Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Sweetness Of Christmas

Today, for a short time, I live inside the sweetness of Christmas. White lights lit along my wall, a generous mug of rose petal tea and a plate of German Stollen define my morning. My Mother calls to ask if the bread is okay. She made it, of course, as she does every year. Over the phone, I hear we have the same Christmas music playing on the classical radio station. She is also eating Stollen. Her tea is Lady Grey. Yes, the bread is wonderful, as always, I say. She tells me how much she likes today's gift. Gift bag number 20 in the 24 day advent calendar I made for her this year contains a compact disc of pictures I have taken. Most of the pictures are of her and flowers. It is a document, of sorts, of her difficult journey. But today, right now, nothing is difficult. Today, sipping tea over the phone with my Mother, everything is sweet.

My Mother. 14 months into her journey through cancer and I am still eating her Christmas bread. Colon cancer that spread to her liver. Stage 4 upon discovery. And here she is. Here we are. Defying normal medical parameters with an amazing response to chemotherapy. She has wept and struggled and stubborned her way through offers of no hope and talk of hospice. Through bouts of poison every 3 weeks since January. She is still here because she has let herself be loved like she had never allowed before. 253 greeting cards (at last count) with well wishes, daily prayers, visits from German relatives, my father's endless devotion. And flowers.

Along with the emotional support and guard of her well being, I have given my Mother flowers to help lift her heart. A fragrant bouquet held at each chemotherapy session, and barely a day without flowers in her home. It's working. The love and the prayers, the devotion and the flowers, combined with medical opinions and formulas, has reduced the liver tumors from 13 to 6. The tumors are currently inactive, much to the amazement of her oncology team.

I am not amazed. I understand this is what love does when it is given and received. Deeply given and deeply received. Healing, in one form or another, takes place. Not always is it the expected form. My Mother has a ways to go to be fully healed, but she has already come farther than most would have thought. Such is the power of love, a power so strong I am living inside the sweetness of Christmas today, eating my Mother's beloved bread.

{"I'm saving the advent bags to give back to you", she says, "so you can fill them again next year."}


  1. Anonymous12/20/2009

    Oh, what a beautiful post, dear Graciel.

    I am smiling and shaking my head in gratitude and wonder as I marvel at your story. Ah, yes, the Power of Love.

    Thank you for sharing such sweetness and hope with us today!

  2. You've brought tears to my eyes. May this stranger from the other side of the world send Love to your mother, and wishes for her fragrant and long, long joy.

  3. To Lisa and Sarah,

    Thank you with all my heart.

    xxoo, Graciel

  4. I read this and smile and nod and it brings tears to my eyes also.

    I can't wait to hear what you fill the bags with next year.

    Merry Christmas to you both, and hugs and prayers.


  5. This year, Debi, the bags were filled with things like plum pudding for two, an amaryllis, an ornament symbolizing triumph and courage, cooking magazines, gourmet pancake mix, a hot pink luggage tag for future travels, paperwhite bulbs, the latest Greg Mortenson book, etc.

    Each morning since December 1st she has risen early, lit the tree and sat down next to it to open her daily dose of Christmas. Just as I had hoped. The child within is such a healer.

  6. Graciel, I was just wondering how your mom is...and then here you've given us an update to let us know she is doing so well. I'm so, so pleased!

    What a lovely idea the advent gift bags are...the delight, excitement and wonder of the holidays, lasts for twenty five days!

    And the stolen bread is looks just beautiful.

  7. Graciel, wishing you and your mother peace and love for the Christmas season and always. Love truly conquers all, doesn't it. I am so glad to hear she is making progress toward healing. What a lovely, wonderful, and generous gift from you to her these daily surprises are!

  8. Oh Graciel. I wondered how you mom was doeing? And I'm so gladd you still have christmas together. I lover her saying that she will save the bags for next year.

    Love can make you survive. I'm looking as it is at a beautiful orchid while thinking about your mom baking this Stollen with love for you sending out a prayer.

    Tell her about the flower and send her a smile from me will you?
    Sweet hugs Dagmar

  9. Wow...this cake looks super yummy. It was nice to experience the sweetness of Christmas.

  10. An inspiring post. My husband has defied odds w/kidney cancer. He was given 4 weeks to live in 2002. He's still around and I do believe in your words, "I understand this is what love does when it is given and received." I honor these magnificent souls who have such courage to fight the fight and continue to love.

  11. the stollen looks so good! my grandma used to make it, just like this.
    i send your mother love. all the love and blessings she can hold.
    Happy Holidays, my sweet friend.

  12. Anonymous12/24/2009

    K- what a beautiful post.... sitting here in a puddle of tears.
    Am missing you all this Christmas.
    With love, H

  13. Love does work miracles indeed.


I always appreciate the time you take to comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by. Peace from my heart to yours. xo, Graciel