My Friend Renee Hutchinson is the founder and President of THE BABY JAMES FOUNDATION. Renee wrote this last year but as the holidays approach I believe it is a timely and thoughtful reminder. Thank you for allowing me to share this my friend. Real Stories from real people. I love it! XOXO Annie
AS I SIT HERE thinking of this being the first Holiday without some family (blood and not blood family) members we lost this year it got me thinking. You know how you are so down and all of a sudden its like someone reaches out and speaks to you? Well, I believe exactly that just happened and she is telling me to write exactly what I am feeling and thinking. She is telling me my story, this story, the very one in my head will help someone out there. That person may not even be an abused child, or even a family member of one that I reach this time.
This goes back to my childhood. A time when my family was dysfunctional. A time where spending holidays with both parents just did not happen. In fact spending time with my father ( I only remember one time) ended in a way I don’t care to share for this story. A time where behind closed doors things was different. Sure when it came Christmas time I remember my mother seeing to it us kids had Christmas. It may not have been much but she did. Yes I remember that Shaun Cassidy album, the purse that I wouldn’t carry today even though I thought it was gorgeous then. However, things with her wasn’t always remembered for that either. With all of this evilness I lived during my childhood though, and all that dysfunction there are things that I do remember and now it comes to me how blessed I was as a child.
I don’t remember every holiday with my maternal grandparents and family. But I do remember the ones I cherished the most being with them. My grandparents, aunts, and uncles always seen to it (that) me and my siblings had holidays to remember. No they didn’t spend a fortune in material items, but they did in caring. It’s from this time in my life that I believe I learned to care for others. A time in my life that all the violence and yelling going on in our home just didn’t seem to matter. This is a time of my life that I became very grateful for growing up.
On Thanksgiving and Christmas we would get together at my maternal grandparents. The house would be filled with meals cooking, laughter, children yelling with joy. The aroma you could smell from miles away in that home. Was a time when Aunt Dottie was still among us. I was the oldest, and most of my cousins was much younger than me. I loved being the oldest and playing with them, helping them in any way I could.
Christmas was slightly different than Thanksgiving. Grandpa would drag out all the decorations and the train set. If it wasn’t already set up, my uncles would help him set the train set up. Grandma took take great pride in her nativity scene and manger. Those three items we always knew to never touch but our eyes always lit up seeing them. Grandpa would set all of us grand-kids around the train to watch for hours as it goes around and around. Everyone of us loved it, and for the first time sat there without moving. I remember certain gifts at that time in my life that to this day I cherish in my head. The books, crossword books, and diary that my Uncle Jim and Aunt Dee got me. I didn’t even care how much or how they got those items but looking back I do know they got them with love. I remember the year I was so into art and drawing. Aunt Janelle took grandma shopping to help pick items I could use. That year I got art supplies from my grandparents, Uncle Larry and Aunt Janelle. After opening them Aunt Janelle sat down with me and showed me a few tips on drawing. See Aunt Janelle has always been a great artist in our family. In fact among grandma’s house she took pride hanging Aunt Janelle’s work. Uncle Pat always would fix my plate and set me at a table to start eating. Before meals it was Uncle Pat that would help me sneak as many of those grapes as I wanted, no matter how long I ended up in the bathroom afterwards.
Aunt Dottie and I was close growing up and each time she would walk in the door Christmas day everything stopped so I could run and hug her. Then rushing to get my cousins Teri and Chris usually getting told “Give her time to get their coats off”. It would usually end up me taking one of their coats off because I just couldn’t wait to get them in the living room to play. John, Eric and Brian was so close in age it was like the two of them was almost twins. Where you seen one you always seen the other getting into some kind of trouble. Aunt Janelle and Uncle Larry waited to have children and when they had Jennifer I remember my grandparents being so happy they finally was giving them a grandchild. She turned out to be the family ballerina. Then there was Shannon, Bradley, & Nathon that I just had to be a mother hen over.
Each and every one of those holidays in that home to this day I remember and cherish and blessed to have the memories in my life today. No one can take those memories from me, and it shows me how even though I had a rough life, someone out there wasn’t blessed enough to have family that cared enough to show they just care. Even if it was for two days out of the year, it was those two days where there was no fighting, no yelling, no hitting, no nothing but caring. It was those two days of the year that brings me here today to say I was blessed to have someone that cared. I am sure they wanted to do more and couldn’t. Those two days of the year means more then ever to me today. Yes I always had my grandparents and if it wasn’t for them I don’t know where I would be today. However, those two days I would be taught to care for others. I would be able to pretend everything was okay those two days. I can now say when someone mentions how much I care for others, that I learned from not only my grandparents but my aunts and uncles. Something they all showed me back long ago when I was a young child. Back before we lost Aunt Dottie and everything changed. I can now tell abused children I come in contact with that no matter how bad things are, there are always someone that cares.
If you learn nothing else in this: learn to care. You don’t have to spend a fortune. You don’t even have to spend anything. I don’t mean just for family but people around you. You will never know how much that brief minute, brief second will change a person’s life years after you are gone. You will never know how much that person would wish just to have the brief second back. You will never know how that one second that person, that one person that has no one else, that one person that cries themselves to sleep will say “I am blessed for that memory and second.”
I can only hope and pray that my siblings and cousins can remember just one second of these two days. I can only pray that they learned how to care and think of others feelings.
I can only pray other’s around me had just one second, just one memory of knowing somenoe cares. I can only pray everyone around me knows I care. But do know I have feelings as well, just as every caring person out there does. Don’t be so quick to take advantage or take for granted of those who care. There may be one of those days you wish for that second.
Feel free to tag, or share this. For my wish this Holiday season is to let others know someone out there cares, as well teach a lesson in caring.
Renee Hutchinson, Founder and President Baby James Foundation