When I stop long enough to look around me at another festive Christmas season, I quickly reflect on the fact that I have been blessed with the ability to enjoy 79 of them. Of, course I don’t remember the first 2 or 3, but since then, I have been totally involved. We didn’t have much when I was a kid. No phone, no car, no credit cards. But we didn’t know that we were any different. We just assumed that everyone was like that. We always had a tree, and a few gifts. Our stockings were hung behind the big black stove in the kitchen to be filled with some candy and fruit overnight. We opened our gifts Christmas morning and it was always a wonderful time.
As the years unfolded and I advanced into adulthood, Christmas always held a special place in my heart. I met and married the girl of my dreams and we shared 57 of them together. I have lots of pictures taken over the years of us and the trees and gifts and wrapping paper strewn around. Dogs and cats hanging around to see what was in their stocking. We moved several times over the years, so our Christmas’s were mostly without family. Just the two of us, counting our blessings, and experiencing the joy of giving with the one you love.
This is number 80. The first one alone. I have to say that initially, my attitude was to sit this one out. Kind of retreat from it if you would. I first decided not to put up the big tree and or any of the large assortment of decorations that she used to place throughout the house, changing each room into something magical. I didn’t think I could handle it. No matter what I did, it was not going to be the same. Why put myself through that.
Well, as time passed, I began to listen to what I would like to think is the voice of reason. I was part of that decorating effort each year, even if it was as the schlepper of boxes or the tall guy that could reach the top of the bookcases etc. I was indeed a part of the transformation and, grumble as I did, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I loved our Christmas home. Slowly, I began to acquiesce. Maybe just a little something on the mantle. Perhaps a few of the statues and figurines placed around the living room. So I started scrounging through boxes, discovering memories with every bubble wrapped piece. Remembering how much she loved certain pieces. How much we both did. And with a halting hand and heavy heart, I began the resurrection, one discovery leading to another. It was a bittersweet effort, but soon, I had extended Christmas into most of the rooms. Lights and candles throughout the house and one in every window as we had done for years wherever we had lived.
I am done now, and I must say my attitude has changed, or improved. I read once that in life, you can be an observer or you can be a participant. I decided I had to be the latter. I realized that if I wanted her here with me this year, I had to provide the venue as she had done for so many years. It is ironic, I think, that the past few years found her struggling more to prepare the house for the holidays. She had cut back in the abundance of decorations somewhat and, in reality, I don’t think she would have been able to do it this year at all. It was for me to do, regardless of the situation. I think she would like it.
So here we go. Embarking on a new and exciting Christmas. Surrounded by friends and family that give me the impetus to once again count my blessings. To seek and surround myself in the joy that is Christmas. Life has a way of correcting itself and I plan to let it.
Merry Christmas to my many friends that will read this. For each, I have but one wish. Be sure to tell those close to you that you love them. It is the best gift you have to offer.