Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Making, Saving, Remembering Christmas Memories

As I wrote previously, I am not a big fan of this time of year. That is not to say that I do not have good memories. In fact, I have plenty, really the only reason I do not give up on the holidays completely, the hopes that someday, I can find a way to embrace them as I did long ago.

Many years ago, I recall making a comment, that my maternal grandmother, was the “glue” that kept us all gathering together on the holidays. That when she was gone, so too would be the traditions of Christmas Eve service, presents the next morning, and the best Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas feast featuring homemade stuffing (we did not call it dressing). My grandmother’s final Christmas with us, we had two tables completely filled. At the time, we were unware that would be her final Christmas.

1997 was her last Christmas, and as anticipated, the last time all of us had gathered together completely. There would be miniature gatherings throughout the two days of Christmas in the years that followed, but none as we had done in the past. Today, those Christmas’s are just a memory.

Any hopes I may have had of turning my attitude around about the season, came with the arrivals of my daughters. There had been both renewed traditions and new ones created, all to the glee of my daughters. As in my past, health issues and at least one tragedy would once again have a permanent impact on my anticipation of future holiday seasons. But of the years that were free of the difficulties, there are so many memories.

Unfortunately, divorce would have a major impact on the Christmas holidays between my daughters and I. I would not necessarily call it a bad impact, just different. With sharing time between their mother and I, I volunteered to let them spend the actual holiday with their mother, while I would see them the day after. This arrangement allowed me to separate the negative that I carry with me about the holidays, by not actually celebrating on the actual date, while recognizing the special time that I get to spend with my daughters each holiday. Over the last nine years, we have all of those memories.

So there is a new chapter of holiday seasons coming next year. With both daughters attending college, one has a unique schedule, which means that the Christmas holiday may just be the only time I get to see them both at the same time while they are in college. But we will continue to make memories.

I do not necessarily believe in horoscopes, but the one pictured above was sent to me. I read it in amusement, I cannot say that I anticipate anything new to happen with me or my friends, but January will begin a year of change. One that will finally bring me relief of stress, struggle, and conflict. I will hope, it is a lot to ask, to have a second consecutive year without a health challenge. This past year was wonderful not to be under a knife or poked. I cannot remember the last time that consecutive years of decent health happened.

Finally, as we enter this season, my heart is with all my friends and family, who are celebrating Christmas, some their first, without a particular loved one, whether it be a spouse, sibling, or tragically, a child. No matter who is missing from the celebration, the pains may be different, but they are still real for the person impacted. I know that I still grieve for both my grandmother and my father, which I guess is a way of still keeping them in my heart this time of year.

I am not sure if I will get another post off before the end of the year. As I mentioned, I have some fun planned for my daughters when they come to visit after the holiday. So, in case I do not get to write anymore this year, I wish you all a happy holiday (there are too many for me to list each one, the only reason I don’t – don’t read into it with political correctness), and I hope your New Year is healthy and prosperous.

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