Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Past

I thought last Christmas was tough. Mom had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer five days before. But this one was worse.

This Christmas was just plain weird without Mom. There is a part of my brain that just can't fathom Christmas sans Mom. And yet, here it is December 26th, and yesterday came and went even though Mom wasn't here.

Did I mention it was weird?

To add to the weirdness of the day, not only did I have to sort out my own grief and figure out how to redefine the meaning of Christmas minus Mom, but my Dad kept bursting into fits of full-out crying all day. He'd be on the phone talking to someone, start crying uncontrollably and without warning, and then either just hang up on them abruptly or drop the phone in my lap and fold into full body sobs. Keep in mind that prior to this past February when Mom died, I had never seen my Dad cry. Never.

I didn’t know what to do or how to handle this. What could I do? It was so horrible and sad and uncomfortable I can’t even describe it.

For the last few weeks Dad has repeatedly told me how miserable he would be on Christmas and he proved himself very right. Dad would not let even one Christmas decoration be put out, let alone a tree. He told me today that he feels like God doesn't listen to his prayers. For example? He prays every night for his time to be done on this earth so he can be with Mom again and plans to "keep pestering God" until He listens. Alrightly then.

I do my best to try and help Dad focus on his faith. I try to explain that there is still a purpose to his being here and that even though we may not understand why and how things happen, there is a reason and that we will understand someday. I let Dad know that I think Mom is now “in the know” and is watching over us. He doesn’t want to hear it. Or isn’t ready… maybe both.

I'd much rather think of the Christmases when I was a kid. Mom made them magical and created some beautiful family traditions. I want to honor Mom's memory focusing on the good and the blessings she brought to all of us.

I want to remember tromping out in the snow to pick THE perfect tree... the rush to see which of us would manage to put the first ornament on the tree. (Dad would usually cheat and hang the first one before we were even done with the lights!) I want to remember spending hours in the kitchen making the cookies we only made that time of year… especially the yummy Polish kolachky, prune filled cookies. And waking up in the wee, early morning hours to find my Christmas stocking hung over my bedpost filled with fun little presents that I would painstakingly open ever so slowly and in the dark so as to not to make a sound or wake anyone up. And this was a challenge since the loop at the top of my stocking was covered in sleigh bells! Once I was old enough to know it was Mom that snuck in and hung my stocking there, I was amazed to think she had managed all those years to hang that stocking just above my head and not wake me up with the racket those bells made!

Yeah, I'd much rather think of all the ways Mom made Christmas special and how lucky I was to have her as my Mom.

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