Home for the Holidays: Amber Dubois 1/1/2010
The celebration of Christ’s birth has always been a special time, but the blessings of Christmas filled me with renewed appreciation of life when my granddaughter, Amber Leeanne Dubois, was born 15 years ago. My own Mother had died just before Christmas the prior year, and Amber brought back Christmas Joy to our entire family.
It became a tradition that Amber spend the week before Christmas with me, and, by last year that included Amber’s little sister and her two cousins–4 lively granddaughters aged 14, 11,8 and 5. I live in a very small house and every square foot is decorated and filled with presents by the time they arrive for the holiday.
Usually, I take dozens of photos during this week, but the appearance of my camera on the first day resulted in a chorus of “no pictures”, with Amber leading the revolt by covering over her face with a pillow. I put away my camera, knowing that I was gifting Amber with a great camera and she would use it to the fullest once the gift was opened.
It rained that entire week. Torrents. The girls had planned to ride but the mud was too thick for the horses and could not be considered. The girls wanted to take the horses their Christmas carrots so we waded through to the nearby stable to give the treats to Rojo and Sally on December 23rd. Returning home, wet and muddy, required showers and robes and pj’s.
Amber’s favorite robe is an old one of mine. The royal blue color makes her lovely eyes shine even bluer. The robe has a jolly frog on the front and back. She loves to snuggle into it. All cleaned up, we all settled down to read, play with hand held electronic games, or,with Ariel, Amber’s
The younger girls rearranged the Christmas manger scene still another time. The statutes have been chipped by the hands of my three daughters and now by the grand children over these past 46 years, but, their little hands have always been gentle with baby Jesus and there is not a chip to be found on Him.
As I sat looking at these beloved children, my blessings seemed larger than I could express. I wanted so much to take photographs to keep these precious images forever fresh, but, I did promise to put my camera away. Being a teenager and extremely bright, Amber was quick to point out possible alternatives to situations. I decided to do the same having noticed my phone was on the table next to me. I set it for a photograph and quietly said “Amber.” She turned her head towards me and I took the photo as she exclaimed “Oh, Grandmom!” We had a good laugh after that but I had to promise no phone photos either, and I did so.
It never entered my mind that this might be the last time I would be able to take a picture of her? I hope and pray that it is not.
Note: Amber has been missing since February 13, 2009, from
www. HelpBringAmberHome and www. BringAmberHome
Home for the Holidays…
When I first received an e-mail which asked me to write a letter about our home during the holidays, I paused for a moment to think back on the last few holiday seasons. For about a minute or two I had a smile on my face which very quickly turned into about an hour or two of nonstop tears.
Since the morning of Friday, February 13th, 2009 everything in our life got turned upside down. On that Friday morning, our daughter Amber, while walking on her way to school, went missing. Amber was last seen about 200 yards from the front gate of her school by two adults who know who she is. Unfortunately, she never made it that final 200 yards.
It has now been over eight months that our precious angel has been gone. There are no words that can describe the sadness and utter frustration that a family goes through when they don’t know where their loved one is. During the past eight months we went through Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, the entire summer, and we are now 2 days away from Amber’s 15th Birthday. It feels like each of these difficult days is harder than the last. As we reach the final months of the year we are going to be dealing some of Amber’s favorite days of the year. Her birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and of course there is Christmas.
Over the last few years as the kids in the family all became teenagers, Christmas time has changed from being all about the presents to being about the enjoyment of having the family together. Our family enjoys the fun and laughter centered on the games we play every year and of course the great food we always have. One game we play every year that everyone loves is the 7/11 game. In this game you need a present which has been gift-wrapped about 7 or 8 times, 2 dice, and something like a shoebox to roll in. You pass the box and dice in a circle with each person rolling the dice when it’s their turn. When someone rolls a 7 or 11 they jump up and put on a scarf around their neck, a beanie on their head, and 2 large oven mittens on their hands and attempt to unwrap the present. As the dice continue to go around in a circle, whenever a 7 or 11 is rolled, that person jumps up and takes the props from the last person and takes over the un-wrapping of the present. Whoever finishes unwrapping the present gets to keep the present. Sounds simple, but it is not easy to open and everyone has a great time playing. We have several of these types of games that we play and it truly makes for a fun day.
I can’t even begin to imagine what this holiday season will be like if Amber is still missing and not home with her family. The neighbors all know when we are playing our games; they can hear the screams and laughter from the street. This year all that will be heard is an uncomfortable silence that will echo the sounds from the last couple of years and of the sound of a certain missing laugh from our precious Amber.
Written by Amber's parents, Maurice and Carrie