I am going for teachers pet this week with Mama Kat. I have so many holiday memories, I am sharing three. So there! And btw...the next two aren't very long and will make you laugh. I promise!
And sorry about the Christmas music, but it seems appropriate. Plus, who doesn't love a NKOTB version of Little Drummer Boy?
I am 31, and I get as excited as a little kid for Christmas. I love the hustle and bustle of the crowds, I love to bake cookies while listening to holiday music playing in the background. I love to make a mug of hot cocoa and wrap presents and picture the look and the persons face when they open it up. I really think its the most wonderful time of the year.
And while I love it, it always brings it share of pain. My mom passed on December 1st, 1992 and she was the biggest lover of the holiday season ever. She made the time of year feel magical with her glow and excitement. The house was always decorated beautifully, and you couldn't help but smile when you walked in. She once stated that she wanted to hold on til after Thanksgiving so we wouldn't have to lose her at Thanksgiving. I think she really wanted to hold on and make it til Christmas, and I am sure that made letting go a little harder for her. The fact of the matter was, she couldn't hold on that long. Deep down she knew that it wasn't really up to her and holding on til Christmas wasn't an option. Even though she wanted it, she wouldn't be able to spend one more Christmas with us.
I go through quite a roller coaster of emotions during that time of year because of it, and often I bury myself in the joy to get through the pain. Make no mistake, my joy isn't fake, it just seems that I make sure I look at the glass half full over and over again during the holidays. I always loved them and I know more than anything that the last thing my mom would want me to feel at the holidays was sadness.
Back in 2003, Jim and I were married for a year and a half. We had bought a house, were working decent jobs, but, were by no means well off. We decided to forgo exchanging gifts to save money and have a "toned down" holiday season. I left the decorations in the attic and we didn't even buy a tree. It was a well intended plan but....
I backed out. In my heart I did anyway.
I was sad, so sad. I did my best to hide it, because it wasn't as if Jim had coerced me into the plan. I had agreed. The problem was, it creeped into other areas. I wasn't as excited to go out shopping and the Christmas music never really played. I spent more time thinking about the pain of that time of year, and it hurt. Looking back, it was silly. I should have taken out some of the decorations, baked the traditional cookies, etc. Toning it down for one year shouldn't have meant stopping it all together. Hindsight, of course is always 20/20.
You may be wondering where this is going and why I am depressing you with "The Year the Andersons Skipped Christmas", but here is why Christmas of 2003 has special memories for me:
1 I woke up Christmas morning, Jim looked over at me and suggested we head downstairs for coffee before getting dressed and heading to his Dads for breakfast.
I walk downstairs, and there it is. A tree. Not a huge tree, but the cutest little table top tree with tiny lights and a star crafted from foil covered cardboard, that only a guy could make. A gift sat under the tree - a set of crafting scissors for my card making. And over the mantle was my stocking. Filled with a pack of M&Ms and a Ferrero Rocher.
It was so sweet and meant the world to me. It didn't cost a lot, but to me was worth more than any other gift he had ever given me. He knew I was sad and rather than just letting it pass, he and his buddy went to Michael's Arts and Crafts and shopped so that I could have the Christmas joy I love.
2 I looked back and realized for my Mom, it was never about the things. Christmas never meant gifts or material things to her. It didn't even depend on the music playing in the background. Sure, those things were fun and she liked them, but they were, in some ways, a means to an end. What it was really about was the time with each other, the joy and the memories. Maybe that is why she held on as long as she could, and then decided it was ok to trust in what was planned for her and let go. She didn't want the memories to be tarnished by the pain. And for what its worth, they never were.
I learned a lot that year, from two of the most important people in my life