So, I'm sitting here in my parent's condo. It's Christmas morning, but a strange Christmas morning as my Dad is not here, nor is my husband. This Christmas will be quite different. I feel a bit of sadness, perhaps melancholy, thinking about past Christmases.
I remember going to midnight mass; the excitement of it all. We would take a nap, then get up and get dressed - our Christmas best - and head off to church. The church was so beautiful and peaceful. And in our hearts was love and excitement, knowing we would soon be going home to a Christmas buffet and the opening of one present.
Ah, the excitement of waking up Christmas morning, running downstairs to see the presents; the anticipation of what was to come. My parents didn't have tons of money, but always managed to provide wonderful gifts. As children though, we didn't always appreciate their efforts. There was always one child that was gloomy because we didn't get enough presents, or we didn't quite get what we wanted. Mom and Dad would keep one present behind and give it to the gloomiest. I remember the year, in my late 20s, when Christmas was just miserable. I was very unhappy and sad because my life wasn't what I thought it would be...I wanted an Oxford dictionary - a huge dictionary that contains the history of the English language - but I knew it was out of reach, too expensive. As I sat there after present opening, Dad said he had one more gift for me. And there was my Oxford dictionary...I couldn't believe it...I still have the dictionary and it remains one of my most special gifts.
One Christmas was all got ice skates! We went to the 'power lines' to a frozen pond and skated around. The pond wasn't big, but we thought we were so cool! I remember waiting for Aunt Marie and Uncle Ed to show up. They would always bring santa sleighs filled with silver dollars. We were rich! And Uncle Ed would bring peppermint ice cream. To this day, the taste of peppermint ice cream reminds me of my uncle and every Christmas I make sure I have some in my freezer. And Aunt Marie loved her egg nog; again, every Christmas there is egg nog in my fridge.
As we got older and my siblings had families, we changed our family tradition and started celebrating on Christmas Eve. For years and years, every Christmas Eve the family would gather. We would have a procession to put baby Jesus in the manger ~ the youngest grandchild was the 'chosen one', the one to put Jesus in his bed; we would sing Christmas songs, then end with a grand 'Happy Birthday to you!'...and the celebration would begin - always tons of food, presents and happy smiles.
Traditions change and morph. Right now my family is in a 'morphing' stage ~ one tradition has died and another hasn't taken root...a new tradition will arise, I have no doubt. Christmas is about family, and love. My family loves each other, through all the trials and tribulations, through all the complex relationships that a large family has...yes, I have faith that a new tradition will sprout from this transformational phase.
This holiday season may bring a very great change to my family, one that will change the entire family dynamic. As I sit here writing, I can't help but wonder what the future will hold. It is Christmas, the day of Christ's birth, and though I am trying to smile, my heart is heavy. I miss my Dad, I miss my husband. This Christmas is a mixture of past, present and future; remembering the past with fondness; thinking of the present, wishing things were different; and pondering the future, the changes that will occur.
Merry Christmas to all!