Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Daughters? Who Needs Them?

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  
Thornton Wilder

Long, long ago I wrote an essay about my hopes for having a girl child. That with each of my three pregnancies I hoped and dreamed of pink sleepers, ballet classes, and the camaraderie of a female living in my home. With three brothers and no sisters, I yearned for female companionship. I figured that perhaps what I missed in a sister I could find in a daughter.

I worked on that essay for two years. I sent it out to several journals and it became a finalist in two. Finally, one chose it but right before publication a matter came up in regard to the venue and my use of the word penis. It was such the perfect word for the sentence, but the headmaster of verbiage at the publication didn't agree. I would gladly have pulled the word or resupplied something else like dink, wanger, unit, you know, I was willing. Alas, the piece didn't make it into the book and continues to languish in a file cabinet along with many of my other essays that just didn't quite make the cut.

Perhaps a slap in the face to remind me that I didn't ever get a sister and I had three sons. Not like I needed a slap in the face to remember that. But as time went by and I spent my life at ballparks, boy scouts, the men's department, and sports stores, I forgot about a life with a daughter. Besides, my boys provided me with great love.

Daughters - didn't need one.

This past Christmas was a difficult one. Energy for the season wasn't exactly flowing. With the death of my mother the past September, I couldn't quite muster the joy of the season. I did get my cards out, baked some bread, put up decorations, and bought my very first fake tree. You might recall that I wrote how we put it up and the poor thing only had a 23yr old paperplate angel and couple of doves. Pathetic display.

The previous Christmas I had given my new daughter-in-law a kit for knitting a stocking. The style matched all those I had made for myself and the other kids, which was a match for my husbands made by his aunt long ago.

When I gave it to her, I joked that knowing me next Christmas would creep up and I wouldn't have begun. Yes, that kit sat in my knitting basket beside my chair where I reside and 11 months went by before I took it out and began. It had been 20 years since I'd made the last one, so a learning curve was in order. I began with too large of needles  so my gauge was off. But time was clicking by and I had no time to begin anew.

Onto Christmas Eve we gathered early in the afternoon. Daughter-in-law Chelsea and I had tea in my grandmother's china cups. She made sangria for a colorful cocktail. We prepared trays of appetizers. While waiting for dinner, we sat in the family room, the fake tree lit up with its measly collection of store bought candy canes plus an angel and three doves. Still hadn't had the gumption to get out the ornament boxes.

When I mentioned that fact, Chelsea rose with great energy, "I'll do it." I thought she was joking, but no, the boxes were brought in and she spent the next hour or more sorting through the ornaments and making our tree look like a true Christmas tree. My heart warmed like it hadn't in quite some time as I saw her work - and the joy she exuded as she laughed brought lightness to the room. The task that I had dreaded while carrying great weight on my heart, she completed with ease.



Even adding a touch of holiday here and there around the house.


I don't know if everyone needs a daughter, but I am most thankful I have one.



Please visit Chelsea's Blog Somewhere Between Rustic and Shabby

31 comments:

  1. While I was reading this blog I kept thinking that one of your daughters-in-law would fit the bill. I am so glad that I was right!

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  2. Chelsea. What a great addition to the family she is! So glad that you get to finally have your daughter and that she is such a great joy to be around.

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  3. A lovely tale, it is nice to have that extra help that you needed. I had moved before the holiday, but kept my old home.It was fun to see friends decorate while I was gone, it made those old ornaments shine.

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  4. What a wonderful happy ending to this post, and, I suspect, the beginning of a whole new just-us-girls relationship. Excellent!

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  5. I have two, and they are very different, but both fabulous.

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  6. Very lovely post. Gives me hope.

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  7. Cockles of heart duly warmed and small tear in eye. Nice!

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  8. It was inevitable you would get a daughter, and I for one am glad you did. Daughters, no matter how they come to you, are gifts from the universe.

    Plus, Chelsea is adorable.

    xo

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  9. Chelsea did a beautiful job on that tree and I'm so glad that you have a daughter now! And who knows, you may have others in the future if your other two sons marry! Cheers!

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  10. What a beautiful story, Julie! I am so glad you finally did get a daughter to love and cherish! Chelsea sounds perfect!

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  11. As a father with one daughter and one son, I can only say, congrats. on finally getting your daughter. They are wonderful, aren't they! Now, if only I could get a daughter-in-law.

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  12. That's wonderful! I had a sister already, but gained another two more through marriage and in many ways, they are like true sisters to me. I am glad you have this special relationship with your daughter-in-law.

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  13. I have a half-written post somewhere about how I was afraid I would have a daughter and not be able to relate to her, having grown up with only brothers.
    I am so pleased for you that your daughter-in-law is such a lovely person, and that she felt comfortable enough to take the initiative about Christmas decs. It's not every new DIL who would be able to step in like that. Sounds very much like you have a special one.

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  14. I like your stories. I can really feel what you're saying. I especially like this one. It's filled with love. :)

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  15. What a lovely story...and yes, you have a daughter. She sounds like a great find.

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  16. Lovely post. I'm glad your son has provided you with a daughter. My mother grew up as the middle child between two brothers. She always wanted a sister, and so when her brothers married, she felt her wish had been answered. BUT: when her older brother proceeded to plow through four wives, Mom said, "I didn't want sisters that badly!"

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  17. You have my dream! I'm praying to get my daughter the same way--all grown up and wonderful like your DIL sounds!

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  18. And I have been thinking about you my friend...we are going to make it!..slowly but surely! Maybe we need a road trip???xo

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  19. My Dad refused to refer to our wives as daughter-in-laws. I know see why. AnnMarie will be married to our eldest in October and she is a keeper. The tradition is being honored. Our second daughter, the first was godsend during her sophmore year in high school when she joined our CC team. She has the first spot in my heart for a daughter. Thank the Lord for the blessings of both.

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  20. Aw, such a sweet post. And a sweet daughter-in-law. Daughters come in all forms. You waited a long time four yours, but it sure was worth it, now wasn't it? :)

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  21. Ahhhhh, I love this. All teary. Chelsea is truly a lovely daughter (in-law) and you're blessed to have her. What a sweet tribute to her.

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  22. Ah. See? You have your daughter now--one of the heart, if not the blood. Who knows? You may be blessed with two more. Meantime, you and Chelsea would seem to be starting the perfect mother/daughter-in-law relationship. A rare and wonderful occurrence. Wonderful!

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  23. I am sure that your daughter in law is very lucky you have you as a mother in law.

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  24. OMG, i am crying right now! How incredibly sweet! I will never forget that Christmas, and it will always be my favorite holiday, as we all get to spend so much time together, and create amazing memories. Coolest mother-in-law, right here! Love you so much!!

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  25. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. This got me. The relationship between mother- and daughter-in-law can be so fraught (as can that between mother and daughter), but you've proven, with your ability to appreciate her willingness to pitch in and your willingness to cede control, that you're a good mother to a girl, no matter what form it takes.

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  26. Julie! I'm here after a long, long time. So glad I came. I LOVED this essay!

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  27. I cannot believe I overlooked this post somehow. I LOVE IT! My daughter-in-law came to my rescue last week, in much the same way, so I know how you feel. Bless our daughters-in-law, for when our sons choose wisely, we gain daughters for sure.

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  28. Hey...just finished a book you might like...thought about you and your writing....Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett

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  29. It's a great moment when a daughter in law becomes a daughter. Chelsea did a great job with the tree!

    I had a little 3-footer on a side table this year. In January, I noticed that all the candy canes around the bottom had disappeared. My dog must know how much I loathe having to take down the tree, so she helped me!

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  30. Not sure who's the most blessed here, you or Chelsea. So glad you had this time with her.

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