…and I’m feeling pretty darn nostalgic.
It happens every year. The tree goes up, the lights are lit, and carols from long, long ago are playing on my CD player (thank God I made several CDs from an old collection of albums I used to have). I watch the same beloved holiday specials I’ve been watching for over 50 years. Fact is, I’m racking up quite a few Christmases, and the older I get, the more I appreciate them.
I can’t believe this is my 60th Christmas. It’s beginning to dawn on me that I really am getting up there and I don’t think I’m quite ready for it. Not that I have a choice, of course, unless you consider the alternative and I refuse to. I’m not leaving this world a minute sooner than I absolutely have to. Life has become very precious to me since Will passed away, and sometimes I wonder whatever possessed me to think I wanted out. I’ve lost the love of my life and my reality is that I’m an aging single woman, but what matters is what’s in my heart and soul…and memory.
Yes, there is a wistfulness that accompanies the holidays, and having so much time to myself allows me to indulge in it to a point that may or may not be healthy. I listen to Christmas music from my childhood and think of the magical holidays I had growing up; I also reminisce about the Christmases with my own children and Will, which somehow always turned out well even when we were as poor as Job’s turkey.
I remember one year where we had no money for presents and had no idea what we were going to tell the kids about Santa Claus (most of them were still young enough to believe still); but between our church, a community organization, and the kids’ school—which “adopted” us as one of the families it chose to help with food and gifts—it was a holiday miracle. I still smile when I think of the looks on their little faces when they saw all the presents under the tree on Christmas morning.
I remember the tradition we had of driving around town looking at the lights, then going home to Will’s hot cocoa and watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on the VCR. (This WAS a long time ago.) We also went to the Family Mass on Christmas Eve when there must’ve been 500 little kids running around yelling, crying, and wiping their snotty little noses on everything and everyone around them. Getting them together to do the Nativity scene was like herding cats, but the sweet church ladies always managed to corral them and avert disaster when seven-year-old “Mary” tentatively laid the infant Jesus—always played by one of the new babies—in the manger. Then we’d go back home and open one present each, set out some cookies and milk for Santa (even though by that time, the kids were all well past the age of belief), and send them to bed so we could fill the stockings and wrap some last-minute gifts before we ourselves fell exhausted into our recliners.
Now all of that is nothing more than memories. But I treasure them, because they really happened and they were wonderful times; and even the kids, now long grown, enjoy talking about them. After all, these are their memories too. And while we don’t really have any set way to celebrate the holidays in the house where I live now, I get to look back on 60 Christmases with love and laughter, and embrace the new traditions the best way I know how.