Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas week here

This was a tumultuous week here in our house.

Preparing for the holiday in itself was a stressful enough time but doing so in a house in this condition had its own challenges.

The house has "defects" which I've alluded to in past posts so I won't go into them here.
Its been a rainy week and when you have leaks from the ceiling its an interesting challenge to deal with the leaks as well as continue a normal life as much as possible.

We have been trying to prepare the house to be put on the market shorly in the midst of trying to live here while we do it.

I haven't had a vehicle available to go shopping so I did just about all my shopping online.It was an interesting experiment and I think succesful.

Online shopping afforded me the experience of having the world as one huge mall!
I discovered the home shopping networks as well as all the websites of the major retailers and some of the ones I never knew existed.
As the saying goes, "the world was my oyster".

Its interesting to see the marketplace from that perspective.
Every price point, activity, interest, hobby can be addressed if you take the time to search.
Christmas shopping for me was actually fun this year.

The added bonus to me was all the boxes everything came in are now stacked along the kitchen wall ready to be used for packing! Even the packing peanuts can be reused so its also a recycling experiment.

We chose not to get a tree this year as it would have created further stress to determine where to put it.
I felt we should have something though so one day I went into the overgrown yard and chopped branches from the fruit trees, clipped some of the evergreen bushes and the rose hips from the overgrown rose bushes that were neglected and gathered recently fallen lemons from the ground and fashioned my very own uniquie holiday centerpeice!
The vase I used was one Bob's Mother had made herself in a ceramic class so we had a sense of history within the decoration.

I had ordered some unique tissue paper that in itself made nice wrapping and draped it over our heater which looks like a woodburning stove and placed the arrangement on it.
That was our focal point for the holiday.

The gifts were displayed in front of the "woodstove".
So you don't have to spend a lot of money to create a holiday atmosphere even in dreary surroundings.

Bob's last day to work was Christmas Eve. He is retired now after 40 years on the same job.
That day was a bittersweet day.
We had the anticipation of the holiday and upcoming retirement along with the finality of the last day to do something he had done for so long.

Throughout the day he would text message to my cell phone as he was completing each task of his workday for the final time.
At times it was so poignant; he loved most of his patrons and never considered it so much a job as an adventure.

At one stop a family actually was waiting at their box for him and as he approached the box they had made a sign congratulating him and then apllauded him.
Many left rememberances in their box to commerate his retirement.

A particualry poignant moment for me was when I received the message "this is it- Home Stretch". I knew he was at the last area of houses coming outof the hills down the mountain out of the subdivision.
I couldn't imagine what he must have been feeling at that moment. To know something you did every work day for 40 years was coming to an end must have been an emotional moment.
I didn't know then, he told me yesterday and probably would prefer Ii didn't reveal this, but after delivering his last stop he got out of his truck and knelt down and said a prayer of gratitude.
I reveal this because it shows the character of this man.

He was grateful he had been given the opportunity to do something that long and make a decent living; he was grateful he had basically good health and he was grateful he had me to ride off into the sunset with him.
He said throughout the day he had flashback after flashback of those 40 years.
After checking back in at the office for the last time and changing out of his uniform he removed his postal regulation shoes and tied them together and threw them over his locker door!
Then, he took a picture from his cell phone and sent it to me and some others who are close to him with the message, "I hung 'em up".
And then he left and began his last trip home from working.

Now, we begin the next stage of our lives.
Its funny in a weird way to think about the coming years.

When you are younger "retirement' is such an intangible thing.Everyone talks about it.Retirement funds, Social Security issues, health insurance, time to do what you always wanted, thinking about those who are no longer here to celebrate this time in your life, the new friends they say you'll make, the old ones who claim will stay in touch but rarely do.

And then one day- there you are. you are walking through the gate, a passage of your life that you didn't get to practice,no dress rehearsal.
You look back one last time and see the things you wished you'd done different and reflect; then you turn in the new direction and take with you all your life experiences into this unknown place and begin the next journey.

It was fitting in a way that for Bob it was in the holiday season where we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. We are aware each year of the hope and promise this Child brought to the world and the impact His presence on the earth had for all history.
And through His life we have the roadmap to have a successful life in what is meaningful if we choose to utilize it.

So to me, retirement from a job is the freedom to be what this Child meant each of us to be. We are given the gift of time to make a difference and continue the legacy this Child left us.
That is the best Christmas gift of all, I think.

No comments: