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Dribbles and Grits to Crumpets and Bollocks: My Christmas Story: The Love Shines Through

My Christmas Story: The Love Shines Through

If you want to make this blog reading more heartfelt and gushy, listen to this song my mother wrote and performed, back when Prodigy was the internet...

video


I never believed in Santa. When I was a child, my parents were Born Again Christians. They felt in their heart that it was best we focus our festivities on the birth of Christ, and in that spirit, they told me straight up from the get go that Santa wasn't real. They only told ME that. Maybe it's because I didn't believe it anyway. I don't know, but I do know my sister believed in Santa for years, and I helped keep that belief alive for a while, probably until she made me mad in a fight and in the name of childhood fairness of an eye for an eye, I probably told her he wasn't real just because she hurt my feelings.

My parents were one of the few in the church who felt that way because most kids in my school, that church's school, did believe. I got in lots of trouble for freeing everyone from the lies and deceit. I was simply leading a rebellion against Old Saint Nick. Nothing major.

I like that I never believed. My fondest Christmas memories from my childhood are of me wrapping gifts. I used to ask my mom to let me wrap my sister's gifts. I loved putting them under the tree from the moment the tree was up. One by one. Accumulating a wealth of presents to give away. That was the best part of Christmas. The spirit of giving. Of course I didn't know what that really meant back then.

And as I grew older, into the teens and early adulthood, I enjoyed shopping for others. I was one of the few who put a lot of thought into every gift I gave. I wanted to give someone something useful, something that wouldn't be returned, something they wanted, and something they would tell everyone about after the fact. I also wanted to be classy with it. It wasn't like I was buying toothbrushes for people like my sister did. Nope, I was all about silk boxers and a red rose for my man, foot massagers, Estee Lauder, Ralph Lauren...

In high school, my part time job was in gift wrap for a department store, so not only did I enjoy my employee discount on the best of the best, I also enjoyed wrapping gifts. Our bows were hand made, every gift. I also made bows for the trees in the store, and helped decorate those as well. Once I learned that skill, I enjoyed putting up two trees for my parents' house. We had a blue and silver one in the sunroom, and a red and gold one in the living room. No more did our tree look like it came out of a Chevy Chase movie.

Christmas was my favorite holiday, up until the point where my father passed away. Christmas of 1998 was the last Christmas I had with him, and it was one I will never forget. After opening our presents, we drove 2.5 hours to my grandmother's house like every year. My father's cancer was not standing in our way. He felt awful. Sick. He started shaking a lot, and we all decided at my grandmother's house to take him to the ER. I thought I was going to lose my father on Christmas. He left the ER with a little more time to live. I was grateful. So grateful.

Meanwhile, my grandmother was busy taking care of everyone. She cooked Christmas dinner, was handing people presents to unwrap, doing everything within her power to make Christmas magical regardless of the circumstances. We didn't realize, not one of us, what she knew. That was her last Christmas with us. She was on her death bed. Her liver was failing, and I remember her stomach was bloated from the fluids. Still, despite the excruciating pain she felt, she managed to smile. The entire day.

I think it was the day after Christmas, she went into the hospital. I remember visiting her and being the only one in the room with her. She grabbed my hand, pulled me closer to her, and told me she had died before. Months before this, she was clinically dead for a moment before they revived her. When she died, she saw a white mansion surrounded by a white garden, and it was like a comforting blanket of peace wrapped around her. "I never felt so peaceful before," and with a desperate look in her eye, she said, "I want to go back. Tell everyone to let me go." She passed away shortly after.

On the day of her funeral, it snowed. A freak snow storm hit, one the weathermen didn't see coming. We couldn't bury her because there was so much snow. They were the biggest flakes I've ever seen, and I lived in Wyoming for years. It was so unusual, I still to this day think she made it snow somehow, not because it was unusual for that kind of snow to hit us and only in the area we were in, but also because I was strangely comforted by it.

The following March, I lost my father. Then the month after that, cancer also claimed my grandma's sister and my father's sister. A month later, my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. That summer my brother went to prison. Then my aunt with breast cancer had a successful surgery, one where the nurse met my grandmother's ghost holding my aunt's hand. Then another aunt passed away that fall. The year of 1999 was not my year, and cancer is my enemy. I guess I was lucky because I survived it, with everyone in my family dying like that, but it was not an easy year.

I have not liked Christmas since then. I can't find my Christmas spirit for the life of me, and I hate Santa Claus. I try every year to put up a tree. Bake cookies. Listen to Christmas carols. Shop. All of it feels like work, a job in the fast food industry. I look at the time hoping more than a minute passed since the last time I looked. It's really sad too because I know all those who passed on wouldn't want me to feel this way. They all worked so hard to make my Christmases special so that I could enjoy it for years to come. But it's not special without them.

We no longer visit my father's side of the family, especially since most of them are gone now. His parents were gone before he passed, but all his siblings died within a year of his passing. We no longer go to my grandmother's house. Instead, my grandfather comes down and joins us all at my mom's house. I don't think my mother enjoys Christmas like she used to either.

Now I'm a mother. And the circle of life happens. I am no longer the child who sees magic in Christmas. I am instead the one making it magical. It is not a magical process, but it is worth it. And some day, everyone will be coming to my house for dinner. And there will be a day when I know my time is coming, and I'm going to do everything in my power to make things magical for my kids, maybe grandkids if I'm lucky, one last time. And after I'm gone, the same love that shined through me all those years I stopped enjoying Christmas, the love that kept me baking cookies and decorating the house, that love will shine through my children.

The moral of the story is this. Christmas is about the accumulated wealth of gifts you are giving away, the department store tree, the chaos of putting dinner together, the living room full of wrapping paper, the cookies, the family you hate talking to that you are stuck spending the day with, the "my my my haven't we gained weight" comments, football... Memories. It is about family. These are the things we do for our family. Completely unnecessary things we do to give our loved ones a smile. Christmas is the birth of the ultimate sacrifice made for love.

Whether you are the merry little elf who overdosed on happy pills fa-lala-lalaaaing around the house like it's Pinterest, or the bitter old geezer who shot Santa and ate the reindeer for dinner, your time here is short. The legacy you leave behind is up to you. Tis the spirit to give. Not the gift, but your heart. As children, we receive a lot of love, but as adults, we give a lot more of it. And that is the true meaning of Christmas.

Whether I mean it or not, I'm smiling really big when I say Merry Christmas. I wouldn't say it if I didn't want you to feel it.

Labels: , , , ,

Dribbles and Grits to Crumpets and Bollocks: My Christmas Story: The Love Shines Through

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Christmas Story: The Love Shines Through

If you want to make this blog reading more heartfelt and gushy, listen to this song my mother wrote and performed, back when Prodigy was the internet...

video


I never believed in Santa. When I was a child, my parents were Born Again Christians. They felt in their heart that it was best we focus our festivities on the birth of Christ, and in that spirit, they told me straight up from the get go that Santa wasn't real. They only told ME that. Maybe it's because I didn't believe it anyway. I don't know, but I do know my sister believed in Santa for years, and I helped keep that belief alive for a while, probably until she made me mad in a fight and in the name of childhood fairness of an eye for an eye, I probably told her he wasn't real just because she hurt my feelings.

My parents were one of the few in the church who felt that way because most kids in my school, that church's school, did believe. I got in lots of trouble for freeing everyone from the lies and deceit. I was simply leading a rebellion against Old Saint Nick. Nothing major.

I like that I never believed. My fondest Christmas memories from my childhood are of me wrapping gifts. I used to ask my mom to let me wrap my sister's gifts. I loved putting them under the tree from the moment the tree was up. One by one. Accumulating a wealth of presents to give away. That was the best part of Christmas. The spirit of giving. Of course I didn't know what that really meant back then.

And as I grew older, into the teens and early adulthood, I enjoyed shopping for others. I was one of the few who put a lot of thought into every gift I gave. I wanted to give someone something useful, something that wouldn't be returned, something they wanted, and something they would tell everyone about after the fact. I also wanted to be classy with it. It wasn't like I was buying toothbrushes for people like my sister did. Nope, I was all about silk boxers and a red rose for my man, foot massagers, Estee Lauder, Ralph Lauren...

In high school, my part time job was in gift wrap for a department store, so not only did I enjoy my employee discount on the best of the best, I also enjoyed wrapping gifts. Our bows were hand made, every gift. I also made bows for the trees in the store, and helped decorate those as well. Once I learned that skill, I enjoyed putting up two trees for my parents' house. We had a blue and silver one in the sunroom, and a red and gold one in the living room. No more did our tree look like it came out of a Chevy Chase movie.

Christmas was my favorite holiday, up until the point where my father passed away. Christmas of 1998 was the last Christmas I had with him, and it was one I will never forget. After opening our presents, we drove 2.5 hours to my grandmother's house like every year. My father's cancer was not standing in our way. He felt awful. Sick. He started shaking a lot, and we all decided at my grandmother's house to take him to the ER. I thought I was going to lose my father on Christmas. He left the ER with a little more time to live. I was grateful. So grateful.

Meanwhile, my grandmother was busy taking care of everyone. She cooked Christmas dinner, was handing people presents to unwrap, doing everything within her power to make Christmas magical regardless of the circumstances. We didn't realize, not one of us, what she knew. That was her last Christmas with us. She was on her death bed. Her liver was failing, and I remember her stomach was bloated from the fluids. Still, despite the excruciating pain she felt, she managed to smile. The entire day.

I think it was the day after Christmas, she went into the hospital. I remember visiting her and being the only one in the room with her. She grabbed my hand, pulled me closer to her, and told me she had died before. Months before this, she was clinically dead for a moment before they revived her. When she died, she saw a white mansion surrounded by a white garden, and it was like a comforting blanket of peace wrapped around her. "I never felt so peaceful before," and with a desperate look in her eye, she said, "I want to go back. Tell everyone to let me go." She passed away shortly after.

On the day of her funeral, it snowed. A freak snow storm hit, one the weathermen didn't see coming. We couldn't bury her because there was so much snow. They were the biggest flakes I've ever seen, and I lived in Wyoming for years. It was so unusual, I still to this day think she made it snow somehow, not because it was unusual for that kind of snow to hit us and only in the area we were in, but also because I was strangely comforted by it.

The following March, I lost my father. Then the month after that, cancer also claimed my grandma's sister and my father's sister. A month later, my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. That summer my brother went to prison. Then my aunt with breast cancer had a successful surgery, one where the nurse met my grandmother's ghost holding my aunt's hand. Then another aunt passed away that fall. The year of 1999 was not my year, and cancer is my enemy. I guess I was lucky because I survived it, with everyone in my family dying like that, but it was not an easy year.

I have not liked Christmas since then. I can't find my Christmas spirit for the life of me, and I hate Santa Claus. I try every year to put up a tree. Bake cookies. Listen to Christmas carols. Shop. All of it feels like work, a job in the fast food industry. I look at the time hoping more than a minute passed since the last time I looked. It's really sad too because I know all those who passed on wouldn't want me to feel this way. They all worked so hard to make my Christmases special so that I could enjoy it for years to come. But it's not special without them.

We no longer visit my father's side of the family, especially since most of them are gone now. His parents were gone before he passed, but all his siblings died within a year of his passing. We no longer go to my grandmother's house. Instead, my grandfather comes down and joins us all at my mom's house. I don't think my mother enjoys Christmas like she used to either.

Now I'm a mother. And the circle of life happens. I am no longer the child who sees magic in Christmas. I am instead the one making it magical. It is not a magical process, but it is worth it. And some day, everyone will be coming to my house for dinner. And there will be a day when I know my time is coming, and I'm going to do everything in my power to make things magical for my kids, maybe grandkids if I'm lucky, one last time. And after I'm gone, the same love that shined through me all those years I stopped enjoying Christmas, the love that kept me baking cookies and decorating the house, that love will shine through my children.

The moral of the story is this. Christmas is about the accumulated wealth of gifts you are giving away, the department store tree, the chaos of putting dinner together, the living room full of wrapping paper, the cookies, the family you hate talking to that you are stuck spending the day with, the "my my my haven't we gained weight" comments, football... Memories. It is about family. These are the things we do for our family. Completely unnecessary things we do to give our loved ones a smile. Christmas is the birth of the ultimate sacrifice made for love.

Whether you are the merry little elf who overdosed on happy pills fa-lala-lalaaaing around the house like it's Pinterest, or the bitter old geezer who shot Santa and ate the reindeer for dinner, your time here is short. The legacy you leave behind is up to you. Tis the spirit to give. Not the gift, but your heart. As children, we receive a lot of love, but as adults, we give a lot more of it. And that is the true meaning of Christmas.

Whether I mean it or not, I'm smiling really big when I say Merry Christmas. I wouldn't say it if I didn't want you to feel it.

Labels: , , , ,

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