Like many of you, part of my Christmas tradition was to create and send the standard Christmas photo card or letter to all of my friends and family but last year was different and this year isn’t looking any more promising. The sad truth is that the older I get, the more I realize that we are going to endure more and more unpleasantries and I find it difficult to put it into a letter that sounds like the amazing world in which I live!! Yes, that is sarcasm laced with absolute truth. Pictures of beautiful, growing families I will leave to my beautiful, young, eager, un-jaded adult children who have produced the most amazing little creatures! If you know me at all, you see those little faces pasted on my Instagram #doinmything67 and occasionally on Facebook, so I don’t have to write a letter about how wonderful they are, because they are. Besides, I am sure that my real feelings about the holidays and this last year wouldn’t make a very upbeat, dreamy or even slightly romantic view of my life much less an impressive Christmas letter!! Lol! If we were to ever project what life is really like on a daily basis and recorded the actual hardships, challenges of work, the hurts inflicted by others, the difficult journey of chronic illness or pain, or the loneliness that the holidays bring, we would all either be rushed to the psych ward, or we would compassionately understand because each of us has something! How many times have I said that? Blog after blog I really try to recognize that the “highs” of life are few and far between the other stuff known as “daily life”. I am just as guilty of only showing the really good stuff and positive posts on Facebook. The reality is much different!
Isn’t that your life too? Am I alone in feeling like getting through this life is getting harder and harder? No one ever told me that aging would be hard! I was delusional thinking that my folks must have had it all together and things were perfect when they were my age! What was I thinking? I am sure that it was no different for them! I was sent a picture the other day of our Drugstore on fire in 1958 in WaKeeney, KS. I was quickly reminded the my Grandfather Cleland would have been 54 years old and had just lost literally everything he owned in the matter of a few minutes. I don’t know why on earth I would think that everything was easy! It wasn’t. They never talked about the hell that must have been, they rebuilt and moved on with life. A great example of making it look easy!
I am a hopeless, yes hopeless romantic and it’s not a realistic view of the way I would like to live! Even with my super human power of being able to forget events that are uncomfortable, I struggle with the holidays. They are here and gone before I even get my inner video camera wiped off and ready. They days of extended family getting together to celebrate with one another is over, never to return. The days of people dressing up for the annual Christmas Eve party and church are over (except for my immediate family! We go!) I remember how my mother would have the entire house lit up and decorated like something out of House Beautiful with candles and fresh greenery, beautiful tables and a beautiful punch bowl filled with Tom and Jerry’s, and music, all while entertaining in her dress and Christmas apron. She looked so amazing and seemed to pull it off with little to no effort! I know that the reality is that she worked her ass off so that Dad could walk in and be the life of the party after working late! How do I know this? Because I used to do the exact same thing for Mike when we would have our big Christmas extravaganza in Campbell (minus the apron)!
Maybe that is some of the melancholy that I feel during this time of year. I loved having people in my home to drink and cheer the old year in anticipation of the new. Life seemed slower when I had 3 kids at home and while I know I was probably busier, it seemed to take less effort to get in the spirit of the holiday. Maybe it is because after so many punches to the gut by the fist of life’s hard knocks I have had it beaten into me that nothing stays the same. People die. Traditions are only traditions as long as everyone is alive to participate. Family doesn’t mean forever. New traditions are tough to learn and keep on creating without thinking of the way things were. Those are hard, really hard, realities that always seem to slip into the happy part of the brain and zero out the good stuff. I know that I am supposed to control that, but like most of life, I can’t!
I am a great preacher of “stay positive” and I admit that the positive memes or sayings that I post are selfishly for ME. They are a reminder to me to walk on the sunny side of the street! Keep on the sunny side! The inner me struggles with the raincloud. For years and years I eagerly awaited the holidays. I grew up decorating the Drug store with the most amazing decorations and creating a winter wonderland of displays to show off how much I loved that place. Dad sold the store on Main several years before he died. I have never gone back, but I keep the memory of the Christmas past brightly in my mind’s eye. I see my Gram and Bop standing in the pharmacy and Dad behind the counter. I can hear him shout “Merry Christmas!” as people entered the front door. I can smell the different perfumes people would try on to pick one for their love. I can see the sparkly Fenton ware waiting to be wrapped up for another gift. I can see Kenny Hacker showing up as we were locking the door to go home….late….and staying another two hours so he could shop and have his gifts wrapped and we were late for Christmas Eve service…every year! That’s funny stuff! Yep…..that was Christmas!
Now, I am happily waiting for Finn and Allie to come! Allie won’t care but Finn will be hopped up! The rest are just the icing. It’s different now. It will be here and gone before I know it. It is my job as one of the old ones now to do just as my Mom and Dad and my Gram and Bop, make it happy for the little ones and that is the best gift of all. It is the reason to get out of the funk and move! I will!!
This is my letter.
The reality is this. This year has been kind of rotten. This year has been kind of good. This year had a few amazing days. This year had some days I thought I wouldn’t live through. This year I buried too many friends. This year I let go of things that I needed to. This year I reconnected with friends from long ago. This year I cried more than I ever have. This year I am grateful, thankful and appreciative. This year is almost over.
God bless you and yours. Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for understanding and even if you don’t understand, thank you for getting to the end.
until then…..Do you hear what I hear? Here Comes Santa Claus