Wednesday, December 14, 2011


It started out as a normal day. Well, as normal as a day where you have to unload 40,000 newspapers off a truck by hand can be.

Then I met Tyson.

You know, there are people in life that kinda knock your socks off and remind you of all that is good about living and breathing and not taking a single second of life for granted. There are people whose smile brightens up a room and whose presence simply makes you feel better. Yep, he's one of those people.

You see, Tyson was going about his life when on June 10, 2010 he and his father were in a horrific boating accident that nearly claimed their lives. His Dad was in a coma for two weeks and Tyson 99 days. His family was told he would never walk or talk again and that he would most likely remain unresponsive. Yet here he was, sitting across from me at lunch after helping unload and stack 40,000 papers. He also is finishing his degree in chemistry at UT Chattanooga and is getting married to his longtime girlfriend next June. He is, without doubt, a living, breathing miracle.

There are many things in the story of this young man that are shake-your-head-how-can-that-be-possible things. Like how did he survive 45 minutes with no oxygen after his windpipe was crushed? How did the abscess in his lung disappear when doctors said it could not be attributed to any medical intervention that had been performed? He is the first one to admit that it is nothing short of a miracle and I believe this to be true.

But what struck me most about Tyson is the joy he pours into others. Even after my brief time knowing him, I felt blessed to hear his story and see the smile spread across his face when discussing the things he loves in life including his fiancee Jenna. It made me thankful for all the little things I take for granted. It reinforced for me that anything is possible and that our lives can change forever in a moment's notice.

But, more than anything, it made me grateful to have crossed paths with this amazing young man. Thank you Tyson for your smile, your optimism and for blessing me with your story.

I am forever changed.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tis the Season to Build My Own....

The Sunday afternoon smell of fresh-from-the-oven peanut butter cookies, worcestershire pecans and hot apple cider fills the air while the sound of a crackling fire and the The Polar Express provide the perfect soundtrack for this day.

I love this time of year. There's always something to look forward to. From checking the mailbox to see the spit-shined images of our friends and family in the form of Christmas cards to hearing the familiar strains of a favorite carol sung in harmony...some of my favorite memories involve Christmas and the weeks leading up to this holiday.

But, along with the good come the more bittersweet moments. As I sat in church this morning, we had a time of prayer with a beautiful version of Amazing Grace played in the background. I could not contain my emotion. Tears welled up in my eyes and poured down each cheek as I thought about my Mom and how much she loved both that song and Christmas in general. It evoked in me that longing for her, for my childhood...for the sound of the Beach Boys Christmas album blaring and the smell of cherry walnut bars ready to come out of the oven. It's that silly little angel that would spin by the heat of the candle flame and the chubby little ceramic Santa that was always perched on an end table next to a sprig of holly. It's the wrapping of gifts with her showing me just how much to snip off the end before I taped it down and it's the familiar bulge of the orange in the toe of my stocking. These are things I remember. These are the things I miss this time of year.

Perhaps that is why I now try to create those same sort of smells and sounds and traditions with my own that one day they, too, might have specific memories of this holiday. But right now I am feeling more selfish than that. I am wanting to be the kid. I want my Mom to walk out of that kitchen and tell me she has a big pot of vegetable soup and cornbread ready for our viewing of The Christmas Story or It's a Wonderful Life. I want all the pieces of the gingerbread house (or my holiday season) to be lovingly laid out for me with a bowl full of frosting and all the perfect candies for decoration organized into neat little containers.

But it's not that easy. I am the grown-up. It's my turn to make the soup and buy the presents and create the sights and sounds of this holiday for my little ones. And instead of just missing her and wanting to curl up in the fetal position, I will channel her energy and her spirit and love of all things Christmas and create memories of my own. It's time to decorate my own gingerbread house. As imperfect as it may be with its leaning walls and sticky peppermint wreath on the is still my own.

Now where did I put that recipe for cherry walnut bars..........