Friday, November 26, 2010

A Christmas Tradition

We don’t get to be together all that often, so Christmas tends to be a special time for our family.

"The Kids", Christmas 2007. Left: Danny (top), Billy (bottom). Right:  Bobby (top), Michelle (middle), Chris (bottom).

We have several Christmas traditions, but what we do with Christmas ornaments is my favorite.  After we get the tree set up, we all spend time hanging the ornaments.  But they’re not just any ornaments.  Each ornament means something.

Since we were little, my mom started collecting ornaments for us.  Every year for Christmas, she and my dad work on finding an ornament (or maybe several) that represent something from that year...  Chris has a train from when he was little.

My parents have a moose from the year we visited Yellowstone.

Billy used to make cowboy cookies and fudge all the time, so he has an ornament of Santa baking cookies.

Each ornament means something, and many of them bring back memories.

Sometime during December 2006, we started hanging ornaments on the tree.  I had flown into Durango, CO, from L.A.  My parents, Chris, Bobby, and Danny were there, too.  But Christmas didn’t feel quite the same that year because Billy wasn’t there.  Usually, each person would hang his own ornaments, but since Billy was gone, we all took turns hanging some of his ornaments.  It was fun—remembering stories from years ago.  I hung an ornament of me as a little girl…
…and I remembered sitting in the windowsill of our church as my picture was taken.  We talked and laughed and told stories.  We got to one of my favorite ornaments:  the paratrooper.  In 2003, after basic training, Billy had joined the 82nd Airborne to become a paratrooper.  So my mom started working on finding a paratrooper ornament.  When she couldn’t find one, she and my dad teamed up to create one…

It’s amazing how our ornaments bring back so many memories.

As we spent time decorating the tree, I picked up an ornament that stopped me in my tracks.

I looked at the picture of Billy, and tears welled up in my eyes.  I missed him terribly, and I knew I had to call him.  So I did.  That phone conversation with Billy was really special, and it’s one I’ll always remember.

An Invitation for You
This year, we’d like to invite you all to be part of our Christmas ornament tradition.  Our Uncle Paul and Aunt Linda have supplied the tree.  (We set it up tonight!)  Now, we need help decorating it.  It already has lights, but it needs ornaments.

Tonight, we put the first ornaments on the tree…

We wanted to invite all of you to send in ornaments to help us fill it up.  If you’d like, please find or create an ornament that:
  • Commemorates a memory you have with Billy
  • Reminds you of Billy 
  • Represents Billy in some way
If you’d like to include a story or a note with the ornament, go for it!

If you can hand-deliver your ornament, feel free to stop by!  Or you may send your ornament to:

Will (or Billy) McCotter
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Mologne House Hotel Room 533
6900 Georgia Ave. NW
Washington DC 20307

Thanks for helping us with this!

So…How is Billy?
He’s doing well.  The TPN (IV nutrition) adjustments are throwing his routine off a bit, but he’s adjusting.  He went for a long walk today, and he sat up in his bed for an hour and a half—which is longer than I’ve seen him up for quite a while.  J

Many people have asked if he got to taste Thanksgiving dinner.  Unfortunately, his small bowel is still blocked, and his stomach isn’t working.  The doctors know the small bowel is blocked, but they’re not sure exactly what is causing the blockage.  Please continue to pray for the organs in Billy’s abdomen.  He would love to be able to eat again.

Thank you for all of your prayers, visits, messages, encouragement, and hugs.  And thank you to the friends who made Thanksgiving special.


  1. I've posted a request on my blog, sending a snowflake from Connecticut, sending prayers along with it.

  2. Rob and I received ornaments every year since we were little as well. Now Jason and I do so with our kids. I love that you guys are filling the tree at WR with meaningful ornaments as well.

    Reading this, I realized that when I said that we did not see Will the Christmas of 2006, I was wrong. Then the more I thought, I remembered (terrible memory, like I said) that Will did in fact endure Christmas of 2006 with my mom, dad, Jason, Taylor, Paige, and a very pregnant me along with Rob and Lauren in their little apartment that Christmas. The ferrets made me so sick (allergies) that I had to sleep hanging out of the sliding glass doors and my head sticking out on the balcony in freezing cold air. All so that I could get fresh air and not have an asthma attack. Then Will graciously gave up most rights to his bathroom for 3 days so that we could overrun it with little girls' bathroom stuff. Of course he was perfectly wonderful about it and acted like it was his great pleasure. Ha! I am quite sure they all breathed a sigh of relief when they had their apartment back. Ah, good times. Good times.

    Still praying for you all to have a season of celebration, even amongst the current circumstances.

    Much love,

  3. Sending many prayers your way and working on getting that ornament in the mail. I don't know Billy, but your posts touch my heart.


  4. Praying for your brother, Billy and all of you. God bless each of you. ((hugs))

  5. crista fleischhackerNovember 29, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    I had the pleasure of meeting most of your family while I was at Walter Reed thurs-sat. My brother is in the room next to Billys. I'm incredibly touched by amount of love and support put into this blog as well as the love and support I saw between your family. Billy is lucky to have such an amazing family. I know you all feel equally fortunate to have a brother and son as strong and amazing as Billy is. His strength and determination is truly inspiring. Billy will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I will be back in Washington DC over Christmas - I will see you, Billy, and the rest of your family then!

    An ornament for your tree will be in the mail shortly (((hugs)))


  6. Crista...It was good to meet you as well, and I look forward to seeing you at WR in December. I am praying that your brother's treatment goes really well!

  7. Michelle - Maybe your mom could recount the story of how the Williams' arranged to have YOU under our tree as a present to Grammy Kay.

    I know Mom would smile on all of us if Jill could share that with everyone. I'd try myself but can't recall the details.

    Uncle Jack

  8. Awww the little shirt ornaments are so cute. Wishing you well. Mindy


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