Since my parents died, Christmas has always been a bleak holiday for me. I’ve tried to get in the mood, but it’s just so very hard. While my childhood wasn’t without the usual fights and clashes with my parents, I had a very rich childhood. Christmas in particular was unlike most families. The holidays started the day after Thanksgiving, and there was some activity, big or small happening all the way through to the 6th of January, which is the Epiphany. It was a magical time, and while it’s easy to think I’m idealizing that time, I’m not doing so all that much. It truly was special.¬†Laughter, good food, family fun, it was such a wonderful holiday.

When my Dad died, that first year without him was incredibly hard for all of us. We all went through the holiday numb to everything. Several years later, we’d just begun to find the joy again when my mom got sick with leukemia. After almost five years of battling the cancer, Mom died on December 19, 1998. At that point, the holiday became all the more bleak for me.

Now, one more light has flickered out as my aunt left us just four weeks after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Her death yesterday was a major blow. Aunt Sharon was a surrogate mom to me and my siblings after my mom died. I’d text her in the wee hours of the morning, and she’d reply back for a short conversation. I’m going to miss those heart emoticons, the I love you’s, and the just general conversation. We texted up until the last week she was alive. So now I’m doing what she would want me to do. She’d want me to try and be happy and celebrate the holiday. She said it was okay to be sad, but assured me that she was fine with what was happening. Her strength of faith and spirit were amazing. I can’t begin to say how much I’m going to miss her. My heart is just breaking in ways I can’t describe, which is unusual for a writer.

So while my heart isn’t totally in the spirit of the holiday, I do wish everyone a very happy, joyous and merry Christmas this year. May it be one that will be a beautiful memory to last a lifetime.