Friday, November 27, 2015

Snurffle Day?

Oh the day was filled with wondrous activity.  In one day we bought pajamas for the girls, then went to a Christmas tree farm.  When we got home we decorated the house for Christmas.  That is the bare bones of Snurffle Day.  Let me enlarge that framework.

The holiday started as a Nyle B. Smith production.  He would go and get a license from some small town in central Utah.  Then he would take our four wheel vehicle up into the mountains and find THE perfect tree! 

I would stay home with the girlies, or we would go out and purchase new jammies for them.  We would all be buzzing with anticipation as we knew that our Christmas tree would soon be at home.

It was Nyle that gave it an official name.  I believe I asked him, "We should have a name for this day."  He did not even hesitate.  He said, "Snurffle Day."  I said, "Perfect!"

Over the years the day continued to evolve.  Living in Portland we had very close access to all the Christmas trees that we could ever want!  No more licenses and mountain climbing for a tree.  We found a lovely Christmas tree farm that was about 20 minutes out from our home.  We would ride in a van up to the hill, then we would peruse acres of beautiful Christmas trees before we made our choice.  In typical fashion, the girls would chose one and then say, "Oh look, there's a better tree down there!"  Then off they would sprint, adrenaline powered by Snurffle Day excitement.   

I did not usually mind the chase for the tree.  Well except when it was raining so hard that it was like a lake fell out of the sky.  Then I was eager to find that dang tree, have them chop it down, and get us down to the cafe, gift shop and dry warmth!  NOW! 

More often, it would be a perfect autumn fading into winter type of day.  The hill that we chose our tree from dropped back on each side.  On the top of that ridge, I felt like a Queen perusing her kingdom.  Acres, and acres of evergreens dropped into a valley with quaint farmhouses and barns in the valley below. 

Sometimes it seemed as though low lying clouds would get tangled in all the trees.  When that happened it was a completely different sort of scene.  Then I felt we were walking through or maybe on top of the clouds. 

After we chose the perfect tree, we had to wait for a tree chopper to come by to chop said tree down.  Then we had to wait a little longer for a van to drive us back to the cafe/gift shop.  Free hot cocoa was served there. 

Most years, Santa would be there waiting to hear the wishes of all the boyzus and girlzus.  Sarah was TERRIFIED of the Jolly Old Elf.  We have a few pictures taken where Santa is holding her, and she screaming at the top of her lungs!  It was only for a couple of moments, and she has not needed therapy to overcome the trauma!

Each year we, the entire family, would have our picture taken with the jolly old chap!  It's so much fun to look at all the pictures taken over the years.  Our youngest daughter never did feel positively about Santa.  I guess I can understand, I mean, apparently this man is hundreds of years old and lives at the North pole?  It did not help when we went shopping and she saw Santa's all over the place at the same time.  (We explained that Santa had LOTS of helpers).  That seemed to calm Sarah a bit.  She just never appreciated sitting anywhere close to a man with an obviously fake beard.  Sitting on Santa's lap?  Never an option!  In this era of "Stranger danger."  I get it.

There are several years when our beloved neighborhood daughter was also in the picture.  She brought us great joy.  I loved having a fresh new perspective on Snurffle Day.  I believe that she and her husband have their own traditions for Snurffle Day now.  (We do not have a patent on Snurffle Day.  Anyone may use it)!
 One year we were too late.  St. Nicholas had returned to the North Pole.  He evidently had a new, improved, sleigh that did not fly so much as warp sped him home!  

We were all ever so disappointed.  Nyle excused himself to use the facilities.  Several moments later I almost choked on my hot cocoa!  He assured us that it was OK REAL Santa had gone home.  Ghetto Santa was there to help us.  Oh how I wish you could see this fabulous Santa.  He had the traditional white beard, and moustache.  They were made out of toilet paper.  Hence the "ghetto" appellation.

Nonetheless, we were undaunted by his rather unique apparel, we took that family picture gosh darn it!  That became my favorite of all the Snurffle days.  I mean, come on, how many times do you get to have Ghetto Santa at your party? 

 After the traditional family pictorial if we became bored waiting for our tree to be shaken, bound, and tied on top of our car we would climb the stairs to a magical kingdom.  In that place and space I felt like a child.  Not a child AGAIN, because I never really left my first childhood!  I firmly hold on to the right to be childlike.  This means that I get to be truly astonished by the blinking of Christmas lights outside or on the tree.  Glitering Christmas tree ornaments still give me wonder.

A few years my Mama was either living in Portland or had come up for the holidays.  I had so much fun watching my 80 something Mama walk through that gift shop.  As I watched her I realized who had taught by her example my childlike wonder.  She too was mesmerized by the tiny Christmas villages, the ornaments of dizzyingly different sizes, shapes, and selection.

My Mom, myself, and our girls created three generations of Christmas joy!  All too soon it would be time to head to the car.  The car would be infused with the magical smell of evergreen.  Not the tiny deodorizer evergreen that is common these days.  No this was the real thing.  The piquant, unique smell of a lovely hillside.  It was the smell of clean air, pine sap, and happiness.

Sometimes we would stop at a store afterwards to buy those wonderful jammies.  I still own a robe that we purchased for my Snurffle Day bed attire...I probably will have to put it on today!

Update:  I just received a most delightful Snurffle Day surprise.  One of my favorite holiday treats...Kisses that are white chocolate with little bits of peppermint candy!  AWESOME!

For the rest of my life I will keep close to my heart the magic and wonder of Snurffle Day.  It is a day when everything seems possible.  The hardest parts of life are suspended for one entire day. 

Nyle, the Snurffle Day Master passed away four years ago but he left behind two beautiful daughters who carry on his traditions.  Nyle will be present, in spirit, at each and every Snurffle Day.  We will hear his laughter, and relish the things he taught us.

HAPPY SNURFFLE DAY TO ALL...AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT! Well, that's after Snurffle Day, you know when it gets dark and it's time to go to bed...after Snurffle day is actually over, that's when you should have a good night...okay, I will now stop rambling...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hard Things - Good Things?

My nephew was driving rapidly down the freeway.  My niece was also there to give me moral support.  Our route was right past the car accident.  I should say THE car accident.  The accident that my husband and two daughters had just experienced.

As we passed what was left of our daughter's car I began to sob.  The car looked like metal spaghetti.  I could not fathom how anyone could have survived such enormous trauma!  I managed to sob out to my nephew and niece, "Don't worry, I'm OK, I just need to let out this sorrow so that I can then be strong in the hospital for my family."

As we continued hurtling rapidly down the highway an impression came into my mind.  The impression was, "You are about to attend a master class on difficulties of many types, many levels.  If you endure them well there will be gifts given, and lifetime lessons learned."

I didn't completely understand what that meant.  When we entered the ER I could hear my husband shouting.  No sound had ever been so lovely to me.  Having him shout meant that he was very much alive!

Our oldest daughter was in a room with a badly broken right arm, and in shock.  Our youngest daughter had been holding everything together, but when we arrived she kind of fell apart.  That meant that I had three family members, in three different ER rooms.  How could I be in three places at once?  Our dearest nephew and niece had two children at home.  They had left them in the care of Grandma.  They spent their night helping me to make certain all three of my family had support at all times.  We would rotate so that I could spend time with each one.

HARD?  I kept telling myself, it could be SO MUCH WORSE!  They're all alive...they're alive!  At one point a Highway Patrol officer who had reported at the accident site came to the ER to find me.  He said, "I just wanted to tell you that it's a miracle your family is alive.  I reported at an identical accident last week.  Every single person was dead!"

I thanked him, but was shaken by what he had told me.  I also came to realize another miracle.  I was supposed to be in the car with them that night.  I usually sat behind Nyle in the car.  Anyone behind Nyle would have been crushed.  The trunk was pushed forward around Nyle, and his seat was pushed back into the trunk.  I had decided at the last minute to stay home and take care of a procrastinated, and necessary errand.

The following six weeks were AGONY!  My sweet husband had broken all 12 ribs on the right, punctured his lung, damaged his internal organs, broken his right arm, and right shoulder, and destroyed about 5 levels of his back.  He was one giant bruise from head to foot.

Ardis and Sarah were adults.  Yet every cell in my body cried out to be with them as they battled the consequences of this horrific experience.  I will eternally be grateful for beloved friends that stayed with Ardis and Sarah for two weeks to make certain they were OK.  They sacrificed lots of things to make time for their care of our girls.

Nyle was in horrible pain.  (As you can imagine).  He had many life threatening health problems before the car accident.  So many that I did not dare leave him alone in the hospital.  There were a couple of times that I was able to catch a mistake that the nurses almost made that would have killed him.  He had one nurse that I felt comfortable enough with to actually sleep for a few hours.  (I kept a foam mattress there and would stretch it out and sleep when I could).

I was overwhelmed with the support of friends and family, and our wonderful church family.  When I reached critical mass, (beyond my own physical limits) many men volunteered to stay with Nyle around the clock so that I could get some rest, in my own bed, in my own home.

It seemed that anytime a need happened, a solution appeared.  Our family car was very, very old.  The accident was in 2009, the car had been a grand luxury car in the mid 1980's.  All the luxuries were wearing out.  For example, the electric windows.  The windows had fallen into the track and would not come out.  If I needed to drive somewhere during inclement weather, I would have to take a blanket to put over my left shoulder to keep from getting soaked.

Then we got a call from our niece.  They had been about to turn in their old van to get a new van.  She had felt impressed to not sell the old van.  They gave it to us.  To them it was an "old" van.  To us it was about 20 years newer than our car.  We needed a van.  Nyle's mobility had been severely compromised before the accident.  He had an electric scooter.  Previously we had not been able to take his scooter with us (no car that would do that), and now we could.

Food mysteriously appeared on our doorstep.  Money also mysteriously came to us.  The outpouring of love and support was wonderful.

When Nyle came home from the hospital, it was even harder.  At least at the hospital there was a nurse to help me with Nyle's care.  His insurance ran out, and would not pay for in house physical therapy, so even though he NEEDED physical therapy, and care in a hospital, he had to come home.

I can't imagine how I would have managed without our angel daughters.  We took turns caring for him in the night.  That meant that usually we could get at least 4 hours of undisturbed rest.  Often I would lie down and sleep on the floor next to Nyle's bed.  (He had to have a special adjustable bed to sleep in due to his injuries, and lung disease).

The bed was another miracle.  I had been crying on the shoulder one day of a dear friend.  I confided that I didn't have any idea what I was going to do when Nyle came home and needed an adjustable bed.  He literally could no longer breathe when he lay down in a flat bed.  Also, the pain from his multiple injuries was worsened in a bed that was flat.

She said matter of factly, "We purchased an adjustable Tempurpedic bed for me.  It was the best adjustable bed that we could find.  I can't sleep in it.  For many reasons I sleep in a reclining chair.  We're going to give the bed to Nyle."

My response?  "Shouldn't you speak to your husband?"  Next I said,  "No, we can't take that, it's too much.  Unless, we might be able to pay you a little something once in awhile?"

She answered firmly, "This is the right thing to do.  Nyle needs the bed, and I have the bed."

Her husband was not as quickly excited by the idea as his dear wife, but he came around.  She would allow for no other possibility.  She just continued to say, "This is the right thing to this is going to happen."

Nyle had a rental adjustable bed that he had been using at home.  We sent it back (thus ending the enormous rental bill), and men from our church group picked up the donated bed, traveled to our home, and put the bed in Nyle's room.  Voila!  Nyle was the proud owner of a very comfortable bed!

Some of the lessons that I learned in this fiery amalgam of experience?

1.  Family and friends are the greatest blessings you can have in this world.  Love, kindness, and constant support were poured out upon us as we faced this experience. 

2.  God was as close as a prayer.  He did not take away the challenges, but he strengthened us to bear it.   He also spoke peace to our souls while we struggled.

3.  Our needs were met in a timely manner, and often in a miraculous fashion!

4.  I love Nyle...forever...and for always.  I loved him before the car accident.  Having him almost taken away reminded me how much I loved him!

5.  We have two amazing daughters.  They came to the hospital everyday and spent hours lifting their Father's spirits, this even though both of them were still struggling with pain issues of their own.  They did everything they could to support their parents with great love and humor.

There were so many gifts, lessons, and love that helped us through this almost indefinably hard time.  My list up above just barely scratches the surface!

I would NEVER wish to experience anything like that, ever again!  Yet I am grateful for the gifts of love that we received, and the lessons that I learned during this experience.  Was this hard?  Of course it was.  On the other hand, hard does not always mean bad!