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December 9, 2010

 Rachael and Michael did the Christmas decorations last night, or rather, the night before last now.  They both love decorating for Christmas and I do too, although my role today is more of a ‘sit and watch’ and make sure the tree decorations are balanced so there are not spots devoid of twinkles, or glitters or shines.   They hung the big wreath on the fire place wall and as soon as I saw it I said, “It looks like somebody sat on your wreath!”   Rachael said, “Yeah, I know.  I tried to fix it.” 

I sat there a few more minutes and finally asked Michael to take it down so I could work on it some more.  (I tend to have more patience than Rachael. 🙂  )  It was high up; our fireplace goes clear to the top of the open ceiling.  Byut Michael climbed up and got it for me.  I spent the next 20 minutes bending the poinsettias back into  shape and straightening the ribbons  to make them flow down across the center to the greenery.  I poofed the bows back into shape and twisted a couple pieces of pine back up so they pointed at the room and not the wall.  NOW it looks like a wreath again and  not one of those little rings people sit on  for hemorrhoids.

As I sat and watched them bustling around and putting things in just the right places-this is only our second or third Christmas here, but already things have their appointed places.   As I sat and watched, I remembered the first Christmas Notah and Rachael did the decorating by themselves when they were growing up.  They couldn’t have been very old.

Grandpa had gone to the livestock sale and come home with two geese–supposedly one for Thanksgiving dinner and one for Christmas dinner.   Well, THAT idea didn’t last even ‘til he got in the house.  Rachael happened to be watching for her grandpa to come home from the sale; he always brought some neat thing back.  That particular day she looked out the window just as Grandpa pushed the head of a goose back into its crate.

“What does Grandpa have?  It’s something alive!!”

I said, as casually as possible, “Oh that’s probably a goose.  I told him I wanted one to have for Thanksgiving dinner.”  Famous last words!

“We’re not eating that for dinner!”  And Rachael went running out the door into the November cold barefooted with no coat!   The geese stayed safe from the roasting pan and roamed around our yard.

That’s why at Christmas time I wasn’t helping with the decorating.  For the first couple months we caught the geese at night and penned them up to keep them safe from marauding foxes looking for a quick meal.  A couple weeks before Christmas we were out catching the geese-a bit of a job but not as impossible as it sounds.  I was wearing moccasins and as I ran down the hill behind our house (yes, look at me now and remember I could once, not just walk without crutches, but actually run without them!) as I ran down the hill both feet slipped on the frosted grass and I sat down on my behind.  I jumped up, happy that I hadn’t hurt myself .   We caught the geese and I forgot about the fall.

A few days later I began having intense chest pains.  It felt as though a knife were being forced slowly though the middle of my breastbone. I ignored them for a couple days,  and by the time the day rolled around to set up the tree and decorate I was beginning to consider the possibility of a serious heart problem.  I did only what I had to do around the house, but when the kids began begging to decorate I was worried enough that I turned the whole job over to them. 

Notah put the tree together.  With a little verbal coaching from me, he got the lights on it and put the garland on.  Rachael, meantime, was digging in the boxes of ornaments and deciding where to put what. They got the tree up and decorated and the nativity scene set up just so (Right now, Rachael has that same nativity sitting on the same table that it sat on then.  And I didn’t check, but I’m sure the figures are in the [according to our family’s tradition] traditional places.) 

the 'manger scene' from my childhood

They wrapped the pine garland around the banisters to the upstairs and hung the sugar plumbs and candy cane garland around the arch to the kitchen.  They hung the stockings on the sides of the arch into the living room and arranged my collection of Christmas music boxes on the coffee table.  And everything was accomplished by them alone.  They couldn’t have been more than 8 and 10 years old.

The next day I decided it would be foolish to not see a doctor, even though I couldn’t afford it.  I had two kids to raise before I could even think about dying.  Long story short—the doctor checked my heart and blood pressure.  There was nothing wrong with my heart.  I insisted though, that the pain was severe enough to limit my activity and the doctor began asking questions.  He wanted to know if I had taken any bad falls.  I first I said no because my definition of a ‘bad fall’ was tumbling down a flight of ten stairs or falling out of the hay window in the barn.  Then as I thought about it, I remember that slip on the hillside!  When I told him he prodded up and down my spine between my shoulders opposite the focal point of the pain and discovered a very tender spot.  Then he was happy to tell me that my heart was fine but I had jammed the vertebrae in my back.  That was what was causing the pain.  They were pinching the nerves there and causing the pain. 

He gave me a prescription for muscle relaxants and a flyer describing  a couple relaxation positions that he said would relieve the stress on the bones and muscles.  Ha!  I left his office and called Doctor McCoy, our long time chiropractor. 

Doctor McCoy took an x-ray to be sure the diagnosis was correct. Sure enough my something-something vertebrae were jammed together and pinching my spinal cord.  He gave me a series of adjustments and I felt better immediately.  I had to go back a couple times because after the two or three weeks of pain the inflamed and swollen muscles pulled the bones back out of alignment but I was soon fine.  And my heart worked okay too.

                                                The geese lived for years.  Their hearts worked good, too.

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