my grandma's little tree
As idyllic as the thought of Christmas and the festive season can be, the reality of it is often more gritty and raw. This can be a highly charged, emotional time of year for many people... in both good and bad ways. Some people dread it; family dynamics and stress can reach peaks unlike at any other time of year. And some people are lonely, which is a sadness that is amplified when everything we see and hear seems to make it look like nobody else is alone.
For me, I do love Christmas. I have happy childhood memories and now that I have a family of my own, I think I have been able to create some happy memories for my children.
Many of my early Christmas memories involve my Grandma. She made the best Christmas toffee ever! She gave us advent calendars and PJ's and she always had this little ceramic tree on the table in her front entrance. I adored it! As a little girl with a big imagination, it seemed truly magical to me. And now I have it for my front entrance. It is a treasure.
My Grandma became a widow at young age, not much older than I am now. I was a tiny baby when her husband died. My mom was in her twenties. I really can't imagine the shock and the loss. As I grew up we never wanted Grandma to be alone at Christmas so she would often come stay at our house overnight on Christmas Eve. I can still picture her in her housecoat.
Fourteen years ago yesterday we lost her. My oldest son was a tiny baby just as I was when her husband, my Grandpa, died. It was a very hard time. She had fallen at my house and never recovered. This year the loss feels a little closer than other years. I'm not sure why exactly, but I think it has to do with my acknowledgment of just how fast time is passing. My fourteen year old son, who she only knew as a baby, is now six feet and is as tall as the Christmas tree! He is growing up. I always knew he was, but the changes he is going through seem more significant now than ever before. She would have been so in love with him and with my other son. And this high velocity calendar makes me hyper aware of how much time I may have left with my own parents which is a place I can barely go in my head.
So please, be gentle with each other- those you know and those you don't- not just now, but all year through. Everyone has a Grandma they are missing, and if not a Grandma then a sister, a friend, a neighbor, an uncle. In a world so very divided, if we can somehow remember we are more alike than unalike, maybe, just maybe, we will be okay.