Christmas Memories

I have incredible childhood memories of Christmas.  My Mom had a difficult time with Christmas because it was my Dad’s favorite holiday so we traveled.  My sister and I thought it was great, we had no idea what all the traveling was all about until we were older.  My Mom couldn’t stay home with all the reminders so she would take us to family in Saskatchewan, Ontario or Minnesota.  It was a great distraction for her and we had a great time wherever we went.  We usually ended up in Minnesota for New Year’s with her family.

The evening that school ended for the holidays Mom would invite one or more of her friends over and we would have a big dinner.  The anticipation of where we were going and the fun we knew we would have was better than the gifts to come.  After dinner we would open gifts and get packed to go away.  The next morning we would leave for up to a week.  We would come home for a day or two and then be gone for New Years coming home in time to go back to school.  There were fewer gifts but we didn’t care.  Those trips are some of the best memories of my childhood.  The big gatherings, snowmobile rides, games, cousins, tucked safely away in a little house in the woods or quiet evenings on the farm eating caramel popcorn while in pajamas, going on the hay rack to feed the cows even if you couldn’t feel your fingers and toes, waking up to the smell of breakfast on the wood stove and being compelled to take your feet from under the warm blanket and touch the cold floor before reaching for thick socks.  Opening presents was somewhere down the list compared to all of that.  I miss it desperately.

And now I have memories with my husband and children, their first Christmas’s.  Waking up to my daughter trying to entice us out of bed with a huge smile jumping up and down, tobogganing, bundled up, hot chocolate, cousins, gatherings.  Not as dramatic as in my childhood but still cozy and happy.  We have also continued the tradition and belief that presents are secondary to the experience of Christmas and the birth of Jesus.  It’s about creating memories, not debt.

So when my Mom passed just before Christmas last year I was really upset because I didn’t want her death to tarnish these memories.  Because of my life long issues with June, when my Dad died I have been really concerned that the same thing would happen with Christmas.  I have been bracing myself, prepared for the worst.  I seem to be faring better than I thought that I would, especially for the first year.  One thing that helps is that I know that it would break my Mom’s heart to know that any of us had lost “Christmas” because of her death.  She understood the pain of loss and grief and that was her greatest worry in her last days.  She didn’t want us to experience what she had endured for so long.  And I want to honor that.  I also know that I have a choice.  I can choose to make new traditions while treasuring my memories.  It’s not easy but I know the possibility is there.  And I am not willing to give up Christmas.  Death has taken so much from me; I’m not giving this up as well.  Unlike June I have Christmas memories to hold on to.  I have a time of joy to return to.  I have hope for Christmas to return better than ever in our home.  And if I can do this with Christmas I just might claim June one of these days.

Leave a Reply