Sunday, December 7, 2008

In Kansas Remembering -- jcarolek

The weather was ideal for flying today and my daughter and son-in-law drove me to the airport this morning. We'd had a very nice night last night, the kids and I, celebrating our Christmas. My son and his wife, my daughter and her husband, and I went out to eat and then back to the house for our "party." I am so NOT a party kind of person. I had not really planned anything, but had some fixins to make cookies, if we were so inspired (we were not) and to make hot chocolate, should that suit our fancy (it did not)........................................and my guitar, of course. My son brought two guitars, one for himself and one for his sister. His wife brought her violin... and, as you might have already guessed we ended up doing little besides playing and singing Christmas carols... for the next couple of hours. We were all too full from supper to consider baking cookies or drinking hot chocolate, and so we simply made music.

When we were ready for a break, we opened gifts we'd brought for each other. Jenn and Benoit are heading to France for Christmas, and I will be on the road for Christmas, so this seemed appropriate, if early. Everyone enjoyed

their gifts, but when Stephen handed me a small box, he assured me that while the gift inside looked rather mundane, the true gift would only be evident when I stuck it into the computer.

I opened to box to find a 2GB U3 Cruzer. I did as I was directed, bringing my laptop into the living room. Once plugged into the USB port, the program began, and I was THRILLED. Eleven years ago when my husband and I divorced, he got all of the family photos, photo albums, etc. I had one small box of "rejects" that somehow made its way with me, and from which many memories have been triggered, and documented here on the blogs. But James had all of the keepers. When Stephen and Kristen were getting married in October, they'd asked family to provide any photos of their growing up years so they could make a little display for the rehearsal dinner. Apparently, James brought the entire kit and caboodle of the family pictures.

At the reception, James mentioned to me that he'd brought these for Steve and told me that if I wanted to copy any of them, I was welcome to do so. Stephen offered to do it for me.... and so, last night, more than 800 pictures were presented to me on a single 2GB drive. We all spent the next hour watching the slide show and laughing at the memories they invoked... at one point my daughter asked, "how is it that you looked older back then than you do today?" referring to pictures of me when I was pregnant with Stephen.... Stephen laughed, because he said he had wondered the same thing. I have to admit, they have a point. I looked very grown up in some of those pictures!

Apparently, in the albums, we had preserved such things as the little stories my son had written for us, and their letters to Santa. We noticed the my son had a very interesting habit when signing his letters... he always signed them, (love, Stephen)... always in parenthesis. I have no idea why he did that or what deep psycological meaning it carries, but there you have it.

And there was the letter he'd written to my brother Ray when Ray was in the military flying in Desert Storm. We chuckled at the bluntness of his wishes for Ray's continued safety, but it reminds me there are thousands of Stephens today, wishing the same for their uncles and dads serving in harm's way.

Looking back at those old pictures, was a real treat -- images captured when dreams were still being dreamt and reality was still just a little bit out of view. I'm glad I have those back.

Steve and Judy... we've been singing forever........

James and Steve at the beach

Jenn (4) and Steve (6)

They are all grown up now. And last night they did not pose with their Christmas stuffed critters for a family greeting card. But their smiles have not changed in twenty years....

I'm just sitting here in the hotel room in Kansas, remembering......................

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