She gifted a giggle…

It’s Christmas time. December moved fast, as it always does. It is like we blink the day after Thanksgiving;  all of the sudden it is Christmas Eve. I feel like it moves faster now that the girls are older and our time is shared. I have a love/hate, easy/hard relationship with Christmas. It was fun this year to teach Faith Formation to 3rd graders… to talk about Mary and her bravery and faith. We did a little Live Nativity play and it was fun (and crazy). I missed a lot of Mass and honestly feel a pull to come home to Mass… to pull that peace into my week. I miss it.

This December I didn’t take time to feel Madeline like I normally do. We missed caroling at her spot, I missed seeing her friends… but she’s here. Time is just different. Christmas came fast…

Rick and I went up to Lake Placid, our little tradition for Christmas. Instead of buying big gifts we go on an adventure, but not a crazy adventure. We go somewhere we can do NOTHING. The gift for us is a buncha nothing. We wander or not, we watch movies or not. Whatever. The gift is nothing, and everything. Life is busy and hard and full… we let all of that go and just be there.

Lake Placid was a hard place to get to on Friday, but we made it through the snow and rain. We landed and looked out the window to the best.view.ever. The trees and lake were coated in snow, resembling a postcard. We woke up and the scene was fluffier and calmer than the night before. I got a little brazen that afternoon, I challenged myself to go outside barefoot and run in the snow. I stepped out and thought about laying in the fresh, fluffy whit snow and making a snow angel- in my bare feet with no coat. I chickened the hell out… but I remembered.

One time I didn’t chicken out…

Madeline was diagnosed February 3, 2012 with DIPG, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. Only weeks after Christmas of 2011, a special Christmas for us. Moments after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor our family was working to enjoy the time we had together. My brother secured a perfect log cabin in Lake Placid and our families headed up north for some time together. In Lake Placid we laughed, we ate, we painted, we adventured- we all felt the sad next to the glad. The cabin was amazing, bedrooms and bathrooms for all… a kitchen that spoiled us and a hot tub on the deck for us to turn on and float away in. So we did…

This weekend I remembered a gift.

While in the hot tub, I can still see Matthew holding Madeline, guarding her from any danger he could. I said “Dare me to make a snow angel?” and I hopped out of the hot tub ran across the snow covered deck, down the stairs and plopped into the snow- in my purple bathing suit. I made some markings (ish) and ran back up to the deck and into the hot tub… She regifted me her giggle this weekend.

I stood in Lake Placid barefoot in the snow on this very weekend, and heard one of her last giggles. She brought me back to that moment and let me feel it and hear it. It was a perfect little gift in Lake Placid, a place that deserved many more Madeline smiles and giggles…

Traditionally the girls get an ornament every year, generally a Hallmark ornament, but I couldn’t find any I loved. The giggle I was gifted changed the gift for the girls and Madeline. Under our tree there is only one gift for Madeline- one gift for my 11 year old. I usually find a special angel or cardinal ornament- but this year I found a perfect ornament for her in Lake Placid. Madeline’s gift was an ornament painted with a cabin in Lake Placid- the place that holds her last Earth giggle. My gift in response to her gift…


Christmas this year was quiet and bright- maybe due to all of the snow reflecting the sun outside. I loved it, just right. We opened presents slowly… Santa was good to my girls. Meme knows that Santa doesn’t deliver- but I reminded her of the magic, the fact that some people helped quietly make the day special and a couple things were IMPOSSIBLE to find (so it must have been Christmas spirit). Santa is alive and well, different than we always see but true to what he is.

Christmas is light, in a dark time of year. I know it hard for so many but be kind to life… life is hard, always has been- always will be. I miss my Lovely… but life is still so brutiful. There are gifts in the dark… giggles to give.

Merry, Merry Christmas to all… and Happiest Birthday to Jesus…


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