It’s not that I don’t like Christmas, I do. It’s just that my Christmas these past ten years have not been the joyous celebration it once was.
I grew up with so much Christmas! Christmas Eve with the cousins; Christmas morning around the tree at home; back out to have dinner with the larger extended family on Christmas Day (with a special visit from Santa!) and then brunch at Grandma and Grandpa’s on Boxing Day*.
*December 26th is the Boxing Day holiday in Canada and many of the former British colonies. It’s origin is that it was on the day after Christmas that servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas Box”, from their employers. Clever as we are, we found a way to turn it into a holiday!
This was my Christmas for 41 years. Fun, festivities, food and lots and lots of family!
When my husband and I split up, we agreed that he would have Christmas morning and Christmas Day with the kids every year. His parents weren’t here anymore and his siblings were not close so I felt, because I had so much Christmas with family, it was only right that he be able to start a Christmas Day tradition of his own with the kids.
But, alas, things change. I had no way of knowing at the time that my family Christmas celebrations would ever end.
My extended family simply got too big. When we outgrew the largest house, we had to rent a hall to accommodate everyone. And then we outgrew the hall. So the decision was made to end the traditional family Christmas celebration and each family started their own.
My grandparents got older and it was getting harder for them to host Christmas Eve and Boxing Day at their house. We and the cousins now had spouses and more children making it just too much for my grandparents to handle. So those traditions faded also.
My siblings and I grew up too and Christmas mornings were now with our own families. Thankfully we still had Christmas dinner on December 23rd at my moms house.
And then that one ended too.
A family feud blew my immediate family apart and I have had to visit each member separately for the last 10 Christmases. And even those Christmases were bitter-sweet because we all knew that we wanted to be together but, with the anger and bitterness, it just wasn’t possible. I won’t go into detail but, suffice it to say, do not ever lend money to family.
So parden me if I don’t get overly sentimental at Christmas time. For me, it’s just not what it used to be.
What a downer right!
That is until I got the most wonderful Christmas present I could ever have gotten.
I don’t know how it happened (I’m guessing divine intervention!) but my feuding family members have finally worked their way to civility and, for the first time in 10 years, we were all together for Christmas dinner on December 23rd.
And it went well! No food was thrown, no dishes broken, no tears, no harsh words – not a lot of words at all between a few people but hey, it’s all about baby steps. It helped that we were in a public place. Yes, we went out for this dinner, it was important that it be on neutral territory.
I can’t even tell you how huge this is. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself but could this be the first step to repairing my family?
If nothing else, it gave me HOPE. Hope that we can come back to what we had. I miss it so very much.
Christmas is a time for love with friends and family and I beg everyone to value the friends and family you have. Show and tell them that you love them all year round but especially at Christmas because you have no idea how fragile the family is and how easily it can be broken.
Or how much you will miss it if it’s not there.
Merry Christmas to everyone and I will say an extra prayer for those of you who may be going through some tough times. Praying that maybe you get some HOPE for Christmas this year too.
Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net