When I think about Christmas time, I think about the Peanuts Gang standing around the tree singing Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time is Here”. It makes me feel very nostalgic. As a little girl I loved sitting in my jammies, with wet hair down my back from my bath, watching a little tv with rabbit ears, waiting patiently for It’s Christmas Charlie Brown. The fire was burning in the kitchen and the slate floor was warm in front of the hearth, I would watch…
Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year
Snowflakes in the air
Olden times and ancient rhymes
Of love and dreams to share
Sleigh bells in the air
Yuletide by the fireside
And joyful memories there
I am making a very concerted effort to stay in the “Happy” this Christmas time! If you have read this blog for awhile, or know me personally, you know that my Dad made his list and checked it twice, then in a flash, took off for Heaven December 22, 2014! I think that he must have really wanted to see the view from there as the world celebrated the coming of our Lord. I can’t say that I blame him, but it certainly left a dark veil over the time of year that he loved, that he taught me to love. “Sister, the winter sky looks different. You are closer to God. Can you even imagine what the shepherds felt?” Then I had my first baby on the 23rd of December and he reminded me again what the birth of Jesus must have felt like. It makes it hard not to relive every day and every conversation prior to his departure, I still do, but this year, for the first time in 5, I really wanted to decorate our house and enjoy the music. I was really proud of myself and feel like I must have unintentionally turned a corner on yet another stage of grief. It is surprising what happens when you aren’t trying. I believe that most of that has come though being a CoCo which ironically makes me miss him more, because he would have thought they were fine. Little people make everything sweeter.
I look out my front door at Mike’s beautiful outdoor display of Christmas lights and I can pretend I am somewhere else. I do this a lot. Sometimes I find myself escaping to the lights of my hometown, and I am a little girl skipping from the drug store heading south to the Kelly Theatre to watch the Christmas movie in the afternoon, or the library for Christmas story time; or maybe I am hiding in the huge 3″ long bulbs that outlined the porch of Gram and Bop’s house that are saying to me “come in and get some hot chocolate and the warmest hugs in the world”. Maybe I am a bit like Scrooge’s visits to the past, present and future where I watch in third person. I have always been easily distracted by tinsel and shiny lights. I love the memories of Christmas in the Drug Store. Every year we would hang a huge chandelier in the middle of the store that was red and shiny with greenery and lights and the evergreen swags and red bows would go clear around the store and back to the middle of the chandelier. We had mechanical elves pulling their reindeer in the front window and a clown that flipped over the trapeze and decorations everywhere that transformed it once a year into a beautiful winter wonderland. I always thought it was the most beautiful site to see!! Every night of the week we stay open late for shoppers to come in and get their presents. On Christmas Eve my Dad and Bop would mix up several batches of punch (the vodka/cranberry punch is still my favorite!) and the day would be filled with laughter and drinks and people doing their last minute shopping. Employees were sent home early to spend time with their families and Dad and I would stay late. Kenny Hacker would always show up around the time we were ready to go home and Dad and I would stay and wrap presents just for him. I loved making those packages so pretty with curling ribbon and beautiful paper. Those are the days that come to mind when I think of Christmas. I knew how lucky I was to be able to wrap those gifts that were going to bring smiles to whomever opened them. Every Christmas Eve on the way home, Dad would take a different route, he had some “stops” to make. When I was really little I had no idea what he was doing and I would be anxious to get home to see Mimi and Papoo so we could start to celebrate! When I was older I knew exactly what he was doing and he swore me to secrecy. He was generous to a fault, but I guarantee there are several recipients who may never know who left the bikes, food, toys, clothes, shoes or even medicine they couldn’t afford. I miss that part most of all. He thought of others even on the Christmas of “check out”. He left instructions and gifts to share with people. We all sat together trying to pretend that we were happy because he wanted it that way. That didn’t work for me…..not that Christmas, but I feel warm and feel loved when I see the boys wearing their vests like his, or the hats he bought them to wear to their barns to feed their animals. I always say, “It’s not the fact that you aren’t here that I miss the most, it’s the fact that you aren’t here….” My heart knows he is here. I know he is here. I see him even more this time of year. I see him in my children and grandchildren, I see him in the charities that were close to his heart because they are now my charities. I see him when I look in the mirror because the older I get, my nose is the same (which isn’t great!) and my eyes are the same color his were. I am so thankful for the time, there just wasn’t enough.
I didn’t write a Christmas letter this year and I don’t think I did last year, but my memory is going, so I might have. Had I written one, it would sound something like this…..
Merry Christmas to you and God’s blessings to you during this year of challenge and fear. I need you to know that your fear is real, but give your fear to God. He sent Jesus to save the world from sin and overcome the darkness of this world. He can calm your fear, too. There is hope, there is still love and there is still life. Take care of the needy, feed the hungry and clothe those who can’t clothe themselves. Give freely of your blessings and be charitable to the less fortunate. Make memories that will wet your eyes 50 years later. Take the time to tend to your own mental health because it is your job to heal yourself, not someone else’s. Write your gratitude on a board so that you are reminded every single day how much you have. Read it. Every chance you get. Memorize one verse that brings you peace. Mine is Romans 8:38-39 “38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Do something for yourself so that you can learn and grow. Challenge yourself to improve and change. Find the joy. We love you. We do.
Love and peace,