Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day 7- American Heart Association and Hoelscher Family

The Christmas Eve 2009 blog was about my Mierzwa family, of course.  I have spent more than twenty Christmas Eves in the house of my Grandma Ginny cracking up at the... um... individuality and wackiness of my family.  For this donation, I asked my dad to think about someplace that might be fitting to donate to in honor of his family.  He made an excellent choice:  

This will be the 34th Christmas the Mierzwa family will celebrate without my father and your grandfather, Frank Mierzwa, being physically present, but he will be there in our thoughts and stories.  Heart disease took him from us, so I think a donation to the American Heart Association would be appropriate.  Ongoing research and improved treatments have helped many other families keep their husbands, fathers, and grandpas around a lot longer, and it would be nice to support that continued work.  I will be sending a check to them on top of your donation.

 I think it is absolutely wonderful that we can honor the family in this way, and I am elated that another donation will be added to my own.  That's what I hope for every day!  I never got to meet my grandpa, but I know that he must have been a great man because he was a part of raising my dad.  From my own father's incredible generosity and spirit, it is clear that he comes from good stock :).


Here's what your donation, added to ours, could do
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/

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One of the tough things about being a married couple and a unit is learning to make sacrifices in order to do what is best for both people.  This becomes particularly clear around the holidays when time split equitably amongst ALL families is a must.  Tom shared with me that he had a conversation with one of his newlywed coworkers about this issue this year.  His buddy was lamenting the fact that he would have to miss his own lively holiday time with family in order to make it to his wife's family's celebration instead.  He was contemplating what the rules were and trying to figure out if there was anything that he could do to just continue to spend Christmas with his own family each year. 


We're becoming pros at navigating the great Christmas compromise after a number of Christmases together.  Tom let his friend know that you just have to make it work for both of you.  Sure, we'd both always choose to be with our own families above all else, but we don't make choices that way anymore.  We're a pair now.  We alternate Thanksgivings and Christmases between Michigan and Texas and wherever else our families happen to be each year.  We are lucky enough to have a week and a half off for break, which means that we can make it to see both families.  


It's hectic, and it's crazy.  We are constantly flying and driving and scheduling when we might be able to see as many people as possible.  By the end of break, we need a vacation from our vacation, and we wonder where the time went.  We are ragged from travel and still have laundry and unpacking and cleaning and grocery shopping to do when we get home from it all.  However, and this is a big however, I always come back to the fact that it is completely and totally worth it.  We are blessed to be able to spend time with BOTH families and all the people we love.


This was Tom's Christmas, so we spent Christmas Eve at his grandma's house near Corpus Christi.  I, of course, missed all of the fun at my Grandma Ginny's house.  I did not get to see the cheesy potatoes set on fire (although Amanda told me no luck on that this year), and I did not get to chat up the strays (people, not animals) who inevitably seem to wander into our celebration each year.  I missed my grandma and my cousins and aunts and uncles and the ridiculous gifts and the table of food and the Midnight Mass with Grandma Katie and all of the rest of it.  I did get a small taste of Grandma Ginny in her full glory on the phone, though.  "Merry Christmas!  Oh, sweetheart, we wish you were here!  It's probably a good thing that you're not, though, because there are no seats for you.  Ok, bye."


I also got something else.  I am learning a whole new set of traditions with a whole new family who will hopefully become old friends.  I got to be a part of the process of hugs and squeals on the way in.  I played Christmas Bingo (and didn't win... while Tom won twice).  I ate the traditional seafood dinner and sat at the kid table with all of the other twenty-something "kids."  I posed for family pictures.  I participated in the gift exchange and had gifts taken away just like every other member of the family.  I sang Christmas carols from the books they've used for years, including the family favorite "My Hand on Myself."  I attended Mass.  Most importantly, I felt welcomed and comfortable.  I felt as if this huge family had enough love that they could share some with another person.  Heck, they probably have enough for at least an additional ten people.  


There's a line in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" that I always think about when I'm with the Hoelscher family.  Andie, the main female character, is supposed to make Ben, the main man, fall in love with her.  Then, she's supposed to do all of the things that women do to push men away in order to try to get him to dump her.  The plan obviously starts to fall apart (it is a romantic comedy, after all), and this really begins to become clear when Andie goes home to visit Ben's family.  She wins them over, and the reality of her situation starts to hit her on the way home.


Ben: What's wrong? 
Andie: It's just that when your mom hugged me today..she really hugged me.....for winning a game of Bull****.

From the first time I met all of Tom's extended Texas family five holidays ago, I have felt as if they really hugged me.  Like they mean it.  They are warm and kind and funny and inviting.  It seems as if the fact that Tom loves me is enough for the rest of them.  It will never be easy to be away from my family for the holidays, but I am blessed that at least I married into a family like the Hoelschers.

Thank you, Hoelscher family, you made my day.



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