I started to take the day off from doing my usual Sunday blogging…it is, after all, Christmas, and no one expects me to work on Christmas, do they? I don’t really consider it work–maybe because I don’t get paid for it 🙂 and anyway, it’s therapeutic. I need a little therapy today. This blog isn’t about massage, so consider yourself warned.
Each year when Christmas draws near, I find myself remembering a lot of Christmases past. Some of those memories are sweet, and some are upsetting. When I was younger, my favorite thing at Christmas was the gathering of the clan at my grandparent’s house. All the aunts and uncles and cousins gathered. The cousins and I played music, we had turkey and ham and all kinds of good country cooking. Now that my grandparents are gone–and some of the aunts and uncles are too–the whole family doesn’t come together like that anymore, and it’s kind of sad. We still see each other, but we’re never all in the same place at the same time anymore like we were back in those days.
As an adult, another tradition developed. My best friend and I spent time together on Christmas Eve for about 18 years. She was suffering from clinical depression, and some other emotional problems. Suddenly one year before Christmas, she sent me a letter saying she didn’t want to celebrate Christmas anymore, that she just wanted to be alone. I responded with a letter about her depression being the cause and begging her to get some help, and she got mad at me and stopped speaking to me. For the next decade or so, until she died, I would send her a card every year telling her how much my memories of spending Christmas Eve with her meant to me, and she never responded. It was a hurtful thing, but I know that her illness was behind it, and I just had to not take it personally.
I have childhood memories of some favorite Christmas gifts. When I was 3 or 4 years old, I got a small white grand piano. That was my first musical instrument and I loved that piano. A neighbor child who was playing at our house broke it and I was crushed. Fast forward a couple of years, and my stepdad’s parents gifted me with a real piano. That was the real beginning of my lifelong love of music. When I was nine, my mother got me my first guitar with Green Stamps. In case you’re not old enough to know what Green Stamps are, they were stamps that were given out at the grocery stores. You had to collect them by pasting them in little booklets, and they had a catalog of gifts you could get by collecting so many of them. I know there’s a picture of that somewhere, and I’d like to find it. That same year, my oldest brother played a trick on me by giving me a Christmas present that was in a huge box that a television came in. On the inside was layer after layer of newspaper wrapped around something. It turned out to be a bottle of Scope mouthwash. I could have choked him. I was all excited thinking I was getting a television for my bedroom.
Yesterday on Christmas Eve, one of my closest cousins died unexpectedly. He had taken ill, went to the hospital and was in ICU for several days, improved and got moved to a regular room, and then he suddenly took a turn for the worse and had a massive hemorrhage. They couldn’t save him. He was one of my musical cousins and there’s no telling how many times we have sang and played together. I always hate it for the family’s sake when someone passes on a holiday…it leaves an association that will always be there, that Jeff died on Christmas Eve. I visited him in the hospital one night last week and I’m glad I got to see him one last time.
Christmas has been a trying time for me for the past few years. I have some family members who are on the outs with each other, so someone is always missing from the family meals and festivities. I really hate the fact that everyone can’t just practice forgiveness and compassion and just put it aside and come together. I keep hoping and praying that some day it will all work out.
This morning, Champ and I are headed off to brunch at my niece’s home. We’ll see what Santa brought the wee ones for Christmas, my mother will make mimosas, and we’ll visit for a few hours.
Family and friends are the most important thing in the world. There is nothing on the shelf in any store that can compare to it. Today I remember those Christmases past, and those family members and friends who are gone. Tell the people you love how important they are to you. I hope you have many blessings today and every day. Peace on Earth.