Monday, December 9, 2013

Holly Jolly Shotwell Family Christmas?

There is a quote in Jim Carrey's version of the Grinch when he asks:  "Are you having a holly-jolly Christmas?".  This is just before he hatches his infamous evil plot to steal the Who's beloved Christmas.    Since I watch this movie at least five times every holiday season (my grandsons are now quite obsessed with it as well), I can pretty much quote it verbatim.  This quote reminds me that, as much as I hate to admit it, I may NOT be having a holly-jolly Christmas this year.    I LOVE Christmas.  Always have.   But despite myself, I keep letting my heart remember that in just a few weeks, my youngest son & his wife will be moving 700 miles away; and only six short months later, my middle son will also be moving away to parts unknown.     I know what you're thinking.....the same thing I keep telling myself...ENJOY THE MOMENT!   I'm trying!    I raised my kids with the mantra of following their bliss and becoming the men that their hearts desired to be.  I want them to be the very best version of themselves.   I constantly told them that they were the ONLY person who could stop them from achieving their dreams.  And believe me, I WANT them to be happy.   If being happy means moving out into the world and exploring their options, then that's exactly what I want them to do.      That being said, I just never envisioned my family being anything other than the typical family.  A family just like the one I grew up in.  I & all three of my siblings live within 15 minutes of my parents.  We all obediently provided my parents with a whole passel of beautiful grandchildren.   Family gatherings are full of cousins playing together & family frolicking.    

I guess that's how I have always envisioned my life too.   I figured, since I had my children young, I'd be a young grandmother with a station wagon (or it's modern-day, video laden, SUV equivalent) with 8 or 10 beautiful little bright-eyed cherubs, which my children would dutifully provided.  Just like a Hallmark movie, my sons would show up on Thanksgiving Day with their beautiful wives & pink-cheeked children in tow, dressed adorably, carrying a covered casserole.    Then we'd all say grace and discuss the wonderful things going on in their lives over dinner.  Stuff like, oh, I don't know..the new house they were building or their new book being released, or something equally as interesting.   We'd part company by promising to see one another the next Sunday at our regular Sunday family dinner.  You know, the regular family dinner for which they'd rather stick a needle in their eye than to miss, because they just love being around their family THAT much.   

Well, I'm here to tell you that life is NOT a Hallmark movie & my family is NOT the Hallmark family I'd envisioned.   In fact, I'd describe my family as more akin to the tv show, "Modern Family".   And even though I sometimes still daydream about that hallmark version of the family, I wouldn't trade the one I have for all the tea in china!   My family in a nutshell:

* I only have 2 grandchildren, and the prospects of have anymore, anytime soon, are somewhat dismal.   Don't get me wrong. My grandsons are the loves of my life!   They OWN my heart; and, they are so full of cuteness, I probably couldn't STAND it if they were any cuter!   I also have 3 grand-dogs, all of which I regularly see & dog-sit.  They love to come play with my 3 kid-dogs.  And, if you know me, you'd know that is almost as joyful! 

*There are no ideallic regular Sunday dinners.  In fact, I can BARELY get all of their feet under the same table at Thanksgiving.  Between everyone's busy schedules & in-laws, I seem to always be the one at the bottom of the list.    

*I do now have the 2 beautiful daughter-in-laws.   My middle son is gay, so hopefully someday I'll also have a handsome son-in-law, but for now, he's still looking. (Who knew I'd someday have a SON-in-law?-life sure is full of surprises!)   On the bright side, they DO bring covered casseroles upon request. 

My problem with this Christmas is that it's the last one for which all of my children will be living in the same state.   My middle son finishes his graduate degree in social work in May and plans to move out of state shortly thereafter.  My youngest son is reporting for duty to flight school in the United States Air Force in January, 2014, and will be serving for the next 10 years, at least, as a pilot & officer in the USAF.  In fact, we move he & my daughter-in-law to Oklahoma a few short weeks after Christmas.      My brain has known that these moves were coming, but the closer they get, the more my heart is just not prepared.  

What happened?   This is NOT the Hallmark Shotwell family that I'd always dreamed about!   But, after turning 51 this year, I've been thinking a lot lately about what my life will be about for the next 20 years.  What am I meant to do with this life?   I know that part of my purpose here (and by "here" I mean on this earth), was to raise my sons & help them become good people.  People who contribute good things to the world & help others.   But that's done now.   I know I didn't do a perfect job, but hopefully I had a hand in making them the awesome men they are today (and I'm not saying that about them just because I'm their momma.  If they were little butts, I'd tell you ;0).   I like to think that part of the reason they are all moving in the first place, is because of my encouragement to them to reach for their dreams.    I recently read a quote by Maria Shriver that really struck a nerve, "You have to be willing to let go of the life you planned in order to make the life you're meant to live."   That hits me square between the eyes!   So, this Christmas will not only be about giving gifts for me. It will also be a time for giving UP some old, worn-out, unrealistic dreams.   I'm letting GO of them. My plan this Christmas is to FULLY EMBRACE this crazy, wonderful, beautiful thing called MY FAMILY.   I LOVE the fact that I have 2 exceptionally loving adopted grandsons, 3 awesome grand-dogs, 3 sons who are all LSU graduates & who are each doing EXACTLY what they set out to do in their lives & careers, 2 beautiful daughter in laws who I adore, and of course my best friend & love of my life... my husband of over 30 years.   

I'm determined to look on the positive side.  I'll be doing a LOT of traveling in the coming months and years.   I LOVE to travel, so that'll work out great.     I'll BEG my children to strive to gather together at least ONCE a year, no matter what.    The hardest part of my dream to let go of is having a bunch of grandkids, but I steal every moment I can with the 2 I have & I've "adopted" some others that aren't mine in a legal sense.  I have to admit; however, that I  haven't given up on the idea of having at least ONE cute little granddaughter (preferably named "Abigail" after her adoring Doda)----WHAT?   A GIRL CAN DREAM!! 

I wish you & yours a very Merry Christmas, full of blessings, love & laughter!  

Take good care,


Here is a look at my beautiful family, sans my 3 grand-dogs & 3 kid-dogs: