Surviving and Thriving
After much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, I've decided to dive back into the Blogher Nablopomo groove for November.
On the one hand, it seems completely ridiculous given my current mental/emotional/spiritual state (for the last few weeks, I've been wrestling with heavy things-i've-been-avoiding-for-years-but-are-now-unavoidable-and-wreaking-havoc-on-myself-and-my-family-types of issues. It's been super fun, you guys!); on the other, more compelling hand, I need to hold myself accountable to this space and the loyal remnant who read it. This is not even a matter of obligation, but more an issue of self-respect. I won't be satisfied if I allow this labor of love to stagnate. Thus, I will write. *insert wincing emoticon here*
What is your favorite holiday memory? (And yes, you can pick any holiday, including your birthday.)
So, this post is gonna be a twofer since my favorite holiday memory and favorite birthday memory happened within a few days of each other.
My parents officially separated during the summer of 1991. After Dad moved out, our now-foursome (my mom, two older brothers, and I) moved from Phoenix to L.A. It was a lot of upheaval and change in a truncated amount of time, but we relied heavily on each other to get through it. Los Angeles was a completely different environment than the one I'd been raised in, but I understood that I needed to make the best of it for the sake of everyone, particularly my mother.
As the holidays approached, it became apparent that money was incredibly tight. We had always been on a strict budget, even when my parents were together, but this was different. Despite working multiple jobs and watching every penny, there just didn't seem to be enough for a Thanksgiving meal. My brothers and I were fine with this, honestly, but my mom seemed to take it especially hard.
Thanksgiving day arrived and brought with it something I never expected: The most amazing spread of food I'd ever seen. I addition to a golden-brown bird, there was buttery mashed potatoes, thick gravy, zesty greens, velvety sweet potatoes, decadent macaroni and cheese, tangy cranberry sauce, and pillowy homemade bread. In spite of helping her prepare it, my brothers and I could hardly believe what we were seeing! It was like the good Lord multiplied the food while she was cooking it.
Over two decades have passed and I still have no explanation for what happened that day.
A few days later, my birthday rolled around. Knowing our situation, I really wasn't expecting much. I planned on enjoying whatever the day would bring. Some ice cream, perhaps? Again, what happened next was nothing short of miraculous. On December 2, 1991, my mom surprised me with a trip to Disneyland for my 10th birthday.
In addition to working during the day, my mother worked as a cocktail waitress at night. One of her customers left her $100 tip and encouraged her to do something special with it. She could've spent that money on herself because God knows, she could've used a treat; instead, Mom gave me one of my most cherished memories. Words truly fail to accurately describe that level of selflessness.
Mickey & Me, 1991.
We returned to Phoenix the next summer, but the bonds my family forged during that period are as strong as titanium, and allowed us to navigate the ups and downs of the years that followed. Looking back, I recognize the importance of that time because it showed us that, with God at our center, we could survive and thrive in the most challenging of circumstances.