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  • Writer's pictureSusan Byers

Holidays and Blessings

Happy Holidays!!! Here we are on our annual visit to Santa at Tyson's Corner Mall (the real one is there, trust me--we've sat on his lap 24 out of the last 25 years). This year, only the boys could join us, but tradition is tradition! Santa is holding a box of home-made cookies we brought him (hey, we've known him 25 years!). Afterward, we headed to Coastal Flats for our annual post-Santa meal, where our younger daughter joined us (the older one lives out of town and would arrive the next day).

On the way, it seemed we spread a bit of holiday cheer, two short, chubby people dressed as we were and jingling as we walked--folks kept waving and smiling. One little girl stopped us and said (very seriously), "You're elves." I asked how she knew. "Because of your hats. Are you Santa's elves?" I assured her we were, and asked if she had seen Santa yet. Her eyes got big as she nodded yes. I said (after 25 years, it's become true, and he always spends a little extra time with us), "Santa is a friend of ours." "I know," she replied. We wished her a very merry Christmas as she went on her way, believing that she had actualy met some of Santa's helpers. What a gift that was for us!

While poor Len drove to Blacksburg to retrieve our youngest, I got to have lunch with my old office mates. I so miss them, and it was great to have a chance to catch up.

Meanwhile, the camper is being worked on by the crew at Holly Acres (water damage we couldn't fix), but we've been in the midst of the holiday insanity--cleaning, baking (and decorating), trimming, moving things around, baking, shopping, and did I mention baking? And decorating?

And we've been counting our blessings, big-time this year.

First, our two daughters graduated and are now gainfully employed, one as a teacher and one as a financial advisor. Our older son is between jobs, but he's been working steadily for the last three years or so, and we are hopeful that the new year will bring a new opportunity. Our other son, the baby of the family, is doing quite well in his sophomore year at Virginia Tech and has really come into his own.

Then there's Charlie, our dear boy kitty who has cancer. He was given a couple of weeks to live a few months ago. "Take him home and let him be a kitty," was one vet's advice. We didn't like that advice, so we went to our old vet, Dr. Julie Augustine, who had recently moved to a different animal hospital, Pet Dominion, an hour's drive north in Maryland. After 20 years, we trust her--and we have long thought of her as a friend as well as one of the family doctors. We feel she's worth the drive. She thought Charlie should have months, not weeks, and promptly put him on chemo, on which he made huge improvements.

Eventually, we also took him to Dr. Elsa Beck, an oncologist at the Hope Advanced Veterinary Center who gave us an unexpected 19 great months with a dog who'd had two kinds of cancer at once. She and Dr. Augustine have worked together, and, with some tweaking, Charlie is doing GREAT! We know the day will come when the chemo will stop doing such a wonderful job--so far with no side effects that we can see--but what a joy it is to have Charlie hop up on the bed again in the morning and drop and roll for a belly rub or ask to be picked up and loved! He even gets playful. And, as you can see, he still loves to be a scarf.

Meanwhile, things are going really well with the kitties we've been fostering. Two sisters were recently adopted, but we are adopting the mommy and the tiniest kitten (not so tiny any more) from Animal Allies.

The baby, Blanche, is now Mitzvah, Hebrew for Blessing, but she's mostly called Bitsy Mitzy. Mama Sophia's new moniker is Mitoux, a Frenchified name we made up because every time someone else is getting attention--especially Mitzy--she pops up for hers. "Me, too! Me, too! Me, too!" Both of the new girls are doing fine so far with the older kitties--not exactly friendly, but there have been no fights, and we're praying that will hold, because we just love them! And they get along great with the dogs, especially Moccachino, who adores them (but then, he adores anything female).

We haven't been able to work on the camper for a good while, and won't even try again until after New Year's Day. In the meantime, we are enjoying spending time with our kids and other family. And we are counting our blessings, so very many blessings.

May your 2018 be filled with gifts that feed your souls and fill your hearts. God bless us everyone!

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