Christmas is Different this Year

I have learned to love the quiet time after everyone has gone to bed even more than ever. My afghan seems softer as I cuddle up on the sofa — the soft wool stroking my face with gentleness. My eyes softly flicker upon the scented candles, the holly leaves, and scattered Santas, elves and snowmen gathered over many years and many holidays. They rest on all these items momentarily, wistfully yet warmly. It is if they exude a strange comfort; fill a need and an emptiness. They are reminders of stability and of sameness and of traditions that stayed on despite change. I gaze over at the photo of the silvered-haired lady standing proudly in her lovely dining room. Hair perfectly groomed, lovely sweater; she is the picture of happiness and contentment. It says perfectly who she was. She loved order and neatness, loved the greenery of her plants, and having fine woods in her home. You remember back to the conversation of the night before with your youngest daughter about what she wants for Christmas. “Can you bring grandma back?”, she asks. “No, that I can’t do”, I reply.

This year Christmas is different. We walk a fine line between regret and joy. On one hand, there is an inner desire to move on with life, to continue to celebrate, and to admire and beautify our home in the same manner with lights and decoration. Still, there is a twinge of sadness and regret that one less family member is here to share this time. There are no instructions for how to grieve. Love and being together, celebrating the remembrances, making plans for the future, talking about the moments good and bad — these are the healing means we use. Slowly changing those sombre, uttered words in our head from “Sorry, there is no more hope” to “there is still hope”. Christmas continues, life continues for all and the tree is up as proud as the silver-haired lady standing there in the picture. Dressed for the holidays, it may have lost one branch but the future will bring new trees and new branches. I never feel she’s really gone although I know it to be true. So, I look from the picture to the tree and think, it is all the way it should be. Whether you believe in destiny or not — whether we end in ascension or in eternal silence — life continues for those still here. Each Christmas will be different in some way but our traditions are the anchors that move us and give us strength to carry on. So, the celebration might be a little quieter, but still as joyous. Just look at that beautiful tree.

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