2013: The Year Of the Lemon

Fruit turns frazzle into fondness.

The holidays had me spinning. From Christmas through New Year’s I could not stop thinking of what January might bring. The chaos of all that the back-to-school rush would produce had me questioning how smooth 2013 might be. I really didn’t like the number.

I am not ignorant and I realize that superstition is not a proven science. But I have always been one of those people who analyzes signs and actually morphs them into something to personally direct me. I believe when I see a shooting star that I am lucky; a tails-up penny is one I leave on the ground.

So on Saturday, when we were ready to return home from the vacation home in Oregon at 5 a.m. and our battery decided to die, I thought, here it comes, our welcome to 2013. When we hit one hour in the car for what would be another nine and our youngest child already had to go potty, I rolled my eyes at the thought of what the year might bring – 2013. Pfffftt.

But we made it unscathed. Nine hours in the car and a bag of assorted movies, candy, coloring books, BINGO and video games, and alas, we returned to cozy San Carlos with only a bit of grime (that being from the Red Bluff Burger King).

But we got home and I felt that same grunge on me… is this really what 2013 would bring? I was tired, feeling underwhelmed with the New Year, beleaguered by the burden of the routines we had grown tired of in 2012. For we had just enjoyed 10 days of ceaseless and impulsive fun -- sledding, snowboarding, skiing, game and movie nights, snowball fights, swimming, and just being. Without a clock, no timeframe, no schedules.

We returned late but I went grocery shopping. The next day, feeling similarly uninspired, I got to work. I unpacked the clothes, ran the laundry, cleaned, cleaned and cleaned again… I wanted 2013 to start out clean, at least.

And during my begrudged cleaning while dusting the blinds in the boys’ room, an amazing sign brightened my overcast mood.

When I looked outside, my sour, sad and barren lemon tree in the dead of winter had produced more than 15 bright yellow lemons. Life had been so busy lately that I didn’t even notice the new growth.

My lemon tree was my very first Mother’s Day gift. I loved it and profusely thanked my husband for planting that lemon seed inside my then-4-month-old’s brain. Connor did right by buying that for me. But unlike my own fertility, my lemon tree had proven to be barren for more than seven years, thanks to the three little darlings that I produced.

Each year, with each child, my lemon tree has served for something, however. The luscious little white flowers that would bloom on its branches served their purpose. Each of my 1-2-3-4-5 and 6-year-olds (*three children at various ages) found those white flowers so tantalizing that they chose to pick one and bring it to me to let me know how much they loved me. And while I loved the sentiment, I never once wondered why my lemon tree produced no fruit. But I cherished each time one of my babies would look away from their sand or water table, salamander catching, seesawing or swinging to pick one of those flowers and bring it to me with those sweet words in various child-like voices, “I love you, Mommy!”

I love lemons. I love them in my water and in my tea. I love to garnish my fruit salads with them and always dreamed of bringing them to people for no reason. Lemons are sweet, an added hint of citrus to anything. One of those overlooked but often appreciated fruits of nature. So I know why my husband decided that would be the perfect Mother’s Day gift for his wife from our first-born.

But what he didn’t know is that those seven years of lackluster lemons gave me a tangible gift of love. Our lemon tree served me with several white blossoms that warmed my heart with love when I needed it most. I would receive a flower on those days when I felt like I yelled more than I marveled. When I felt like I sighed more than I laughed. Or called a friend to complain instead of to brag.

So to come home from a snowy vacation with my happy children and see more than a dozen bright yellow lemons growing from a small vine planted long ago when there was just one baby made me realize that 2013 might just be my year after all. Perhaps it’s the year to reflect on the fruits of my hard work up until this point.

It will be my year of gratitude, to voice appreciation rather than frustration, to smile instead of scowl and to recognize my gifts… those luscious lemons.


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