'NOT ANOTHER STORM DAY'
It was 5:30 A.M. and the irritating beep of the alarm clock woke me abruptly, and just as abruptly I was up preparing for another work day. There wasn't a minute to spare in the mornings. I had to report for work by 6:45AM. The house was cold, and a peek through the window made me want scream! . There had been a heavy snowfall overnight, my husband was away, and my two student offspring were still sleeping. I turned on the radio just in time to hear the announcement of school closures for the day. Yes, the students had a 'storm day' and the mere words turned me into a mass of anticipatory stress. What would these two partners in crime do or undo today?
My son was in Grade Twelve, tall and strong, his sister was in Grade Nine, shorter in stature but an equal accomplice to her brother in his many pranks and practical jokes. It was ten days before Christmas and, as any working Mom knows, it is a time of astronomical stress, too many demands, and constant fatigue. I had all the symptoms of the overworked, distressed working Mom, and more! Storm days were days that I wished the earth would swallow me whole! I well recalled the last free day these two had at home together. I came home to find my son with red marks all over his face and my daughter looking like she swallowed the goldfish.
"What happened to you?", I asked my lanky son.
"She gave me the German Claw when we were wrestling!", he grudgingly admitted.
That made me see red and I was more angry than I could express. How could this diminutive girl put her big brother into a wrestling hold and leave him with marks like this? And why? I counted to ten, remembered that she could do anything to her brother and he would never fight back or hurt her. They were best friends and what one did not think of doing the other one did. They conspired on pranks beyond the imagination of any normal human mind. I often gave thought to the notion that they were 'Obsessed' by some supernatural power!
So before leaving for work on that snowy morning I told them about the storm day. Maybe they would sleep all day, or at least longer than usual. A Mother can dream anyway.
The work day progressed for me. I received only two phone calls from home, and the situation there seemed under control in spite of my fears. It was blustery and cold, but they were inside, warm and fed. Surely they would not repaint the house, or scorch their feet on the burner of the stove, which had happened the day my son had tried to walk completely around the house without touching the floor! He was quite proud of that accomplishment!
Pushing those thoughts aside I worked until 4PM. Then I left to start my never-ending list of errands, a daily routine that kept our lives in order. I finally arrived home filled with dread, knowing that in eleven hours my two delinquents could have turned the world upside down, wounded each other, or reorganized the whole house. There was nothing they would not try or do! That was 'a given' as the saying goes!
I was exhausted, and a tad ill-tempered by the time I arrived home. The outside Christmas lights were on and I entered our house to find the kitchen in a state of cleanliness, and filled with the aroma of baked chicken. The reflections of the lights through the large window, combined with an immaculate house, the smell of supper cooking, and two young people with smiles bigger than I thought imaginable, warmed my heart. They were so proud of their accomplishments.
"Well, since supper is underway, we'll have time to get the tree up tonight," I sputtered, still in a state of mild shock.
"Yeah, we'll help Mom," they both answered, "Dad called too."
They related their conversation with their Dad. He had told them when he would be home soon and they suggested we really should put the tree up in the Recreation Room so he would be surprised. Something was starting to make my skin itch and I began to feel a mild dizziness. Was this really happening to me?
After the meal they offered to do the dishes. This was surreal! In spite of my exhaustion I wondered if these two were really this compliant? I began to watch the news, but the two cherubic beings stood in front of me and asked "Aren't we going to do the tree?"
OH, yes, the 'Tree'. The three of us headed toward the family room where we always placed our tree. The smell of a fir tree met me as I opened the door. I reached out for the light switch when suddenly the corner of the room lit up the most beautifully decorated Christmas tree! There were gifts underneath the tree, and it all looked simply glorious. Then the music of 'Phil Coulters Christmas' began to play. All I could do was stare, as my eyes filled with tears and I started to cry. It was the most amazing Christmas moment I had experienced for years.
I looked into the faces of the two young people who had been responsible for this gift, a gift I knew I would forever remember. Then I realized they were a gift to me, a gift I sometimes took for granted.
My feeling of love for them, my spirits lifting gave me a release of the fatigue I was experiencing, the music I loved playing from my daughters little recorder, the blush on their cheeks, combined with their looks of pride and achievement, is a moment engraved on my heart. I will never forget it, nor will they ever know how great a gift they gave me. They recognized their Mom was tired and her chores endless, so they gave of their time to help in a wonderful way.
How could I have underestimated them to such a degree? They could channel their youth and energy in a positive direction. It is something they are proud of still, and they are twenty-nine and thirty-three now.
I mention it every Christmas, and I hear the same thing every year "Aw, Mom!", they say, "Everyone has heard that before!"I still think they are delightfully overjoyed at what they did for their Mom that Christmas.
Whether or not I am with them, or if they are far away, I can see their bright eyes, feel my sons' strong arms around my shoulders, and my arms around my daughters' waist, hear the music, and see the most stunning Christmas tree glowing and decorated beautifully.
They gave me the best Christmas gift of all. They gave of themselves, and showed they understood and knew how their Mom was feeling.
Merry Christmas John and Heather. And Thank you! My love for you is everlasting, as everlasting as the sweet memory of the Christmas tree you decorated for me on your 'Storm Day'!
Thank you for the heartfelt memory.