There have been lots of surprises the past week. The photos above are from a surprise visit from Santa to our house two whole days before Christmas! Kids were totally excited. I even had the big boys home for the most special occasion.

Other surprises were the total outpouring of support from the community and friends this season. They all wanted to be sure that the family had as good as a holiday season that was possible. The local YMCA put our family on the giving tree, and the local Catholic Church community service committee supported with gift cards, Boro Women’s Services and the local food pantry gave cards for groceries, anonymous people sent cards without signatures and gifts, another local church gave cash to some members who were told to give faith offerings or do random acts of kindness — friends chose us for those random acts, Dean’s one coworker sent a wonderful box of oranges for the family, a local woman’s group dropped off a wonderful bag of presents and well wishes to my parents house for me to open Christmas, the local kid’s dentist surprised us with gift cards for tubing at the local ski place, another friend wrapped all my “Santa” presents, and one other friend sent “handy me down” (which are some really gently previously played with toys) rescue hero toys and play sets for the little ones — which caused them to comment on how totally cool Santa really is to bring them such toys.

Other surprises:

There are a lot of people having wonderful times with their family. Above is a picture of my family…brothers, sister, mom and dad and family grandchildren. It is rare that we are all together, even though we all live within 10 minutes of each other, so a photo like this is a blessing.

There were also a lot of people dealing with the holiday season alone. There is a friend of mine who spent the first Christmas ever without her son and her grandchildren, another family who lost their little baby to leukemia, my family dealing with both the loss of Dean and my grandfather this holiday season, people dealing with legal issues, family drama and heartache and loss of all kinds. I guess the surprise for me here is that I heard so many of these stories. Being able to be the listening post for others brings a unique perspective on ones own issues and plight.

There are so many people that have reached out to me this holiday season. I received a bunch of calls and texts and emails during Christmas day just to say “HI”. Which was completely wonderful. Then there are friends that I thought would be there more during this time and found that was a false assumption on my part. Another surprise.

Today, in the mail I received a card from Dean’s oncologist team in Cleveland wishing us well at this time of the year and they each took time to write a little personal note of sympathy and well wishes. The surprise is that it was in my mail box, the other surprise was that it came today, the 3 month date of Dean’s passing. Somehow a date that has hit me harder than anything else the past few months. I had to work this morning so the kids went to day care. Glad they are there today, I am glad they are playing with friends and not dealing with the ups and downs of emotions of their mother today.

Today’s work was with the lovely lady that I attend for a few mornings a week. She is having emotional angst of her own from losses this past year. Today is also an date remembrance of that issue. In the past month that I have known her she has become more like a sister than someone that I attend and assist. While I was sitting and writing this blog, she sent me a song: CARRY ON by Fun. It is absolutely perfect.

“If you’re lost and alone
Or you’re sinking like a stone
Carry on
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
Carry on”

This has been my best surprise of the day. Spirit working through another that is wise enough, and thoughtful enough to listen and send it to me on a day that I know I am having a hard time hearing. The full song is linked below for you all to enjoy, and know that the surprise for all of us is that we all can carry on through anything.

BREATHE, LOVE, CARRY ON! 

Surprise!
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