>I hope this finds you well, happy and joyful in the presence of family and friends, making memories that will last a lifetime. The holidays are always so bittersweet for me anymore. When I lost my Dad in ‘88 (he was only 52), that first Christmas without him was so hard. The holidays have always been a HUGE deal in my family with big and small traditions that run from the first of December through the 6th of January. Then when my Mom died on December 19th eight years ago, all the joy seemed to disappear from the holidays all together. This year the holidays got even more bittersweet when a beloved uncle (see post directly below) died on the 16th of this month. I found myself bawling for the times when I was a kid and happier times.
The first part of this week was so hard seeing my Aunt (also my godmother) and her daughters dealing with what my siblings and I had dealt with eight years ago. I know the holidays will never be the same for them again either.
But when I was traveling home from St. Louis on Wednesday after my uncle’s funeral, I found myself discovering what the holiday is really about. It’s about giving of yourself and being kind to others. It was amazing how many really nice people I met on my trip home.
- The lady driving the rental car shuttle who offered my sister and me tissues as we cried together at the loss of our uncle, our parents, our grandparents, the happy times we had as kids;
- The security guard who laughed when as she asked for my ID, and I responded, “What! You don’t know me! Why everyone knows me!” She was still laughing as she handed me back my ID, and I grinned, saying, “See, you won’t forget me NOW!”
- The young sailor who politely reassured me that our flight was delayed, not canceled, as I thought I’d heard.
- The exhausted stewardess (on the last leg of a 15-hr shift) who joked her way through the usual pre-takeoff monologue;
- The man with the kind smile who handed me my carry-on bag, which got stowed about nine seats back from where I was sitting;
- The waitress at the Waffle House who looked dead on feet yet had a smile to greet me with;
- And my sweet wonderful husband who met me at the airport at midnight with a loving and supportive hug.
All of these wonderful people touched me at a time when I needed to be warmed and healed. They displayed the true meaning of Christmas. Today and tomorrow, we’ll be celebrating with our usual traditions. Traditions that my daughters love and anticipate. There will be the usual foods, the usual order of activities, friends old and new arriving for the evening meals, but most important, I’ll have the warmth of wonderful memories wrapping around me today and tomorrow and the rest of my life. It’s those memories that help keep our loved ones alive. As long as there’s one person alive to remember someone they’re never really gone.
P.S. Oh, and I’ll even forgive the witch who blocked the sole entrance to the airport at the rental car shuttle port and refused to budge when I politely asked to get by. Then when I was forced to push my way through (I did have a plane to catch and I wasn’t waiting on car to pick me up), the woman snapped that I was running over her. Even despite my apology for accidentally hitting her luggage. (Besides if I’d really wanted to run over her feet, I wouldn’t have missed!) That woman will never really know the true meaning of Christmas. I’d like to think that she was just having a bad day, but she seemed so wrapped up in herself and clearly didn’t want to cross two lanes to the parking garage simply because it was misty and rainy.