When Love Takes You In

When Love Takes You In
When Love Takes You In
When love takes you in, it is a very special day. Today is one of those days in my extended family.

One of my wifes cousins will be adopting three of her grandchildren.

The reason she is adopting them do not matter, but yet, at the same time, they are forever life changing.

She has been taking care of her grandchildren for some time now. This is what families do when they love unconditionally.

My wife and I adopted three children. Not because we had to, but because we wanted to. It was a long and, at times, a very stressful journey.

In our case, we had to first get to a point, one we did not want or ask for. That point was the realization that, for whatever reason, we weren’t going to have kids. It is a point that many people find themselves at, and the hurt that came from finding ourselves at that point in our lives was made even worse because nobody could tell us why. We went through treatments, we were poked and prodded (and trust me, even though it was my wife who was getting poked and prodded like a pin cushion, I felt every single one of them), and we made long trips to see doctors out of state, only to come up empty.

It hurts when your plans, your hopes and your dreams all come crashing down around you.

But when we finally came out of all that pain and darkness, we found ourselves with a new light and a new realization. We had always planned that we would have children, and we knew they were out there. Somewhere.

They had just ended up being shipped to the wrong address, and so we had to go and find them.

That realization started our adoption odyssey.

Many families who adopt decide to go overseas, and adopt children from other countries. Others decide that they want to adopt a newborn.

We decided that there were groups of siblings, right here in our own state, that needed to be adopted together.

When love takes you in, that sounded quite logical to us. Unfortunately, that simple logic sounded quite insane to those who were helping us.

Long story short, we finally met our first two children, a sister and brother, who were living in separate foster homes in two different towns.

The bonding was immediate, and yes, we know that is not normally what happens, but it did in our case.

They were most definetely “our” kids. Take my Second Grade school photo, place it next to our sons Second Grade photo, and except for the part in our hair, they are almost identical. And when we were out and about, folks in town would complement my wife and our daughter on how much they looked alike, which for the longest time seemed to annoy our daughter, until she finally got used to that attention.

Then a couple of years later, their younger sister came and joined our family.

As a family, we had some problems, trials and tribulations, but we would do it again in a heartbeat.

Today, they are 29, 27 and 26. Both our daughters now have daughters of their own, and our son has a girlfriend who has a daughter. And this afternoon, my wife’s cousin will change her official title from “Grandma” to “Mom” for three special children.

But titles don’t really matter. Not when Love takes you in.

Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America
Remember, Honor, and Teach. That is the year-round mission of Wreaths Across America, but this is their most visible time of year.

Morrill Worcester was just 12 years old when he won a trip to Washington, DC. Arlington National Cemetery had a huge effect on him.

Many years later, in 1992, Morrill had 5,000 extra wreaths left over from his wreath making company. He started inquiring about the possibility of taking them to place in one of the oldest sections of Arlington. Others found out what he was planning, and they stepped up to help, and for many years, they quietly took the extra wreaths to Arlington.

Arlington 2005 - Wreaths Across America
Arlington 2005 – Wreaths Across America
Then, in 2005, a photo of the wreaths at Arlington started going viral across the internet. Suddenly, a quiet little tribute to our veterans at Christmas time also went viral.

The next year, in 2006, everything exploded. Wreaths were sent to locations in all 50 states, thanks to volunteers who stepped up. Wreath laying ceremonies were scheduled to occur at the same time across the country, thanks to the support of the Civil Air Patrol and others. The Patriot Guard Riders, an organization whose members attend the funerals of members of the U.S. military, firefighters, and police at the invitation of a decedent’s family, volunteered to escort the wreaths on their trip from Maine to Arlington. Thus began the annual “Veterans Honor Parade” that has been called the longest veterans tribute parade.

This is when I first found out about Wreaths Across America. My son was a Boy Scout, and his Troop sold Christmas Trees as a fundraiser. I was one of the parents who would help out, and we were right there on the parade route.

Because of the sudden increase in attention to what had started out 15 years earlier as a simple wreath-laying ceremony to honor our veterans, in 2007 Wreaths Across American was formed as a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt non-profit organization.

Wreaths Across America’s mission is a year-round project, to Remember the men and women who served our country, Honor our military and their families, and Teach our children about our freedom and those who protect it. To find out more about this organization and what they do, their website, http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/, has details about what they do, and how you may help.

You can also donate funds to sponsor a remembrance wreath to help get wreathes placed on veterans graves. They are also still accepting donations for this years wreath-laying through December 1st. You can also sponsor a remembrance wreath to be placed on a relatives or loved-ones grave at veterans cemeteries all across the United States, and several foreign cemeteries.

I urge everyone to help honor those who served in our military to keep us free.

Thanksgiving Day 2017

It’s Thanksgiving Day 2017. Time to take a look back at the past year, get together with friends and family, over eat, watch parades and football, and go spend time shopping for deals.

Of course, here in the Great State of Maine, we get to take a nap before we can go shopping. Way back when, Maine (as well as many other states, especially in New England) had “Blue Laws”, which restricted things like store openings and alcohol sales. Maine was the last New England state that finally allowed big department store to be open on Sundays. That was back in 1990. Car dealerships are still not able to be open on Sunday in Maine, but we are not alone in that prohibition.

However, major holidays, like Thanksgiving, large store in Maine are still not allowed to be open. Many of us are OK with that, as we would prefer to be with family, as well as enjoy the effects of tryptophan. That is the the amino acid found in turkey that makes you sleepy.

So we still have to gather outside of big box stores late Thanksgiving Day, in the cold and dark of night, and wait until 12:01 AM for the doors to open. Yes, the doors can not open at the stroke of midnight. We have to wait a full sixty seconds into Friday morning before making a mad dash out of the cold.

Normally, there isn’t anything I just have to have that will make me go out into the cold at “oh-dark-thirty”. Oh, I have done the midnight madness years ago, but I have way too much stuff in my house anyway. I have no place to put much more.

I do need a new color printer, though. Maybe…

For those who have been following my blog, you know how 2017 has not exactly been a banner year for me and my family. But I have things to be thankful for also.

Both my mother-in-law and my Dad are out of pain. That is a good thing. Would I rather be able to spend another Holiday Season with them? Of course I would. But that would mean much more pain for them, and I am not that selfish.

Both my father-in-law and my Mom are doing good. So, too, are the rest of my immediate family. My youngest granddaughter is off visiting family somewhere down in the mid-Atlantic states, and my eldest granddaughter has just recently joined the local Y swim team. She participated in her first swim meet this past weekend. All three of my children were members of the Y and High School swim teams. They did not, however, get the swimming gene from me!

The job search continues. Hopefully, that will soon come to a successful conclusion.

The turkey is thawed. Soon, it will be stuffed. My wife’s family has a great stuffing recipe, and when we get together (or my wife cooks up a turkey) extra stuffing is always made. Usually enough is made to last a day or two, but I don’t believe we’ve ever made it completely through the Thanksgiving weekend with stuffing left over.

According to AAA, there will be an estimated 51 million Americans traveling this long Thanksgiving weekend. Please stay safe. Please stay aware. And please enjoy whatever your plans call for.