Christmas Celebration – Originally Posted on CaringBridge

We’ve all received many messages, texts, and calls from so many of you asking how Christmas was. It has taken me until today to be able to write about it. The answers haven’t varied much. Weird. Sad. As good as can be expected. We weren’t short of love or family, but the tone differed. The feeling that something was off; that something was missing. Someones were missing. Denise and John (Jr.) were too sick to attend and clearly missed. Everything about this holiday was so…wonky. It’s the best adjective I can muster. Knowing Mom was just a few miles away and unable to be with us, but having her surround me at every turn of her home, every trinket, every decoration, everywhere I looked…she was there. It was one of my more challenging days so far, and that is saying something.

After we got everyone fed at my parents’, we packed a couple of plates, a bottle of Merlot, and all the healthy bodies into cars and headed over to Someren Glen to spend time with Mom. She was so happy to see so many of us; she lit up just like the little Christmas tree in her room. We gathered around one of the large tables in the main dining area, poured the wine (great success smuggling it in!), and told stories about the day. Cheryl and Josh had conspired to put together a slide show of all the Christmases from the 60’s through last year. It was a great testament to the family my parents have created, nurtured, and supported over the course of their 54 year marriage. 

Mom is complaining very little about the facility. She has expressed a lot of relief for having help whenever she needs it. She had some nice time today with friends Pat Reinhart and Anita Ryan, and my dad brought my aunt, Anita Cruthers, over again as well. She and I talked about getting her into the salon they have on-site. Mom is starting to feel like her hair is flatter than a pancake. Her only small complaint is she can get bored when people aren’t visiting, so if you are in the area and would like to see her, she would love it. The facility doesn’t have any restrictions on visiting hours, only that you are not sick. If you have been sick, they ask that you are 48 hours symptom-free before coming by. 

Huge thanks go to Wayne, Michelle, Matt, and Cheryl for taking the lead and organizing a Christmas dinner in less than 24 hours. As is usually the case, this family just does what we have to to make things work in whatever way necessary. When I remove myself from it and look at it from the outside, I can see I often take it for granted. What we have, it is so much greater than us. I hear these stories of families fighting at holiday get-togethers, and it is so foreign to me. You’d think when you get 30+ people in one space, it would be inevitable for tempers to flare, but we are the exception to the rule, the anomaly, the aberration. And I am unquestionably grateful for it.

With all the weirdness and sadness encompassing this Christmas, it certainly won’t get bunched in with the rest, blurred into a commentary of “Was that three years ago? Or six?”. An unforgettable day infused with bittersweet emotions.

We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas.

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