Sunday, December 16, 2012

Stand In

Someone asked me if Corey will be home for Christmas. He will not. I miss him, but I am happy for him.

He's gone to the dark side. I mean, he got a job at WalMart. It's his first job ever. Orientation is Tuesday. Feeling more cautious than optimistic, but I don't tell him that. I hope it works out.

Last year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we not only spent time with my mom and Corey, but also had my niece Sarah join us. Her parents had moved from the L.A. area up to Oregon. She stayed to finish her first year of college and be outstanding in another play. Sarah is a rapid-fire talker, but she brought a sense of calm, peace and love to the holidays last year that we'd missed out on the two years prior.

Last Thursday evening she boarded a plane and headed up to Oregon to join her parents. I miss her, but I am also happy for her. And my brother and his wife.

Christmas this year is going to be different. Madelyn really gets it this year, and she has pulled Fynnie along with her into the excitement.

Letters to Santa were written last weekend and mailed... sent to Santa... posted in my office space. I love that they have each asked for one gift (a frog and a baby) no matter how many times they have been asked. After watching a video of a mommy friend's Santa visit with her kids, and seeing how many times Santa asked, "And what else?" I realized we won't be attempting Santa photos this year.

We are excited about the gift shopping and the cookie baking and spending time with family. Cutting down our Christmas tree and all the steps that lead to decorating it have filled this weekend.

But at the near back of my mind is the longing for what won't be.

Corey cannot yet come home for the holidays.

Sarah is home, even though she's so far away.

This past Wednesday evening I missed a call. The message was from Rosemary, the coordinator of the exchange student program we participated in last year. Does it seem longer ago to you, too? In her message she said that she needed a replacement host family for a young girl from Japan. For a week in January. Unlike the program with Chinese students, this girl would only need to be in school one morning; she would spend the rest of her time with us.

I looked at my work calendar for that week in January. Booked solid, but with fun activities and field trips with my middle school program, I thought this would actually work out nicely. I'd have the coolest experience for any of the students.

Tom agreed that we could do it and I called back.

"Oh, not January 21, December 21. I'm sorry, did I say January?" Rosemary was a little frazzled.

And so the universe has sent me a stand in for Christmas this year. Someone who may very well have the same wide-eyed wonder as both of our girls at all the lights, decorations and presents.

All we know about her at the moment is her name and that she is somewhere between 13 and 17 years old.

And all she knows about her host family is our names, ages and that we all have curly hair.

Oh, and Rosemary was kind enough not to mention before showing up for the home inspection that she now takes a photo of the family. So that tank with a shelf bra that is a great alternative to flopping all over the place, but doesn't really keep the girls up where they belong? Probably scaring Yui out of getting on a plane in a few days.

Poor thing.

But, as Grandma Margaret suggested kindly, "She'll think you're so much prettier when she meets you in person."

Thank you, Grandma Margaret.
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