Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Happiest of Holidays
It is Christmas Eve, and those family members that have not arrived for the holiday are on their way to our homestead as we speak. The next 48 hours or so will probably rush by in a blur, so I wanted to take a moment and say I hope all my friends and fellow bloggers have the happiest of holidays.
Live long enough and you will have Christmases with joy as well as heartbreak. But the heartbreak does make the joyful ones more appreciated. When I was 23, my father was in the hospital at Christmas, dying of cancer. I sat by his bedside one evening, sometime close to Christmas Eve, listening to the rasp of the respirator and the occasional beep of one of the other machines helping him breathe. I remember thinking it was a horrible juxtaposition of circumstances to be "celebrating" Christmas at a time such as that.
As I sat there in the dimness of my father's hospital room, feeling probably as desperate and alone as I ever have. I started hearing children's voices, carolers, singing a gentle, quiet version of "Silent Night" as they walked the halls of the oncology wing. As they passed by our doorway a small boy broke off from the group, came in and handed me a small poinsettia plant to put by my father's bedside, then re-joined the other carolers as they proceeded down the hall. It was a moment of kindness and hope in an otherwise bleak season, and for many years that pointsettia plant bloomed each December, reminding me of what had transpired that year, and the fact that beauty can exist even in the midst of sorrow.
That year was a truly sad Christmas, but in time, after my father's passing, healing happened and I have had many joyful Christmases since. Also some so-so ones, where I was in the midst of work romantic, work or financial difficulties. But nothing compared to the sad Christmas right before my Dad died.
And as the years have gone by, that sad Christmas has served me well, as it's reminded me of what is and is not a good Christmas. It has nothing to do with family squabbles, tight finances, car trouble or work issues. If you and those you are closest to are all alive and well and able to celebrate the holiday without weeping, then it's a good year. A very good year. When laid against the pain and desperation of my Sad Christmas, I honestly can say I haven't had a bad holiday since then. It all comes down to your perspective.
And so, during this happy holiday season, I am hoping this is one of your best Christmases. If there has been pain, I hope for healing, and if there has been sadness, I hope the sands of time smooths the sadness over so you can once again feel joy.
And if neither one of those things apply and you're simply having a very happy Christmas, then I hope you know what a gift it is, and enjoy it to the fullest.
Happy Christmas, everyone.