ‘new’ job. I started this blog and Liam started Cross Fit (which for him, is equally as rewarding and time consuming – and often healthier, given how much I graze on food while I’m at the computer). Friends and family married, and others celebrated the 1st birthdays of their children. And both of us said goodbye to important people in our lives – specifically our grandmothers. Women who helped to look after us when we were younger, and who I spent every Christmas Eve with for as long as I can remember. 2013 was a true year of beginnings and ends.
One year ago, before this blog I started another one (http://lettersfrombirdie.wordpress.com/) that logged the love letters my grandfather sent to my grandmother. When they were growing up, they weren’t allowed to date, and he travelled around Minnesota and Iowa building homes and working as a stone mason while she stayed at home and went to school. He wrote her every week until they were married, and even sometimes after they were married if he was back on the road. His letters were always funny, sweet, and a window into ordinary life. He didn’t dress things up. He merely shared what was true. When my grandmother was moved into a care home, I inherited those letters. I never met him, but through those personal notes and drawings I got to know him and what type of person helped to shape my mother’s character, who in turn shaped my character. Through those letters I learned that we are a family of hard workers. Of people who enjoy creating things with our hands – whether it’s a home, gardens, furniture, art or food. Deep down, we are romantics and dreamers but all mixed with a healthy dose of pragmatism. And above all, we are stubborn.
When she died, I stopped that blog and didn’t write for about six months. I wasn’t sure how to deal with the topic of her leaving us. Nor was I ready to acknowledge her death – especially not in the online world. But I couldn’t add a post without mentioning it because that felt wrong too. So I simply paused, and turned to another project. This one. Which, through the course of building a home and welcoming my husband’s family into it, has brought me back full circle to this time last year. To the home I’m building because of the home she built with him.
Today we toasted those who are no longer with us. And we toasted to the future. To those surprising and amazing people who will come and add another line to the story of our lives. To those wonderful people who have made us who we are, and will continue to walk alongside us as we move forward.
So while the rest of the family are enjoying their Christmas naps, I am pausing again to think and to wish you all a very merry time with the ones you love. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a day in your life that gives you the same time to look back and look forward; to mark the end of one year and the start of another. And I wanted to say thank you for being (actually or virtually) present in my life. I look forward to 2014.