Saturday, December 19, 2020

almost christmas

How are everyone's Christmas preparations going? Are you done with the present buying, wrapping, Christmas card sending, decorating, and baking?

I made two kinds of cookies last week and put the dough balls in the freezer. This morning, I baked all the cookies and after they were cooled down, packaged them into pretty tins and delivered to four neighbors.

I haven't wrapped a single gift yet. I'm still waiting on two more Christmas presents to come in the mail. Sure hope they arrive on time! Otherwise, admittedly, I'm a procrastinator when it comes to wrapping. I don't enjoy it, so I put it off as long as possible.

Last week, on a brilliantly sunny but COLD afternoon, Brian and I took a trip to Brookfield Zoo. We hadn't been there since our boys were little. The reason for our trip this time was bittersweet.

Every year, Wake the Nation puts up a Christmas tree at the zoo, along with the hundreds of other trees that are sponsored by other groups or individuals. Wake the Nation is a non-profit organization that brings drug awareness and education to the community, as well as providing support to those suffering with addiction and their loved ones.

As a lot of you know, our oldest son, Philip lost his battle to addiction in September 2009. He was just 21 years old. We have Phil's photo and ornament put on the Wake the Nation Christmas tree every year. Volunteers from Wake the Nation do a wonderful job of decorating this tree with loved ones ornaments and photos every year.

In all the years that we've had Phil's ornament and photo a part of this tree, we had never seen it in person. We've only seen photos that were posted on the Wake the Nation Facebook page. It was hard to see this tree in many young people's beautiful faces and smiles, knowing that they were all no longer part of this world. Of course, it was especially hard seeing our son's name and photo on this tree.

In other goings-on, I had a lovely tea-and-chat visit with my aunt the other day. We hadn't seen each other since Labor Day, so it was wonderful to see each other in person again. We were careful...we've both been recently Covid tested (both negative), we socially distanced, and we didn't hug each other. Such a strange and unnerving time we're living in.

I won't be posting again until after Christmas, so here's hoping that all of you stay healthy and well and make the best of your holiday, no matter how you're celebrating it this year.


  1. I love your home so much. It is so adorable. I am so glad you got to see Philip's ornament in person. I can imagine how emotional it was seeing his ornament and all the others there. I am also so glad that you got to visit with your aunt.

    As much as this year has been so difficult, I do love that it has made us look at things differently. Taking a step back to appreciate life and the things we normally do. Mike and I went to the lakefront in Highwood today and would never have done that in a normal time. We plan to do it every year going forward.

    Sending you, Brian and the kitties lots of love this Christmas week. I am blessed to have you in my life, my friend.

  2. Your home is so lovely and I love your decorations. So glad you could meet with your aunt, even though it was socially distanced. I am glad you were able to go see your son's name and picture. So very hard to lose a child. Life never seems to turn out the way we think it will and we just have to move forward one step at a time. Virtual hugs from UT and Merry Christmas. I will probably do a weekend post, and then go on a Christmas blog break for a week or so. May the new year hold hope and peace for all of us and our nation.

  3. Everything is done here except a few socially distanced Christmas gift deliveries. I hate to wrap gifts. Haven't in years. I buy bags in all sizes and put gifts in there. Much easier. It will be a quiet Christmas here this year. I'm making us a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for Christmas eve and Christmas day. So sorry about your son Phillip. Merry Christmas.

  4. I teared up when I saw your post on IG and am tearing up again now. I can't imagine how difficult it is. The memory trees are a way of making the loss real; seeing faces of those gone too soon instead of only hearing the statistics. It's good you were able to spend some time with your aunt. When my friend came yesterday to drop a gift to me, we handpumped and touched elbows. Normally I would give her a big ol' hug. :/ Very sweet of you to give cookies to your neighbors. Enjoy your holiday time. Take care.

  5. Hi Melanie, hugs to you. Seeing this tree and Phil’s ornaments made me cry. I hope this organization can do lots of prevention.

    We are having a very simple Christmas. Jeff is smoking a brisket and I’m making just a few simple sides and that just seems appropriate for this year.

    Merry Christmas

  6. I am so sorry for the sadness you go through with your sons passing. Sending gentle hugs. The one thing I have not done this year is make Christmas cookies! I completely forgot with the move and everything. Have a wonderful Christmas.

  7. Remembering your son on that tree at Brookfield Zoo reminds others about the tragedy of addiction. Thanks for doing that.
    Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy, healthy New Year!

  8. I can only begin to imagine how hard it must have been for you and other parents to see your child's name and photo on the memorial trees. There just are not adequate words to say for such a loss. Thinking of you, Melanie.

  9. Oh, that was a bittersweet visit. But I'm sure you both are glad you went. So much pain in this world and addiction has taken a backseat it seems. With Covid most everything has faded into the distance. I've known a long time about your son, but I know it must be even harder to bear during the holidays.

  10. Oh my friend, I am sending you a big hug. Such sadness but such a lovely way to remember your wonderful son. By the way I wrapped presents for two days and now I am done! I am not fond of wrapping, well that is an understatement. But it is over, whoo hoo! Stay safe.

  11. I cannot imagine losing a child. I know that missing part of your heart will never be the same. Seeing the tree up close and in person must have been bitter sweet. You actually get to see the beauty of the tree and Phil's ornament but you also do see all the young people that are no longer with us due to the strong hold of addiction. I am glad you had the strength to post about this great loss. I know it brings awareness and some comfort to those that are dealing with the same kind of loss you and Brian and Tim have. The Christmas cookies for neighbors I am sure are so appreciated. I did the same and my neighbors just loved the thought and the yummy gift. Have a beautiful and peace filled day on Christmas. I think we all want a peaceful day. The festive feeling is just not on the books for this year. Let's hope for a better 2021. xoxo Kris

  12. I often think of Philip - I recall I 'found you' somehow through him. I know it must be heartbreaking, especially around the holidays, to see his photo - but am glad you were able to visit the live tree this year and see him surrounded by other children also gone. I'm missing our lovely son who has not been in our life for several years, we don't know where he is. He married a terrible woman - a sociopath - and it now feels he is gone forever.
    Life can be hard and this year has been one of the worst. I pray 2021 will bring health, peace and happiness back to all, and that we each have the strength to move forward in new ways.
    Enjoy the cookies - I know your neighbors will!
    Stay well - Christmas hugs to you and Brian.

  13. How wonderful that you bake and share with your neighbors!
    Very bittersweet about visiting the zoo. I can't imagine how difficult this is for you and your family; sending virtual hugs your way. What a lovely young man.
    I usually put off wrapping until Christmas Eve, but this year I did it all in one sitting this past week and it feel like a weight lifted off my chest.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  14. Mel I just can't tell you how nice the vibe is on your blog. As I'm reading along I feel such a calmness and it must be coming from you via your words. I sure loved hearing about your trip to the zoo and the word 'bittersweet' seems so perfect. Thank you for sharing this experience with us and for reminding us again of Phil, your precious son. I didn't bake this year but I did enjoy getting little gifts for the neighbors. What a year, it seems like such a long time ago that we could go out on the street and not be thinking of this pandemic. I wish you a beautiful Christmas full of the love you deserve.

  15. Wow, what a beautiful tree to serve as a memory, but must have been so emotional and bittersweet.
    My daughter and I made nine kinds of cookies last week and I am still not sure what we are doing with all of them! We've given some away, but I am always afraid we won't keep enough on hand to what? stuff our own faces with I guess ;)


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