Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Memory

Where have I been? I usually blog a lot more often than I have been lately. In mid-November I flew back east to spend time with my mom, who as many of you know has been battling cancer. The past month has been completely dedicated to caring for and spending time with my mom and I am so thankful to be able to have the time and flexibility to do this.

Now onto my story...

A few weeks ago our local newspaper here in Pennsylvania was looking for locals to submit a favorite holiday memory. Our good family friend Mary submitted a story from nearly two decades ago, and the newspaper contacted her to tell her that her story had been selected to be featured in the newspaper. A reporter came by last week to ask her some follow up questions.

This morning Mary stopped by to visit my mom, and to our surprise and delight her story was featured on the FRONT PAGE of the newspaper! This holiday memory is a great example of the kind of sweet, thoughtful people both of my parents are. Please take a minute to check it out on the newspapers website here.

Here are some quick snapshots of my mom and Mary and the newspaper from this morning wearing the pashmina Mary got for her.

I also wanted to share Mary's full version of the story:

My family moved to Newtown Twp. from New York in 1990, and our family got friendly with our neighbors, Donna and Joe and their children, Ryan and Ashley, fellow New Yorkers, also far from family and getting to know Pennsylvania.

Our family put up a too large Christmas tree a few days before Christmas, and during its first night up it tipped over and all of the needles fell off, and we were looking at a skeleton of a tree. We went back to Carousel Garden and they gave us a replacement tree the afternoon of Christmas Eve, and this one crashed over sending ornaments in every direction, breaking many of the glass balls. Our children were still very young, so I tried hard to make light of it, saying it didn't matter, we'd decorate the little orange tree in the family room and Santa would put the presents under that tree. It really should not have mattered; we were together, we were in a beautiful new home, and we would be visited by Santa.

Donna and Joe, along with a few other of the neighbors, all new to Newtown, Pennsylvania, living in a new development, all came to our treeless house on Christmas Eve to visit and have a little party. We told the story of the falling Christmas trees as if it were a big joke, getting a lot of laughs.

The party broke up and everyone went home, and children were sent to bed, and outdoor Christmas lights were extinguished. We cleaned up the remains of the little party and were busy into helping Santa put presents under our little orange tree well after midnight, when I heard very light tapping on our front door.

When I opened the door, in my memory, snow was gently falling, but whether it was or not, or whether that is the coloring of years of a favorite memory I am not sure. But standing on our front stoop in red striped night shirts and fur coats, were Donna and Joe, holding an artificial, three foot tall, lighted Christmas tree, so "Santa will find your children", as Donna said.

I am particularly sentimental this year about that story. All of the children who were at our Christmas party have grown up into wonderful adults. Donna and Joe are no longer married, and Donna, with the love and support of her friends from Newtown and her children and new husband, is battling a very aggressive cancer. As I visit her to at least try to keep her company as she suffers through this terrible illness, I remind her often of this first Newtown Christmas, and what it meant to me to know that my new friends would be good friends to me forever.

Again, I am so thankful to be able to spend this holiday season with my mom, family, and so many wonderful friends who have been so supportive through this ordeal.

I hope you all have a fabulous holiday season and a wonderful new year.


Juliet Douglas said...

That's such a sweet story and also a tearjerker for me. Happy holidays Ashley!

Ricky said...

I will pray for your mom's speedy recovery. God Bless!
I am flying back to PA this Friday night. My parents live in Downingtown. Small world huh. Happy Holdiays

Chelsea Nicole said...

Such a beautiful story Ashley. Merry Christmas to you and your family. <3