Christmas has always been my second favorite holiday. My first is the 4th of July. I chose it because I love summer, the Lake, and barbeque. And fireworks. The thing the two have in common, the reason they both hold a special place in my heart, is family. Though I haven't been able to put my finger on exactly why, I just can't work up any holiday cheer this year. I've pretty much only bought the presents that had to be shipped. I don't have a tree. I did decorate the house but the last two nights I haven't even turned the outside lights on. I've been thinking hard about what is the matter with me.
It's probably a combination of factors. Four years ago all four of my grandparents celebrated with us at my parents house. This year there won't be any. I've lost three in the past three years, and my remaining grandma is spending Christmas in Arizona with my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins. Not that I blame her. If I could, I would fly South for the Winter too. My father's parents died a year apart, both fairly unexpectedly. Or as unexpected as it gets at eighty-nine. I loved them, had just begun to really appreciate them, and I miss them. This past May, though, my mother's father passed. He was that one, the one who was special. The one who makes you feel special and loved, just by being in his presence. He and I have always been close, ever since I was an infant. Losing him is something I still haven't adjusted to. I started crying at a restaurant a few weeks ago because the old man at the next table ordered a tenderloin (one of Gramps' favorites). Gramps was a big man in so many more ways that his physical appearance. He filled up a room with joy, kindness, and laughter. The house at Christmas will be so...quiet.
This year it will be only my parents, my uncle, my sister, my husband, and myself. I've been working hard on getting out of debt and there isn't much to spare this year for presents. Usually I go overboard. I love giving. Watching people open the things I've picked out for them brings me such joy. Especially my mother and father, who have done so much for me over the years. It's impossible to think of paying them back, but I love to try. Part of me doesn't want to go and face that empty house. I know I will, though. Families change, surely everyone goes through years like this sooner or later. To top everything off my best friend (who I've had my entire life) is moving away for the first time. I don't make friends easily, at least not close ones, and I have no idea what I'm going to do without her to escape with. It's hard. I'm making a valiant attempt not to let it ruin Christmas, though.
It's a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie. People always say that's an impossible task, to pick a favorite movie, but not for me. I love the characters, the story, and the moral. This year I feel sort of like George Bailey. Like nothing I've done is good enough, will make enough difference, or means much of anything at all. I'm trying to take on his lesson as my own, and remember that it doesn't matter who I've lost, how much money I have to spend on presents, or whether or not our house is bursting at the seams on Christmas morning. What matters is the lives we've touched and those who've touched us. That we are all better people for the love, family, and friendships we've been given over the whole of our lives. Those are the things, the love, family, friends, and memories that make the hard road forward worth it in the end.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, dear readers. Here's to 2010...