Bittersweet Christmas Memories

Although I love Christmas, Christmas Eve is a little bit of a bittersweet time too.

It makes me think of all the people in my life who I miss; who have left the journey here on earth.

Obviously, my Dad comes to mind. It is 8.5 years since he’s been gone. I remember so clearly all those Christmas Eve’s with him. His role in our traditional Christmas Eve Program was to talk about the joys, blessings and trials of the past year, and to speak encouraging words for the year to come. Rob has assumed this role now, and I think my Dad would greatly approve.

I think of Rob’s brother David, whom I never met, but have heard much about. He died 18 years ago, and Rob often wonders, with much sadness, what he would have been like all “grown up”. Would he have been married? Would he have had children? What would he be doing? Where would he be living? All these questions left unanswered when his life was cut way too short.

My beloved grandparents. My earliest Christmas memories are with them, and my Christmas traditions are all adaptations of their Christmas Eve traditions. When we ring the bell for the kids to come running to the tree for their presents, I can still feel the excitement I had as a child when I heard their little bell ring. I’m glad that my grandparents kept their traditions and passed them along so I can still feel a connection to them and my heritage.

Finally, I think of Elaine. Ten years, exactly today, since that fateful morning when we got the call that “Auntie Elaine” had suddenly passed away; a life cut way too short. I remember so many things about that day so vividly. It was Zach’s first Christmas, and we celebrated with him with heavy hearts and red brimmed eyes. I remember being with a very young Jennifer through those days, most especially following the burial, at Starbucks, listening to Winter Lights with her head in my lap. Elaine was such an amazing woman – and mother – and certainly I think of her often as she is one of my “hero mother role models”. She would be proud to see that Jennifer, all grown now, possesses the same mothering qualities. I am lucky enough to still have Jenn as my little sister, and to have walked along another difficult path with her this year when she lost her Dad, Chris. My heart breaks for Jenn at this time of year especially, but it is also full of pride when I see the beautiful, amazing woman she is becoming. I’m very sure both her parents are smiling down on her from above.

I feel fortunate to have known these people – or in David’s case, to have known him by proxy. Having been touched by the grief of losing some very close family members makes me especially grateful for the people in my life now. Life is short. Life is unpredictable. We never know what is in store for us.

I want to celebrate the present – which is the greatest present that I have been given this Christmas. To be truly surrounded by the most spectacular people. I know everyone thinks their family is the best, but I feel that with every part of my being and soul.

I am so in love with my best friend and partner, and I am smitten with “our” children – the precious spirits entrusted to us. I will miss the presence of my Mom and sister this year at Christmas, and my brother and family (but miss them every year!). I truly miss my family that has sailed to a distant horizon, but know that they are not really very far away.

This week’s quote of the week will be:

Count your blessings, and make your blessings count”.

Pretty appropriate for the feeling of gratitude and love I feel on this Christmas Eve.

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