Christmas is upon us. It is, perhaps, the most bi-polar holiday I can think of.
Low: Self induced stress of trying to make the holiday special (dare I say perfect?) for those we love.
High: Smiles from those same people when they open the gift. Even the little ones have figured out that it's not about the gift, it's about the person behind the gift.
Low: Stress of the impending family gathering. What can you do to make it all go smoothly?
High: Knowing that no matter what, you get to be with the people you love most of all.
And for some of us, there is that unknown. The unknown of what it will be like when you wake up on Christmas morning and your Christmas is already over.
I'm lucky. I have done this for many years. After this tremendous year of growth, I'm am beyond ready. It may sound completely absurd, but I'm in such a new place. I've had my share of concerns about getting gifts finished, but I'm in the middle of such a place of total calm that I'm actually looking forward to my Christmas day filled with emails and text messages. But I'm also ready to really celebrate this year. I can't even explain it.
At the same time, my energy is going to a place across town. My mom and the man I think of as my dad lost a very special person. My dad's mom passed away a few short months ago. I don't get those moments of picking her up and taking her back to her apartment this year. I missed shopping for her four pack of champagne that I always got her.
But this is so minor. For the first time since I have known him, my dad will not be going to the retirement community for Christmas dinner with his mother. My mom will not go and have her traditional prime rib dinner on Christmas day. This has been their tradition since my mother met my dad when I was in junior high. What do you do when all you have known is gone?
Christmas Eve, I will miss her. I will miss the comments on Christmas lights as we drive to and from her son's home. I will miss the sarcastic comments on life that really had a compliment or sweetness if you just really listened. I will see her image in the rocking chair to the right of the fireplace and to the left of the stairs where she sat observing her great-grandchildren and reacting in surprise when she opened her four pack of champagne. I can honestly say I loved that woman.
But I know my dad and my mom will miss her even more. They will wake up and do their present exchange. They will do their own thing. But I also know that around noon, their will be that moment where they feel like they should be getting ready to go somewhere else, but this year, there isn't anywhere else to go.
So much blabbering. So much rambling. Isn't that what a blog is for? Please allow me to wrap this up.
There was a wonderful, sometimes difficult, but always caring woman named Marnie. She had three kids. One of her kids married a woman with two kids. She accepted them. She accepted the woman who married into this crazy family. She grew to love them all, even the four great grandkids that she referred to as wild on multiple occasions.
Most importantly, she raised an incredible man. A man who is smart, kind, generous and compassionate. He wasn't afraid to love a woman with two rather outspoken, perhaps obnoxious, kids. And he wasn't afraid to love those kids, the daughter-in-law, and the four grandchildren he gained. No surprise, we all love him right back!
So this year, my wish is this: while my dad is facing his first Christmas without his mom, I hope he feels the love we have for him. I hope he knows that we are missing her just as much as he is, just in a different way. And we are incredibly grateful. Without Marnie, I wouldn't have the man I consider to be my dad.
Christmas is about family. Our family changed in a big way this year, but we are still a family. A strange, loud, sarcastic, caring, odd family. But a family none the less.