“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Tonight the first real snowfall of the season has begun. It is a quiet entry; no wind nor rain-just the hush of a blanket coating the gray and brown earth. The rush and rumble of the Christmas holiday is winding down a bit, although my finance’ and I still have one more visit to make before New Year’s day.
I love this time of year if only for the fact that it breaks the routine of daily work and other obligations. And even if you have to work, it never feels like a Monday or Friday and if it does, it probably is a Wednesday! My small house usually feels smaller if only for the tree in the living and study area. Add presents and family and we are squeezed; we are having trouble at times locating our gloves and hats! But I would not trade it for the world. The bedrooms are filled with sleeping people and their gear, my oldest has taken up residence on the pull- out couch in the basement and his girlfriend is camping on the living room couch when she visits.
I am especially mindful this Christmas. So many of the events and activities seem to be a blend of holidays past, the present and what has yet to come. When the boys were young, I always felt the rush of Christmas; it was an exhausting process of gift buying and wrapping, purchasing and preparing the five course meal and entertaining family. I definitely felt like a one woman show. Now, of course, my sons are older and I am no longer obligated to pull out all the stops for the day. In fact, Christmas has more of a community feel to it. There was much conversation between the boys, their girlfriends and myself regarding gifts and plans for getting together with one another. I knew that this year would be different from the last simply because of the fact that they are in relationships. Making it all work would be a challenge and it certainly hit a glitch or two. Lesson learned by my youngest: you can’t make everyone happy!
If it wasn’t for the significant change in our life years ago, I really do believe that we would not be experiencing the deep love and caring from the friends and family in our lives right now. Christmas Eve’s Feast of the Seven Fishes is one example. It is hosted by my oldest son’s girlfriend’s family and I appreciate it just for the fact that it was one of my late mother’s childhood traditions. Stepping into the door of Carolyn and Fred’s home is like visiting my mother’s family. Yet, it is more than that. Those whom we met last year remembered us (and asked after my youngest immediately). We had delicious homemade food and meaningful conversations tinged with laughter. It was a joy to be there!
Of course, we went to the late service for church to sing carols and light the candles (the glitch happened just before, but all is forgiven!). Part of the reason I like it so much is that the young people attend. It is like a reunion for my sons as well as myself since I have spent some time with most of them. It feels good to wish everyone a “Merry Christmas” on this night. We get to bed in the wee hours of Christmas morning and waking up a few hours later is always interesting. I like that “fatigued” feel as the boys stumble down the stairs to greet their stockings first. Christmas breakfast this year was bacon and challah french toast with real maple syrup. No rushing, as dinner at Emily’s was in the late afternoon. We would part ways here as my youngest was having dinner with his girlfriend’s family.
And Emily-what can I say about Emily? Do you remember when I talked of my gift to her in my last post? It turns out that she purchased the same one for me! I had thought she would not have time to read my story given her busy holiday preparations. Wrong! We had a good laugh and of course confirmed our close connection with one another. Dinner and conversation were a redux of Christmas Eve- a warm and wonderful day; you could not ask for more. My oldest and I ended our evening with our annual viewing of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”- the perfect metaphor and reminder that all you need is not out in the world but right in front of you.
I caught a glimpse of my future when my finance’ arrived with has daughter the day after Christmas. This year was to be the first that we all shared under one roof. I found myself digging out old recipes that I hadn’t made in years in anticipation of the time we would be sharing meals together. It felt good to revisit this part of my life. I made a huge meal on the 27th as seven of us would be breaking bread and opening presents together. When the boys, their girlfriends, my future stepdaughter, my finance’ and I sat down, I knew that I was sharing this time with my family. It was positive and energizing-never draining. Meal preparation and cleanup were a team effort-such a difference from years past.
The next night found the two of us back at Emily’s for a couples dinner with two of my other close friends. Champagne was shared in celebration of our engagement. The “kids” spent the evening together sharing pizza and visiting the local zoo to look at Christmas lights.
And today found us back with family-my fiance’s sister and her brood. Once again, I realized that this was to be my family too! More gifts and one unexpected one-a print of our choice for the time we would be sharing a home together. Incredible!
Tomorrow we end our week with a birthday celebration for my oldest son who was born on New Year’s Eve. He is the reason that I like the holiday as much as I do now. A child born with minutes to spare in the old year under the light of a blue moon! Very special indeed.
No matter the struggles, I am glad for the past, mindful of the present and hopeful for the future. I have all that I need right in front of me.