Tag Archives: andrew

The Ghosts of Christmas Traditions Past, Present and Future

While enjoying a tasty pizza dinner together a few weeks ago, my son surprised Dean and me by telling us he was not going to be spending Christmas Day with us this year, but, instead, was traveling to Atlanta to spend Christmas with his friend, Alex and her family. I acted brave, but cried when I got home, and texted him that I was not ready for my kids to not be with me for Christmas.

I’ve spent the time in between thinking about him not being home on Christmas Day and realized it was okay — he would be there the day after and we could squeeze in a family Christmas on December 26 before Clare left on December 27. We often moved our personal Christmas celebration around when the kids were small because we usually traveled back to Elgin for the actual day.

Andrew and I had lunch earlier this week and he confided that he was a little nervous because he’d never not spent Christmas with us and we had our own traditions. He was going somewhere where they had their own traditions, ones he was not familiar with.

I thought about this and remembered that my first Christmas away from my family was in 1978. I was a year younger than Andrew is now and I was gone from early December through March. That year I did student teaching in London and left Elgin early to spend time with my English friend, Jeremy, and his family. I also recalled that I, too, was nervous — although I’d spent months with this family over the previous four years — because I was not familiar with their traditions. It was wonderful though. I was introduced to wine with Christmas dinner, Christmas cake, chocolate oranges and Christmas crackers.

While I never did attempt to make a Christmas cake, I did insist we have wine with Christmas dinner the year after I returned from England. I also always made sure to include a chocolate orange (and a real orange) in everyone’s Christmas stocking. Once Christmas crackers became readily available (and affordable) in the US I always buy a box Christmas crackers which we pop before the Christmas meal, wear the silly hats that come in the crackers, read the lame jokes and play with the included toys.

I sent Andrew a text telling him about that Christmas and that many of the unfamiliar traditions I experienced that year were such fun that I incorporated them into our family celebrations.

His reply made me cry a little again. He thanked me for telling him about my first Christmas away and then said he was bringing chocolate oranges and Christmas crackers for her family.

Way to go Helen!

helen-medalI’ve not posted about wrestling in a long time because my favorite wrestler has gone on to bigger and better things. This past week, though, I’ve been back in the wrestling state of mind. It has been a long time coming, but one of Montgomery County’s own wrestlers, Helen Maroulis, made it to the Olympics and made Olympic history by being the first US female to win a gold medal.

Why did I care so much? Mostly because she and Andrew grappled a few times in his freshman year. I remember the first time. We got to the meet and saw that Andrew was up against a girl. It felt a little odd, and I remember hearing, “Andrew’s wrestling Helen” repeated a few times that day. The next time he was up against her, it was not so strange and by then I’d learned more about her. She had a brother who was also a wrestler, she was very good.

Here is Andrew wrestling Helen at Counties:

Here he is wrestling Helen at Regionals:

She beat Andrew each time he wrestled against her but when she was wrestling others in different meets I, and all the moms of our team, not-so-secretly cheered Helen on.

After she left our county to train more extensively I followed her on Twitter and Instagram. I was disappointed when she didn’t qualify for the London Olympics, and delighted when she qualified for the Rio Olympics. I told everyone who would listen about her and Andrew’s history with her.

helen-lapOn Thursday of last week I stopped what I was doing to watch her win the quarterfinals, the semifinals and finally the finals. I cried tears of joy when she ran her victory lap around the arena, the US flag trailing behind her.

We most likely never exchanged a word, but I am claiming the right to feel proud to have been in the same room with her and watching her wrestle as a young teen.

 

The Return of the Peripatetic Son

Andrew graduated in May, spent a few days with us then went off on his post-graduation summer travels. First he went to Colorado with a couple friends by way of a circuitous route and flew back to Maryland about a week later. Not long after that he flew to Seattle with his bike and very few other possessions to embark on a 1300 or so mile solo cycling trip to San Diego.

We heard from him weekly along the way (a predetermined compromise from several times a week) about how his trip was going. He spent a few days with friends in Seattle, then took the long way to Olympia to visit Clare. He tried to cycle to Portland, but was picked up along the way by Clare and friends. He spent more time in Portland (but didn’t participate in the Naked Bike Ride even though he thought about it.)

The next time we heard from him he was in Newport, Oregon setting up his campsite. He told us he was living on rice and beans cooked over a small cooker and it was getting old.

11717422_4434734826193_956547921161502244_oWe heard from him again when he was in San Francisco where he was able to meet up with some of Dean’s cousins. He stayed a day or so with Joanne, one of Dean’s cousins.

Andrew and I had a nice conversation when he was somewhere in the middle of California. He lamented that his trip was more than half over but was really happy he was doing it.

It seemed like more than a week, but we finally heard (though Tal) that Andrew was on his way to Santa Barbara where he was going to spend some time with our friend Tal. When he got to Santa Barbara Tal set up a Skype chat. Andrew, Tal and I talked for half an hour or so. Tal knew I was anxious to see how Andrew was doing and I am forever grateful to him for that gift.

11224305_10153139103781523_278894187786000153_nAfter that I saw some Facebook posts from a friend of Clare’s showing Andrew in Topanga having fun with some dogs and swinging on a rope. He called us sometime around then and said he’d stayed with Dean’s Uncle Ed and Aunt Fran in Pasadena one night.

We talked to Andrew a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. Once when he was in Baja California and again on Sunday when he called me from New Orleans for my birthday. Again he repeated that the trip was a great one in which he learned things about himself, was able to reflect on his life and he met some great people along the way.

Andrew comes home tomorrow morning. Home meaning the home in which he spent most of his life so far, but I know that before long he will have a new “home”. None of us know what is going to happen in the future. All I hope for is that Andrew be happy in whatever he does next.

I am so proud of both Andrew and Clare. They have both turned out to be amazing adults. I cannot wait to see what happens next.