On Saturday, I spent much of the day baking cookies at my parents’ house. Afterward, we watched Christmas movies while a kitty cat purred in my lap.
Their house is always warm and it was cold outside when I left. The shock of cold and the starry sky reminded me of a Christmas Eve long ago when we spent an evening with my grandparents. I was small and all the adults kept talking about how a certain little girl needed to go home to bed so Santa Claus could come.
The colorfully lit tree was decorated with an assortment of ornaments accumulated over time and I sat under that tree to open a gift from my grandparents. I don’t recall the gift but I do remember the little candy dish filled with old fashioned hard candy that you buy at the store. I remember the laughter among adults and the warmth of that old house.
The memories made me smile as I hummed Bing Crosby’s White Christmas on the way to the porch.
This year is much different. Most of the people who provided the laughter and warmth of that home are gone now. Many who are left are too young to remember those people and that place.
This year has been haunted by hardship and loss for so many. This will be our first Christmas without my aunt Maryann. Another family member recently received a terrible diagnosis. My great aunt Marcella died over the weekend. She was the last of her generation in my grandma’s family. A college friend lost three immediate family members just days apart during this season of cheer. We have lost longtime family friends including one who just passed on Sunday. My mother is coping with injuries from her fall at Walmart over the weekend but is probably lucky to be alive.
Things aren’t going well and it’s a far cry from the picture perfect Bing Crosby moments of my childhood. It gets harder to be joyful at Christmas as you age because you’re more aware of all the troubles of the world around you.
However, as I write this I keep glancing at something written on a post-it note that I stuck to my desk months ago. Little did I know it would come in handy today. It simply says “Gratitude turns what you have into enough.”
It isn’t always easy but I’m choosing to be grateful for the memories and grateful for the time we had with all those who have left empty seats at our table. I’m grateful for the people and all the good in my life today. And when you look at it that way, it still hurts but maybe it hurts a little less.