Thursday, 25 December 2014

Our Personal Christmas Spirits

Christmas is different now. There's something about it that hurts, and I don't know why I feel the way I do. So I'll try to figure it out as I write this.

I lost my dad five years ago and my mom 12 years ago. Since they've been gone it feels different, a kind of empty something missing feeling. My family is here with me and that feels good. The music's playing, there's a turkey cooking, the presents have been opened and the greetings came in waves this morning from friends and distant family. It all feels like it should. A happy day to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday - thanks.

But something's missing. I miss my parents and the way things were growing up. First of all, my dad was a nut. He was all over Christmas. The house was bedecked in every sort of decoration you could imagine, including dozens of Santas - everything from small ceramic statues to a giant plastic Santa hanging on the front door. We never had a wreath. If we did, it would be covered in Santa's face. There was over 100 of them. Then there was the rest of the decorations. And the tree. Covered in Santas. It was a running joke each year that when dad put everything away there would always be one Santa left out, somewhere. It was always fun to have the kids find it. Eventually he just left it alone, one Santa out all year. Each year it would change.

Dad also was Santa. He was the mall Santa, rang the bell for the Salvation Army campaign, hired himself out to people on Christmas Eve to visit the kids, and always visited the hospital where mom worked to put some cheer into some sick people's hearts. He was the embodiment of the Christmas spirit. And he loved it all, especially the kids. I took him to one gig one year, a rather wealthy man wanted to pay him a good sum to visit his kids at 2am Christmas morning, after midnight mass. He didn't take the money. He did it for the kids.

Mom was in the spirit too, although I still believe she didn't have much of a choice, she married Santa. We called her Mrs. Clause, appropriately. Dad called her SWMBO (pronounced schwambo): this stood for She Who Must Be Obeyed. My wife is now known as schwambo junior. Mom was a very spiritual woman, and ironically, dad wasn't, his spirit came from somewhere else. At least that's the impression he let people have of him, but we knew that without spirituality and faith, he couldn't have been anything like he was. It was in his heart.

Since they left us there's been a hole in our existence. We carry on like family does and deal with our loss. They will always be with us in spirit - their memories are just as important as those of us who are left to remember. We still hang ornaments on the tree that were part of our childhood and my parent's life. We always will. We still sit on their couch, read their books, I'm writing this on mom's desk. They're always going to be with us and everyday I feel that. But today is hard. Today is Christmas Day and they won't break bread with us.

But that's okay. I have to move on with life and realize that our existence on this little blue planet is fleeting. We will all go one day. It's the time we have with each other that matters. I cherish the memories of my childhood and the season. That's a spirit I share now with my children in whatever way I can, except for the Santa heads everywhere, they got a little unnerving. But traditions of old mixed with new traditions come together to mould us into a new family. A little of time gone by with a sense of the future. But above all else this year we never forget how it all began. Our traditions began with the traditions of our parents, as theirs did before them. And so on. Our children will take up the torch once they have families of their own and again the traditions will evolve.

So this year as you gather around your table with your family don't neglect to pay homage to your ancestors. Don't forget to thank them for what you have in your heart this Christmas. I intend to thank mom and dad for their generosity, love and hope. I do that everyday, but at this time of year we all stop and feel the presence of our parents and grandparents. We say Merry Christmas to them as they are still part of our families, even though they may not be here in person, they are still here in spirit.

Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

  1. I have a box of santas for you:)


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