Tag Archives: Christmas

2009 in Review

It’s been a busy year in our household! Here are a few of the highlights:

January: I had just graduated from graduate school and was enjoying doing nothing but being pregnant. About halfway through the month I learned my delivery plans were going to change pretty drastically. My grandfather passed away after a long battle with cancer; his funeral happened while I prepped for my c-section.

February: At the beginning of the month we welcomed Menininho. It was a complicated post-delivery, one that I hope to never repeat. We moved to California and I made my first silly new mom mistake.

March: I learned of the losses of two Marfan friends. Menininho was blessed and formally given a name. Our family came to visit. Mark was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

April: A pretty boring month, but I did blog about some of my baby “must haves”.

May: We started using cloth diapers and won’t go back! Mark officially graduated with his MS. I also had the stress test that started a chain of events.

June: Mark and I celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary. I also started a series of posts about my life with Marfan.

July: My Life With Marfan posts continued and I prepared for the annual National Marfan Foundation conference.

August: Menininho and I flew solo to visit my mom and sister. I finished up the series and went to my 4th conference, where besides working with the teens I was also one of the closing speakers.

September: My cardiologist discovered a problem with my heart and I decided to wean Menininho early in order to start a new medication. A few weeks later Mark was diagnosed with Celiac disease.

October: We had a mishap at the pumpkin patch, and then better success. I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress.

November: I relived some childhood memories with MamaKat’s Writers’ Workshop and we got to spend Thanksgiving in Ohio, seeing all of my and Mark’s extended families.

December: The inner breastfeeding advocate in me wrote a post about a woman’s right to breastfeed and the inner patient advocate in me wrote a post about being an empowered patient. We bought a tree, spent too much time in the ER and had a failed Christmas tradition.

I want to thank all of you who read my blog, who give me feedback. I am humbled that you take time from your day to read what I have to write. I look forward to getting to know more of you and your writings in 2010!

~ Maya



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Christmas Eve

I love Christmas. I love the music. I love the crowded malls. I love the decorations. I love the FOOD. I love the traditions.

The best part about our first Christmas as a family of three was the opportunity to create new traditions for our family. Sure, it took some haggling (more than I expected) to figure out which of our respective family’s traditions we’d carry out this year for Menininho. Christmas Eve we’d drive to look at lights and open up our Christmas pajamas. Christmas morning we’d do stockings, read the Christmas story from Luke, eat our (this year, gluten free!) cinnamon rolls, sing a couple Christmas carols, and open presents.

But Christmas Eve I realized we had no Christmas Eve dinner tradition! For whatever reason this seemed totally unacceptable to me, and I pressed Mark about it. We decided that cheap Chinese takeout on the couch and It’s a Wonderful Life would be perfect. And really, this should be NO problem because we live within walking distance from a strip of Chinese restaurants.

We bundled up the baby and ventured out. Our only caveat was needing to find a restaurant that 1) didn’t use wheat in their soy sauce OR 2) had yummy dishes that used no soy sauce. Unfortunately, this was harder than we thought. For starters, I couldn’t convince Mark that it was probably easiest to ask “Does your soy sauce contain wheat?” than to ask “Do you have a gluten free menu?” A lot of people have no idea what gluten is, or may have gluten-less dishes and not know it, but not have a real gluten free menu (we’ve found most restaurants do NOT have such a menu). After about 10 restaurants it was obvious that no one understood what he was talking about, and we didn’t want to chance him getting sick.

Our backup plan was to drive to the mall, where we knew their Chinese restaurant used MSG in their soy sauce, instead of wheat. Unfortunately we realized AFTER we’d gotten Menininho into his shoulder and walked up from the back of the parking lot that the mall had closed 2 hours previous.

I ended up eating 2 cookies and a bowl of applesauce for dinner. I think Mark skipped it entirely. We’ll prepare better next year!

What are some of your holiday traditions? Did you start any new ones after you had kids?


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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas


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The Most Special Christmas

I talked recently about my favorite Christmas, but that post got me thinking about my most special Christmas, which was in 2006.

That fall was a busy time. My brother left on a mission trip; I was planning my wedding to my college sweetheart and filling out graduate school applications. Then, in a six-week period, my father died, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and my brother became injured and had to return home.

Needless to say, I wasn’t really excited about the holiday. Christmas had been Dad’s favorite time of year and it just wasn’t going to be the same without him. Mom started chemo while I was taking finals. My brother was undergoing heavy physical therapy. We also had our good friends (a mom and her 5 kids) move in with us for the month of December while they were between houses. I just wasn’t in the mood to celebrate and I didn’t see how the holidays this year were going to be anything other than something to get through.

I wasn’t counting on Team Regina.

When Mom was diagnosed, some of her best friends at church created a website called Team Regina to coordinate any help that she might need during her treatment. During the holiday and after, this small group snowballed into something amazing. Pretty soon not only was our entire congregation involved, but most of our small town as well!

One woman helped us decorate for Christmas, since none of us were able to lift the heavy boxes from the basement up to the first floor. Another woman came in January to help put everything away. During Mom’s second chemo session, a lady from town came and decorated our living room pink and left us each a pink present. Other families brought meals, provided rides, knitted hats, and offered massages for Mom’s tired muscles. Someone did the “12 Days of Christmas” for us, leaving a little gift by the front door each day.

I’m sure I am forgetting other acts of kindness, but you get the idea. These families, some whom were dear friends and others whom we did not even really know, were angels on Earth. Never has the true Spirit of the season been so manifest to me and I hope God has blessed them all richly for their acts of pure charity and love.


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Merry Christmas!

Today is SITSmas, a day for all the SITS sistahs to post holiday greetings to each other.  This sounded like a lot of fun to me, and I thought it also makes a great opportunity to wish a happy holidays to all of my readers.

So, from my family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannakuh, and Happy Kwanzaa!!!

Maya, Mark, and Menininho


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O Christmas Tree

Somewhat on a whim, Mark and I decided to try out a Christmas tree lot over by Target Friday night. We’d been planning on driving to a tree farm the next afternoon, but figured this might save us some cash (and 2 hours of driving).

It was a little bit pathetic…the trees weren’t clearly marked, the selection was poor, Menininho was crying in his Ergo, and I was dumb and wore flip flops. The first tree we liked appeared to be in the $30 section but was misplaced and there was no way I was going to pay double. Eventually we found a 5 ½ ft Douglas Fur for the right price and settled in line to wait for it to be cut.

The workers there were friendly enough. One woman proudly told us how the entire lot was run by her brother’s search light company (which explained the ginormous search lights beckoning to everyone within 30 miles). Another offered us free persimmons.

[Mark is currently trying to Google “how to eat a persimmon,” but got the response “how to eat a person.” Gross.]

The real highlight though was in getting the tree attached to the car. The man assigned to help us chatted amicably to Mark about the pain medication he’s taking and made faces at Menininho. Mark hoisted the tree onto the roof and the man insisted on doing the tying. After a bit though, we noticed that the man didn’t appear to be doing much. In fact, his hand was uncomfortably close to my ribs. In fact, he wasn’t moving. His arms dangled into the car through the partially opened window, his face was pressed up against the glass except for his nose, which hung over the window like an ornament hook.

He was either sleeping or had just suffered a major heart attack and died. Either way, both were kind of awkward.

I motioned over to Mark to say something because if I opened my mouth I was going to burst out laughing. He walked behind the man. “Um, can I help you?” And then again, louder. The man jumped up! “Do you need help?” he asked confusedly. And then, he just walked away.

Mark finished tying the tree to the car and we left in a hurry.

Never a dull moment!


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The Best Christmas

It’s Thursday, so that means time for Mama Kat’s Writers’ Workshop! Today I’m responding to prompt #4: Describe how you would celebrate the holidays if it was totally up to you and money was not a factor.

I’m having some terrible writer’s block today and I blame it on all the righteous anger and frustration I poured into yesterday’s post. So, after spending hours last night writing, I went to bed with nothing. I’ve decided to alter the prompt a little bit and instead write about my favorite Christmas.

I’ve celebrated Christmas a lot of different ways. As a child, my parents held big parties on Christmas Eve. I’d help my mother bake pies and after the dinner, all the children would act out the nativity story. Once the guests left my brother, sister, and I would be allowed to open our gift of Christmas pajamas. Christmas morning brought presents and a breakfast of cinnamon roles and orange juice.

One year in college, I spent Christmas in Brasil. There was a blizzard and ice storm back home – power was out for days – but I got to lay out on the beach. I met my Mom’s extended family for the first time, toured the state of Sao Paulo, and ate the best food in the entire world.

The Christmas after Dad died, we had a family of 7 living with us for the holiday. I didn’t feel much like celebrating but the younger kids still managed to infuse our house with the Christmas spirit, and our small town rallied around my family to make Christmas special (this is perhaps a post for another day).

Last year I had a lovely Christmas with my in-laws. I got to experience a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner of fried fish (and pizza) and take part in all the traditions my husband grew up with. I loved it!

But I think my very favorite Christmas was the first one that Mark and I spent together. We were grad students, married 6 months, and finally living together (after the wedding he’d had to stay in Cleveland to finish his Masters, and I’d moved 3 hours away to start my program). I didn’t expect to do much, but Mark insisted that we buy a Christmas tree and he dragged it up all 3 flights of stairs to get it into our living room/kitchen. I made some ornaments, including the ugliest stocking holders you have EVER seen. ☺ Christmas day morning was very low-key, opened our gifts to each other, I made some cinnamon roles, and then I got started on dinner. We decided to host a set of young missionaries from our church for dinner and I went all out. I slow cooked a small roast and made cheesy potatoes, green beans, and a (slightly undercooked) cherry pie as sides. Mark had the brilliant idea of trying to cook artichokes, which ended up catching fire in the oven. Needless to say, we didn’t eat those and I haven’t let him near artichokes since.

I realized though that I think a simple holiday is the best. I’m looking forward to this Christmas, Menininho’s first, and starting traditions as a family.

I already bought his Christmas pajamas.

And please don’t forget to enter my giveaway! Tomorrow is the last day!


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