I grew up in a fairly traditional family. My mum came to America from England post WWII. My dad’s mum had come over from there sometime before 1912. So my dad was born here but my mum had a lot of English traditions that she brought to the family. Somehow, it worked and we had traditional American Christmases while I was growing up. Stockings were hung, Santa visited. All of our extended family – all on my mom’s side – resided in England, so no huge family get-togethers for me. My mom, my best friend throughout my life, made every day seem like Christmas but over the holiday, it was somehow even better. She made sure we spent time Christmas shopping together, she stood in long lines to see Santa, took me to community Christmas parties where we had visits with Santa, did arts and crafts, and participated in sing-alongs. She taught me how to hide, disguise, and wrap presents, decorate a wicked Christmas tree, write and send Christmas cards. She taught me that it wasn’t what I received on Christmas but what I gave that was the most fun. And I did not get everything I asked for. But I loved everything I got.
Over the years, the routine sometimes varied. My brother is a decade older than I am, so he spent some holidays away from home during his service in the US Air Force, and when he came home, he got married, and later had a daughter. Instant extended family there, because Lyn had family in northern Michigan, and sometimes my brother and sister-in-law would take me along on visits up there beginning the day after Christmas. Not too often, though, because I always discovered that I missed my parents and home.
And then I grew up and had my own family. And discovered a whole new world as the MOM at Christmas time. Thankfully, I had such a wonderful example with my own mom and dad. We always tried to make Christmas special for the kids and they seemed to have fun. But alas, time continues to pass. We lost our first child at the age of 2-1/2, and the day after my sister-in-law at a young age of 40. Later, my dad, and then my niece’s first little boy, and soon after that my children’s other granddad. And most recently, only a few years ago my mom, and now my children are grown with families of their own – each in his/her own special version. Now… I am the GRANDMA of Christmas. But sadly, we haven’t had a family Christmas where we’ve all been together for years. My oldest resides in Michigan. One of my twins is in Okinawa, where her husband is stationed with the US Marines. But even though I’m not with them, in a way, I am, for they carry on a lot of the same traditions I taught them, which my mom had taught me. Mary and her husband Matt, recognizing that many of those stationed with them have no family on-base, and no way to go home for the holidays, have opened their hearts and home to celebrate with those who would otherwise be alone.
Each new role – child, mother, grandmother of Christmas – has brought to it something special. And I guess that’s the point. Life moves on. Things inevitably change, one’s perspective changes. Some memories are good, some maybe not as good, and some maybe sad or poignant as the people we love pass on and go to Jesus, or just plain cannot be with us to celebrate the holiday. There is, however, one constant – that “reason for the season,” Jesus Christ. I am grateful for every moment I have been able to spend on this earth, happy or sad, spent with all my family or scattered. We are all where we are supposed to be, and whether near or far, on this earth, or in heaven, there is always the glue that keeps us one family. There is always love, the perfect love that Jesus taught.
So my Christmas wishes for all of you this year are three – that you will experience a wonderful, Jesus-filled Christmas, that your hearts will be filled with love and joy for others, and that you have the fellowship of family and friends holding you in their hearts.
Merry Christmas, world.