The Gift

You guys do remember that I’m taking all these recent pictures with just one hand, right?  So, sometimes the photos are not so hot, but I post them anyway because they’re the best I could do all by myself, like a big girl, and that’s what counts to me.  And paradoxically, at the same time that I’ve been cultivating this me do it attitude, I also get daily lessons in humility that remind me how dependent I am upon others right now.

For example, it’s not only in the movies that trees fall over when you’re in the middle of decorating them.  In this case Shel had put the tree in the stand and gone off to Seattle, after securing my assurance that there was no trouble I could possibly get into while decorating the tree one-handed. But, inevitably, gravity had its way with me and I found myself with a half-decorated tree that had fallen over, and powerless to do anything about it one-handed.

An emergency phone call produced Tom and Louise who sawed and tugged and set the tree back upright.  I was beyond thrilled that they had saved the day, and they, apparently were thrilled to be called upon to help.  People really do want to help, and even though I’m more of a helper than a helpee, I now have to let myself be helped every day with the most mundane of tasks.

But I was bound and determined that I could decorate the tree by myself.  We were in Europe for the past three Christmases, so I hadn’t seen my ornaments for four years. My tree is always the least chic, most eclectic jumble imaginable.  I have this little Santa and a host of other little people that I made from an elaborate  kit back when Jordan was a baby. A red feather given to me by Kathy.

A little bunny that I made one year when I was too poor to buy any ornaments, let alone a kit to make them. Christmas tree as time travel.

My multicultural sari-clad angel has recently risen to the top, following the demise of a large gilded Mexican bird that used to reside there.

These snuggle up comfortably with large red foil spiders left from my own childhood tree, an onion ornament left from the days before I was a cook, a ferry boat ornament left from before the days when we lived on an island, a slice of gold-sprayed dried orange turned ornament, left from Jordan’s kindergarten class 30 years ago, a bit of everything from my life to date, except that there’s nothing French hanging there.  When we go back to France in the spring I’ll be looking for things to adorn next year’s tree.

But the real gift has been having this opportunity to become a child again. Still sleeping in the recliner three weeks after my surgery, this is the view from my improvised bed.  A childhood dream, the tree looming over my pillow, presents heaped at my feet, Shel to tuck me into my nest every night and turn out the light.  Shel having learned to scrunch gel into my hair, choose my earrings and fit them into the little holes in my ears.  Shel who put a glass of fresh water by my bed every night, next to a little bowl of pills. Shel who chops the onions and does the laundry, Shel who lays the fire and plays the guitar when I feel like singing.

All this and much, much more Shel does for me every day that I may regain the full and painless use of my shoulder. He cares for me as you do for a child, but he treats me like an adult. The shoulder is my gift from Shel, and Shel is my gift from the universe. It’s ok, Santa, there’s no need to stop at our house, my gift’s already here.

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15 Comments on “The Gift”

  1. Barry Says:

    That’s My Pal ….. Lovely sentiments , presented with love and truth .

  2. silvia carry Says:

    You ARE the very Spirit of Christmas!!!!

  3. Brother Mark Says:

    Honestly, most of the pictures you take one-handed are still better than most folks take time to do in a good day. And I’m glad you still honor your childhood – I still have my favorites of my mom’s ornaments that she used all those years. They are older than you or I, but they still look good on the tree! Thank you for always sharing, and blessings to you and Shel for Christmas and always…

  4. Jeanne Says:

    Merry Christmas, Abra and Shel!
    And with the mention of returning to La Belle France in the spring – Happy New Year a little early! What a joy to read your Christmas message, thank you for sharing with us.

  5. Debra Lane Says:

    Happy Holidays Abra and Shel! I concur that the best gift one can receive in life is to have married well with someone who is truly a partner in life and in sickness and in health. A joyous season to you and yours!

  6. Don & Angie Says:

    Marry Christmas to both you and Shel. Hope you have a wonderful day.

  7. Della Says:

    Merry Christmas!

  8. Conni Says:

    Not to mention Shel makes the best coffee ever!!!!

    Merry Christmans to both of you!

  9. Rebecca Says:

    This post touches me most of all. Abra- I send you light and joy.

  10. Lori Says:

    Merry Christmas Abra and Shel. While the idea for your blog may have started out as an adventure in France and cooking, it has transformed into so much more. A love story, joy, gratitude, friendships,… Wishing you more peace, joy, health, and happiness in the new year.

  11. Diane Says:

    What a beautiful post of love!

  12. Well, we’ve grown to expect no less from that wonderful man! Enjoy the holidays!

  13. Wendy miller Says:

    Abra what a sweet post. Our tree is an eclectic mix of ornaments too! Some From my childhood, some that were my moms, daynes added into the mix & of course the ones we are collecting together. It’s a great gift to be cared for & surrounded by the ones you love!


  14. Hil Says:

    That was just beautiful Abra! Thank you for sharing it. I hope that now the holidays are almost over, we four can take some time and go out to dinner together?!

    Happy, healthy and joyous New Year!


  15. Cindy Says:

    I’ve just stumbled upon your blog, and as an old francophone/phile myself and a lover of good food, I found your writings delightful.

    This post in particular really hit home, specifically your gratitude for Shel and all he does for you. How lucky you both are, and how wise to understand the value of what you have together.

    Wishing you smooth sailing for your ongoing recovery . . . et meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle année! 🙂

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