A Silent Night

Holidays are different for everyone.  This year I am alone on Christmas Day, but Christmas Eve was as it always is and has been with my family.  We spent the day and evening together.  In my 46 years, I have not missed a single one – all spent with my parents.  There was only one without my brother and his children (they were sick).  No matter where I am, I make it happen.

I am not unhappy to be alone today.  Priorities seems to be a big theme this year with a lot of people, and many have talked about time spent with loved ones rather than working.  Today the best (and only) gifts that came were knowing there was work to provide a paycheck for the household, and an unexpected Christmas bonus – likely earned because of that dedicated availability that has been willingly given.  I understand why so many people have screamed long and loud about having days off, but for us it has meant nothing in the face of keeping bills paid.  If there were extra, that would be great.. but there isn’t.  On Thanksgiving I was thankful to dig to the bottom of my deep freeze and find one last turkey tucked away for just such a moment.  On Christmas Eve I was joyous to find that I had also stashed a couple of corned beef briskets in previous months.  My family was fed.  No gifts were exchanged.  No one cared.

Last night I looked at my cell phone to see what time it was around 6:30pm.  I had the thought it must be late.  It was not.  I set it down with a smile, knowing I still had a few more hours to spend sitting there, enjoying the room, the fire, my god-children, my parents, my brother, and the moment.  We were sharing stories from years past about camping trips, and adventures, and travel, and cars we’ve had, and old friends.  It occurred to me that most of the stories being told had been told before, probably several times, but no one was disinterested.  When all was said and done, we had laughed as hard as we did every other time and the fresh telling of it was just as entertaining as any other.  The connection, and the mirth of moments that often did not make us laugh when they first took place, are the reason family is so important – and that is not planted in a specific day of the year.  We take advantage of the coinciding days off of work, but sometimes you have to be flexible and accepting of changes.  My family had to move our Thanksgiving celebration to the weekend, in fact.  We had a missing member that Thursday, so we adjusted.  The meal tasted just as good.  The love was just the same.

Listening to my brother for several minutes, I thought of tribal oral history.  It occurred to me that our personal stories shared have the same purpose for us.  My niece and nephew are still young – 19 and 21 – and they have not yet memorized all of the family history that has been passed down in this way.  I can tell some of the same amusements that my grandmother used to when she was still with us, and my mother tells stories from her grandparents era.  I expect that they will hear all of this.. what they learned from my grandmother, and from my parents, and from me, and their father, and perhaps one day will be entertaining their own children with all of it as well.  The repetition is what ingrains the knowledge we share.  It is binding and offers a strong foundation.

We cued up some music for my parents to demonstrate their dance floor skills for a bit for someone that inquired.  They’re ballroom and swing silver to gold level, and they were born in 1935 and 1940.  You can do the math.  They are a prime example of what I have said about it not being too “late” to do what you enjoy and learn new things, because they didn’t start taking lessons until long after we kids were out of the house.  I jumped in with my mother to figure out the steps to a line dance we haven’t done in probably 15 years, and I am happy to say I was able to not only remember it but carry it off fairly well.  🙂  There were moments of silence as well, and that was okay too.  It was peaceful.

I did have to drive over an hour home on Christmas Eve.  I want to say however that it seemed like most of the people on the highway were driving as cautiously as I was last night.  For that too I am very, very thankful.  I am also happy that my mother sent me home with such a batch of fruit and vegetables.. and potatoes (she knew I was out of potatoes lol).. that I don’t have to worry about shopping the rest of this week, or for those items next week either.  What did I get for Christmas?  Pineapples and love.  Kale, citrus fruit, apples, and joy.  Hugs and memories.  There was no Christmas wrap or bows.  No tape.  No boxes.  Just grocery bags and a lot of laughter.  I also had a warm fire to sleep next to the night before last – my favorite place in the world to be.  I woke up the morning of Christmas Eve to see my niece and nephew smiling and happy to see me.  That is a priceless gift that will be with me for life.  So today, I do not feel “alone”.  It’s just quiet.

However you spent last night, and however you spend today, I hope that you will find within it the peace and priceless memories that will fill your heart for the coming year.  Those can not be bought, broken, or taken away.  ❤  I wish you love.  I wish you peace.  I wish you “moments”… and a very merry Christmas.

T

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