Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Traditions and Loss

This is the day of the year I miss Jim the most. We celebrated our Christmas together on Christmas Eve. And, for me, what made it special was readings.

Jim started it out every Christmas Eve with "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed...."

From there, he moved to Francis P. Church's classic, "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus," although I read the opening letter. "Dear Editor: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says 'If you see it in The Sun it's so.' Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus? Virginia O'Hanlon."

And, I ended our readings before we began opening presents reading, and crying over, "One dollar and eighty-seven cents....," O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi." Jim always said it wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't cry over that piece.

At one point early in O.Henry's story, it says, "Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating."

I've been very lucky. In my life, smiles predominate. But, there are those moments of sniffles. And, as much as I love Christmas, for all of us who have family and friends we've lost - husbands, wives, parents, children, there's always a few sniffles, and a sense of loss at Christmas as well.

Most of us will still celebrate Christmas and the holidays with other people we love. But, Ryan Kelly has written a song, "Not Far Apart," with a message of hope and love for all of us who also remember loved ones. May you have a Merry Christmas, and a beautiful Christmas of memories as well.

24 comments:

Kay said...

Such a lovely song, Lesa. Thanks for sharing it with us. I loved to hear about the traditions that you and Jim shared. I know you miss him. My wish for you is a day filled with sweet memories and joy and hope. Merry Christmas to you and big, big hugs. May the rest of 2011 and all of 2012 be very, very special.

Rosemary said...

That was beautiful Lesa, and certainly brought a lump to my throat. I too really enjoyed hearing about your traditions, and I hope you have a good day and a great 2012.

When I was a child we read that Virginia story every year. The Gospel readings never fail to take ones breath away. Our old minister used to take the end of term carol service at my daughters' school, and in his last prayer he always referred to "The Yes of Mary" - there must have been something about the way he said it that made it resonate for me.

My elder daughter is studying singing, and over the past few years she has sung 'O Holy Night' at the Christmas Eve service; this year we are in a new home and at a new church, but that will always be a good Christmas memory for me. At the moment she is in the kitchen warbling 'Oh now carry me to Bethlehem'. I have already been out for my coffee and scone at a favourite gallery/coffee shop, so I had better get on with my goat's cheese bread...

bermudaonion said...

I have an idea of how you're feeling this year. My father passed away last December 29 and he has been heavy in our hearts and minds this year. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, Lesa!

ckubala said...

A beautiful post that will help many of us who struggle between those sniffles and smiles. Thank you for sharing this and telling a bit about your traditions. These are what make a family.

Lesa said...

Merry Christmas, Kay. And, thank you. I had the best 2011 I could imagine. 2012 is going to have to go a long way to beat it. Thank you for your kind words. Friends and family are what Christmas is about, and I appreciate all my friends here. Thank you.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing all that. I hope you have a wonderful holiday made up of both old and new memories!

Lesa said...

Oh, Rosemary. Thanks for sharing your Christmas traditions here. And, enjoy every minute of your daughter's singing around the house at Christmas. It sounds so warm and lovely. Merry Christmas.

Lesa said...

Kathy, I hope you all have time to share a few memories of your father this year. The holidays are absolutely wonderful, and I love Christmas, but, as you said, the ones we love can be heavy on our minds and heart right now. That's a beautiful way of phrasing it. Thank you.

Lesa said...

Merry Christmas, Carol. Thank you so much. I hope you're enjoying some traditions, or making new ones with people you love.

Lesa said...

Merry Christmas, Jill. Thank you! I intend to have a beautiful Christmas. And, tomorrow I'm SKYPing with my mother. She was here last year for my first Christmas without Jim. Tomorrow, we're going to do something fun, and I'll open my presents so she can see it. Talk about new, modern traditions!

Beth Groundwater said...

Here' a virtual hug, Lesa! From your memories of Jim, I can tell that you two had--and still have--a wonderful love affair.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Beth. I'll take and give all the hugs out there. Thank you for your kind comments. I hope you have a beautiful holiday.

Amy said...

This is such a lovely post, Lesa. I appreciate so much your honesty and openness. I hope that you know peace this Christmas.

Joe Barone said...

Thank you for this post. Others who have lost loved ones and who grieve at Christmas can come here to find a kindred spirit.

Karen C said...

I loved your post today. I am blessed to have found your blog this year. I wish you a Merry Christmas, Lesa.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Amy. I couldn't write a blog if I wasn't sharing honest opinions and feelings. Thank you. It will be a good Christmas. I hope you have a beautiful one.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Joe. I think the best Christmases are ones about love, whether it's family and friends, or people who are gone. I hope you have a beautiful holiday.

Lesa said...

Merry Christmas, Karen. You truly make me feel good that you consider my blog a blessing. I wish you a happy Christmas.

Inside A Book said...

How blessed you are to have such memories...they are like stars...bright and clear...

I love the quote from "The Little Prince"---
"Ah, little prince, dear little prince! I love to hear that laughter!"

"That is my present. Just that. It will be as it was when we drank the water . . ."

"What are you trying to say?"

"All men have the stars," he answered, "but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You--you alone--will have the stars as no one else has them--"

"What are you trying to say?"

"In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night . . . You--only you--will have stars that can laugh!"

And he laughed again.

"And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, 'Yes, the stars always make me laugh!'

Those are my Christmas memories. Laughing and loving and sharing. Thanks for sharing yours.
Merry Christmas!!

Lesa said...

Oh, Jill! Thanks for sharing that from The Little Prince. Jim loved that book, so it was perfect. Laughing, and loving, and sharing. What a perfect comment for Christmas, and for memories. Happy Christmas, Jill, and thank you.

Sandie Herron said...

While I enjoy "'twas the night before Christmas... It was "The Littlest angel" that brought me the most comfort.

My family were all still living when I spent my first holiday alone. They all lived in Florida and I remained in New Jersey after the breakup of a long term relationship. My old neighbors invited me to spend the day. Altho it was 10 degrees below zero, I drove the 45 minutes to their home. But I wasn't really comfortable.

The first Chrstmas we were without my grandmother, I was sad, but things still felt very familiar. The next year my grandfather had passed December 9th leaving his gifts already wrapped, which felt so odd. The next year my mother was gone. Things were drastically different even tho the same remaining people were there in the same places yet it felt a bit like "The Twilight Zone". Off kilter. And then with every painstaking year without them and the loss of my dad, things got a little different but new at the same time. I managed. We're I to lose Bill, let's not go there.

I admire your courage and strength Lesa. You are a true gem. You're writing your own story. You are a new woman. I love you.

Ingrid King said...

What a beautiful post, and what beautiful memories. I always miss my lost loved ones the most on Christmas Eve, too. I grew up in Germany, and Christmas Eve was always the most special part of our Christmas celebrations. I've carried that tradition on even after I moved to the United States twenty-six years ago.

I hope you found comfort in memories of Jim last night. Hugs to you, Lesa!

Lesa said...

I'm so sorry for all your losses, Sandie. Take care of Bill! I like that, though, that I'm writing my own story. Thank you for that. Hugs, Sandie.

Lesa said...

Ingrid, my greatest comfort came last night at church. I'm not a big church goer, but last night's sermon was perfect. The priest celebrated Christmas in every detail. And, he said to those who don't want the music, and food, and love of family, and lights, to those he says, "Bah, humbug." Christmas is all of that to me, and that makes it magical. And, he agreed. Mass was good, and Father's sermon was comforting. Jim would have appreciated it. Hugs, Ingrid.