First Christmas in the Rose Cottage: Post 9 of 9 – Celebration

Just joining us? Did you miss the start of Mary’s “First Christmas in the Rose Cottage” series? Click here to start at the beginning.

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

Finally my home and healing center were bone dry and fresh smelling and all that was left to do was complete plans for the holidays and Clare’s arrival. But first I had to call a lawyer to see what my chances were of holding the previous owner responsible for knowing what a pit he was selling to me. The clock was ticking and my time for holding him accountable could not be allowed to run out. My heart was sick about this task as I had just completed a five-year-long legal battle to hold a miserable landlord responsible for my traumatic brain injury. I had won finally and those modest dollars had fueled my home purchase; but the legal battle had been hard won, stressful and lengthy. I did not want another fight on my hands. I just wanted a home, at last.

christmas front porch rose cottage

And so we welcomed Clare home and gathered around the tree and enjoyed each other. My new brother-in-law was beaming with pride that I had done it, gotten myself a house, a house he thought was wonderful. He credited me with great strength for having faced the challenges of the first 9 months and come through intact. Clare was still a bride and this was the beginning of our new life as a family. Her headquarters would be the Netherlands and I was slowly reconciling myself to the permanency of that. I looked forward to tow-headed nieces and nephews and holidays alternating between Chicago and Holland.

christmas first tree rose cottage

And just as Clare was beginning her marriage, Annie ending hers. The two events are so connected in my mind and heart; a mish mash of joy and grief and worry and uncertainty and confusion and celebration and sickness and excitement. And all of it so unclear. Grief for Annie and a strange and disconcerting worry for Clare as well. Beauty and joy and new beginnings with the wedding and excitement too; but also deep sadness for Annie’s decision and dilemma. Foreboding, worry and concern for both of them and a future for all of us that was uncertain.

And then there was our Mom, the very reason Annie and I had decided to buy homes within minutes of her home. Within weeks of Christmas our beautiful mother would be on hospice. And another terrible chapter with our family would unfold. How would our irretrievably broken extended family of siblings react and behave in the tidal wave of loss that would follow her passing? I did not even want to imagine.

I did not want to think about any of that. Our time to be together as sisters was always so rare and precious and finally I had a home where we could gather together in safety and joy. I just wanted to stay in that moment. I was determined that I would heal here in this crazy little raggedy cottage and I would heal the house too. But nothing could have prepared me for the unfolding of the next year and all that would have to be healed: nothing.

christmas 3 stockings peace rose cottage

And so we gathered at the bug free table in the little house that no longer stank. Walls were down but the tree was up. Nothing matched as the ivy covered sofa took its place in the room with the elephant encircled perimeter. Annie was sick and I was exhausted and discouraged. But the holiday prevailed as holidays do and we celebrated together as best we could. Potato chips became the hors d’oeuvres, as all fancy meal planning had gone to hell with the demands of my holiday plumbing crisis. I can’t remember what else we ate. But I remember that we laughed and laughed and laughed and called it our hillbilly Christmas. Three sisters: one long divorced and finding her way with a first home and an uncertain career; one with a new husband,  living out her dreams of a big bright life in the Netherlands; and one very sick and making brave choices that would draw her sisters to her and to each other as they began the journey of their lives.


Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters.

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks. And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

****** Please leave your comments and thoughts below. We love to hear from you.******

Facebook Twitter Email

6 Responses to “First Christmas in the Rose Cottage: Post 9 of 9 – Celebration”

  1. Mary Enright-Olson says:

    What a story of resilience, fortitude and pluck. Gotta love you south side broads!
    Allan and I enjoyed reading – yet cringed a bit wondering what might be next.
    Enjoy these holidays, and cheers to a healthy, happy, peaceful 2014.

    • Mary Duggan says:

      Okay dear Mary, we are frozen here. Hunkered down and focusing on soup and afghans and very short walks with our new puppy. Thanks to you and Alan for keeping up with a 9-part blog! What happens next? I’d like to say the worst is behind us – and to a large degree it was – but hold on to your hats. Lifestinks did not grow in a sculptured bed of primroses. It grew among the thorny, deeply rooted, twisted viney plantings – the ones, I think, that produce the most gorgeous roses. Yesterday I moved back in time, a bit, with “Santa and the Silver Stole.” Hope you and Alan enjoy as you welcome in a wonderful 2014. All the best, from Mary to Mary.
      I hope this is the link. Technology still not my strongest suit.

  2. Sheila Saccomanno says:

    Merry Christmas my dear friends! I wish you a wonderful holiday and that the coming year is one of fabulous successes and triumphs for you all and your company!

  3. Betty says:

    What strength and endurance! Your words give hope and i wish you a joyous and healthy 2014. I look forward ro your next chapers

    • Mary Duggan says:

      Betty, thank you for YOUR endurance. A nine part blog, at that. Writers need readers. And readers that send back messages of appreciation are the absolute best. All the best in the New Year. Mary

Leave a Reply