Riley, my mom and dad, and I drove out to the local Christmas light display tonight. It’s become an annual tradition since Riley was about 3 or 4, when we had to keep her from crawling out the car window to get a better look at Baby Jesus and Santa.
The Wrights go all out. Rudolph shares yard space with Spongebob and Frosty. Helicopters and semi-trucks have the transportation angle covered. Outlined kiddies jump rope and “wheeee” down slides. Candy canes and trees line the driveway and paths.
It’s not a professional job, but that’s what I love about it. The display is this family’s way of sharing the joy of the season with anyone who wants to drive out to rural Colbert County.
If you visit, be kind and drop a couple of bucks in the donation box so they can keep the lights on for another year.
Imagine the sounds of the Christmas season: the ripping of wrapping paper, the squeal of an excited child, jingle bells, the whispers to Santa, and your favorite Christmas carol.
Now imagine the holidays without those sounds. That’s how it was for Riley until she turned 2. With the help of cochlear implants and years of auditory-verbal therapy, she is able to enjoy all the sounds of the season just like any kid with typical hearing, including me yelling, “Riley! Stop shaking your presents!”
One of Riley’s favorite Christmas sounds is a DVD by The Wiggles. The kiddie band was one of the first things she heard after her implants were activated. “Mama, I don’t care how old I get, ” she says, “I’ll always love The Wiggles.” The photo at right shows her gettin’ wiggly during her first holiday to hear. Pretty special, right?
Since then she has sung in numerous school Christmas programs and played three roles in her third-grade-class production of “A Christmas Carol.” Not bad for a girl who, when she was born, couldn’t hear a jet engine if you held her next to it.
When all the noise starts getting to you, stop and think what it’d be like if you couldn’t hear at all. No kids singing “Away in a Manger,” no friends laughing, no voice saying “I love you.” Then be grateful for the sounds. And take some ibuprofen and a nap and get on with your holiday-ing.
Every time I’ve come here to write, I’ve decided against it. But today’s the day. I’m going to talk about what’s been going on the past five months. But not in too much detail. Details suck sometimes.
I will be a single mom probably by the first of the year. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you’d planned. Sometimes two people just don’t fit together anymore. It hurts, but it’s time to move on and start a new life.
Y’all know how much I love Christmas, from the lights and trees to presents, shows and music. So this year, three of my favorite tunes – “Blue Christmas,” “Please Come Home for Christmas” and “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home” – certainly apply to my situation. I love these songs whether I have someone to meet under the mistletoe or not.
While it will be sad that the three of us won’t be a family at Christmas, I won’t be singing these tunes about the past and love lost. I’ll be singing them and I may brush away a tear or two, but I’ll be doing my damnedest not to be sad and blue. I have Riley to make it bright and shiny and new and happy.
And I’ve got the rest of my family and friends, a job I love, my writing, a roof over our head and food in the fridge. And it’s Christmas! So while my happiness might have a little blue around the edges, it’s still going to be merry and bright. And I’m grateful for that.
My dad has been in a Florence hospital since Dec. 3, so I’ve been driving the hour and a half to visit him and help out my mom. Seeing my dad hooked to IVs and tubes and drains is not how I pictured the holidays.
However, the long, late-night drives home are brightened by the Christmas lights I see between Florence and Huntsville. I mark my journey by the Nativity scenes, the wooden Santas, the three crosses, the glowing reindeer, the flag display and the lighted wreaths.
When I need a break from the hospital, I can drive a couple of blocks to Florence’s Wilson Park, which is transformed into a wintry scene with tons of lights.
A favorite sight in Huntsville is on Sebring Street just off Oakwood Avenue (last photo on the left) – Santa’s sleigh is pulled by reindeer as Tigger keeps watch. Frosty and his family greet viewers from inside their snowglobe, candy canes line the driveway and snowflakes “fall” from the sky. The delightful scene thrilled by daughter. And it’s nice on my drive home after work.
These photos on the left are of our house. We did the best we could with the short time we had … and I probably love this display more than the years when we had the eaves outlined just so and the two lighted trees standing sentry at the front door.
Somehow this year’s display, though Charlie Brown in its disarray, means more to me than ever.