During a very long drive home, fifteen or so total hours, I had a lot of time to think about the upcoming holidays and how things have changed over the years. I am one of the vast number of people that are alone during the holidays because either their immediately family lives miles away or has passed. I am of the later. Now that my mom and sister are gone, I am left here alone for the holidays.
It can be hard for people to understand how people like me feel during the holidays. I do have some family left, my aunt and cousin. But that is not the same as the closeness you have with your parents and siblings. We get together for the holidays, but I just feel like an outsider. I do occasionally get invitations from some friends at times to join them in their celebrations, but for me it just feels uncomfortable to be there. I know I probably shouldn’t feel this way, but I do. Please don’t get the impression that I do not appreciate the kindness of their offer because I truly do. There have been too many times that I have gone to be with friends and their families when things have gotten uncomfortable.
I am a strong believer in traditions. They give a person a sense of belonging and joy. As I drove I thought about all the traditions in my life that have disappeared over time. I would like to share a few of these with you.
For several years while I was in high school and going to college, I would walk home from the 11 p.m. Christmas Eve service at our church. I would wander the streets looking at the decorations in the peaceful night air. It was always a magical feeling of that special time of the celebration of Christ’s birth. Many times there would be a soft blanket of new snow on the ground which added to the beauty of the night. A special treat would be if there was a light snow falling at the time.
For us, Christmas Day was for having all the grandparents and cousins get together to celebrate with dinner and gifts; Christmas Eve was just for mom, dad, my sister and I. That is the tradition that meant the most to me and which I miss the most. We would sit in front of the fireplace with a roaring fire going. The only lights on in the house would be from the tree and the lights around the fireplace mantle. There would be traditional Christmas music playing on the stereo. At this time we would open family gifts. It still brings tears to my eyes when I remember those times that have long since gone.
This year due to the generosity of some very special friends, I will be able to relive a part of this time that meant so much to me. I had the great pleasure of spending that past week with them. When I arrived, I was greeted with two bags of gifts. I asked if I should wait for Christmas to open these and they said that would be okay. I know that they were disappointed that they wouldn’t see my reaction when I opened them. Some may consider it rude for me to not open them at the time. However, by letting me take them and open them at Christmas they are giving much more than they will ever realize; the chance to experience a part of what I have lost these past years. For on eve of Christmas just before midnight, I will sit down with candles burnings (as I don’t have a fireplace now) and only the lights of the decorations on and open the gifts they have given me. It will be the first time I will be able to touch once again that tradition that I hold dear in my heart and that has been gone for very, very long time. There is no way in the world that I could ever thank them enough for their consideration and generosity in giving me the chance to relive a part of what I had lost.