Christmas is just two days away, and 2021 is a short nine days away and with it brings new hope of a better year, more hugs, and actual time spent with family that doesn’t involve a computer screen. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything, and the truth is I feel like I have nothing to say that doesn’t seem trivial. I have friends with no jobs or odd jobs to make ends meet. People are getting evicted just before Christmas and the dumpster fire that is the white house. I am one of the lucky ones and it is a fact not lost on me, so I’ve been here, quietly watching as the world seems to fall apart. But on Tuesday, I was out delivering Christmas gifts to my sweet children, when there it was, a reason to write down some words.
When I handed my daughter-in-law her gifts, she handed me mine, and there it was, the one thing I didn’t know I wanted for Christmas. It wasn’t really the gift at all, but it was tucked under some twine that was part of the wrapping of the actual gift. It was this picture, the picture at the top of this post. Those are my chickens, all grown up, and adults living their own lives. I know I’ve talked about them in a lot of posts, and if you’re a regular reader, you know I refer to them as my “chickens” it’s a term of endearment that goes deep all the way down to the roots of my family tree. I even have a tattoo of two chickens on my ankle that I got when I was on tour in Australia. That’s the other picture at the top of this post.
This year has been hard, and I haven’t written a post in a really long time. I want to say it’s because I’ve been so busy, but I haven’t. I want to say it’s because I’ve been reading so many books, but I haven’t. I haven’t left my apartment since before thanksgiving, except for grocery shopping, and I started ordering my groceries and have them left at my front door like an agoraphobic shut-in. The truth is Tennessee is currently number one in the country with Covid cases, and it scares me. I have asthma and high blood pressure, so I stay home. My daughter, Alison, also has asthma. She’s a teacher and hasn’t taught in the actual building of her school since March. She is equally as careful and yet both she and her girlfriend, who is also a teacher, came down with Covid last weekend. It scared me so much that it brought me out of my apartment to deliver a care package of comfort food and Advil. When she came out of her house to grab the bag I put on her car, she looked so small, and all I wanted to do was scoop her up and squeeze her tight. Instead, I sat in my car and waved and blew her kisses. Aside from a few stolen hugs at the beginning of this pandemic, I haven’t hugged either one of my chickens in months. As an Italian mom, or just a mom in general, that is really, really hard. I’m forever grateful that Alison has her girlfriend and she isn’t alone during their quarantine and sickness. My oldest chicken, Raymond, has avoided the Corona, and he works in a coffee shop in Nashville, thankfully he can do a lot of his work from home, and he and his wife have managed to stay virus-free (knocking on all the wood).
All that to say, those two children have saved my life so many times I’m sure they aren’t even aware. When I was a single mom at 29, those two kids were just 3 and 4 years old. It was a really dark time in my life, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about ending it all more than once. I just kept thinking about what that would do to those little lives, and I stuck around for another day. One day turned into two, and here we are twenty-four years later. My kids were my lifeline, whether they knew it or not, and now there they were staring back at me from atop a Christmas present. I’m proud of those two children and the adults they’ve turned into, against all the odds. They are my heart and soul.
So this Christmas, even though we won’t be together physically and will open presents Christmas morning staring at a screen, I am so lucky that those two chickens chose me for their mom. I look forward to 2021 when I can grab them and squeeze them until they beg me to let them go, just like when they were little.