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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas revisited

I love Christmas. I hate Christmas.

I love Christmas because it's such a fun time of year that conjures up memories of our own childhoods. Times were simplier then. We truly believed in Santa Claus, and our parents pulled out all the stops to make it a fun day. Everyone lived within driving distance, and cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents would all be part of the celebration. Memories of Christmases with our children when they were young also make us feel all warm and fuzzy. We lived far away, but we had each other, and our friends who had become our family.

I hate Christmas because it brings to light all the imperfections of our family -- not so much with the people as with the way things are.

I haven't spent Christmas with my parents in too many years to count. They spent Christmas at one of my younger sister's home. She's perfect. I wasn't invited. Not that I would have gone since I have my own family and they wouldn't have been invited, but it would be nice sometimes to be invited.

My mom-in-laws dementia gets worse every day. We remember Christmas with her because she would cook and cook and bake and bake. No matter where we were in the world, she would send a huge box of homemade goodies -- breads, cookies, that special fruitcake Jinks makes in Oswego and a box of chocolates from the factory in Joplin. It was a definite highlight for the kids and they loved grandma's box. Now, we go visit her in her "suite" at the nursing home. Sit on her couch and talk to her about letting the staff do her laundry and making sure she takes showers.

My son and his family live too far away. Too far. Our youngest is still trying to find her way. We've really no idea how she spent Christmas.

We spent Christmas with our daughter and family at their home -- a too small apartment crowded with the needs of a family with a growing child. We loved the time we got to spend with she and our grandson. Some things worried us -- should we have insisted we go to Advent services? Should we have done more with our grandson? We had to leave to drive back right after Christmas dinner. Never enough time.

The ideal Christmas would be to have everyone under our roof. Our decorated house with the tree touching the ceiling and the lights twinkling in doorways seems too much to bear,now. We had thought everyone would be here for the holiday, and we've decided we're taking most of the decorations down before the New Year.

It's not so much that we're unhappy. It's a dissatisfaction with the way things are. But things change. Maybe next year.

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