Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas, a time of Cheer and Tears

At my Mother's house, Christmas was always a time of excess.  We did not have a lot of money, but we had enough, because my grandparent's were there when we needed a relief plan.  My Dad worked at factory work most of his life, a sawmill and a wall board plant were both in situations where the pay was barely more than minimum wage and seasonal lay-offs occurred but there were paid vacations and health insurance.  Mom took a lot of cost cutting measures, like rewashing sandwich baggies and growing a garden and canning a lot of our food.  But Christmas she began buying for at the day after Christmas sales.

     Of course things change.  The grandparents who had always bought the extra bag of groceries and paid the occasional bill, were not there anymore.
Then my brother and I married, had kids and
moved far away.  My Dad got esophageal cancer, and went from being an energetic playmate to the grandkids one Christmas- to being in the hospital, a month away from his death the next.  So Christmas became a mixed blessing, a time of family gatherings, but also a time of the glaring absence of the ones who used to gather us together.

My new home was not where the snow began falling in September and was still there in June, like the Wyoming town where I grew up.  Instead, now Christmas meant rain, and sunny days and green grass and Redwoods and even a flaming red maple in my yard.

And it meant long 3,000 mile drives in all kinds of weather, to circulate through the various family members in all the corners of Wyoming and then return home.

Christmas became a season of sharing laughter, and gifts, card games and cookies.  Long car rides and walks through the Christmas lights.  It became a time of remembering the ones we have lost but still love and a time of celebrating New children and friends who have become family, even without the blood tie.

the handmade ornaments have come to mean more than the gold necklaces decorating the 11 million dollar Christmas tree.

It has become a hectic time filled with errands and school programs, spending more than we should, and loving more than we ever thought we could.

And this year, with our baby being an impatient, out the door every chance he gets, High school senior, and his brother being only a year behind him, we see that Christmas will be changing again.

I want to dig in my fingernails and hold on tight,
I want to wrap my arms around them and turn on all the lights

I know it has to change
and I guess that is why
every moment with the ones we love
we celebrate with a sigh

1 comment:

  1. Very nice, and very true. My daughter is leaving tomorrow to go spend the rest of the week with her boyfriend. She will be home Christmas Eve sometime and will spend it with her brother, her dad and his mom. I will see her later in the evening and Christmas day. Her boyfriend will be here so things will not be the same. Changes, ever changes. Did I mention I don't do well with change??:-)