Every Christmas is a composite, isn’t it? Each year it is added to, plumped out, and filled in with new visions to set to the music of carols in the background. It changes. It morphs. And for me it always reflects warmth and light.
Life has a way of separating us. Miles come between us for any number of reason; jobs, court orders (children visiting a different parent), age or infirmity precluding travel, lack of resources. Although we have pangs and yearnings, we accept life and become accustomed to hearing Thanksgiving wishes by telephone. We happily Skype to share Hanukkah and show off Christmas gifts.
And it’s all good.
My yearning for togetherness on any holiday is fleeting. I quickly go to my happy place knowing that we are each where we should be. If I can’t watch my grandchildren open their gifts on Christmas, I can summon forth wonderful memories of such mornings; when muffled giggles let us know that the stockings were being emptied and that the time had come to open bleary eyes and begin opening what had been wrapped only a few hours before.
If I can’t turn from making gravy and smile into my son’s eyes, I can think of the last time I saw him. I can run a delicious slide show through my mind that includes every perfect communication, whether verbal or spiritual, that I have had with each of my grown children and my grandchildren.
I often think of my mother in her crazy boots and my fur hat riding up and down the snowy mountain road in our relic of a jeep, thrilled for the chance to be included in an excursion that we called fun for a while. Or my father opening his gifts from my small children, smiling when asked why he didn’t believe in gift-giving at Christmas; “I believe in getting gifts from you,” he said.
And there were years when my husband’s parents made our children’s Christmas dreams come true when we couldn’t do it ourselves. Or the years with my dear friends around the table, laughing and playing Apples-to-Apples with my grandchildren, accommodating the young ones who didn’t quite “get” it.
My husband and I have shared many quiet Christmas evenings, too. I think of those times as cozy and warm, a sort of memorial to Christmas. With him I needn’t pull out the Christmas photo albums. We can sit before the fire and smile at years gone by as they float through our minds.
This year we are blessed. We will enjoy friends and family this year from a distance. And we will be holding each and every one of you, whether near or far, in our hearts, which are full of Christmas.
While in the earlier years of our marriage and our son’s childhood, it was important to celebrate festivals for our son’s sake, once he grew up a bit, we simply stopped unless we were compelled by circumstances like aggressive neighbours to. My late wife and I enjoyed just being together and enjoying the festivities around us while our son went off to spend time with his friends and peers. I have continued that way since my wife’s death and don’t miss the excitement.
Yes, it is sometimes easier to opt out, isn’t it? I will still go to great lengths to spend time with family and friends, but am not big on the more public festivities.
Christmas used to be pretty constant to me because my family is so small – parents, grabdmoms, and me (plus granddad until he died). From now on it will be different because there’s also Peter’s family, and I suddenly have two nieces. 🙂
Well, it is true that the older the children of the family become, the more things change. It isn’t bad, it’s just different. I rejoice at all of the additions to our family. Don’t you?