Lost Christmas Traditions

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Yesterday was the last Saturday before Christmas. To many folks, it was a last-chance opportunity to buy the few presents left on the shopping list, get important errands completed, or to rest before the holiday events begin full force. I did all three of those things, but as I drank my first cup of black coffee this morning, I realized that yesterday I did something I did not even realize I was doing.

I mourned.

I mourned for that Saturday that will never be again. The Saturday that has been dedicated for “Granny’s Christmas” for decades, blocked off from all other activities so that 50+ members of my maternal family could get together and just… be together. Yes, there was food, food in abundance. Yes there were presents to open and white elephant games to play. But that was secondary to the gift of that day.

We were together.

Granny is now gone. Grandad has been gone for 3 years and she held on as long as she could, but 3 months ago I held her hand as she asked me “Can I go now?” and I told her yes, yes she could. She left and took her Christmas with her.

So yesterday I sat in her house that I now own. I wrapped presents and prepared for my own Christmas Eve dinner. I washed clothes so that I would be ready to go to my husband’s family get-together. I read text messages from my family talking about their plans for the next few days – across the country. Yesterday I sat at my dining table and cried and didn’t know why.

But today I know.

I know that there is no more Granny’s Christmas. No more of the gravitational force that was the center of my world for so very long. No more story telling and second helpings and baptist hymn singing on the back porch.

I understand that this is a part of the story of life. I understand that our loved ones have to go away and that as they do, we substitute ourselves in the roles that they played for the generations before them. It doesn’t make it any less sad. It doesn’t make it hurt less. The next chapter has begun. The feeling, the mood, the memories that my children and grandchildren carry with them begin with the way I decide to approach each day.

Today I sit in my Granny’s living room. The furniture is different, but it’s about the same location that she sat in for many years. I feel her and my Grandad in this place. I feel her stress and anxiety as I prepare food for many people. I feel his need to go off to a quiet place and think and pray alone for a few moments. I feel their love and sacrifice and investment in the only thing that really matters in this world.

Being together.

 

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