Christmas is tomorrow, and I would love to say that I'm looking forward to it. But I'm not. Well, not much. That's very unusual for me, and honestly it feels weird even saying it. I love Christmas! Always have. But this year I find myself in a perspective that says "this Christmas won't be fun, it isn't what I wanted it to be, and I'd probably rather skip the whole thing if it's all the same to you." Whoever "you" is...
Why? First of all, this is the first Christmas since Dad's death. (He passed on January 25th of this year.) That's weird and sad and...really, it's an indescrible emotion, sort of like somebody tied up my hands and feet and then told me to dance a happy jig. But even with that, I was still looking forward to being with family, being together over the holidays. But now, another patriarch in my family is facing death as well. My sister-in-law's father at this moment lies in hospice care. He isn't going to make it. My sister-in-law is by his side, on death watch, along with other members of his immediate family. She will remain there until the time comes.
So tomorrow I'll drive my mom to Houston for the day. We're bringing a Christmas meal (which we threw together at the last minute), and will feed my brother and his three sons. Then we'll drive back to Austin that evening. Weird. This is Christmas?
Even though I am sad over all this, however, I find my heart also feeling deeply grateful. Grateful for the family we still have with us, and the love we share, grateful that we can at least be together for awhile, even if it's only a few hours, grateful that we've been blessed enough this year to exchange a few gifts, even though in the light of all that's happening the gifts seem somehow superfluous. The real gift is just being together. Being family.
I'm reminded of a quote by Melody Beattie:
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
May you have a Christmas filled with gratitude, and the remembrance of love.