A Ton of JOY mixed with a Little Bit of Pain!

I was determined to start this holiday season early and take in as many of the DC area’s holiday lights and events as I possibly can! Last year I started late, missed a lot and regretted it when the season was over! So there I was on November 30th with Kendal at 5pm in front of the National Zoo waiting for the opening of Zoo Lights, the annual event with beautiful holiday lights that span the entire Zoo property.

We’d started going to Zoo Lights in 2012, the year after Kendal was born, making our first trip while she was still in a stroller. The entire family went each year, including Paul Roberts Abernathy who’d become part of our family years earlier! We’d ride the train and carousel and “oh and ah” over the colorful lights. We took a 3 year hiatus after Tim died in 2016 but I really wanted to restart our tradition.

Imagine my surprise when we discovered that Kendal had no memory of ever attending Zoo Lights with us and Pappy. That made me sad, especially because she has memories of lots of other events from the same time period. Thank goodness for all the pictures and videos we have to share with her.

One advantage of restarting the Zoo Lights tradition now that she’s almost 8 is that she can now ride an inflated tire down the big zoo hill!! That was a blast!! Kendal yelled and screamed during her ride and smiled at, admired and photographed so many of the lights with Tim’s camera. We walked every inch of the Zoo admiring the new animated and life-like animals. Even Kendal’s doll Luciana went with us! Kendal was so exhausted after all her running and playing for 4 hours that we had to catch a Lyft back to my car that I’d left at work. Needless to say we will be back at Zoo Lights next year!!

On December 3rd I left my car at work to take in the many areas in holiday decorated areas in downtown DC without having to look for a parking space. I first went to the upscale area called City Center with designer stores and incredible restaurants! The Center’s Christmas tree and reindeer are HUGE and I felt surrounded by JOY!

That night I also took in the DC Christmas Market, Union Station’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony and the tree at the U.S. Capitol! What a night!

On December 6, Kendal was recognized in a ceremony at school for making honor roll, so we celebrated by going to an indoor trampoline playground called Sky Zone! We jumped for JOY for almost 2 hours having the time of our lives. Then all of a sudden Kendal stopped right in the middle of a jump, ran to me and said “I miss Pappy”! We hugged for a long time and I told her it was perfectly ok to miss him and I absolutely miss him too. Then it was back to jumping! One of the things I remember saying right after Tim died was that the wrong Grandparent died, and that Tim was made to be the Best Grandparent Ever, but could only do so for four years. I was determined to ensure I was the fun Grammy doing all the crazy things I knew Tim would do with her! I think I’ve done that so far!

This past weekend was loaded with events and with JOY! On the same day I attended my cousin Bonita’s annual holiday brunch which was filled with fellowship, food and holiday music, and the amazing holiday boat parade at the newly renovated DC Wharf. It was the first time I’d attended that event!! I was reminded at my cousin’s event of how much Tim loved her voice when she and her fellow choir members broke out in an impromptu song!! Tim would have been yelling “Sing Bonita”!! Tears cane to my eyes! Tim would also love the new wharf, and I’m sure that as much as he loved crabs we’d be down there all the time!

Even Mom was able to get in on the holiday fun as Lifesprings Eldercare held their annual holiday event with a red and black theme! I was worried how Mom would do during the two hour event, and packed lots of fidget toys for her to keep her busy, but I was worried for nothing because she was mesmerized for the entire event by her holiday napkin. She even missed the dancers dancing and kids choir singing thanks to her napkin filled with large print words including the word JOY !! Though I was sad she wasn’t aware of what was happening, I was thrilled she had found her own entertainment!

My weekend ended with another first! I trekked up to Brookside Gardens in Montgomery County and walked for two hours to see all of their holiday lights. After my hectic couple of weeks the walk was energizing and very peaceful! I’ll definitely be going back there next year too!

If I had to rate my holiday season so far I’d give it an A+! I’ve smiled and laughed, been sad and have cried and literally have allowed myself to feel every emotion that comes upon me!! The pain I felt in my heart without Tim has been brief and replaced most of the time with the feeling that his spirit was enjoying all the adventures right along with me! I thank God that I’m able to clearly see and feel the JOY of the holiday season while also embracing the moments of pain as just a part of my life! May this be a Holiday Season that allows all of us to feel what we feel and to do only what we want to do!

4 thoughts on “A Ton of JOY mixed with a Little Bit of Pain!

  1. I love this post, Loretta. It is so colorful, so full of life, so full of your desire to see and do as much as you can possibly pack in. I’m sitting here in my kitchen in Minnesota where it is nearly dark at 4:00 pm. The sky is gray, and the light is dim, and the days are only going to get shorter and darker for the next week or so until the solstice, when things will ever so slowly turn around and there will be gradually more and more daylight each day.

    Your post is such an antidote to the darkness that is still descending at this time of year. You have described going out and finding the light everywhere you can, everywhere there is a glow, color, brightness, lights, things shining, there you are. And it’s not only actual, physical lights you describe seeking out and encountering, but experiences and relationships – with Kendal, with your mother, with the ever-warm, ever shining memory and presence of Tim in your life, with the people you encounter while you are seeking the light.

    You yourself are such a source of light, making sure that Kendal keeps alive the memory of her Pappy, making sure she has adventures like the ones he would offer her, making sure your mother is never alone for too long or left to her own devices on special days, and all the hundreds and hundreds of other people to whom you bring your light and help to seek the light in the world for themselves.I love reading the accounts of how you lend your radiant energy to a world that so needs it,

    I picture you going to all these lovely lighted places, and I can see your beaming face as you walk around and marvel at the beauty. You bring light not only to darkness, Loretta; you bring light to light. Every place you go is blessed with the light of your presence, your appreciation for beauty and wonder, and with the caring, serving spirit you bring with you.

    Thank you for sharing this. It makes my very dark afternoon so much brighter.

    Love and light to you in this season, my dear Loretta,


    • Wow!!! Karen you made my day!!!

      I’ve definitely been beaming!! As the cold hit my face as I walked along taking in the lights my beaming smile was almost frozen in place!! But I didn’t care because I was enjoying every second of everything I saw!

      Being with Mom is so amazing in spite of her disease and helping Kendal to survive and thrive without her beloved Pappy is an honor. Yet, on Some days both those responsibilities spin me into a darkness too. So the lights and being outside gives me so much support and hope that everything is going to be just fine.

      I’m not a big fan of winter either, so when it gets dark at 5pm I try to put myself in any place that has light!! I also look forward to Spring so I can go out in JOY again!!

      Thank you for your inspiring words Karen!! They mean the world to me!!

      Much love my friend!!

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