It’s been a quiet Christmas at home for me today. Actually, it’s been like this for the last few years, and I’ve come to love the change of pace. For fourteen Christmases I hosted dinner at my house. I loved it! I would have dozens of people (usually around 30-40, but about sixty one year!) come to my house throughout the day. I always had plenty of snack foods and desserts for those who’d had dinner elsewhere. I loved seeing my family and friends, I loved that every single room in my house –yes, bathrooms included– were decorated for this beautiful, peaceful time of year, I loved the laughter that filled the rooms. We played games, watched movies, and sat by the fireplace in the parlor and chatted. It was perfect. Then one day it changed. It changed so drastically I was devastated by the about-face. In one year my dinners went from many, to me and my three children. Then my kids grew up and not everyone made it back home. Times change, lives change….things don’t stay the same forever, that’s just the way it is.
Today as I sat quietly by the tree reading, with my musical Christmas bells playing in the background, I thought of the loves I’ve lost this year and tears streamed down my face. My grandma is gone –I’d spent last Christmas Eve and part of Christmas day with her and am so thankful for that time – and my three lovies who passed this year. It’s the first Christmas in twenty-three that I don’t have my cat Stache sitting on the floor beside me at dinner begging for ham; and Oscar, who spent 18 Christmases with me, isn’t rummaging around for anything that dropped from the table; and my sweet Lily, who was with me for 12 Christmases, wouldn’t be snuggling on the couch with me later tonight as our day wound down. I had no idea when I hung stockings last year that I’d have three I wouldn’t get to hang and fill this year. That’s right, I didn’t know. I didn’t want to know. …sometimes it’s better that way. If I knew everything that was supposed to happen I think I’d end up counting the days until it did, instead of living every moment.
As I sat there thinking of them, I felt a little paw on the side of my face, close to my ear. My eyes were closed and for just a moment I thought …if I open my eyes will I see Stache sitting there? Afterall, that is how he often got my attention. I squeezed my eyes tight, so I could stay in that space for as long as possible. Then, I felt a bigger paw on my knee…and another paw pawing on my arm. These were my girls, Ginger* and Lily – I knew it, I could feel them. Then very quickly I felt a little furry body on my naked feet. Oscar had taken his place too. I took a deep breath and opened my eyes. They were all there, happy and beautiful. I whispered, “I love all of you, thank you so much for coming.”
Not counting birthdays, from Thanksgiving through the new year is generally the hardest time for people who are missing someone they love. Remember always that they are with you. Even if you can’t see them, they’re there. You don’t have to do any magic spells, séances, or rituals – just say their name and they’ll be there. Remember, they don’t want us to be sad, so accept the peace and joy they bring with them and only shed tears of joy that they came. Much love. – Julie
*Ginger is Lily’s sister – she passed November 3, 2014.